Author: ruby jutlay

Northern Lights in Norway and Sweden: 5 nights

To see the Northern Lights had always been a dream of mine, but the sheer cost of the trip had always been a major factor. Our 5 nights in Norway (Tromsø) and Sweden (Abisko) wasn’t cheap, but was worth every penny when we saw the dancing auroras circling above us in the cosmic wind and they have undoubtedly left a lasting memory.

What are the Northern Lights?

To put in simple terms, the Sun ejects electrically charged particles and this is known as the Solar Wind. When the solar wind collides with our magnetic field, namely the North and South Pole, they can enter Earth’s atmosphere at these points. As they enter our atmosphere, they put on a display of colours as the solar wind mixes with the various gases. When above 200km altitude the ions mix with oxygen and the particles turn red. When between 100km and 200km they come into contact with oxygen and nitrogen and they display as blue and green. And when they are below 100km they mix with just nitrogen and you’ll see them as a pink/crimson colour.

Crimson and green Northern Lights display
Northern Lights magic!
Photo credit: Ruby Jutlay

When to go?

The Aurora Borealis (“Northern Dawn”) as they are known, come into action during the winter months of October to March. The Northern Lights activity take place on an 11 year cycle known as the Solar Cycle. The last one being in 2013 when the activity was at its highest peak. But to see the lights all you need is a clear sky at night. TOP TIP: Ideally you should go when there is a new moon as the brightness from the full moon can also affect the viewing if the aurora is weak. We went during the new moon in March and saw spectacular displays that did not disappoint.

Where to go?

There are a number a countries you can choose from, Alaska, Iceland, Finland, Greenland, Norway, Siberia and Sweden. We chose to go to Tromsø in Norway for two nights, and Abisko in Sweden for three. We chose Tromsø as it was in Lapland and very near the Arctic Circle and easy to get to from Oslo, and Abisko because the Sky Station is situated at the perfect degrees to view the lights and also very easily commutable from Norway by train.

Hotels

There are about two dozen hotels to choose from in Tromsø, but there are only a couple in Abisko and these get booked very quickly, so book early if you can.

In Abisko, Sweden, we stayed at Turiststation STF hotel which is within walking distance from the train station and offers great half board meals. Its location is part of the Abisko National Park, so you might see the odd reindeer! The views from the dining room overlooking the frozen Lake Torneträsk and snow filled mountain backdrops makes it a very picturesque hotel. The Sky Station is also a short walk from the hotel too.

Clothing

It is essential you take the correct clothing when planning a trip to see the Northern Lights. Temperatures late in the evening can plummet to -10°C if not more, and if you are not prepared you will suffer as you can spend hours in the cold waiting or chasing the lights.

See my Top Tips below to pack the right stuff:

Tip #1 – Wear ski pants with a rating of at least 5,000mm – 10,000mm. Standing still, your legs will get cold so it’s important you take a good quality pair of ski pants.

Tip #2 – Wear a ski jacket with a rating of at least 5,000mm – 10,000mm. Make sure you have zipped up fully before heading out at night.

Tip #3 – Never take cotton clothing. Cotton when wet with moisture will just make you feel colder.

Tip #4 – Wear layers of thermals/base layers. Merino or a synthetic fabric wick moisture away from the skin very effectively keeping your skin warm and dry. Those long johns you bought all those years ago – well now’s the time to get them out! Base layers under your ski pants isn’t to everyone’s liking, but it’s better to be warm then freeze in the extreme temperatures.

Tip #5 – Take Merino socks. There are a variety of socks to choose from. I found really thick socks didn’t actually keep my feet warm and my feet felt really tight in my boots. I recommend Smartwool socks. Although not cheap, they do have a good range and certainly worth paying extra for. I found the mid PhD range perfect.

Tip #6 – A balaclava or something similar like a neck gaiter. If you are hit by an unexpected blizzard, you will need to cover your face.

Tip #7 – Take a hat that covers your ears. It’s important you don’t let the heat escape your body.

Tip #8 – Invest in a good pair of gloves. Keeping your hands warm is imperative. Mittens are good for the day but gloves are more practical in the evening.

Tip #9 – Make sure you have a pair of good quality hiking/ski boots. It’s a good idea to wear these a good few times just to break them in if they are brand new. There’s nothing worse than aching sore feet. Also make sure your socks aren’t too big that your boot don’t fit!

