The drive from Oslo to Bergen, between the capital and Norway’s next largest city, passes spectacular tourist destinations such as Voss, Nærøyfjord and Flåm. On the Adventure Road in Norway, you will experience lush rivers, stunning waterfalls, steep hillsides and mountains.
The Adventure Road from Oslo to Bergen is dense with magnificent viewpoints and interesting stops. Experience the magnificent mountain passes and the majestic fjord landscape. Many visitors to Norway opt for the Oslo-Bergen train, but for those who like driving and the freedom to stop anywhere for views and history, the road is the way to go.
The most frequented routes between Norway’s two biggest cities are Hardangervidda, Haukeli, Aurland, Hol, Filefjell and Hemsedal, which is about halfway along the drive. At Hemsedal, there are many options for accommodation, outdoor activities and hiking.
Related: The First Car Tourist in Norway
The Adventure Road in Norway
Enjoy the drive across the mountains and stop at places such as the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, the charming fjord village Flåm or free-fall waterfall Vøringsfossen in Eidsfjord. It has a free fall of 182 meters and is a spectacular sight that is well worth a stop. Don’t miss the magnificent World Heritage protected Nærøyfjord. This is the spectacular journey between east and west in Norway.
The Adventure Road in Norway is an approximately 480 kilometers of breathtaking landscape with moody fjords, vivid green pastures, countless waterfalls tumbling from sheer granite cliffs; snow-capped peaks. But also, quaint, brightly colored architecture, narrow valleys, huge lakes, ancient churches and dense pine forests. You will also drive through the world’s longest road tunnel and even pass 6,000-year-old rock carvings.
A drive through the fjord country offers close-up looks at one of this country’s unique treasures: stave churches. The structures, varying in size and design, are built of wood and date roughly from 1150 to 1350. Centuries ago, Norway was dotted with more than 1,000 such churches, but because of fire, the Reformation, the Plague, neglect and a host of other factors, only 28 still stand.
Along E16, stave churches are just off the road in Lomen, Oye and Borgund. The one in Oye is a more modest example of a stave church. The one in Borgund is one of Norway’s most-visited and photographed – for good reason. Built around 1180, its gables are decorated with four dragon heads, an obvious influence of the Viking culture.
A 7 to 10 hours’ drive – enjoy your time
If you drive from Oslo to Bergen in one go, it takes 7 hours, depending on which route you choose, but plan for a minimum of 10 hours since there are a few stops that you should make time for on your journey. In addition, speed limits are low; in most areas 45-50 mph is the max and sensible, given the curving, two-lane roads. Norway also enforces its speed limits with cameras deployed everywhere, although local drivers seem to know where they are and where they can zip around the tourist drivers.
If you’re driving Oslo – Bergen and back you should choose two different routes, for instance route Rv7 and Rv 52 north along Randsfjorden one way and stay on E16 the other way. The countryside around Randsfjorden looks somewhat like southern New England, USA. Farms dot the rolling hills above the blue water. If you can get hold of NAF’s (Norwegian Automobile Federation) Veibok (Roadbook), unfortunately only in Norwegian for members, it contains a well of useful information on trips, accommodation and attractions. NAF is a member of the international Automobile Federation FIA.
Small, charming towns
The towns you pass are little more than crossroads, and the churches seem to have been built there for maximum effect – on hills visible for miles. If you want to extend your drive, there are several excellent options for accommodation and activities.
At a bend on route E134 along the Etna River at Mollerstufossen, there is a sign for ancient petroglyphs where you should pull off. Ancient rock carvings are fairly common in Norway. Here Stone Age hunters, living along the river more than 6,000 years ago, carved moose and other animals into the rock faces.
On E16, the terrain becomes more and more mountainous and waterfalls drape the rock faces. The falls are so high that it often is difficult at a distance to gauge how massive they are, so it’s wise to bring a pair of field glasses.
End of your journey
Bergen, the city of seven mountains, awaits you at the end of the drive. In Bergen, you can find the perfect combination of nature, culture and interesting urban experiences, whatever the season.
During the winter months, however, it may be required that you drive in a convoy over the Hardangervidda – this is called “kolonnekjøring”. In bad weather, the road may be completely closed. Winter tires are required during the winter. In winter the route might still be called the Adventure Road – but in a completely different context.
Feature image (on top): Viewpoint at Aurlandsfjord, Western Norway. Photo: Visit Norway
The Adventure Road in Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg