Norway road trip itinerary
Planning a Norway road trip can be overwhelming. There are endless possibilities and so many incredible things to see in Norway. Where does one even begin?
Of course, you want to visit as many places as you can. However, you also need to balance the amount of time spent in the car. You don’t want to move so fast that you feel like you’ve spent the entire trip sitting in the car. That’s not fun. Or the point of the road trip adventure.
On this Norway road trip, we travel with our two boys, aged 10 and 8 at the time. Because of this, purchasing flights and/or train tickets starts to add up. Unfortunately, this eliminates the northern regions, like the Lofoten Islands, from this particular Norway travel itinerary.
Although we had 12 days for this road trip around Norway, you can easily skip a few of these places to reduce it a 7 day Norway road trip. That’s the thing we love most about road trips – you can make adjustments as you go!
Things to consider when planning a Norway road trip
Before we dive into each destination on this Norway road trip itinerary, we feel it’s important to share a few of the factors that influence our decisions.
- Short drive days. We do not want to drive more than 3 hours per day. Our boys are great travelers, but they don’t like long car rides. Windy roads and multiple stops can easily turn a 3 hour drive into 6 hours.
- Oslo departure and arrival. It’s cheaper to pick-up and return your vehicle at the same location. We depart Norway from Oslo and take an overnight ferry to Copenhagen. This means backtracking to Oslo, which adds extra drive time. You can avoid this by finishing your road trip in a different city, like Bergen, Stavanger, Alesund or Trondheim.
- Family travel. We are travelling with our two boys. If we did not have kids with us, we would choose a slightly different route. For example, we would do the popular Pulpit Rock hike, which would mean visiting Stavanger. And, we might have taken a flight from Alesund back to Oslo.
- Visit the popular Norway attractions. For this road trip, we want to include stops in Bergen, Jostedalsbreen National Park, Aurlandsfjord, Sognefjord, Geirangerfjord and Lillehammer. We also want to see a few of Norway’s iconic stave churches.
- Accommodations. Visiting Norway in the summer is expensive. Hotels fill up quickly. There are limited “family rooms” that fit a family of four. This lack of viable accommodations impacts the route and places we stay. In Oslo we stayed in a two bedroom with breakfast included at the Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion.
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We got a hybrid Ford SUV from Hertz and did the pick-up/drop-off in Oslo city center.
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Above is the 12 day Norway road trip map
The route goes as follows: Oslo > Hemsedal > Borgund > Aurland > Flam > Gudvangen > Bergen > Forde > Jostedalsbreen National Park > Geiranger > Trollstigen > Lom > Hafjell > Lillehammer > Oslo.
If you’ve been researching ideas for the best Norway road trip itinerary, you might be surprised by the above route. It’s missing a few popular tourist destinations, like Stavanger and Alesund. We had to make some tough decisions. We will explain why in each section below.
To see the countryside of Norway, it’s best to rent a car. Public transportation is expensive and limited. There are options for organized tours and day trips. However, we find organized tours to be challenging with kids. We find them to be too restrictive and cater to wider audience, which is not our preference.
In this post, we break down each location with drive times, attractions and where to stay.
No matter what Norway road trip route you decide, you will be impressed by Norway’s stunning landscapes and majestic fjords. You will also look back at the places you could have visited with slight FOMO. As I write this post, I’ve had a few “Doh, we should have gone there!” moments.
Unfortunately, this is unavoidable. Unless you dedicate a month (or more) to travel Norway.
Day 1 & 2 – Oslo
We spent 2 nights in Oslo before starting our Norway road trip. We spent 1 more night in Oslo (total of 3 nights) after dropping off the car rental at the end of the road trip. Obviously, if you have more time, you can add (or subtract) days at the beginning or end of this Norway road trip from Oslo.
There are so many things to do Oslo.
Visit the Oslo Opera House and Rådhuset (City Hall), walk along Karl Johans Gate to The Royal Palace, wander the modern Aker Brygge promenade, visit the Nobel Peace Center and/or The National Museum, explore the historic Akershus Fortress, visit the Munch museum and/or Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. That should keep you busy for a few days!
Note – The Viking Ship Museum is closed until 2026.
For a unique experience, visit a floating sauna in the Oslo fjord. You will find these located beside the Oslo Opera House (see photo below), near the Munch museum (see the second photo below – we think this is the best location), and there are a few floating saunas at Aker Brygge promenade.