Tip #10 – Invest in some snow grips. Yaktrax Pro are a god send when walking on icy roads/mountains. They can be a bit tricky to put on and you will think you’d ordered the wrong size! But they need to be a nice snug fit under your boots.

Other Essential Items

Hand warmers – In the evenings waiting for the Aurora to appear can be a long drawn out process. Hand warmers last a good few hours and keep the tips of your fingers warm.

Red torch – A little red torch you can hang off your jacket or a red headlamp. It’s important you don’t take a white torch as it’s bright light will upset your fellow photographers! It’s pitch black in the fields and any artificial light can interfere with the camera shots. A red light is less invasive, but just as practical when you need to make adjustments to your camera settings.

Thermos – I listed this because I loved drinking hot chocolate in the freezing fields on the cold nights when we were waiting for the Aurora’s to show!

Lip moisturiser – Good lip protector is essential. The lips tend to really dry up and can chap in the cold.

Face moisturiser – It’s vital you take a good moisturiser with you as the extreme weather in the evening can be quite harsh to the skin. I was recommended Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream which was great and kept my face hydrated.

Sunglasses – As it can get very bright during the day in the snow.

Camera – A point and shoot camera will not be good enough, you will need a DSLR like a Nikon or Canon to get those memorable shots. Get to know your camera and familiarise yourself with the settings because when you are standing in the freezing cold your brain just turns to mush and you forget how to use it!

Batteries – Your camera batteries will get drained a little bit quicker in the cold weather, so take two batteries, but keep them warm in your pocket until you are ready to actually start shooting.

ruby jutlay northern lights selfie
Northern Lights selfie
Photo credit: Ruby Jutlay

Remote Control – This might sound like an odd thing to take, but by using a remote control wired or wireless, is the best way to start shooting as it means you don’t have to be right next to camera and you don’t have to take your gloves off. Also great for taking a selfie under the lights!

Lens – It’s ok to take the normal kit lens that comes with your camera, but for those enthusiasts out there then I recommend the 18-24mm Nikon and a Wide lens (Nikon, Canon or Sigma) to capture more of the sky. You can hire lens from a number of online companies, which is what I did. You’ll find a fantastic range of lenses for all occasions and most companies will even post the lens out to you. 5 days cost me about £60 instead of buying the lens for £1200!

Tripod – You don’t need an overly expensive tripod, but you need a sturdy one and one that is light to carry. It is essential you take a tripod as you will be shooting long exposures and you cannot hold the camera in your hand as you will just end up with a blurry shot.

SD Cards – Make sure you take an Extreme SanDisk as they are designed to be used in extreme weathers. They come in a variety of sizes, but the 16GB one I took had ample space to take as many photos as I wanted, on a typical night you can take around 2GB worth of RAW photos.

How to Photograph the Northern Lights

Long Exposures
Photos should be taken as long exposures
Photo credit: Ruby Jutlay

I’m by no means a professional photographer, but what I did do before I went on this trip was to learn how to setup my Nikon DSLR. It’s so vital you know how to change the Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed manually. This is essentially all you need to know. As a guideline, most of the photos on this blog were taken in RAW mode at ISO 1600, aperture f2.8-f4.5 and a shutter speed between 5-10 seconds with a Nikon 14-24mm lens. This is because the activity was strong. If activity is weak, you would increase the shutter speed, Its also worth noting the best photos are the ones where you have managed to capture some background images, like trees or the back drop of the mountains. This is a great way to give your photo some dimension.

I recommend 7 Easy Steps to Your Own Amazing Photos as a great start to learn the basics to photographing those magical moments.

Our Itinerary

This itinerary was carefully tailored by Sunvil travel agent and myself. I do recommend you go through an agent when planning a trip to see the Northern Lights especially as there are so many activities you can do during the day and night. There is a lot to plan from the flights, hotels, train tickets, bus tickets, transfers to and from the airports, just to mention a few.
Sunvil’s recommended itinerary was slightly modified to suit our needs and also due to no availability we had to book other excursions.

Day 1 – Arrive in Tromsø, Norway

We arrived in Tromsø in the afternoon and as we hadn’t been able to book all our excursions through Sunvil, we headed straight to the Tromsø Tourists Visitor Centre to see what we could do during our time in Tromsø. The staff were really helpful and we managed to book all of our excursions with ease.

