When you think of Norway, one of the first picture you have in mind is the stunning fjords. That’s why Norway was on my bucket list :). The Norwegian fjords are included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. With more than 1,000 fjords around the country, they are by themselves alone attracting many hiker lovers and road trip adventurers. So if you are planning a trip to Norway it is very likely that you will see at least one of them ;).
Norway is a huge country. If you have only one week, you have to pick which part of Norway you want to visit. Alexis decided to focus on the Western coast. First of all because it is the home to the biggest fjords but also to experience some of the most scenic drives in the world.
In total, we spent 6 days in Norway in the last week of August 2019. In this post, we are telling you how we spent a week to explore the Norwegian Fjords from Bergen. Of course this itinerary requires a car, you want to enjoy the fjords entirely. We decided not to pack each day with too many hours of driving as we wanted to enjoy as much as possible the majestic nature around us. So we limited ourselves to a maximum of 3-4 hours drive per day. In total we drove about 650 kilometres.
Still not 100% convinced whether you would like to discover the Norwegian Fjord or on the opposite if you are impatient and want to have an overview of what you will discover in your next trip…. Have a look at this stunning drone video filmed by Alexis. You just need 3 minutes :).
Our one week itinerary
- Day 1 – Bergen – Odda – Skjeggedal
- Day 2 – Trolltunga hike – Waterfalls: Langfossen, Låtefossen and Vøringsfossen – Eidjord
- Day 3 – Eidjord – Waterfalls: Espeland falls, Skjervsfossen & Tvindefossen – Flam – Undredal – Aurlandsvangen
- Day 4 – Aurlandsvagen – Lærdal – Berekvam – Voss
- Day 5 – Voss – Bordalsgjelet Gorge – Bergen
- Day 6 – Bergen – Back to London
Day 1 – Destination Norway – Bergen to Skjeggedal
This trip was a surprise one for me. In 2019, Alexis and I decided to both organise a surprise trip for each other. So when we arrived at the airport, I didn’t have a clue on which country we were about to visit. It is a thrilling experience. As a result I just discovered the destination a few minutes before boarding. I was so excited and delighted as Norway was the first one of my bucket list ;).
Alexis told me we will spend the next week exploring the Norwegian Fjords. But what is exactly the definition of a fjord? “Fjord” is a Norwegian word that has gone international. It is an ancient Viking term related to the phrase for “where you travel across” and the word “ferry”. “Fjord” in Norwegian means “bay”, and they are deep and long bays from the sea or ocean. The fjords are often described as “nature’s own work of art”. In short, it is an incredible beauty of the water, surrounded by mountains.
Let’s discover the fjords 🙂
We landed at Bergen airport from London. Then we picked up our car at the rental company and drove toward our first stop, Steinsdalfossen. After only a few kilometres we were quickly open-mouthed by the beauty of the landscapes and we stopped to take our first photos.
We arrived at Steinsdalfossen – a waterfall where you can walk behind. How lucky we were because we had the waterfall pretty much all by ourselves! We took many pictures. It looks like a typical postcard from Norway – in front of a waterfall with our rain jackets.
Then we drove direction to Tørvikbygd to take a short ferry ride to Jondal.
There are only about one ferry per hour so we recommend that you check online the timetable (even if they are not always easy to find). We like the journeys on ferries because we can get outside of the car and just enjoy the beauty of the landscapes around us. Note – you pay the ticket on the boat and there is no need to book them.
Then from the ferry, the road up to Odda is about 90 minutes.
How to get to Trolltunga?
Odda is a small town but with a lot of tourists as it close to the famous Trolltunga hike. We stopped there to buy food for the night but also especially for our hike the next day. There are several sport shops, which can be convenient if you have forgotten some gears for your hike.
From Odda we followed the signs to Tyssedal to reach the beginning of the hike. Then there is a 7 kilometres drive up along a very narrow to Skjeggedal carpark where the Trolltunga hike begins. The parking is usually very crowded as there are only 200 parking spaces.
