A scenic road trip in Western Norway: Fjords and mountains all the way

The road trip we had last weekend was like a long beautiful dream with fjords and mountains playing the lead roles. Even though I live here and have traveled around a lot, this exact road trip was one of the most scenic I've done ever. One for the bucket list!

We started our trip in Hemsedal (since this was our base for the weekend) and including many photo stops, lunch and more it took us about 12 hours. So starting there it is a nice day trip, but it's a perfect weekend trip if you start in Oslo (spend a night in Gudvangen or Aurdal). 

This was our route:

Hemsedal - Lærdal (via the historic route Kongevegen)
We started by driving over Hemsedalsfjellet (wishing we had a cabin there), great mountain scenery, still in Eastern Norway. A while after passing the county limit to Western Norway (Sogn og Fjordane) we left the main road to drive the old Kongevegen (Kings road) - a historic route where we stopped at Borgund Stave Church (you should too). The road is narrow and very cool, passing waterfalls and steep mountains.

Lærdal - Kaupanger - ferry to Gudvangen
Our next goal was Kaupanger. To get to Kaupanger from Lærdal you need to take a 15 min long ferry from Fodnes to Manhellar. Make sure you buy Svele with smørkrem on board. In Kaupanger we had a a look at Kaupanger Stave Church before heading to the main goal of the trip - the ferry from Kaupanger to Gudvangen. Make sure you buy your ticket ahead (here). The ferry takes almost three hours and starts in Sognefjorden and ends in the famous Nærøyfjorden, a fjord on UNESCOs World Heritage List. Charge your camera, bring your Goretex jacket and enjo!y

Gudvangen - Stalheim - Flåm
Leaving the ferry we drove straight towards Stalheim Hotel (but you should stop and look around Gudvangen as well). Stalheim Hotel is a historic hotel, unfortunately not in it's prime shape any more, but the lunch was pretty good and the view you get for desert is almost worth the whole trip! Drive down from the hotel through Stalheimskleiva if you have the nerves. One of Europe's steepest roads. Our next goal was Flåm. Unfortunately Flåm is mostly a harbor for cruise ships these days and suffers a bit from that. But Flåmsbanen - one of the worlds most beautiful train journeys is worth considering.

Flåm - Aurland - Stegastein  
Our next goal was Stegastein viewpoint. We drove from Flåm to Aurland and then followed another narrow road with hairpin turns (one of Norways national tourist roads) up to Stegastein. The Stegastein viewpoint juts 30 meters out from the side of the mountain, 650 meters above the Aurland fjord. The panoramic view of the fjord is unsurpassed and was breathtaking!

Stegastein - Aurland mountain road - Lærdal - Hemsedal
From Stegastein we stayed on the same national road (also called the Snow road) over the mountain of Aurland and down back to Lærdal. Another road with amazing views all the way. From Lærdal we drove back to Hemsedal.

 

This road trip really gives you something else! Very worth it, but you should be used to driving narrow steep roads. The reward is amongst very few!

 Kongevegen

Kongevegen

 Borgund Stave Church 

Borgund Stave Church 

 The ferry from Kaupanger to Gudvangen 

The ferry from Kaupanger to Gudvangen 

 Waterfalls all the way 

Waterfalls all the way 

 Nærøyfjorden 

Nærøyfjorden 

 The view from Stalheim hotel 

The view from Stalheim hotel 

 The view from Stegastein 

The view from Stegastein 

 On the road in Norway 

On the road in Norway