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Beyond Bergen: Where to travel along Norway's coast

July 21, 2022
7 min read
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On your first trip to Norway, your entry point will likely be Oslo. If you have a few days to spare, you might even take the train out to Bergen to see some of the country's famous fjords: It's one of the most scenic rail journeys in all of Europe.

But if you're ready to go beyond the charming port city — which is not only a common embarkation point for Viking cruises but also has a new nonstop United flight from Newark — there are dozens of destinations to be explored.

To help you plan your itinerary, we asked Norway travel experts to share with us their favorite places along Norway's coast (and just a bit inland), along with the best things to do and see there.

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Møre og Romsdal

A mountain valley near Geiranger, Norway, in rural Møre og Romsdal (Photo by Morten Falch Sortland/Getty Images)

If there's one must-visit place in this area, it's Møre og Romsdal, a coastal county between Bergen and Trondheim — most of our travel experts recommended stops in this region.

"It is a classic Norwegian fjordland with almost endless opportunities to explore the abundant natural beauty of dramatic mountain peaks, lush green valleys, powerful waterfalls and ice-cold glacial lakes," said Jimmy Carroll, founder of travel company Pelorus, who recently visited on a scouting trip.

For a classic fjord, visit Geirangerfjorden.

"This is how you see Norway as it looks on TV: high mountains on both sides of the narrow fjord," said Bjørn Christer Lemcke, expedition leader at Hurtigruten Norway's Coastal Express, an iconic multiday ferry route that's been operating for more than 125 years. Both Lemcke and Carroll also recommend visiting the nearby Hjørundfjorden, which is not only a prime hiking destination but also has charming restaurants in its mountainside villages.

Hornindalsvatn Lake should be another stop on your itinerary here — at 1,686 feet deep, it's Europe's deepest lake.

"I love the beautiful drive along the entire south shore from Nordfjordeid to Grodås," said Jan Vatsaas Schubert, a destination specialist with Fifty Degrees North, a tour company that specializes in Nordic destinations.

As for where to stay in the region, Carolyn Addison, head of product at tour operator Black Tomato, recommends the luxurious boutique Storfjord Hotel, which she considers "one of the most special places in Norway."

If you can, she said, visit for New Year's.

"A local villager is in charge of the fireworks," she said. "He's the best pyrotechnic in Norway, so it's an insane display, and the best views are from Storfjord's terrace."

Blindleia

In addition to its fjords, Norway is known for its archipelagos. Explore one via the 12.5-mile-long Blindleia waterway, just east of the city of Kristiansand.

"It's a beautiful intercoastal passage between the mainland and archipelago islands and skerries dotted with cottages," said Schubert.

Blindleia is sheltered by those islands, so the waters are perfectly calm and wonderful for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. You can also island-hop via the waterway's ferry system.

Trondheim

Trondheim is a popular tourist destination on Norway's central coast and the science capital of the country. For Lemcke, the city's top attraction is the Nidarosdomen, or Nidaros Cathedral.

"The Gothic cathedral was built starting roughly in 1200 and is the only one of its kind in Scandinavia," he said. "It's also where the kings of Norway are blessed when they take the throne."

On the way to the cathedral, Lemcke advises exploring the city center "with its colorful old wooden houses and narrow lanes."

Haugesund and Avaldsnes

Visit Haugesund if you're interested in Viking history (Photo by Michele Molinari / EyeEm/Getty Images)

If it's Viking history you seek, visit Haugesund; it's a charming city that Fifty Degrees North specialist Elaine Nelson Peik considers a mini version of Stavanger, a much larger, busier city that's a typical stop for cruise ships.

More specifically, you should visit the nearby village of Avaldsnes, once the royal seat of Viking kings. Today, it's both an archeological site as well as a history center where visitors can tour a recreation of a traditional Viking farm.

Kandal Valley

"Kandal Valley is breathtakingly beautiful and totally off the beaten track," said Schubert.

Its star attraction is the glacial lake Breimsvatn, along which you'll find one of Schubert's favorite attractions: the Kandal Ysteri & Gardsmat goat farm, which recently won a national award for its cheese.

"In the summer, visitors are welcome to come and enjoy coffee, food and the magnificent view," she said.

Selja

From the city of Måløy, you can take a day trip to the town of Selje, from which you can hop a boat to the island of Sleja. It sounds like a bit of a journey, but that's exactly the point — Selja was a religious pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages.

"Explore the ruins of the 11th-century monastery, followed by taking some easy, scenic hikes," Schubert said. "This is a fun and interesting stop for someone on a self-drive through Nordfjord."

Fedje

There are only about 500 inhabitants on the island of Fedje, a short boat ride from Bergen, but Torunn Tronsvang, founder and CEO of travel company Up Norway believes it's the next big destination in the region. A key indicator? A new hotel is being built on the island, designed by architect Todd Saunders, who is responsible for Canada's iconic Fogo Island Inn.

Tronsvang's favorite spot on the island is the female-owned Feddie Ocean Distillery, known for its Nine Sisters gin, named after the personifications of the sea in Norse mythology.

Gaularfjellet National Tourist Road

The 71-mile journey along  Gaularfjellet tourist road offers breathtaking views as drivers travel up and down mountains, around glacial lakes and alongside waterfalls (Photo by MariusLtu/Getty Images)

Schubert calls this drive "the scenic road less traveled." It's rather akin to Route 66 in the U.S.

The road was an important one for visitors traveling between the cities of Moskog, Sande and Balestran when it opened in 1938, but as larger highways were built, fewer people traversed it. But the 71-mile journey offers breathtaking views as drivers travel up and down mountains, around glacial lakes and alongside waterfalls — making it one of the best drives in Norway.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases