The Stunning Norwegian West Coast


“Oh west coast, west coast” is the title of a song about this beautiful western part of Norway. Experience a world heritage fjord, hike to Instagram friendly mountain plateaus, or drive the scenic route between some of Norway’s most charming cities. Experience the stunning Norwegian west coast.

Cross the bridge at Låtefossen near the town of Odda where two raging waterfalls meet.

The Stunning Norwegian West Coast
Map of Norwegian regions

“Oh west coast, west coast when I see you like this
With beautiful mountains and fjords and narrow coves.
It rises in all its beauty large and wild
And again meets me so soft and gentle”

begins the song “Å, Vestland, Vestland” translated into English.  Travel from the small villages and towns in the inner areas of the fjords to the extreme western coast and its many islands holding old settlements and fishermen’s cabins. Or start in Norway’s second largest city, Bergen and take the train into the mountains or the coastal steamer northwards to the fairy tale town of Ålesund.

The Stunning Norwegian West Coast
Bergen is Norway’s second largest city. Photo: Visit Norway

Norway’s second largest city
Bergen is worth a trip on its own. Even if it is one of the rainiest cities in Europe, the city has plenty of charm, and at Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen, listed on the UNICEF World Heritage list, you find several excellent restaurants.

In Stavanger, Norway’s major hub for the oil sector, take the ferry to Flo and Fjære, an exotic botanical island or enjoy a beer in Cardinal, which serves more than 20 beers on tap, most of them local – and delicious. Though they came close to being demolished to make way for modern buildings, the old wooden houses of Stavanger are now officially protected.

The Stunning Norwegian West Coast
The fairy tale town of Ålesund. Photo: Wikipedia

The Stunning Norwegian West Coast
The region covers 22,592 square miles and you need time to enjoy its beauty fully. Be sure to make a mix of city and country by hiking between some of the nicest towns in the area.

“And the joy flows in me still and great
with the glory of the hill of birches and blue silent fjord
And in myself I feel deeply
the silent forest and the ocean”

the song continues.

The Stunning Norwegian West Coast
Flo og Fjære is a tropical garden on an island just outside Stavanger

Norwegian fjords
The Norwegian fjords on the west coast form natural playgrounds for all sorts pf salt-water activities, from fishing to kayaking via camping and scuba-diving, you’ll find many nooks and crannies with calm waters and mysteries to explore.

“My light boat I row one sunny evening,
see the mountains and sky swimming on the silent fjord
and the deep valley with its green lap,
that shines of leaves and flowers from the hillside and meadow”

In this area, winters are mild, and ports are often free of ice even in the dead of winter. Further inland and higher up, however, snow is abundant and provides plenty of opportunities for fun – with or without skis.

The Stunning Norwegian West Coast
Driving on the Norwegian west coast

Driving is a challenge
Driving on some of the smaller roads in Vestlandet is not for the faint of heart. Most drivers, however, follow the rules and are generally courteous. Speed limits in Norway are very conservative and speed cameras abound. The country has one of the strictest drinking and driving laws in Europe with a limit of 0.02 percent blood alcohol content and penalties that can include imprisonment.

“See the shadows that climb the steep mountains
like the hours of the day going towards evening
It’s sweeping around the peaks and narrow valleys
a dream veil of the cool summer night”

Norwegian scenic routes
Most of the award-winning Norwegian Scenic Routes are found in this region, such as Atlanterhavsvegen (the Atlantic Road) and Geiranger-Trollstigen. Here, already dazzling nature is enriched by striking architecture, creative engineering solutions, and brilliant designs. However, ferries are still the only way to pass between certain highways

The Stunning Norwegian West Coast, written by Tor Kjolberg