Road trips in Norway: fjords, mountains and everything in-between
There’s a lot of hype about the beauty of Norway, and it doesn’t come unfounded. Home to spectacular waterfalls, serene fjords, picturesque villages and all the Viking burial sites you could ask for, the land of the midnight sun really is a traveller’s dream.
And with about 1,750 km of this mesmerizing country to explore, if you really want to experience Norway, you’ll need a pair of good shoes, a fully-stocked backpack, and four wheels.
Renting a car is easy and convenient. Plus, you earn 10% CashPoints on your booking when you hire a car with Avis.
Read on for some of our top recommendations for road trips in Norway.
The Coastal Route – Kystriksveien
Fly to Trondheim
Return flight from Bodø
You should spend at least five days exploring what the Coastal Route, the RV 17 between Trondheim and Bodø, has to offer. Here are some suggestions on how to organise your road trip in northern Norway.
Day 1: Trondheim – Rørvik, 280 km, 5 hours 30 mins.
After a good night’s sleep in Trondheim, the 120 km drive along the E6 to Steinkjer will pass quickly. If you have a few spare hours, then check out these top things to do in Trondheim before you set off.
Once on the road, you won’t be far from Stiklestad. In the year 1030 AD this was the site of a battle that was to become the very symbol of the Christianisation of Norway. So, if you’re interested in history, then pay a visit to Stiklestad National Culture Centre. And if you’re there around St. Olaf’s Day, be sure to take in the Pageant of Heilag Olav, as about 800,000 other people have done before you.
After Steinkjer, you should stop and visit the artisans in the Lensmannsgården building in Namdalseid, and in Namsos there are a number of interesting museums and exhibitions you might like to explore. In random order: a saw mill museum, a village museum, a museum of art and a rock music museum. Something for everyone, no less.
From Namsos you should drive further up the FV 769 to Lund, catch the ferry to Hofles and then drive on to Rørvik. Be sure to stop at the museum, Norveg, while there, which holds 11,000 years of coastal culture. In the summer months, you can even take a boat trip out to the preserved fishing village, Sør-Gjæslingan.
Day 2: Rørvik – Leka – Brønnøysund/Torghatten, 170 km, approx. 4 hours 30 mins.
Leaving Rørvik, drive north along the FV 771 and turn off towards Leka. The geology there is quite unique, so go for a drive or a bicycle ride around Leka and enjoy the distinctive landscape.
Spend the night in Brønnøysund or Torghatten. The trip up to the peculiar world-famous hole through the mountain takes about 20 minutes each way and makes for a great evening stroll.
Day 3: Brønnøysund – Sandnessjøen, 133 km, approx. 4 hours 30 mins.
After Brønnøysund, our recommended trip takes you further north, and includes a number of minor ferry crossings. Not far from the ferry at Tjøtta, you’ll find the international World War II cemetery, and in Alstahaug, the cultural heritage of local clergyman and poet from the 1600s, Petter Dass, is duly presented. The Petter Dass Museum was designed by the internationally renowned firm of architects, Snøhetta, and is an experience in its own right.
Proceeding north, the road meanders its way from island to island, providing great views of the Seven Sisters mountain range over on the mainland. Along the way, you’ll find fishing spots, boating opportunities, an equestrian centre and somewhere to spend the night.
Day 4: Sandnessjøen – Kilboghamn, 140 km, 3 hours
Leaving Sandnessjøen, you should continue up to Levang and catch the ferry over to Nesna. The road across the Sjonfjellet mountains is particularly scenic, with a fantastic sea view out towards the islands of Lovund and Træna.
You could also drop into the war museum at Grønsvik Coastal Fort before driving further north to Kilboghamn.
Day 5: Kilboghamn – Svartisen – Ørnes, 142 km, 3 hours
From Kilboghamn, you’ll need to catch two ferries before reaching Meløy. Then it’s about a 15 minute drive to Holandsvika, from where you can catch the boat over to the Svartisen Glacier.
The area around the Svartisen Glacier and the Glomfjella mountains, together with the islands beyond, is fantastic for excursions, whether you’re walking or boating. You may end up spending several days here if you enjoy being out in the wilds.
