The coastal roads from Bergen to Harstad

This time we chose coastal route all along as we have done the interior fjords so many times before and wanted to do something different and more  off the beaten path. Nice and scenic drive with some highlights like Vassenden and the drive along the Jølstravatnet lake. Nordfjordeid village were a pleasant surprise – so many Norwegian fjord  villages lack caracter, this is really a nice exception. Take a stroll among the historical part with charming wooden buildings. There is a decent shopping mall including Vinmonopolet and two good supermarkets. Time to stock up.

Budget: Low to moderate

Travel style: Not too hectic for two oldies – prefer self catering.

Accomodation: A mix of camping cabins/airbnb/hotel and even a room at a fish camp.

Time: End of May 2019.

Car:  Honda Jazz Hybrid.

15 ferry crossings.

Day 1: Bergen-Nordfjordeid along the E39

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View of the wide Sognefjord. First ferry of the day @Lavik.

Bergen-Nordfjordeid along E39 https://goo.gl/maps/BYsVn6efHags9N7Z6 overnight in Nordfjordeid. Several accomodation options along the road. Departed Bergen 10:00 hrs and arrived at our accomodation around 17:00 hrs including shopping and a stroll/photo stop at Nordfjordeid village.

 

Ferries:

Oppedal-Lavik run by Norled. Frequent ferry, no need to look at the timetables. Payment at the ticket office onboard. Decent coffee shop. NOK 130.

Anda-Lote run by Fjord1. Frequent, no need for timetable. Good cafeteria with some fast food options. Automatic payment through Autopass tag. NOK NOK 111.

 


Day 2 Nordfjordeid-Averøy

Nordfjordeid- Averøy including the Atlantic Ocean Road and a stop at Bud village. Nice, pleasant and scenic drive and the “fjord cruises” we found added to the experience. https://goo.gl/maps/xUvVgwAjTcZLGRpk6

Bud panorama

Bud panorama

The Atlantic Ocean road is not as spectacular as appeared in the tourist promos, so manage your expectations.  It is a very nice detour from E39, but probably not worth going out of the way for.  We enjoyed it very much, but we have done the inner part of the fjords many times before, so totally void of the fear of missing out.

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Atlantic Ocean Road as we saw it.

 

Again we started around 10:00 hrs and arrived at our apartment around 17:00 hrs. We had minimal waiting time for the ferries.

Overnight at an Averøy airbnb apartment which must be the bargain of the century. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/25875862…

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Kurt’s cute airbnb

Ferries:

Folkestad-Volda operated by Norled NOK 130.

Festøya-Solavågen operated by Fjord1 NOK 140. (self service kiosk with coffee and pancakes only).

Vestnes-Molde operated by Fjord1 NOK 211.

Toll: Atlanterhavstunnellen  NOK 142.

I quite liked the Fjord1 cafeteria concept FjordCafé.

Day 3  Averøy-Namsos

Averøy-Namsos https://goo.gl/maps/37g15ywNi6nmBCEq7 Starting with more tunnels and bridges including underwater tunnels, before heading into fjord country along the Vinjefjorden and fjord scenery as good as any. Unfortunately, we did not stop very often to take photos, stops were just for the ferries and for filling up with petrol at a suitable station.

We stopped at Vinjefjordskroa for lunch – nice food and lovely views overlooking the fjord.  And a relief from the petrol station hotdogs with ice cream for dessert.

Vinjefjordskroa

Vinjefjorden – fjord country accessible from Trondheim.

Overnight in Namsos at Scandic Rock City at NOK 1395 including breakfast. Nice hotel and nice breakfast. Free parking.  Downside: We had to eat out , and as expected the recommended Italian were a long way from Italy with a glass of flat Prosecco to match.

Ferries : again frequent, no need to look at the timetables.

Kanestraum-Halsa operated by Fjord1 – NOK 150

Flakk-Rørvik operated by FosenNamsos sjø. Automatic payment via Autopass tag. NOK 230 approximately.

