Norway Scenic Detours: Making the Most of a Norwegian Road Trip

Planning a few trails on your itinerary is the best way to get the most out of a road trip in Norway. Here are our best tips on how to do that.

A road trip in Norway can be an unforgettable experience. The country has so much to offer and many return from their trip with their heads full of wonderful scenery.

Norway's Atlantic Road Trip.

Some, though, inadvertently miss a lot of great scenes. There is no reason for that, because the most magical ways are hidden in plain sight.

In this article, we will try to help you get the most out of your road trip in Norway. If you’re wondering how to plan your road trip, what pitfalls to avoid and what to look for when deciding your itinerary, we’ve got you covered.

Road trips in Norway: organize yourself

Many people, in their mad dash to Nordkapp or to any other remote destination they have set for themselves, stay on the main roads all the way.

The problem, then, is that you’ll miss out on great sights, including some that would have required very little extra time.

Gaularfjellet scenic route in Norway.
Sometimes the road itself is a turn-off attraction, like the scenic Gaularfjellet route.

A good rule of thumb in Norway is to plan at a slow pace all the time. Don’t expect to travel 1,000 km a day or even 700 km. Comfortable place to be about 400 km. On some days, this number will be slightly higher, on others it will be lower.

The journey is very much the destination, in Norway. You’ll find yourself wanting to make several stops for short photos along the way, and maybe even wanting to grab lunch in a private, scenic spot.

If you plan to drive a lot each day, you will miss out on the flexibility you need in your schedule for these automatic stops.

How to choose your detours

Fortunately, choosing an itinerary is not that difficult. First, choose the main destinations.

Do you want to see the UNESCO-listed Bergen and the port area of ​​Bryggen? Want to see Trondheim and the world’s northernmost medieval cathedral? How about Lofoten and its racks of dried cod?

Imposing Snøhetta in Dovrefjell
The majestic Snøhetta mountain, visible from the main Oslo to Trondheim road, E6.

Once you have a few must-see destinations lined up, take a map and plot out your itinerary. At first, you can plan to use only the main roads to get an idea of ​​driving times.

Online options such as Google Maps are invaluable for knowing driving times. Since average speeds on Norwegian roads tend to be lower than in many other countries, your own estimate based on distances may be a little off.

Once you have a rough idea of ​​your total driving time, you may actually find that you have to reduce the number of destinations to keep the schedule realistic. Once this is done, you are ready to move on to the next step.

Consider including Norway’s scenic roads

The way to ensure your road trip brings you the best views is to plan some detours along the way. These diversions must consist of, or lead onto, some of Norway’s 18 designated scenic routes.

Sheep on the scenic Geiranger to Trollstigen Road.
Very Norwegian scenery along the scenic Geiranger to Trollstigen Road.

There are many guides on the market that suggest scenic routes in Norway, but buying one is not necessary. The official website of the scenic routes has a very convenient list with maps and photos.

Try to find ones that are close to your main itinerary, and see how you can incorporate them into your plans.

Of course, the 18 designated trails aren’t the only detours it includes. far from it! The 18 roads are a starting point, all of which have a good standard of facilities.

Mountain lakes and distant glaciers are a common sight on the scenic Sognefjellet Route.
Mountain lakes and distant glaciers are a common sight on the scenic Sognefjellet Route.

That’s because the Scenic Trails program invests heavily in creating rest stops and lookouts with interesting architecture. Far from detracting from the natural beauty of the surroundings, these stations use architecture to accentuate it.

Many of these stations are located in areas where people used to stop at the side of the road and risk causing accidents.

Detour example: Rondane

A perfect example of what we’re describing is Route 27: a great scenic detour that you must take if you’re driving between Oslo and Trondheim.

Round peaks of Rondan National Park in Norway.
Taking Route 27 between Oslo and Trondheim does not add any extra driving time to your trip. But be prepared to want to stop a few times along the way!

The trek takes you through the iconic mountains of Rondane National Park, where many artists and writers have found inspiration over the years.

Sohlbergplassen is a viewing point at Lake Atnsjøen. The platform curves gently around slender pines, framing the view out towards the lake and the Rondane peaks. The rooftop terrace at Strømbu Rest Station is another popular place to take in the views.

Sohlbergplassen rest stop at Rondane.
Sohlbergplassen’s viewpoint architecture adapts to its surroundings and makes the landscape accessible to all.

In fact, it stands for more of an abbreviation than a turn, though it is only an abbreviation when considering distance traveled, not time. Especially considering that you’ll want to stop a few times to enjoy the views.

We have lived in Norway for over 10 years, driving between Oslo and Trondheim on many occasions. It took us until this fall, though, to finally try this route.

Don’t be like us! Don’t let the desire to “get there fast” get in the way of a great scenic turn.

Turn example: Gaularfjellet

Gaularfjellet is a historic road over the mountains between the Sogn and Sunnfjord regions. It is divided into several sections, and has a total length of 114 km with a total elevation of 784 meters.

Gaularfjellet mountain road in Norway.
Gaularfjellet scenic route outside Balestrand.

The route is famous for its serpentine mountaineering, scenic viewpoint, and many waterfalls along the watercourse. If you are staying or passing through Balestrand on the shores of the Sognefjord, this is a great option.

After a hairpin ascends the mountain, the Utsikten Viewpoint is the architectural highlight of the scenic route. Opened in 2016, it has quickly become a tourist attraction in its own right.

Driving towards it, one gets the impression that he is approaching the entrance to the lair of a James Bond villain. The stunning landscape enhances the impact of the structure’s stunning architecture.

View “Utsikten” designed by Code Arkitektur. Photo: Frid-Jorunn Stabell, Statens vegvesen.

The triangular concrete platform features “pavilions” that give visitors different perspectives on the mountain valley and turn-down below. Meanwhile, the restroom (which is only open in summer) provides an obvious benefit for drivers.

Turning example: Lofoten

The famous Lofoten road trip is a bucket list item for many travelers. From the roadside at E10, you can take in some of the best views Lofoten has to offer. But not all of it!

Henningsvær from above
The drive to Henningsvær is well worth the detour when in Lofoten.

Although the E10 via Lofoten is one of the scenic roads in Norway, there is plenty to see by taking a few quick detours. For example, the one-hour detour down to the island village of Henningsvær and back is well worth your time.

The narrow road twists and turns at the base of a steep mountain before hopping across bridges between islands. Eventually you reach Henningsvær, which is certainly one of the most picturesque fishing villages in all of Norway.

What is your favorite Norwegian trip? Did you find any interesting turns in your travels? Let us know in the comments below.