Where to stay in Oslo
There are plenty of hotels in downtown Oslo. We stayed at Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion.
The breakfasts in Norway are very good. Eating at restaurants is very expensive in Norway, so having breakfast included with your hotel will save you money.
We researched Oslo apartment rentals on VRBO but did not find anything suitable for our family in our price range. When you factor in breakfasts, coffee and light dinners, it’s actually more economical to stay at hotels. This, of course, depends on how many people you are traveling with.
Day 3 – Oslo to Hemsedal
We picked up our rental car at 9:30 AM. Before we left Oslo, we visited Norsk Folkemuseum at Bygdøy. This is an interesting outdoor museum and good introduction into Norway’s history. The Gol Stave Church (Gol stavkirke) is remarkable. Watch a short video of the church here.
We spent 2 hours at the Norsk Folkemuseum. It was 1:30 by the time we left Oslo.
We chose Hemsedal for a few reasons:
- Affordable and available accommodations with a family room.
- It’s a 3 hour drive from Oslo (we arrived at 4:30 PM).
- We want to visit the black Borgund Stave Church.
- It’s a ski resort in the the Scandinavian Alps. We plan to hike in the morning.
- It’s an easy 2 hour drive from Hemsedal to Aurland (our next stop)
We stayed at Skogstad Hotell. It’s located on the main road (Highway 52), making it an easy and convenient road trip stop.
The family room has an upstairs loft. We like the privacy and extra space with the loft, which is needed after spending the day in the car together.
Day 4 – Hemsedal to Aurland (via Borgund)
The drive from Hemsedal to Borgund is about an hour. The original plan for a morning hike in Hemsedal was spoiled by rain. After a quick visit to the ski hill, we made our way to Borgund to visit the impressive Borgund stave church, built around 1180.
We spent an hour at the church and visitor center. It’s one of the most distinctive stave churches in all of Norway. We think it’s worth visiting.
The road trip continues with a drive through Lærdalstunnelen, the longest road tunnel in the world at 24.5 km. It’s a remarkable engineering accomplishment. It has multiple caverns that are illuminated with bright blue lights so that drivers can pull over if they need a break.
We chose Aurland for a few reasons:
- We could not find accommodations in Flam, which is where we originally wanted to stay. It’s only 15 minutes drive from Aurland to Flam.
- There are only a few hotels in this area. Because of this, hotel rooms are very expensive ($500+ per night) and availability is limited in peak travel season.
- It was challenging to find a hotel room that accommodates a family of four.
- Aurland to Bergen is only 3 hours drive.
We stayed at Winjum Cabin Aurland Stegastein.
The property has several basic cottages with bunk beds. We thought it would be fun to mix things up and stay in one of these rustic wooden cottages. Upon arrival, the owner informed us that he had overbooked the cottages. To compensate, he offered us a large 2-bedroom cottage with a full kitchen, bathroom with laundry. It was a nice upgrade!
Stegastein viewing platform
One of the main attractions in Aurland is the Stegastein viewpoint. It offers panoramic views of Aurlandsfjord at 650 metres above sea level.
Unfortunately, our excitement to visit this attraction was spoiled by the rain. We were told by many people that this particular summer in Norway was exceptionally rainy and cold.
We decided to visit the Stegastein viewing platform the following morning, before leaving Aurland. The good news is that the rain stopped. The bad news is that thick fog rolled into the fjord, making it difficult to see anything from the viewing platform. Watch this video to see what happened.
It was disappointing, but we did get a few open views half-way down the mountain.
Walking on the Stegastein viewpoint overlooking Aurlandsfjord. Or, in this case, a view of the thick morning fog that engulfed the fjord.
Aurlandsfjord is a 17 km arm of Sognefjord, the world’s second longest fjord. Together, along with the Nærøyfjord, the Aurlandsfjord is one of the most picturesque fjords in the world. These West Norwegian Fjords are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the above photo, if you look in the distance, you can see a white cruise ship. That’s the town of Flam. It’s a popular port of call on Norway fjord cruises.
Day 4 – Aurland to Bergen (via Flam and Gudvangen)
We left the Stegastein viewpoint and drove to Flam. We spent about an hour in Flam.
The famous Flam Railway, or Flamsbana, is ranked as one of Europe’s most spectacular rail journeys. It’s a key feature in the hugely popular Norway in a Nutshell tour.
We considered riding the Flam Railway to Myrdal.
It’s an hour each way, so it takes a few hours to complete. It was a tough decision. However, we decided to skip the Flam train. The weather was not cooperating that day. It was rainy and foggy, with limited visibility in the mountains. We felt like the views would be disappointing, like our earlier visit to Stegastein lookout.
We are disappointed that we did not get to experience the Flam train, but it didn’t feel like the right move at the time. I’m not sure if we made the right decision. It’s such an iconic Norway tourist attraction.
We left Flam and drove through the Gudvanga Tunnel. It is Norway’s third longest road tunnel at 11.4 km.
This fjord village is surrounded by waterfalls and lush mountains in every direction. There’s a fun Viking tourist attraction here, along with a cafe, restaurant and hotel. Many kayak and paddleboard excursions start from Gudvangen.
The Flam Railway train station is surrounded by mountains and waterfalls.
One of the best parts of a road trip is the surprising things you’ll discover on the journey. Tvindefossen is located just off the E16 highway, making it easily accessible. It’s worth pulling over and spending a few minutes admiring it’s cascading waterfalls.
We continued driving to the city of Voss. It has a gondola that takes guests up to the ski area. The Voss Gondola is said to be the largest and most modern mountain gondola in Northern-Europe.
Unfortunately, we did not know about this gondola. We probably would have planned our day differently had we known. It looks like a fun place to spend a few hours.
Day 5 – Full day in Bergen
We arrived in Bergen at 4:00 PM on Day 4. Given that we decided to skip the Flam Railway, this was earlier than originally expected.
After checking into our Bergen hotel room, we made our way to the Fløibanen funicular, one of Bergen’s most visited tourist attractions. Rain was expected the following day, so we decided to do this activity at the end of day 4, instead of on Day 5. It was the right call. The weather was somewhat cooperative that evening.
The next day is a full day in Bergen. After changing hotels three nights in a row, it’s nice to have multiple nights in the same place. It’s important to balance our desire to see everything with moving too fast.
Unfortunately, the rain was still hanging around. Because of this, we decided to visit Bergen Aquarium, Akvariet, said to be Norway’s largest aquarium. Visiting the aquarium was a nice change of pace. Our boys enjoyed the visit. You only need a couple hours, at most, to see the exhibits.
Where to stay in Bergen
There are plenty of hotels in central Bergen. We stayed in the Bryggen area, which is more expensive but centrally located within walking distance to most attractions. Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen, is arguably Bergen’s most popular tourist attractions and is listed as a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
We stayed at Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret. It’s located close to Bryggen on the waterfront.
We enjoyed this property and would recommend it. Similar to the Clarion in Oslo, it offers an afternoon tea and light dinner buffet, along with the breakfast buffet, included in the hotel price. This is a nice feature that made our stay more enjoyable and cost effective.
View from the lookout tower at our hotel. The Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret offers stunning views of Bryggen’s wooden rooftops and Bergen’s Old Town.
Day 6 – Bergen to Forde
The Norway road trip continues north, from Bergen to Førde.
We hit the road after a late breakfast and made our way to Ytre Oppedal. This is where the highway turns into a ferry crossing. We arrive just as the ferry departs from Ytre Oppedal to Lavik, so we wait about 20 minutes for the next ferry to arrive.
We were a little confused about how the ferry crossing works. There is not place to purchase tickets. You drive your vehicle into a lane and wait to board the ferry. Vehicles are automatically charged the ferry toll. Most rental vehicles will have the autopass set-up, so you don’t need to do anything.
Why did we choose to stay in Forde?
We struggled to find accommodations in the area. Initially, we considered staying in Skei, at the Thon Partner Hotel Jolster. However, there were no family rooms available at the time. We found this to be a common theme when booking hotels at peak summer travel season.
Instead, we chose to stay in the town Forde because it’s a 3 hour drive from Bergen. Remember, that’s one of our goals for this Norway road trip.
We stayed at Forde Gjestehus og Camping. This campground has several options, from private cottages to RV campsites to apartments.
We chose the two bedroom apartment. It’s a spacious apartment with full kitchen and laundry, which is just what we needed. There’s a grocery store close to the campground, so that evening was spent shopping, cooking and doing laundry. The less glamourous side of road tripping.
