Thoughts of Scandinavian countries conjure images of fjords, rugged terrain, and perhaps snow. But taking a deep dive into Norway with a road trip showed so much of the country’s natural beauty that casual visitors that arrive by plane or cruise ships may not see.
We chose Oslo as our starting point and drove west to the coast and then north to the Lofoten Islands jutting into the Norwegian Sea. Not only were we treated to stunning views that we had only seen in pictures, but we also enjoyed the interactions with the people of towns and fishing villages along the way. And we took advantage of the abundant opportunities for hiking and other outdoor activities.
NORWAY ROAD TRIP ROUTE: OSLO TO THE LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Our journey began when we flew from Paris to the Oslo Gardermoen Airport. We picked up our car for the trip – a Volvo XC40 SUV – at the Sixt counter in the airport. An SUV is perfect for long road trips, and we were planning to put a lot of mileage on our car hire. We started on the western coast of Norway and then journeyed north to do some island hopping through stunning scenery.
STOP 1: TAKING IN THE VIEW AT PREIKESTOLEN
This cliff Preikestolen overlooking a fjord translates to “Pulpit Rock” and makes for some phenomenal photos. This is not a well-kept secret and you will likely see many other tourists visiting this spot that rises 604 meters above the Lysefjorden. The appeal of the cliff stems from its large, flat top. You will need to hike nearly 4 miles each way from the Preikestolen Fjellstue mountain lodge up a moderately demanding incline. At the top, you will be rewarded with scenic views and you can wave at the boats passing far below.
STOP 2: GAZING AT THE PURE WATER OF LOVATNET
The colour of Lovatnet explains why it’s worth a stop on your road trip, and why it’s one of our favorite lakes in Norway. Drive along the water’s edge and take in the blue-green waters with fjords rising on both sides. The pure crystalline water in the lake comes down from two glaciers in the mountains. While there are two small villages nearby, there are also very nice campgrounds located at the lake that might be a better bet in warmer months. And who wouldn’t want to wake up near water like this?
STOP 3: ISLAND HOPPING ALONG THE ATLANTIC OCEAN ROAD
STOP 4: VILLAGE LIFE AT GEIRANGER
STOP 5: AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD LOOKING DOWN FROM MARDALSFOSSEN
Mardalsfossen was one of our absolute favorite spots (perhaps even from all the trips we’ve taken). Cascading from 705 meters, it’s one of the 10 highest waterfalls in Europe. You can find it in the municipality of Nesset in Møre og Romsdal.
STOP 6: TAKING IN THE DISTINCTIVE LOFOTEN ISLANDS
STOP 7: FINISHING WITH AN ISLAND MOUNTAIN HIKE
Our last stop took us to the second-largest island in Norway, Senja. We enjoyed one final hike up the Segla mountain to get a scenic view over the fjords and villages nearby.
As you can see, we loved Norway and found it to be a great travel destination, whether with family or friends. However, it’s particularly rewarding for outdoor enthusiasts. Because Norway is an expensive country compared to others in Europe, we mostly stayed at campgrounds. We did a lot of driving and at the end of the day, it was nice to have a shower, enjoy some warm food, and connect to Wi-Fi. Lastly, these were some of our favorite parts of Norway.
The Food: It would be hard to list the best places to eat as the local produce and dishes are unique. We tried brown cheese for the first time and found it delicious. Also, be sure to try fresh salmon as well as all the other Nordic fish.
The People: Those we encountered in Norway were very happy folk. The gap between rich and poor in the country is the smallest in the developed world. They top the leagues in everything from welfare to gender equality.
The Buildings: The colours of the houses are also something special, the most common color being red, afterward yellow and white. It was amazing to see so many of these little cabins among the gigantic breath-taking landscapes.
ABOUT THE TRAVELERS
Giulia Woergartner, @giuligartner on Instagram, is a travel and lifestyle photographer from northern Italy, now based in the Dolomites.
Yann Bervas is a French photographer who often works and travels with Giulia. You can find him on Instagram @yann__b