Did you know? There are eighteen (18) highways in Norway called ‘National Tourist Routes’ and these are well-known picturesque paths — or “visual feasts” — that each combines Norwegian nature and modernity. With that in mind, setting off on a road trip in Norway is an absolute MUST! But of course, going through all 18 routes might be overkill especially if you only have a few days or weeks in the country… So: if you’re looking for a National Tourist Route that you should absolutely include in your itinerary, that would be the famous Geiranger-Trollstigen journey!
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From the breathtaking serpentine mountain roads in Trollstigen up to the grand World Heritage Site in Geiranger, I can assure you that this route will not only give you the chance to glimpse Norway’s magnificent fjords (inlets with steep cliffs created by glacial erosion) but also of its stunning landscapes, high waterfalls, and towering mountains.
Some of these mountains are charmingly called Bispen (“the Bishop”), Dronningen (“the Queen”), Kongen (“the King”), and Trollveggen (“the Troll’s Wall”).
About Geiranger Trollstigen
The National Tourist Route Geiranger-Trollstigen runs a total distance of 104km on the Norwegian County Road 63, and it includes a single ferry crossing over the Norddalsfjorden as it starts from Langevatn to Strynefjellet and Sogge Bru in Romsdalen.
It helps to note, however, that parts of this route are closed during winter:
- The stretch from Langevatnet to Geiranger is usually closed in November and reopens in May.
- Whereas Trollstigen is usually closed in October and reopens in May.
When I first landed in Norway, this National Tourist Route was the 2nd great sight that I saw after a day of exploration in Oslo, and it goes without saying that I absolutely recommend this for your itinerary!
That being said, if you’re coming from Oslo, I suggest that you head on to the small town of Åndalsnes to start your Geiranger-Trollstingen road trip…
BY TRAIN. There are daily train departures from Oslo (5.5 hours) and Trondheim (4-5 hours) to Åndalsnes. From Oslo, I took a scenic train ride with Dovrebanen (Dovre Railway) followed by Rauma Railway and it. Was. Amazing! (Upon arrival at Åndalsnes, we picked up our rental car from the Avis office).
BY ROAD. You can drive to Åndalsnes via the E6 road (or E6 to E136 road) from Oslo. Rest assured, there are daily buses to the area if you’re coming from Bergen and Trondheim.
BY PLANE. The nearest airport is Molde Airport, located 1.5 hours from Åndalsnes. There are daily flights to and from major cities in Norway here.
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Upon arrival in Åndalsnes, you can continue by car or by tourist bus. But I’m telling you this now: I urge you to simply get your own car so you can control your own stops along the way (besides, you will be seeing plenty of beautiful views all over).
Speaking of stops, below are just some of the MANY sights and landmarks that we saw up until we reached Geiranger.
Bottom photos by: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen
Trollstigen or ‘Troll’s Path’* itself lies within the Trollstigen landscape protection area and it snakes up its way from the town of Åndalsnes in Rauma to the village of Valldal in Norddal Municipality through steep mountain cliffs and waterfalls.
*TRIVIA: Norway is well-known for its trolls. After all, these mythical cave or mountain-dwelling beings have been a part of a LOT of Norwegian mythology and folklore. Naturally, you would often see places like Trollstigen that are attributed to trolls, as well as towns who have troll statues or souvenirs. Additionally, you would even glimpse road signs that quirkily remind you to watch out for trolls!
As you can see from the pictures above, Trollstigen is a true example of incredible construction and engineering; and though the road can be extremely narrow with sharp bends (about 11!), a steep incline of 10%, and edges lined only with guard stones, it remains to be an exhilarating view (albeit also nerve-wracking) thereby making it a popular tourist attraction in Norway.
Rest assured, some parts of this path were widened from 2005 to 2012, but vehicles over 12.4 meters (41 feet) long remain to be prohibited from driving Trollstigen.
- In summer, about 2,000 cars are said to pass over Trollstigen which means that there is about 1 car for every 10 seconds.
- Apart from riding the car or a bus, there are a lot more people now who choose to see the view from a bike (electric or not) and you can easily rent those from the nearby town of Andalsnes.
- You will find somewhere along this road an impressive bridge that runs in front and across the Stigfossen waterfall (falls at 320 meters or 1,050 feet down the mountainside).
» Trollstigen Visitor Centre
Photos by: Jiri Havran / Statens vegvesen
There are several great vantage points that you can stop by along the route in order to admire Trollstigen in its full glory. But if I have to pick the best one, it would be the largest viewing area: Trollstigen Visitor Centre.
Opened in June 2012, this project was initiated and designed in 2004 by Reiulf Ramstad Architects. It includes a waterside restaurant, gallery, and footpath that leads to an iconic hovering platform jutting out 200 meters above Trollstigen and the Stigfossen waterfall.
It was quite a sight!
If you would notice as well, this whole center was built in a way that perfectly blends in with its rocky environment. Naturally, I really admired how the Norweigan architects put so much thought into the center’s overall look and use so as not to diminish the experience but rather enhance it!
Photo by: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen
Before reaching the upcoming ferry crossing on the Geiranger-Trollstigen route, there is but one viewing point that I would love you to see as well: Gudbrandsjuvet.
This is basically a gorge that has a 5-meter wide and 25-meter high ravine in which the foaming Valldøla River forces itself through. Over the millenia, the river waters formed a complex of deep and large potholes as well as intricate formations on the surrounding rocks — hence, a sight that’s worthy to be seen.
Make time then to stop by here and admire the ravine over its gorgeous viewing platform that’s shaped like a garland. If you want a cup of jo, there’s a café found at the very edge of the river.
» Linge Ferry Quay
Photo by: Roger Ellingsen / Statens vegvesen
As I’ve already mentioned, this is the only ferry crossing that you’ll need to do along the Geiranger-Trollstigen path and it’s called as the Linge Ferry Quay.
The ferry here shuttles back and forth across the Storfjord (from Norddalsfjord to Eidsdal), and if in case you arrived too early, feel free to hang out at the quay’s passenger waiting room that has bays and large windows (designed by Oslo architect Knut Hjeltnes).
I found it quite interesting as well that there was a nearby orchard!
INFO: It runs every 30 minutes. It costs 33 NOK for adults and 16 NOK for children and seniors. If you’re coming with your car, depending on the type of vehicle you have, the cost starts at 79 NOK.
» Ørnevegen, Ørnesvingen, Geirangerfjord, to Geiranger
Bottom photo by: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen.
ØRNEVEGEN: (“The Eagle Road”) Upon landing in Eidsdal from the ferry, you will eventually encounter this road — a steep mountain path that leads down to the town of Geiranger. Much like Trollstigen, Ørnevegen also has 11 hairpin bends!
ØRNESVINGEN: This is the highest of the hairpin bends in Ørnevegen and naturally, a viewing point was built here so as to give visitors a magnificent panorama over the town of Geiranger, the Geirangerfjord, the “Seven Sisters Falls” and the historic alpine farm of Knivsflå. (You will often see cruise ships passing through the fjord below as they make their way in and out of Geiranger).
GEIRANGERFJORD: Deep blue waters and snow-covered mountain peaks with thundering waterfalls, Geirangerfjord was listed back in 2005 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (together with Nærøyfjord) — which is rightfully so! With its unique natural landscape, it deserves to be one of the most incredible places in the world. But other than glimpsing its grand vistas from afar, you can also experience Geirangerfjord furthermore by doing some sightseeing trips, hiking, fishing, cycling, or even kayaking.
GEIRANGER: This small town has plenty of restaurants that could fill you up after your long ride from Trollstigen. And if you’re up for more adventure, you can hike to Storseterfossen waterfall. The trail is well-marked once you reach Westera’s Farm. We did this during our stop at Geiranger and it was superb to see the mighty waterfall up close!
TIP: If you want great views over Geiranger, make sure to book your accommodation at Hotel Utsikten. It offers views at a great vantage point. Aaah, just imagine staying in a room that offers you these scenes all day long!
Meanwhile, for an established viewing point that’s placed even higher above the town of Geiranger, go to the rest area of Flydalsjuvet that is about 5 kilometers up from Geiranger on the Stryn road.
Additionally, if you’re into an exhilarating ordeal and want to achieve the classic photo on the right, you’ll have to go down the hill for about 150 to 200 meters in order to descend a rather indistinct track to the edge.
Since it can get slippery, be careful as you make your way here!
Bottom photo by: Dalsnibba.no
Want to go even higher to get a better view over Geiranger? Head over to this last viewing point that we stopped for: Dalsnibba.
This is a very popular mountain top in Norway that was opened just last 2016, and it is actually referred to as Europe’s highest fjord view by road – at 1,500 meters! What’s more, it has a ‘Skywalk‘ that somehow gives you the sensation as if you’re floating up in the air and this is mainly because its steel floor surface is see-through and its rails are made of glass.
As someone who’s afraid of heights, it made my feet shake just by walking on its floor surface because I could clearly see the 500-meter drop beneath my feet! Still and the same, this area was beyond spectacular and surely a photographer’s dream spot.
INFO: To reach Dalsnibba (just a 30m-minute drive from Geiranger), just follow the Nibbevegen Road. Take note that this viewing point is open 24 hours until mid-September or October. Toll prices are payabale by vehicle and if you’re coming by car, motorbike or motorhome, you’ll have to pay 130 NOK
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With roads that snake and climb their way up steep mountainsides and fjords, making our way through the Geiranger-Trollstigen route during the first few days of our stay in Norway was an experience that was beyond AMAZING — and a truly wonderful prelude to the rest of the country’s magnificent natural landscapes!
Truth be told, before I set out on this trip with Innovation Norway, I have surely expected the surreal range of beautiful vistas that I will be seeing… But seeing everything up close with my own eyes overwhelmed me in so many ways than one.
All in all, Norway is undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous countries on Earth and the Geiranger-Trollstigen path is but one of the MANY proofs as to why this country is remarkable!