For our first night we booked the Northern Lights Dinner Cruise. This intimate gathering of 12 people on the boat was a fantastic way to start our adventure in Tromsø. The crew were friendly and the food they cooked was lovely. Must warn you that the Norwegians like their root vegetables quite crunchy! It had hardly been an hour and the Northern Lights started to creep up on us! Excited, we all run out onto the deck and got our cameras ready. No two displays are every going to be same, but what you do notice is how the wind swirls and mixes with the gases. We had about an hour of activity – what a way to introduce us to the amazing Northern Lights!

Swirling solar winds during our dinner cruise
Swirling solar winds during our dinner cruise!
Photo credit: Ruby Jutlay

Day 2 – Explore Tromsø and Hunt for the Aurora’s

To keep ourselves busy during the day, we had booked Marianne’s fjord, whale, eagle and wildlife photography day time tour. This 4 hour tour had 6 of us driving through some of the most scenic views Tromsø has to offer. It was fun and informative and we were taken to many breathtaking viewpoints. We did see some wildlife and eagles but alas we were out of season to see the whales. We even visited Marianne’s grandad’s house for some hot drinks!

The Fjords around Tromsø
The Fjords around Tromsø
Photo credit: Ruby Jutlay

In the evening we went on The Aurora Hunt by minibus which came as part of our package. It started with a 45mins drive to the countryside where the weather reports were showing some activity. When we arrived, there was nothing, so we checked the weather reports again and continued to drive for another 30mins north. I guess this is where the phrase, ‘Chasing the lights’ comes from, but literally that is what you are doing! We went from one destination to another based on the weather reports and we almost reached the borders of Sweden/Finland before we ended up in a massive field and saw what can only be described as a mesmerising display of colours. We were so lucky to have seen corona after corana. A corana is when the wind circles round and round and then explodes in the middle giving you a full spectrum of colours, and as it lights up the whole sky 360 degrees, the only way to shoot is to get on your back and hold your camera straight above! Oh what fun we had but also almost froze to death!

Aurora hunt in Tromsø
Aurora hunt in Tromsø
Photo credit: Ruby Jutlay

Day 3 – Arrive in Abisko, Sweden

We departed Tromsø early in the morning and took a bus to Narvik. It’s about 4 hours but the views on this bus are just amazing. Once we got to Narvik it was a short walk to the train station and we boarded the train to Abisko and crossed over to Sweden. This 2 hour journey is so scenic. We decided to rest on this night after a long day of travelling.

Tromsø to Narvik views
Tromsø to Narvik views
Photo credit: Ruby Jutlay

Day 4 – Visit the ICEHOTEL and Aurora Photo Tour

We had hoped to go to the ICEHOTEL on this day as a private tour which included lunch, but once again it was fully booked, but not undeterred we decided to plan this trip ourselves! We took the first train from Abisko to Kiruna and from there we took a cab to the ICEHOTEL. We had an hour at the hotel before we had to catch our last train back to Abisko!

The ICEHOTEL is a great place to visit but I wouldn’t want to stay there! We had just enough time to go to all the Art Suites, see the main attraction which was the Elephant! Popped into the Ice Chapel and have a freezing vodka/cranberry at the ICEBAR before heading back to Abisko. And all this at a fraction of the cost of the private tour!

ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Photo credit: Ruby Jutlay

In the evening we went on the Aurora photo tour which came as part of our package. This was by far the best night of activity we had seen. You do have to bring your own SD card as a Nikon DSLR and tripod and bag are all offered as part of this tour if you don’t have a camera. It was a short walk to the viewpoint which was on a hill. The guide then lit up a fire inside a teepee where we found ourselves retreating to when it got really cold! The moment we arrived we were rewarded with the most spectacular displays! The aurora’s were moving so fast I had trouble keeping up. The other great thing about this tour is when we needed to, the guide would tell everyone what camera settings we should be on to capture these magical moments!