Day 6: Ørnes/Inndyr – Sandhornøy – Saltstraumen – Bodø 118 km, 2 hours
Leaving Ørnes and Meløy, you can make a detour via Sandhornøy island before joining the Coastal Route again at Kjøpstad. Then you’ll only be a mere 30 minutes from Saltstraumen, a place where you should consider spending a little more time, and maybe even giving your fishing rod a go.
An activity you should be wary of trying here, though, is sailing, as Saltstraumen has one of the most powerful tidal currents in the world.
Saltstraumen is only 30 km away from the city of Bodø.
Fly to Bodø
Return flight from Bodø
Lofoten encompasses one of Europe’s most fascinating stretches of road, and is maybe the most popular road trip in Norway.
Steep, jagged mountains drop straight into the sea, and waves break against rocky shores. But there are also charming, picturesque fishing villages there, and white sandy beaches. The waves are fantastic for surfers, but water temperatures are probably only fit for the hardiest of swimmers.
In summer you can enjoy the midnight sun, and in winter you may see the Northern Lights if you’re lucky.
Bodø – Skutvik, 230 km, 3 hours 30 mins.
Drive from Bodø to Skutvik, then take the ferry over to Svolvær, and suddenly you’re right in the middle of Lofoten’s distinctive natural surroundings.
When in Svolvær, you might like to climb Svolværgeita peak, ‘The Svolvær Goat’, as long as you’re not scared of heights, that is.
Svolvær is a small town with a population of less than 5,000, but it still has plenty of galleries, museums and restaurants to offer.
Svolvær – Kabelvåg – Gimsøystraumen, 26 km, 40 minutes
Kabelvåg is probably Lofoten’s oldest fishing village. Take a break there and learn about sea life at the Lofoten Aquarium. Lofoten Cathedral, dating back to 1898, is also worth a look.
You don’t necessarily have to drive long distances in Lofoten; in fact, you’ll need to make plenty of stops. It’s only a half an hour’s drive from Kabelvåg to Gimsøystraumen, where the locals have built a wonderful service building for travellers. Give it a try!
Gimsøystraumen – Nusfjord, 68 km, 70 mins.
Lofotr Viking Museum is situated on the E10, on the way to Leknes. This is the place to immerse yourself in the Viking Age.
A further fifteen minutes’ drive and you’ll arrive at the next town, Leknes, with its fish restaurant, airport and shopping centre.
If you feel like making a detour, you should definitely drive out to Eggum to see the midnight sun (if you’re there during the summer, of course). There’s a picnic spot there, designed by the architect firm Snøhetta, and it’s well worth the 20 minutes it takes to drive there from the E10.
Nusfjord is only 10 minutes from the main road, and is a charming little fishing village. It’s one of the oldest and best preserved fishing villages in the country.
The architecture is listed, and today the village is, to a large extent, a living museum. You park outside the village and enter into a world of bygone times. It’s also possible to spend the night in Nusfjord.
Driving on through Lofoten, you’ll find lots of great picnic spots, so be sure to bring along a flask of tea or coffee and a packed lunch. You’re probably there to take in as much as possible, so make frequent stops and enjoy the experience. Akkarvikodden is one such excellent picnic spot.
Nusfjord – Reine – Moskenes – Sørvågen – Å, 55 km, 70 mins.
Why not spend a night or two in a fisherman’s cabin, known as a ‘rorbu’, in Norwegian. There’s plenty of them along the way, but Sakrisøy and Reine offer some superb ones to choose from.
On the way out to the southernmost point, you drive through Moskenes, where you’ll find the ferry to Bodø, and Sørvågen.
Sørvågen actually gets quite a lot of sunshine due to its south-facing location at the foot of the mountains. There is also a telecommunications museum there, recounting the story of how a tiny fishing village could play such an important role in the development of telecommunications.
The road ends at Å, the outermost point. Å was once a fishing village, but is now more of a tourist destination. There are two museums there, Lofoten Stockfish Museum and the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum. There are also many excellent fishermen’s cabins there, where you can relax and unwind.
While here, be sure to try the traditional Norwegian dish of ‘rakfisk’, otherwise known as fermented trout. Read more about it in our post on weird and wonderful Nordic foods.
Catch the ferry from Moskenes when returning to Bodø. On your way back to the mainland, it’s also possible to catch a ferry via the remote islands of Værøy and Røst.