Up to date parking and transportation to Trolltunga can be found on the official website [June 2020]: https://trolltunga.com/parking-and-transportation/
There are different parkings numbered P1, P2 and P3.
- P1 cost is NOK 300 is quite far from the beginning of the hike and you will need to take a shuttle which is NOK 150/person one way to reach P2.
- P2 cost is NOK 500 and it is where most hikers start. You can also take a shuttle to P3 which cost NOK 130/person one way to avoid the first 4km climb which has an elevation gain of about 500m.
- P3 cost NOK 600, but because there are only 30 spaces available you need to pre-book a long time in advance.
Given the cost of the parking being quite expensive and to avoid any last minute issue, Alexis had the brillant idea to book an AirBnB just at the beginning of the hike at P2 with a private parking slot we could use for the full day. The night there was quite cheap given the cost of the parking at P2 which is why we definitely recommend to stay there. It is literally at one minute from the trailhead for Trolltunga. The name of the place is Trolltunga basement camp. We went to bed very early as we wanted to start the trail at sunrise.
Day 2 – Trolltunga hike & waterfalls
Alexis spent hours to prepare this hike by reading a lot of posts on different blogs. See our post with useful videos and blogs to plan your trip, there is a dedicated section for Trolltunga. The main advice we can give is don’t underestimate this hike. It is a long and tiring hike.
Unfortunately as expected by the weather forecasts it was raining when we woke up. However, we didn’t want to give up before trying. So we decided to start the hike and see until where we could go and if the rain will calm down. We lived in London so we are used to the rain.
Let’s climb up to Trolltunga …
We started the hike at 5.30am with our raincoat and our bag covers. Despite the rain, we were optimistic. The round-trip hike is 28 km with an ascent of almost 800 metres and an estimate hiking time between 8 to 12 hours. It took us about 75 minutes to reach Mågelitopp no far from parking P3. The round-trip hike from P3 Mågelitopp is 20 km.
Then we arrived at the first ascent of the hike which is the most challenging. You have to climb on stone steps and gravel trails. Then things get easier and the trail levels out for a while but not without any difficulties. We like hiking and we did a couple of day hikes in the UK to prepare for this trip so it wasn’t too difficult for us.
Finally the weather stopped us before we reached the top ….
Our enemy that day was the weather, which was really awful. We were completely wet. It was raining non stop and as we kept on climbing the wind was stronger and stronger. And of course it got very windy and the temperature dropped. We had extra layers in our bag but I was too frozen to think about removing my jacket to add a pullover. We could not enjoy the journey as it was cloudy and we could barely see our steps. So after about 2 hours 30 minutes we decided to go back. I hate giving up but we were so cold and the view was completely obstructed so there was no point on continuing. It was only our second day of the trip and we did not want to get ill either.
In our way back we met an other French couple. It was great because we talked all the way and we forgot that we were frozen and so wet ;)! They described to us what we could have seen at the top as they spent the night there. They confirmed that there was no spectacular view to see today as it was completely cloudy. We felt a little less disappointed. In total, we hiked 14km in 4 hours. And the only picture we have from Trolltunga is the one I took at the AirBnB with a photo of the Trolltunga ;).
Spectacular waterfalls from Langfossen to Låtefossen and to Vøringsfossen
We warmed ourselves up (or at least tried to) with a hot soup at Odda! And then went toward the waterfalls hunt ;).
The waterfalls are one of the main attraction in Norway – they are everywhere. That’s why each day of our trip we saw dozens of them on our road.
First of all we stopped at Langfossen. It is not the most popular waterfall visited by the tourist given its location. But is a beautiful one with a drop of about 600 metres. It is Norway’s fifth tallest waterfall. We were lucky as the rain stopped. So we spent at least one hour there flying our drone and taking some photos.