Abisko Photo Tour
Abisko Photo Tour
Photo credit: Ruby Jutlay

Day 5 – Aurora Sky Station

The final night saw us travel to the Aurora Sky Station. The tour came as part of our package, but you can book it yourself at the Turiststation STF hotel. To be honest I was little disappointed with all the hype surrounding this station. I felt that the group was quite large and the walk to the chair-lift itself was quite long and slippery (so glad I had my Yaktrax on!). Before you go onto the chair-lift, the guides insist you wear a snow suit as the Sky Station is located at the top of Mount Nuolja, which is 900 meters above sea level. The ride to the top is about 20mins and it is one of the most brutal experiences I’ve had (even as a skier who is used to going on chair-lifts, the weather late at night is something else). Its so dark and cold and just when you think you’ve reached the top, you go over a hill and realise there’s about another 50m to go and the blizzard came out of no where, I’m so glad I opted to wear the snow suit offered by the guides.

Once at the top, it feels really crowded and you spend most of your time in the café as it’s so cold and windy outside. We spent 3 hours up on the Sky Station and we saw very little activity that night. There are two view points that you can climb to, but again there are so many people it’s a bit off-putting as everyone is trying to get the best spot for their tripod.

You are free to leave and return to the bottom whenever you want, but I suggest you depart when the majority of crowd does as we got lost finding our way back to the hotel, as we were one of the last groups to go back down and this is no fun around 11pm!

Other Excursions

There are a number of excursion you can book during the day, but be warned most of these have a 9am start and if you been out all night be prepared to wake up early!

• Husky sledding
• Snowmobile safaris
• Reindeer sledding
• Whale watching trips
• Skiing
• The Sami Experience

Final Thoughts

That pretty much wraps up my guide to see the Northern Lights in Norway and Sweden. Its a life time trip that I know is on many people’s bucket list. It is a must do of course, but its all about planning this trip if it’s your first time. We booked our trip in January for the March visit and already at that point the excursions were already full booked. It really does pay to book early.

The Atlantic Ocean Road to Bergen: 4 Day Road Trip, Norway

The idea of going on a four day road trip from the Atlantic Ocean Road to the southwest corner of Bergen came to me when I first visited Norway to see the Northern Lights. I fell in love with the fjords whilst on a bus from Tromsø to Narvik. The frozen lakes and snow filled backdrop mountain views looked like picture postcards and I knew one day I would come back and see this country in its glory during the summer months. And sure enough, come the summer, I did!

Map of Route

This is a four day road trip itinerary from The Atlantic Ocean Road to Bergen via Molde and Ålesund. It’s about 800km in total and the drive is actually only three days. The fourth day is spent exploring the city of Bergen on foot.

ruby_jutlay_mapofroute

This trip has the following itinerary:

Day 1: Molde – Atlanterhavsveien – Ålesund
(4 hours driving)
Day 2: Ålesund – Geiranger – Hellesylt – Fjærland
(6 ½ hours driving)
Day 3: Fjærland – Flåm – Voss – Bergen
(4 ½ hours driving)
Day 4: Explore Bergen on foot.

Each of the directions can be printed from the links at the end of the post.

Flights

Book with SAS for both International and Internal flights to Norway if you can. This will make transferring onto the Internal flight much faster, otherwise you will need to  pick up your baggage, exit at Arrivals and come back in again through Departures. Book your internal flight at least 1 hour after expected landing time on inbound flight to Norway and make sure you print your boarding pass for any internal flight before you leave from home.

Hotels

We stayed one night in Ålesund, Fjærland and Bergen. booking.com is one of the best websites to use for hotel bookings as they offer free cancellations. You don’t actually pay for the room until you arrive on the day, all you are doing is reserving your room.

You are of course free to stay at any hotel you wish but my directions are to the following hotels:

Ålesund – First Atlantica Hotel

It was a nice hotel in the centre of Ålesund. Breakfast was served from 8am to 10am. For dinner we just took a short walk into town and had a great meal.

Fjærland – Fjærland Fjordstue Hotel

The location of this hotel was absolutely amazing and comes highly recommended. Such friendly staff and the ambience was great. The views from the room were nice too. When booking, definitely reserve a table for dinner which is served at 19:30. This hotel is in a remote area and you will find it very difficult to find another restaurant. It also seems quite popular with the locals for lunch and dinner. The rooms were a bit small and the walls between the rooms a bit on the thin side, so ear plugs are supplied in your room! Luckily we didn’t have to use them. But don’t let that put you off from booking as it’s location is perfect.

Bergen – The Magic Hotel

Avoid at all costs, I’m not even going to waste my time as to explaining why. But I suggest staying in a hotel in the centre of town (near the Fish market). I would recommend staying at the Thon Hotel as its very central.