Atlanterhavsveien – The Atlantic Ocean Road
Fly to Molde
Round trip by car from Molde
This 180 km long round-trip offers you a true and authentic experience of the wild Norwegian coastal landscape.
Molde-Bud, 40 km, 50 mins.
We recommend that you take the RV64 from Molde towards Elnesvågen. Drive via Skaret and try the local fish soup there and check out the local souvenirs at the charming handicrafts shop.
From there, take the RV663 and RV664 to the fishing village of Bud, where you can enjoy the majestic view and immerse yourself in World War II history at Ergan Coastal Fort.
Bud was one of the biggest trading posts in Norway in the 1500s and 1600s, and you’ll also find a very popular fish restaurant there.
Bud-Vevang 27 km, 35 mins.
The spectacular Atlantic Ocean Road starts in Bud and is in actual fact Norway’s eighth most visited nature-based tourist attraction.
Along the Atlantic Ocean Road there are no less than eight bridges, undulating across the isles and skerries. This is the place for close encounters with nature, and the views from the road are equally as magnificent whatever the weather. Make sure you have plenty of time for photo breaks and fishing when doing this road trip in Norway.
At Lyngstad you should pay a visit to the outsales at the Lanullva wool factory and do what Norwegians who love the outdoor life all year round do: wear wool next to your skin.
The stretch of road with all the bridges is about 9 km long.
Vevang -Kristiansund, 38 km, 45 mins.
The RV64 continues all the way to Kristiansund, via Averøya. Kristiansund is the home town of Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær. There are plenty of great detours out west on the way there, but if you’re looking for something less wild and rugged, then why not drive further inland and pay a visit to Kvernes Stave Church?
Kristiansund-Molde, 74 km, 1 hour 25 mins.
Return to Molde via Eide on the RV64.
Fly to Ålesund
Round trip by car from Ålesund
Ålesund-Åndalsnes, 122 km, 1 hour 45 mins.
Leaving the airport in Ålesund, drive through the underwater tunnels and into the city of Ålesund. This Art Nouveau city is well worth a stop before continuing north along the E136, in and out of tunnels and along fjords.
After about a couple of hours’ drive, you’ll arrive at the foot of the majestic Romsdal Alps, and can make a pit stop in the small town of Åndalsnes.
Åndalsnes – The Trollstigen Road, 15 km, 30 mins.
Follow the E136 towards Dombås until you get to the Trollveggen, Europe’s tallest vertical mountain wall. The Trollveggen is 1,800 metres tall, including a sheer 1,000 metre drop, and was a favourite among base jumpers until the sport was banned there in 1987.
A few kilometres further north and you reach the mountain known as Mannen, or, ‘The Man’. The peak is in the process of collapsing, but no-one knows whether it will happen now or in a hundred years. It moved over six metres in 2018 alone, and the eleven inhabitants living beneath the mountain have been evacuated on a number of occasions.
From there, turn off onto the RV63 towards Trollstigen, Norway’s most visited tourist road. You won’t get far here in winter, but from mid-May to October you might like to have a go at the 11 hairpin bends on the way up to the top.
Once at the top you’ll reach the viewpoint, built of concrete and glass and providing not only a fantastic view, but also the feeling of walking on air. You’ll not be alone there. People on road trips in Norway tend to drive the Trollstigen Road. During the peak season, a car passes by every 10th second.
Trollstigen-Valldal, 25 km, 40 mins.
Drive on into the mountains along the FV63 and down to the temperate Valldal valley. The climate there is perfect for strawberries, so if you’re there during the season, you should take a break at one of the many strawberry stalls that pop up along the road.
Valldal-Ålesund, 81 km, 1 hour 30 mins.
Drive along the coast from Valldal and back to Ålesund.
Rent a car – earn CashPoints
Be your own master while on road trips in Norway, and drive wherever you want in your own hire car. It’s easy to find a suitable vehicle. There are Avis car rental stations all over Norway. Remember to bring along your driving licence, credit card and personal ID when picking up your car.
If you book your car through Norwegian Reward, you’ll earn 10% CashPoints, and driver number two is free of charge – smart when driving long distances on winding roads in this long, drawn out country.
Want to see more of Europe by car? Check out these spectacular routes in Madeira, Gran Canaria and Northern Italy.