Then we stopped at Låtefossen. It was more crowded than Langfossen and there is even a tourist shop at the foot of the waterfall. It was convenient for Alexis, who bought a warm Norwegian winter hat. As mentioned we were still cold from the hike and even if we travelled in August the temperature was only around 10 degree!
Finally we eventually made our way to Vøringsfossen. It was the cherry of the cake to finish this epic day. This waterfall of 182m high is spectacular and attracts a lot of tourists. We read that it is even a national symbol despite its remote location. As we arrived at sunset, we could enjoy it just by ourselves. We took so many pictures and of course we flew the drone. It was one of our favourite spot of this trip.
We arrived exhausted at our hotel – Eidfjord Hytter. We recommend this place without hesitation as the cottages are lovely.
Day 3 – Eidjord to Aurlandsvangen
We checked out of our hotel and left Eidfjord direction to Ulvik. There was no ferry so we crossed the Hardanger Bridge, which is the longest suspension bridge in Norway.
1, 2, 3 waterfalls
We arrived at Espeland falls which is about 100 metres high.
Then we continued to the next waterfall. Skjervsfossen consists of two falls in succession and drops 150 meter. It definitely worth adding this waterfall to your itinerary.
The next waterfall of our itinerary is Tvindefossen. This waterfall is 110 meter high. The water of the river falls over a cliff and cascades down the rocks to create a massive waterfall. So it is one of the Norway’s most beautiful waterfall.
Scenic drive Flam to Myrdal
Then we parked the car along the Stalheimskleiva road to walk a few minutes. Some brave bikers were out of breath because the steepest slope was 20%. Then direction the valley of Nærøydalen where we spotted the Sivlefossen waterfall.
After a quick lunch at Aurland, we took a very scenic route from to Berekvam. Then there is a very bumpy road to climb up to Myrdal so we decided to stop there. However, if you have more time we suggest you take the train to Berekvam (halfway back up to Myrdal), then hike or bike (rentable from the Flåm tourist office). That is why on the road we crossed both hikers and bikers but also some goats.
The view around us was really spectacular and we spent a long time here just to enjoy the beauty of the nature with the drone.
Flam – Undredal – Aurlandsvangen
Then we drove up to Undredal – a super tiny village. We stopped there for a snack with a beautiful view on the Aurlandsfjord. We tried the famous local brunost – Norwegian brown cheese with waffle. At the beginning Alexis was skeptical about it. But it is really tasty. Norwegians eat this local cheese produced from goat’s milk for breakfast, lunch or as a snack.
And then we drove back to Flam. We spent some time exploring this town. It is quite small but there are several tourists shops because many cruise ships stop here. That’s why it can be quite busy during the peak season. The village welcomes an estimated one million visitors per year—not bad for a town of 400 people! We stopped at a very cool bar for a refreshing cider at Ægir microbrewery. It is a very cosy bar with a large choice of beers. Then we stopped at a supermarket to buy food for our diner.
We spent the night at Winjum Hytter in Aurlandsvangen. They have small cottages with a very nice view on the Aurlandsfjord. We enjoyed an aperitif on the terrace.
Day 4 – Aurlandsvagen to Voss
Scenic road from Aurlandsvangen to Lærdal
Day 4 of our trip involved driving one of the most scenic road of our itinerary from Aurlandsvangen to Lærdal. The views are spectacular because of the contrast between the fjord and the high mountain area.
The first stop is the Aurlandsvangen view point. It was a cloudy day so the view was not clear. But despite the clouds, the fjords are still stunning.
The second stop is the Stegastein view point. The clouds were still there so it was a little disappointing. However luckily a few minutes later some of clouds disappeared like by magic. So we enjoyed a stunning lookout over the fjord. This road is definitely worth it – you have to add it to your road trip even if the weather is not perfect ;).
Then we continued driving this narrow mountain road on Bjørgavegen. This national tourist road is also known as the Snow road. We stopped there in the middle of nowhere to fly the drone . Note – this part of the road is only opened from June to October.