Car Rental

Now, here’s the thing about Norway that will most definitely annoy you and determine whether this beautiful country is worth paying the extra dollar for. The total cost of the hire of the car plus the cost of fuel (as you have to return the tank full) was a whopping 7000NOK for 4 days. What?! I hear your cry! No I hadn’t rented out a Tesla or anything it was just a manual Audi/Volvo range. So why it is so expensive? Well, it’s turns out that if you pick up the car from one airport and drop it off at another, the rental companies will slap on a one-way fee, which in our case was around 3600NOK. The car rental itself was only 2350NOK plus 500NOK for the diesel. Then there are extra charges for the toll roads (around 500NOK on this route) that are deducted from your deposit and also you can pay for Full Protection around 550NOK which is refunded if the car is returned undamaged.

TOP TIP: We pre-booked our car with rentalcars.com as they offer competitive prices across all the rental companies, but don’t select the Full Protection when booking. If you do, rentalcars will not refund this to you. Instead buy this at the counter when you pick up the car and the rental company will refund you this amount if the car is returned undamaged.

Driving in Norway

Some important points about driving in Norway to be aware of:

  • Norwegians drive on the right side of the road.
  • The speed limit in Norway is 80Km/h on country roads and the speed cameras do not flash.
  • Make sure your Sat Nav (Garmin, TomTom) has been updated, the ones in the rental car are not.
  • On the narrower roads, some drivers may want to overtake you. You must slow down and use your right indicator to signal when it’s clear for them to take over.
  • Be prepared to drive through many tunnels at the latter stages of the route.
  • Be weary of the many sharp bends and narrow roads on this route. Do not drive for your own safety if you are tired.
  • You will come across a number of the ‘National Tourist Road’ signs for viewpoints. It really is up to you if you want to stop at all of them.
    national_tourist_road_sign attraction_road_sign

Ferries

On this route there are three ferry crossings. The costs below are for the car (and driver) plus one adult passenger:

  • Day 1: Molde – Vestnes (35mins) 182NOK
  • Day 2: Linge – Eidsdal (10mins) 103NOK
  • Day 3: Mannheller – Fodnes (15mins) 106NOK

The system in Norway is actually quite impressive and so super organised! Upon arriving at the port, you will see a number of Lanes numbered 1 to say, 4 depending on the size of the port. You simply drive your car into Lane 1 if space is available, if not, drive into Lane 2 and so on. Depending on the length of the crossing, sometimes you pay whilst waiting to get on board or other times, you get on to the ferry and pay on board. It looks as if they only take cash on these. The ferry timetables can be found on fjord1.no website, but are very frequent.

ruby_jutlay_fjord_ferry
Fjord ferry
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

Download the pdf for the fares. The pdf is in Norwegian, but basically you find the ferry crossing you want and check what zone it is in. Then look for that zone in the table on the right. The first column in this table is the fare for Adults, the second column Senior Children and then the rest of the columns is the cost of the car plus driver depending on the length of your vehicle.

Geirangerfjord Cruise

One the main reasons we chose our route from Molde to Bergen was because it meant we could drive through the GeirangerFjord and see the spectacular views from above at Trollstigen mountain (Trolls Road) and Dalsnibba (Skysslag) and also go on board the cruise from Geiranger to Hellesylt as part of our journey.

It is worth booking the cruise before you travel in case it gets busy, to be fair when we went in August it wasn’t particularly busy and you can buy the tickets once you arrive at the Geiranger Stranda (the port).

Geirangerfjord Cruise boat Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay
Geirangerfjord Cruise boat
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

In the quieter periods you can board an earlier cruise like we did. If staying at the Fjærland hotel suggested, then definitely book no later than the 15:30 departure.

Make sure you also only book a one way ride from Geiranger to Hellesylt. Once again when booking, book, 1 car and driver, and 1 additional passenger! This cruise is about 755NOK.

Food

Food is not cheap in Norway. Along the route you will not pass any restaurants or cafes, but you will come across some of their supermarkets called Spar, Rema 100 and Kiwi. Pop into these just to stock up on some water, fruit and snacks. Meals cost on average about 250NOK per person in the evening and around 150NOK at lunch in the towns.

You can also eat on the ferries. The hot dogs and cinnamon rolls are well recommended.