We enjoyed our stay at this property and would recommend it.
However, if we could do it over again, we would skip Forde and drive straight to Olden or Leon.
This will add 2 hours to the drive, making it a long 5 hour drive from Bergen. BUT, after visiting Briksdalsbreen in Jostedalsbreen National Park, we’d recommend the longer drive to spend more time in this area. It’s stunning here.
There are several campgrounds with small cottages along the road from Olden to Briksdalsbreen. The rooms are basic, so don’t expect a fancy breakfast buffet. But if you’re open to a rustic cabin experience, we’d recommend this area instead of Forde.
The vibrant colour of Oldevatnet Lake is spectacular. Seriously, watch this video to see for yourself. You want to spend time at this lake if you can.
Day 7 – Jostedalsbreen National Park
Jostedalsbreen is the largest glacier in continental Europe. Jostedal Glacier has a total area of 487 square kilometres (188 square miles). As you can imagine, there are several places to view the glacier, so you’ll need to make a decision on what route is best for you.
If you want to do a glacier hike at Jostedalsbreen, you’ll want to enter on the south side of the glacier. Here’s more info about Jostedal Glacier hiking. If you choose this route, you’d want to drive from Bergen to Guapne or Sogndalsfjøra. Keep in mind, this will add a few extra hours of drive time.
We chose to see the glacier from Briksdalsbreen, an arm of the Jostedalsbreen Glacier. It’s a 5 km hike round trip (2.4 km each way), from the parking lot to the Briksdalsbreen Sightseeing Spot. It’s a moderate hike with stairs and approx. 200 metre elevation.
If you’re not up for the hike, you can jump on the glacier shuttle that takes you most of the way to the glacial lake. You catch the shuttle beside the souvernirshop in Briksdal. The Troll car takes about 1.5 hours roundtrip.
Drive from Forde to Briksdalsbreen to Geiranger
We left Forde at 10:00 AM. The drive from Forde to Briksdalsbreen takes about 2 hours. It’s a beautiful drive, especially the road from Olden to Oldevatnet Lake.
We arrived at the Briksdalsbreen parking lot around 12:00 PM. We spent 3 hours inside the park.
After visiting Briksdalsbreen, we drove to Olden and stopped for a late lunch. Then we pushed on to Geiranger, our final destination for the day.
It was a long day of driving. About 5 hours in total. As mentioned above, we’d rather have done the extra 2 hours the day before, instead of staying in Forde. That way, we’d only have about 2.5 hours drive from Briksdalbreen to Geiranger.
You have two options to get from Stryn to Geiranger. There is a car ferry from Hellesylt to Geiranger (more info and pricing here). Or you drive to up the mountain pass to Djupvatnet Lake (picture below) and down the famous switchbacks of Trollstigen.
It was raining heavily as we drove down Trollstigen, which added to the excitement.
Unfortunately, we did not get a good photo opportunity to show the craziness of this road, due to the weather and poor visibility. Check out this incredible panorama photo to see the road. If the weather is nice, visit The Trolls Path Viewpoint for jaw-dropping views.
Day 8 – Geirangerfjord
We spent two nights in the village of Geiranger. This gives one full day to explore, without any driving. After days of driving, it’s nice to have a day off.
Geirangerfjord is one of Norway’s greatest treasures. Surrounded by steep cliffs and towering mountains, Geirangerfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that must be included on your Norway road trip itinerary.
The village is touristy and some might say you only need a few hours here. We spent a full day in Geiranger so that we could join a fjord safari on a RIB Boat. It’s a fun way to experience the majestic Geirangerfjord from a different viewpoint.
Here’s a short video of the Seven Sisters Waterfall.
We stayed at Havila Hotel Geiranger, pictured above. It’s perfectly located on the waterfront with easy access to the village restaurants and tourist shops. The rooms are small but clean and comfortable. It’s a good property to spend a night or two.
Day 9 – Trollstigen, Lom and Hafjell
The Norway road tip continues. We left Geiranger at 10:00 AM and backtracked up the dizzying Trollstigen. There are multiple lookout points along this impressive highway, including the Geiranger Skysslag (Skywalk).
Unfortunately, the rain and fog followed us to Geiranger and, like Stegastein a few days earlier, the impressive views were nothing more than thick fog.