After a ferry from Fodnes to Mannheller, we drove up to Sogndalsfjøra and grabbed a lunch. Then a second ferry from Hella to Dragsvik.
Walk around Balestrand
We explored Balestrand as we read that it is one of the most beautiful tiny village in Norway. But we are not 100% convinced. It is true that it is a charming village surrounded by the mountains. It is also a starting point of several walks and hikes.
As the weather was not gorgeous we did only a small walk of 3km. We stopped in the middle of a field for a snack with two sheep around us. It was fun and relaxing with a nice view on the vast Sognefjord, which is the world’s longest and deepest fjord.
After our last ferry of the day from Dragsvik to Vangsnes, we visited the last final highlight of the day – the hopperstad stavkyrkje. It is a local Norwegian church.
Finally we arrived at Voss, which is a good place to stop to a supermarket to buy our food for our diner. Surprisingly we discovered that it is not allowed to buy any alchool bottle after 6 pm! Alexis booked an AirBnB with a nice view on Vangsvatnet fjord. We also recommend to stay at Lydvabaret 9 located in Vossevangen. The owner was very welcoming and there was plenty of space for the two of us.
Day 5 – Voss to Bergen
We woke up early to enjoy our last day in the Norwegian fjords. Our first stop was only at a few minutes away from our AirBnB as we stopped in the city centre of Voss. We walked up to the Bordalsgjelet Gorge. It is a compact gorge with a cascading waterfall at the end of the footpath. We took a lot of photos as we had the gorge for ourselves. It is a very easy walk. The full loop is about 5km.
Then we drove back direction Bergen. We stopped along the road at Skreien. It is tiny with just a couple of houses. We just wanted to enjoy the Norwegian fjord one more last time.
It was time to head back to Bergen to be there at the beginning of the afternoon.
So the rest of day 4 and day 5 were spent to explore Bergen. The city centre is pretty small and is super easy to navigate by foot. It is perfect as we love walking to explore a city.
First of all we stopped at the outdoor fish market for a well-deserved lunch. True it is crowded with tourists, but the abundance of fish and seafood is impressive to see. It was the first time that we both ate whale.
We spent the beginning of the afternoon climbing to the Mount Fløyen to enjoy a spectacular view over Bergen. It is an easy climb of about 1 hour.
And then we walked along Bryggen (“the dock”). It is one of the most famous picture from Bergen with a row of very colourful painted shopfronts facing the wharf. Finally we enjoyed a very refreshing and relaxing cider well deserved after a busy afternoon :).
See our dedicated post, where we described in a nutshell – the 5 unmissable things to do in Bergen
Day 6 – Bergen … to London
Last morning at Bergen
As a foodie French couple, we love discovering nice bakeries and eating tasty pastries :). So we enjoyed a great breakfast at Godt Brød Marken. We definitely recommend to try the cinnamon buns.
After our breakfast we explored the Nordnes peninsula, which sticks out from the harbour on the opposite side to Bryggen. If you like strolling around the city, you can easily walk from the centre of town up to the Nordnes park. Then we spent some time there just enjoying the view across the water to Bergen’s south-western areas.
On our way back we stopped at the University. Although it may sound a surprising spot for a tourist, we spent a really nice moment just to relax and enjoy the garden which was trimmed with beautiful flowers and waterlilies.
The last landmark we passed across in this area was the gothic St John’s church (Johanneskirken), which is the largest church in Bergen.
Goodbye Norway 🇳🇴
Finally, we headed back to our starting point at the rental car company located in the airport. A drive from Bergen city centre to the airport takes usually about 20/30 minutes.
Our first exploration of Norway was just incredible. I really love the way of life and the spirit of Scandinavian people. In addition, the landscapes in Scandinavian countries are just stunning. The most impressive part of the trip is driving along the spectacular Norwegian Fjords :). It is likely that we will come back to this country in a few years to keep on exploring it. But this time it will probably be the North of the country.
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