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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
Atlanterhavsveien to Ålesund
Ålesund to Geiranger (Dalsnibba)
Dalsnibba to Geiranger Port
Hellesylt to Fjærland
2 hours 30mins
Fjærland to Flåm
Flåm to Voss
Voss to Bergen
1 hour 40mins