Norway Scenic Drives

Norway Scenic Routes

Warning – this is a picture-heavy post.  Words just can’t do justice to Norway’s amazing natural beauty.  Photos don’t really do it justice either, but maybe they’ll provide a sense of the awe-inspiring natural wonders that we got to see during our road trips through the country.

Norway’s Public Roads Administration has established 18 different scenic routes and we were able to drive all or some of three of them.  We want to go back and drive them all, but the other 15 will have to wait for future trips!

Hardangervidda Scenic Route

We drove the Hardangervidda scenic route on our way from Oslo to Bergen. The route crosses over a high mountain pass that can become impassable in winter.

Fjord view just outside of Haugastøl.

As we drove higher and higher we came across a lake.  The rocky shore was completely covered with mini cairns.

A little further along we found a patch of snow.  It was rather hard-packed but that didn’t stop the kids from having a snowball fight.

As we descended from the plateau we came to Vøringsfossen, probably the most spectacular waterfall we saw (and there was a lot of great competition in Norway).  The main falls are 182 meters high.

At the top there are several viewing platforms.  

A bit further down the road we crossed over the Eidfjorden on an impressive bridge.

Interestingly, there are tunnels on either side of the bridge.  There were even roundabouts inside the tunnels!

Hardanger Scenic Route

Our next scenic drive was along the Hardanger Scenic Drive, not far from Bergen.

The first stop on our drive was Steinsdalsfossen, which was unique because we were able to walk behind the falls along a walkway.

A bit off the scenic route northwest of Ulvik, we found a smaller, more secluded set of waterfalls that we explored on foot.

Our final stop on the drive was Skjervsfossen.  This 150 meter waterfall was quite impressive.  From the parking area at the top of the falls we hiked down along a rock path to the bottom, taking in views of the falls along the way.

The path led right up to the bottom of the falls.  We couldn’t resist getting close and pretty soon we were soaked from the mist that was blowing up from the base.

Soaked but loving it!

The bathroom at the top of the falls won our award for the most epic public restroom anywhere.  There was a window stretching from floor to ceiling with a view of the river outside.

Sognefellet Scenic Route

On our way from Bergen to Lillehammer we drove the Sognefellet Scenic Route, stopping for a couple of nights along the way in Skjolden.

Before we reached the beginning of the scenic route we made a quick stop at the Tvindefossen, a nice waterfall that cascaded down layer upon layer of rock.

After making a quick stop in Flam for lunch, we started up a single track mountain road and were treated to some amazing views.

This roadside stop had a platform extending over a cliff that provided an amazing panoramic view.

The road took us over a high mountain pass, and the kids demanded a stop when we passed close by another snowbank.  

We took a slight detour to see the beautiful stave church at Borgund, which dates from the 13th century.  The church looks black due to the pine tar coating that is applied to preserve the wood.

Later we had to take a ferry to get across the Lustrafjorden.

Finally we reached Skjolden, where we spent a couple of nights in a small cabin at the Vassbakken campsite and cabins.  Our cabin had a great view of the waterfall and we slept well with the sounds of the falls right outside our door.

The view from our cabin.

During our stay we hiked up a trail that took us to the falls.  That’s our cabin in the background.

We also visited the nearby Urnes Stave Church. This church is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Center. 

The church was adorned with unique, deep relief carvings.

On the way back, we stopped to do a short hike at the Feigumfossen.

Another view of the falls.

And another…

A view of Skjolden from across the lake where Ludwig Wittgenstein built a secluded cabin.

After a couple of nights in Skjolden we continued on to Lillehammer.  This required driving over another high pass that provided countless amazing views.

Up high the landscape looked a lot different.  We could see glaciers not too far from the road.

A mountain resident.

Artwork at the Mefjell rest stop.

At the far end of the scenic route was Lom, a touristy town with an excellent bakery and a stave church that is still used for services.  

Summing Up

Driving along a few of Norway’s Scenic Routes were a real highlight of our trip.  Hopefully we’ll be able to return some day and drive a few more of the 18 routes.  We’d especially like to travel to the arctic circle and see the northern lights.

In our next update we’ll cover our long-awaited visit to the Hunderfossen Troll Park!

1 thought on “Norway Scenic Drives”

  1. I love that you managed to get Ludwig Wittgenstein into your blog :-). The views are just incredible. It must have been amazing to see!!! And that restroom is the nicest I’ve ever seen. Epic is the best word for it, and entirely appropriate in that remote, Nordic context :-).

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