Clothing

Depending on which month of the year you do this road trip, it’s essential you take the right clothes if you are to enjoy your experience in Norway. It’s a kind of country where you can experience all four seasons in one day! Take normal hiking clothes; a waterproof pair of trousers and jacket (with a hood), good pair of trainers. Hiking boots are not really necessary unless you plan to do some hikes! Also driving in them for long hours would get uncomfortable. A woolly hat/cap as it gets pretty windy on top of the fjords and a good sturdy umbrella. It’s best to wear thin layers as the weather changes you can just take them on and off. And don’t forget your sunglasses!

Day 1: Molde – Atlanterhavsveien – Ålesund

We had booked an early flight out of LHR because we wanted to make the most of our days in Norway. We arrived at Molde airport around 13:00. Molde is situated at the northwest of Norway and marks the start of our journey. It was a horrible rainy day, but we had finally arrived and went straight to the Hertz counter to pick up our car. Interestingly, Hertz upgraded us for free from the Audi A3 to a Hyundai Tucson as they felt that the bigger car would be more appropriate for the route we had before us! Without further to do, we head out to the car park and onto our first stop, the Storseisundet Bridge. What’s that I hear you say? Well it’s a bridge found on a stretch of road called the Atlantic Ocean Road (Atlanterhavsveien). There are 8 bridges in total on this 8.3km road and it most certainly has the wow factor as the drive takes you over the Atlantic Ocean, aptly named no?!

Storseisundet Bridge, Atlanterhavsveien Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay
Storseisundet Bridge, Atlanterhavsveien
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

The drive to the Atlantic Ocean Road was just under an hour. Now don’t make the same mistake as we did and think that the first bridge you come to is the bridge because it isn’t! You have to go over this one and you’ll see our bridge on the right in the distance. There are two viewpoints that you can stop at and feel free to walk around taking as many photos as you need to.

Once you drive over the bridge at the viewpoint there is a small coffee shop and a WC. (Toilets are found everywhere in Norway so don’t be afraid to guzzle down as much of their lovely water available on the tap in all the hotels!) You can walk around the paths here and see the bridge from different angles.

After spending about an hour in the area, the weather took a real turn and we decided to not go ahead to the remaining bridges and head back to Ålesund for our first night. (You will need to drive back to Molde to get to Ålesund). On our drive back we also experienced our first ferry crossing and spicy hot dog! We arrived at Ålesund at around 19:00. Parking was a bit of problem, but the bays are free from 16:00 – 8:00. In the morning we had to pay 20NOK for one hour parking.

Day 2: Ålesund – Geiranger – Hellesylt – Fjærland

Ålesund is a very nice quaint town and it’s definitely worth spending a whole day exploring the area if you can spare an extra day.

After a fairly decent breakfast we set off towards the Geiranger Fjord – the highlight of our trip. It’s about a 3 hour drive and another ferry crossing. You experience the ascent and descent on the fjords and drive along the lakes for a fair amount of time. It’s a really nice drive as you begin to see those scenic views you came for.

Once you cross the ferry, the driving changes as you enter the GeirangerFjorden area. You drive along the fjord and it steadily becomes steeper. Once near the top, you will arrive at Trollstigen. Here you will see the views from above down to Stranda (the port) where your cruise will commence. Take this in, as it’s truly a magical sight.

View at Trollstigen
View at Ørnevegen,Trollstigen
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

The descent down to the port will be the first time you start to experience the hairpin turns; if you love driving, you will love this. This is called the Eagle Road and has 11 hairpins turns.

Hairpins on Eagles Road (Trolls Road) Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay
Hairpins on Eagle Road (Trolls Road)
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

Once you get to the port, carry on driving through the area and onto the fjord in front. The directions will take you to Dalsnibba. This is the highest peak in the area. The drive up from the port is about another 40mins and a fairly steep drive and more hairpins. You will also go through your first toll charge, you don’t need to stop as the little gadget in your car will deduct it automatically.

Drive up to Dalsnibba Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay
Drive up to Dalsnibba/Skysslag
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

It can get quite chilly at the peak here, so make sure you wrap up warm. Once done, drive back down to the port and stop at the various viewpoints signposted.