As we approached the town of Lom, we decided to take a break. And we’re glad we did! Lom is famous for Lom Stave Church, one of the few remaining stave churches in Norway, and Lom National Park Village.
Our boys were feeling restless that day, so we made a visit to Lom Aktivitetspark. We spent about 1.5 hours at this adventure park before driving to Hafjell, where we would spend the next two nights.
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Geiranger to Alesund / 10 day Norway road trip
Another option is to drive from Geiranger to Alesund, which is about 2.5 hours drive with a ferry crossing. You would finish the road trip here and catch a flight from Alesund to Oslo or Bergen. This would give you a perfect 10 day Norway road trip itinerary.
We considered this option. And, we’re disappointed that we missed Alesund on this road trip. It looks like a really cool city.
However, the cost of four flights plus the additional expense for not returning the rental car to the original location, was too expensive for us.
Therefore, we chose to drive back to Oslo and spend a couple nights in Lillehammer on the way.
Day 10 – Hafjell and Hunderfossen Familiepark
We chose to stay in Hafjell because we wanted to take our boys to Hunderfossen Familiepark, also known as Hunderfossen Fairytale Park.
There’s only so many stave churches and fjords that our boys can handle. We feel it’s important to breakup the sightseeing and long drives with some kid friendly activities, too.
It was the right decision. We had a blast spending the day at Hunderfossen. It’s a smaller amusement park, when compared to some of the parks in North America. It’s the perfect size park for the age of our boys. A nice mix of easy roller coasters, mini-golf, river rafting, go karts and, naturally, lots of Norwegian trolls!
We will write a separate blog post about Hunderfossen soon.
Fun fact – Hafjell hosted the alpine skiing technical events (giant slalom and slalom) at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.
Where to stay in Hafjell
We rented a private alpine apartment near the Hafjell gondola – Hafjell Resort Alpin Apartments Solsiden. Pictured above.
We stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment with full kitchen and private sauna. It’s a nice property and location, especially if you visit during the ski season. Having separate rooms is a nice change of pace. We picked up groceries from the nearby grocery store and used the kitchen instead of eating at restaurants.
Before leaving Hafjell, we planned to ride the gondola to the top of the mountain. The gondola is open in the summer for mountain biking and hiking. It’s only 9 minutes to the top and the gondola is located right beside our apartment rental, so we thought it would be a fun activity before our final drive back to Oslo.
Unfortunately, it was closed that day. Apparently that Monday was the start of the shoulder season (it was mid-August), so the gondola was closed during the week. Summer hours of operation ended the day before, when we were at Hunderfossen Familiepark.
Can you see the running man holding a torch in the above photo? It’s easier to see in the winter when the mountain is covered with snow.
It’s called Fakkelmannen (or The Torchbearer in English). This mountainside mural was created for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway. It’s an iconic symbol of those winter games.
Day 11 – Lillehammer to Oslo
The Norway road trip continues. We left Hafjell around 10:00 AM and drove 15 minutes south to Lillehammer, host city of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway.
We spent a couple hours in Lillehammer. It’s a nice city. We visited the iconic Lysgårdsbakkene Hoppanlegg, home of the Lillehammer Olympic ski jumping events. We are a skiing and snowboarding family, so it’s fun to see the Lillehammer Olympiapark.
After lunch, we completed the final leg of the road trip. It’s about 2 hours from Lillehammer to Oslo.
Day 12 – Depart Oslo
We arrived in Oslo late afternoon. After spending close to an hour trying to find a gas station in rush hour traffic, we dropped off the rental car.
We booked a hotel that’s within walking distance to the car rental location. That way, we avoided finding transportation to get to our hotel.
For our final night in Norway, we stayed at the Clarion Collection Hotel Savoy. If you’ve been paying attention, this was our third stay at a Clarion Collection hotel. We like this hotel chain and would recommend it.
The following day, we boarded the DFDS Ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen. And just like that, our great Norway adventure was over.
Congratulations. You made it this far! Well done.
When I started writing this post, my goal was to keep it less than 2,000 words. I failed miserably.
Hopefully you found this 12 day Norway road trip itinerary helpful. You can shrink this itinerary to become a shorter road trip, but I would recommend spending at least 7 days for a proper Norway road trip.
Are you planning a Norway road trip?
If you have questions, leave us a comment below. We’ll do our best to answer in a timely manner.