Day 4  Namsos-Sandnessjøen

Namsos-Sandnessjøen https://goo.gl/maps/T15uC1B45hZQdK1e7

We just drove from ferry to ferry, for more in-depth and exploring/hiking you really would need two days for this stretch to give it justice. We have similar scenery around our home and we have passed on Hurtigruten hundreds of times, so for us it was just about right to do this leg in one day.

This area is not known for many waterfalls, but we came across a nice one along the road.  It was very chilly for the time of year with a drizzle of new snow on the hills.

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Typical Norwegian country road; here leading into a canyon-like landscape.

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Heading towards the next ferry.

Ferries:

Holm-Vennesund NOK 180 operated by Torghatten Trafikkselskap

Horn-Andalsvågen NOK 160 – Torghatten Trafikkselskap

Forvik-Tjøtta NOK 282 – Torghatten Trafikkselskap

Excellent ferry services, but the one in the middle were filled to the rim on departure, so it pays to be at the dock well ahead of departure. A lot of foreign camping cars on this stretch even this early in season.

After the first ferry, the road took us inland through some pretty wild scenery, a nice variation from the all the coastal.

In Sandnessjøen we stayed at an airbnb basement apartment in a residential area. Not the best airbnb I have stayed at, clean and functional from a nice but somewhat inexperienced host.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/32863173…

 

Day 5 – Sandnessjøen-Saltstraumen  https://goo.gl/maps/gGivULq5VzYnBGH67

Ferries:

Levang- Nesna   NOK 174  operated by BTN Sandnessjøen

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While waiting for the next ferry.

Jektvik-Kilboghavn NOK 290  operated by Torghatten Nord

 

Ågskardet-Halsa  NOK 121  operated by Torghatten Nord

This is a stretch where you really need to go into camping mode.  No services on the ferries except for undrinkable coffee from vending machines.  One were supposed to have service in summer, but late May were obviously too early to call it summer 🙂 We found one grocer cum petrol station on the way so we lunched on danish pastries and bananas.

Leaving Sandnessjøen we stopped at Alstahaug.  Just our luck, Monday and the museum was closed.  On the bright side, we had the place to ourselves. Very peaceful and quiet for having a stroll on this fine, but chilly day.

 

We spent the night at Saltstraumen Brygge in one of their rooms.  It is essentially a fishcamp, the rooms were basic and the industrial mat in the room smelt faintly of fish. Bathroom very spartan.  No services in the vicinity except a petrol station, so a bit impractical and also a bit expensive for what you get at NOK 990 without breakfast.  But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, it was convenient and on our way.  

 

Day 6 – Saltstraumen – Sørrollnes   https://goo.gl/maps/CdNasNZQqNCx2Ubz7

Off towards Fauske and the dreaded E6 and much more traffic on the road.

Ferries:

Lødingen-Bognes  NOK 290 – operated by Torghatten Nord – very decent café and panoramic views from the passenger lounge.  This is a very busy ferry stretch, but frequent and 3 ferries running in season.  Possibility to book.

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Panorama from the Bognes-Lødingen ferry

Stangnes-Sørrollnes  NOK 121 – operated by Norled.  OK coffee shop.  This ferry is not all that frequent and Friday and Sunday afternoons/evenings can be busy. The ferry is recent and fairly large.

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Sørrollnes ferry approach.

Finally home for some 6 weeks before we have to return.

 

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Home sweet home and our very own gull family.

 

 

 

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The fjords

The great Norwegian fjords are located to the south-west of the country between the cities Stavanger, Bergen and Ålesund. This is a large area that covers four counties and nearly 60,000 square kilometers. For each fjord you will find similar points of interest such as beautiful landscapes, glaciers, waterfalls, picturesque villages, viewpoints, scenic hikes, scenic roads and mountain areas. It is not really necessary to visit all the fjords. If time is limited, choose your fjord.