View at top of peak, Dalsnibba Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay
View at top of peak, Dalsnibba/Skysslag
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

The next part of our journey is the much awaited cruise. We drove on to the boat, parked up and went straight up to the deck. At this point take a seat and have your camera at the ready as you take a leisurely hour ride to Hellesylt.

The cruise keeps you entertained with all the commentary about the history of the Fjord and all the little farms that used to be there. But it’s when you pass The Seven Sisters Waterfall you are left in awe of it’s beauty.

Rainbow goes through The Seven Sisters Waterfall Photo credit: Ruby Jutlay
Rainbow goes through The Seven Sisters Waterfall
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

Once you get to Hellestylt it’s another 2½ drive to Fjærland. This drive is quite a tedious one as you have to drive down one side of the lake for about 25mins only to then drive another 25mins on the other side. You’d think there’d be a ferry here huh?!

We arrived at the hotel just in time for dinner. We were shown a choice of rooms which was nice of them. Then we sat down for the pre-booked 3 course dinner. You will appreciate the pre-booking as this latter part of the journey is quite tiring. There is a nice decked area where you can sit and chill with a drink over-looking the amazing fjords.

Fjaerland Fjordstue Hotel Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay
Fjaerland Fjordstue Hotel
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

Day 3:  Fjærland – Flåm – Voss – Bergen

After a good night’s sleep we set upon early to complete our last leg of the drive to Bergen. The drive from the hotel to Bergen isn’t as fascinating as the Geiranager Fjord, but there are still a number of places you will just naturally stop at and take in the views. If the weather is right, you will see the reflections of the fjords in the lakes, great for capturing that perfect Instagram photo! Make sure you have lots of water with you as you will go through many tunnels on this stretch and you really do start to feel fatigued as they vary from 5km to 24km. Some are quite narrow but there is one in particular you will want to see…

As we came off the ferry at Fodnes, we took a sharp right at the roundabout and entered the Lærdal Tunnel. The tunnel is 24.5km and has three sections inside it where it has blue lighting with yellow lights at the fringes to give an impression of sunrise. They are quite something! TOP TIP: Be careful if you are going to slow down to take photos. Put your hazards on to warn the drivers behind you. You can take a decent shot at 40km/h as we did.

Lærdal Tunnel
Lærdal Tunnel
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

The main places to stop on this route are at Flåm and Voss. Flåm is a quiet town that has an amazing river flowing through it and a waterfall in it’s backdrop. Not only is very scenic, but the town has a real majestic feel to it. If you’re lucky you’ll see the Flåm Railway go past like we did, which itself looks like the most relaxing way to see Norway!

Flåm Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay
Flåm
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

The drive from Flåm to Voss isn’t anything special and if you’re not concentrating you could drive right past the Tvindefossen Waterfall at Voss. This epic waterfall is on the right hand side and do make sure you stop here and walk up to the waterfall. It really is quite spectacular.

Tvindefossen Waterfall Photo Credir: Ruby Jutlay
Tvindefossen Waterfall, Voss
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

Day 4: Explore Bergen on foot

The final day of this road trip ends with a day in Bergen, situated on the southwest coast of Norway, you will feel a real city vibe here. There are loads of places to eat and drink and the place is buzzing! Try some great food at Bien Snackbar and Pingvinen. It’s not a big city so you can walk around in a few hours. The only touristy thing to do in Bergen is to go to the top of Mount Ulriken, the highest peak in the region. The transfer bus goes from the centre of town by the Fish Market on the hour. You can buy tickets at the stall. Its a short 12-15 mins ride to the foot of the mountain and you take a cable car to the top. It’s quite windy up here so take a jacket or hat!

Mount Ulriken transfer bus Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay
Mount Ulriken transfer bus
Photo Credit: Ruby Jutlay

And that’s it folks! I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and feel inspired to do this or a similar drive through Norway. A 4 day road trip in Norway only just touches on the beauty of this country, but I believe this itinerary covers some of the best parts Norway has to offer!

I have linked all the directions from Google below so you can just print them out. Happy driving…

Directions to print:

Molde to Atlanterhavsveien
55mins
Atlanterhavsveien to Ålesund
2hours 45min
Ålesund to Geiranger (Dalsnibba)
3 hours
Dalsnibba to Geiranger Port
40mins
Hellesylt to Fjærland
2 hours 30mins
Fjærland to Flåm
2 hours
Flåm to Voss
1 hour
Voss to Bergen
1 hour 40mins