If you are a fan of overwhelming nature, raging waterfalls, and untouched landscapes, Norway should be your next destination.
You can travel by plane and rent a car but you can also bring your own car on the boat. We sailed with Stena Lina van Kiel (Germany) to Göteborg to start our tour there. Such a night on the ferry is an experience in itself and you will arrive nicely rested.
If you don't want to go by car, there's another great way to explore Norway: Cruising the Fjords in Norway shows you this magnificant country in a different way.
After we passed the Norwegian border, Frederikstad was the first stop. This fortified town from the 16th century has a beautiful old center, Gamblebyen, which is still completely intact. It is the best-preserved fortified town in Northern Europe. Outside the city you will find the first fjord on your route, the Oslofjord.
The Olympic Winter Games were held in Lillehammer in 1994. You can visit the Olympic village and climb up 954 steps (or take the ski lift) to the top of the slope where the ski jumping was organized. Staggeringly high and steep! During the summer it is fairly calm here, but in winter it is a bustle. You can also take a ride in a bobsleigh simulator.
If you are traveling with children, you can visit the Hunderfossen family park near Lillehammer. That is pretty much the Plopsaland or the Efteling of Norway with trolls as a theme. In the park is the largest troll of Norway (40 m).
I am crazy about legends, so in brief a bit about trolls. Trolls live in the forests of Norway and appear only in the dark. When they come into the daylight, they corrode. Farmers like to keep on friendly terms with them because trolls can bring a lot of bad luck.
On your way to the next stop you will pass Mjosa Lake. With a length of 117 km, this is the largest lake in Norway. It is located in the middle of the agricultural area and most of the farms in this region have been inhabited since the time of the Vikings. In the lake lies an island, Helgoya or Holy Island. Here were medieval country houses for bishops and nobles. Even the king had a seat here.
A little more to the west is the busy area Valdres / Fagernes. Beitostolen is a ski village with a large and beautiful sports hotel. The mountain range Jotunheimen has peaks up to an altitude of almost 2500 meters. In the past, this region was known only to local hunters, fishermen, and shepherds but was discovered by tourists. In 1980 it became a national park. There are numerous footpaths in this mountain range full of glaciers, lakes, and valleys. Perfect region for the hikers among us. The top of Skagastolstind is the dream of every alpinist.
From road 51 you can take a path towards Ridderspranget (ridders means knight). This is a beautiful canyon through which the river Sjoa flows.
The legend says that here a long time ago a knight jumped over the river, with his beloved in his arms, to escape his pursuers.
There are also many so-called stave churches in the neighborhood. Stave churches are built entirely in wood according to a typical Scandinavian architectural style. They originated when Christianity was spread in Scandinavia.
The Stave Church of Lom from the year 1000 is a good example. In the nearby Vaga lies the Jutulporten, a giant 'door' in the mountain hull that appears in many Norwegian legends.
Fotocredits: Stan Reed. Read more about Norway on LETgo
Fjorden and ferries
The Geirangerfjord is one of the highlights of a trip through Norway. Everyone has already seen a photo or painting of this beautiful fjord. The environment is truly breathtaking. The 16 km long Geirangerfjord is a textbook example. Bright green water is surrounded by high mountains and everywhere you see waterfalls and beautiful farms. The route from Grotli to Geiranger and Andalsnes is the so-called Golden Route.
If you drive from Geiranger to the south, you will pass Flydalsjuvet, an overhanging cliff from where you have a spectacular view over the fjord. Take the ferry to cross the Geirangerfjord. Along the way you see beautiful waterfalls such as the Bridal Veil and the Seven Sisters.
Fotocredits Marlieke Kroon. Read more about Norway with kids on Kleine Globetrotter.
A bit further south you pass the Nordfjord. Slightly less spectacular than the Geirangerfjord, but absolutely worth the visit. If you take the road to Dragsvik, you should take a pill against car sickness because you pass one hairpin turn after another to finally arrive at the Sognefjord.
Fotocredits: Kaylie. Read all about her adventures with kids Noorse avonturen met kids
To avoid the road back you can take the ferry to Vangsnes (direction Geilo).
Tvindefossen is a beautiful waterfall between Voss and Stalheim. From a height of 140 m, the water flows downwards in different floors. For me it was one of those places where I could stay for hours.
The Voringfossen in the Eidfjord municipality are just as overwhelming. Here the water makes a free fall of 145 m. Voringfossen is the Norwegian word for 'Great waterfall'.
After this you can once again take the ferry from Bruravik to Brimnes over the Hardangerfjord. 1600 meters above this fjord, the Folgefonna glacier with foothills up to 500 meters above the water surface. One of those spurs looks like a frozen waterfall. The nearby Hardangervidda is the largest plateau in Europe and is well above the tree line. This explains the desolat landscape to a large extent.
From Geilo to Oslo
On the way from Geilo to Oslo you will pass Kongsberg. Silver mines were exploited here until 1957. In Saggrenda you can go deep into the Kongens Gruve with a wagon.
The Kongsberg Kirke with its beautiful altar and glass chandeliers is also worth a visit.
Then it is in one straight line to Oslo. The city burned down completely in 1624 and was rebuilt a bit closer to the Oslofjord. The Karl Johans Gate is the main street of the city and connects the station with the Royal Palace in an almost perpendicular line. The Norwegian Parliament and the Dom are along this street and almost all international retail chains are here.
Aker Brygge is a shopping and entertainment area in the harbor. Until 1982 there was a shipyard here. In the 1980s, however, it was transformed into the vibrant center that it is now.
The most important buildings in the city are the city hall, the parliament, and the royal palace.
Stroll through Frognerparken, a large public park. Here is 'Vigelandspark', completely designed by the artist Vigeland. There are more than 200 bronze, stone, and iron statues, made between 1904 and 1908. I especially liked the large fountain. The sculptures carry a scale of life-giving water and the images themselves represent the life course of man, from infant to elderly person. The 17m high granite column is also impressive; The column is made out of one piece and represents 121 nude figures who wrestle towards the light. Around it there are 36 image groups on pedestals. Just before the column there are 58 bronze statues on a bridge. They symbolize oppositions such as love - hatred, youth - old age, ... That Vigeland was really a busy boss.
Credits: Stan Reed @LETgo Follow him on Instagram.
End the day with a terrace and enjoy the sunset over the harbor.
Oslo for foodies
Foodies really have to visit Mathallen Oslo. This foodmarket makes your mouth water.
Fotocredits: Rosalie Read all about her life & travels.
Hotels in Noorwegen
- The first night we stayed near the Oslofjord in Spatind Hoyfjells hotel.
- The next stop was Pollfoss Gjestehus in Nordberg. A very charming hotel in chalet style. Please note, at the back of the hotel is the Donfoss, a beautiful but noisy waterfall..
- The Dragsvik Fjordhotell is a family-run hotel with a beautiful view over the Sognefjord.
- In Oslo we stayed at Rica Helsfyr Hotel. Very neat, but as often in Scandinavia it is a bit tight and cold.
Although our trip was over 10 years ago, the hotels are still receiving good comments
On the map below you see our roadtrip. We did it in 1 week. In case you are traveling with kids, you have to slow down a bit. If you like a good hike, you need some more time too.
I found Norway a beautiful country. During this trip we only visited the southern part of Norway. A trip up to the North Cape is still on my wish list. Have you already made that trip? Share your tips in the comments below.