The Sognefjord is over 200 km in length. At the seaside 200 km inland is truly something unique, but being the biggest does not mean the most spectacular. The most dramatic scenery you will find in the branches of the main fjord like the Nærøyfjord, Aurlandsfjord, Fjærlandsfjord and the Lustrafjord. The main fjords are the Hardangerfjord, Sognefjord, Nordfjord, the Geirangerfjord. The Sognefjord is the largest, the broadest, the deepest. The most famous and most visited are the Nærøyfjord (a branch of the Sognefjord) and the Geirangerfjord. Both are on the Unesco World Heritage list. The Sognefjord area is accessible all year from Oslo and Bergen, even using public transport and in Flåm/Aurland you will find accommodation that is open all year.  

Bear in mind that some of the most spectacular fjords are also the most popular and there can be a lot of tourists in season, especially when the large cruise ships are visiting. If you are willing to travel a little bit off the beaten path you can have the peaceful fjord area almost to yourself.   Many seem to think that you will have to be on the water to enjoy the fjords.  This is of course not the case, but a ferry ride on the fjord will allow you to enjoy the landscape from a different perspective.

More info

Stavanger for

  • The Lysefjord
  • The National Tourist Route Ryfylke *
  • Månafossen waterfall
  • The Pulpit Rock and  Kjerag hikes and vistas*

* Season from May to September

More info

***********************

Bergen for

The Hardangerfjord

More info

  • Folgefonna glacier *
  • Voringsfossen waterfall * and many others
  • National Tourist Route Hardanger
  • Stave Church

* seasonal

The Sognefjord

More info

  • Waterfalls
  • Jostedalsbreen glacier *
  • Sognefjellet and Aurlandsfjellet National Tourist Routes *
  • Flåm Railway
  • Stegastein viewpoint
  • Stave churches *

* seasonal

Nordfjord

More info

  • Waterfall
  • Briksdalsbreen glacier *
  • Gamle Strynefjellsveg National Tourist Route *
  • Stave Church *
* Seasonal
**************************
Ålesund / Åndalsnes (Trondheim)

for Geirangerfjord Hjørundfjord and the scenic beauty of this area.

More info

  • Seven sisters waterfalls and many others
  • Trollstigen National Tourist Route
  • Dalsnibba view
  • Stave Church

* Season from May to September

***************************

Suggested fjord itineraries by car 

Driving itineraries proposed by FjordTours

Unesco World Heritage

Scenic Roads

Waterfalls

Stave Churches

Hiking down from Mount Fløien

Bergen and mount Fløien on a fine day in late August.

The entrance to Fløibanen Funicular.

A few tourists and locals mingling outside deciding what to do.  Myself, I bought a one way ticket ready to hike down on this magnificent day.

Ready for take-off.

  It is 4 pm, two massive cruise liners in town, but by this hour lines have gone completely.  Departure every 10 minutes.

 Ah, the view from the top.

 The view from the top is really super and gives a perfect overview of the town and surroundings.

Go past the restaurant to find the path down into town.

 Once up there you can have a refreshment or just continue past the building to find your path back into town.

Signposting

 Look out for these signs to keep you on the right track.  It is all very easy though – just head downwards and do not stray.

Here we come.

                                                Here she comes – the next train up.

The path is suitable for most.

 The path is easy and paved and can be done by most and also with a stroller.

Two massive cruise liners in.

 Two large cruisers are docked bringing thousands of people to the main attractions during the early part of the day.

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 Feeling a litte tired or peckish.  There are many of these along the path for a rest or a picnic.

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                                               Into the woods

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                              and past the stream

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                                         Rowan berries are ripe so autumn is definitely on the way.

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 Some minutes down the path and mount Ulriken comes into view.  And no, they are not crows up there in the sky, they are paragliders.

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                               The view a little further down when we reach the residential areas again.

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                                          The ancient fire station

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                               Almost down and this cozy B&B comes into view.

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                                         One of those typical narrow cobbled streets.

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                               A narrow lane lined with typical wooden houses.

BarBarista

 Well and truly down again I head for my favourite watering hole for some local brew.

Norway in a Nutshell (NiN)

What is Norway in a Nutshell?

It is a coordinated but semi-flexible travel pass and a self-guided tour on mostly public transport. The tour includes train travel, a  ferry trip on the Nærøyfjord and a one hour coach tour.  Flexible means that you can do the tour over as many days as you wish, do stopovers en route and do add-ons for an even more exciting trip.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

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Flåm to Gudvangen ferry passing Aurland

Planning your trip

Failing to do research, many travelers expect that the NiN is a guided tour and consequently there is disappointment.  On peak days in high season be prepared for the fact that it can be busy as this is a very popular tour for those with no car and very little time on their hands. Highlights are the Flåm Railway, the ferry on the Nærøyfjord and the bus via Stalheim to Voss. And of course the Bergen Railway for those coming from or going to Oslo.

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Flåm an early June morning

Starting points

There are many variations on the trip.  You can do a one way from Oslo to Bergen or vice versa, a return day trip from Bergen, Voss or Flåm.  One way from Oslo to Bergen or the other way around includes the Bergen railway and separate luggage transport is available at additional cost.  It is even possible to do a single day round trip from Oslo via Voss or via Bergen, with a return on the overnight train. The latter is available every day except Saturdays and certain public holidays.

Luggage

There are quite a few changes on this trip and many worry about luggage. Both the trains, the bus and the ferry have plenty of luggage room, but there is no assistance.  As long as you can carry your own luggage, you will do fine. Between Oslo and Bergen luggage transport is available to/from hotels with Porterservice

Connection times

Many worry needlessly about short connection times.  Connections are meant to be short to avoid passengers waiting around forever in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes the weather is not all that perfect and then it is a blessing to just go from the ferry directly to the waiting bus. The bus from Gudvangen to Voss will be waiting at the Gudvangen dock and leaves immediately after the ferry arrival. Except for the long distance trains arriving from Oslo, the trains from Voss to Bergen are fairly frequent commuter trains with no reservation needed.

Seasons

The main season is between June and August with a shoulder season in May and September. The NiN runs all year, but the services off-season are limited with only one ferry in each direction between Flåm and Gudvangen. In winter when daylight hours are limited, you need to plan well to get the highlights within the limited daylight hours.

DIY or booking with FjordTours

You can save by booking discounted tickets on the long distance trains like Oslo to Myrdal or Myrdal to Oslo, but in peak season you will have to be flexible with departures and is mostly relevant outside the peak season.  Minipris train tickets go on sale 3 months prior to departure and are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.  Tickets are sold on the first come first serve basis and it is essential to book well in advance for the best prices.  The Flåm Railway from Myrdal to Flåm and trains from Voss to Bergen are local trains and cannot be bought in advance, but you can buy a through ticket Oslo-Flåm or Flåm-Oslo on the NSB site. Long distance trains have seat reservations. Tickets for local trains are available at ticket windows in major stations, at vending machines and through applications for smart phones and tablets.  Seniors over 67, students with valid student cards and children are eligible for discounts on trains and buses. On the ferry between Flåm and Gudvangen you make your reservation on the Visit Flåm site or from the tourist office in Flåm. You need a prepaid ticket to travel on this ferry. There is a bus departure from Gudvangen to Voss after certain ferry arrivals, check carefully for timings at Skyss as you would not want to be stranded for too long in Gudvangen. Enter Gudvangen Kai and Voss Stasjon in the travel planner. The bus from Gudvangen to Voss costs approximately NOK 57 and cash is needed or you can use the Skyss Billett app. For more info on rail tickets, prices and discounts, please visit the NSB site

More useful links:

Flåm Tourist Info

The Flåm Railway  (a video)

Travel planner for Sogn og Fjordane county

The Nærøy Valley between Voss and Gudvangen

The Nærøy Valley between Voss and Gudvangen