Today I will bring you along on our road trip in Norway. If you have been following along you know that last we were last in Bergen. We only had three days to fit in as many stops as we could and make it back to Bergen to fly out. Most guides from Bergen recommend driving out to Flåm and driving same direction back. I thought it would be better to do a round trip, so that we would see more. I couldn’t find a guide that recommend a round route, so we kinda made our own and booked our accommodations to correspond with our stops.
The map below shows the general direction with some of the major stops. This route is totally doable in 3 days, even with a screaming toddler in the car. Some of these stretches are a bit long, which is because the mountainous terrain and the fjords that take longer to navigate. Many of the water crossings require a river ferry, which can take time and do require a fee. However this gave us unforgettable scenic views and made the drive definitely more interesting as the landscape was constantly changing. FIY, we paid about $80 AUD in toll for these 3 days and there aren’t many signs for speed limits, despite the speeding camera.
During these three days we visited so many amazing fjords and waterfalls, cute little towns, historical attractions and stayed in some stunning accommodations. Since we covered so much I will write a few posts on each day. So this post will only cover the first half of our day. The highlights include Fossen Bratte waterfall, Steinsdalsfossen waterfall, morning tea at Steinstø Fruktgard, and the Tvindefossen. These are all stops I recommend making if your driving to the Njardarheimr (Viking Valley) or Flåm. Those two stops will be covered in my next two posts.
We began our first day of our road trip by getting up bright and early, packing the car and getting on the road. We decided to pick up a few items to eat on our way for breakfast from the local 7 Eleven in Fjellsiden, Bergen. I thought it was worth sharing since I was quite impressed by Scandinavian convenience stores. You can buy quite a variety of food, including coffee, pastries, sandwiches, yogurts, cold press juices, as well as many vegan and dietary options. They primarily sell food, so don’t expect to find toiletries and magazines. They are also open quite early in the morning or are 24 hours, so if you have an early start this may be your only option. Convenience stores in Norway are great for budget travellers to find quick cheap feed without spending a lot in a bakery. Don’t expect the same quality as the amazing Norwegian bakeries, but if your not willing to pay at least 80NOK for a coffee and pastry, this may be a better option for you.
So at the 7 Eleven I picked up a couple of burek’s, a croissant for O and coffee for Marco. The bureks needed to be heated so they wen’t that great, but the croissant looked pretty good and Marco said the coffee wasn’t too bad at all.
So our first little stop was Fossen Bratte (map), which was about 50 minutes into our trip. We didn’t intend on making this stop, but we came across it before we entered the Fossen Bratte tunnel. It is actually one of the biggest waterfalls near Bergen and in the region of Hordaland. There is actually quite a long pullout shoulder, next to the road where you can park and enjoy the view from a distance. You can also walk down the walking path to the base of the falls and see a memorial plaque. This is to remember the young French couple who drove to the top of the fall on their honeymoon in 1951 and lost their lives. Their is also a war memorial place at the top of the falls, which remembers local soldiers who fought there trying to stop the Germans during WWII. We didn’t walk down to the waterfall since it was absolutely freezing outside. We were just happy to see our first Norwegian waterfall.
Our first planned stop was the Steinsdalfossen (map) in the village of Steine in Hardanger region. This is one of the most popular waterfalls in Norway. It is just off the main road and has a car park, tourist office, tourist shop (coffee & souvenirs) and bathrooms. The waterfall has 46 m fall, with a main drop of 20 m. It also has a path up that takes you up behind the fall, so you can get a dry view of the falling water and crashing fall below. This waterfall is just spectacular and gives you a safe closeup viewpoint that you don’t often find.
After taking a few photos we noticed a man looking among the tall grass on the higher side of the path. He was looking for wild strawberries. We found a few and tried them. They were so sweet for such a tiny fruit. After we visited the souvenir shop, which I found to be a lot cheaper then Bergen. I bought my brother-in-law a wrought iron door bell and Octavia got a small stuffed cat. This cat only cost $12AUD, which was reasonable, considering she picked up another small dog that cost $60AUD. She was very determined so I am glad I a managed to talk her down to the cat.
Our next stop was Steinstø Fruktgard- og Kakebu cafe (map), in the Hardanger region of Hordaland. This was only about 30 mins from our last stop and the perfect roadside cafe to stop in for morning tea. It is actually part of Steinstø Fruktgard, which is a farm producing fruits, berries, homemade jams and more. In the front of the cafe, there is a small store with all the different products that they produce, including fresh berries.
The inside of the cafe is actually really cute and homely. You can order a range of sweet and savoury snacks, as well as hot and cold drinks. May of the items on the menu are made of ingredients produced on the farm. You can eat outside on the tables overlooking the fjord, but unfortunately it was raining a little so we enjoyed our meals in the warm cafe.
I was actually really hungry when we arrived so I wanted to try a bit of everything they had available. We started with Rundstykker laks og eggerøre (open sandwich with salmon, egg and salad), Innbakt pølse (sausage roll) and Lefse (flat bread). They were all delicious, but the stand out was the Lefse. This was the first time we had tried this traditional Norwegian flat bread made of potatoes, flour, milk and butter. It was soft and sweet and unlike anything I’ve tried before.
Next we had to try the cakes that they are famous for. So we shared the Eplekake (apple cake) with vanilla ice cream and jam and Ostekake (cheesecake) made with raspberries. Both were heavenly and it was hard to choose which one was better.
After we ate, the rain had stopped so we had a look out at the back of the cafe, where we got some beautiful views of the Hardangerfjord. This is one of the longest fjords in the world (179 km long) and at its greatest depth is 900 meters.
Across the road from the cafe is the actually farm itself. You can do guided tour of the farm, activities and dine at the restaurant, but this require bookings in advance. We didn’t realise this when we arrived, but the nice lady in the cafe told us that we could still go up and have a look around. We weren’t able to go into the orchards, but we did get a look of where everything was and find some beautiful flowers and nice views from above.
Our next stop was another unplanned one, that we came across on the main road about an hour and quarter later. We were blown away with what we could see from the car, so we just had to get out and have a good look at this amazing waterfall. Tvindefossen (map) is a waterfall in the region of Voss, Hordaland. It is on the same road that takes you to Flåm, so its a popular tourist stop for its proximity and in its own right. This waterfall is about 152m high, but only about 110m can be seen from the bottom. It is famous its beauty and being depicted in a painting by Norwegian artist Johan Christian Dahl. However, in the 1990’s became further famed for the belief that the water has powers of rejuvenation and revival of sexual potency. Since then 200,000 people a year from Japan, U.S.A and Russia flock to the waterfall and fill contains of water.
Tvindefossan was just beautiful and was probably the best waterfall that we did see while in Norway. I think what makes it special is its shear size and the way it tumbles down various rocks as it cascades to the stream below.
Driving to Gudvangen..
These last shots were on our way to Njardarheimr (Viking Valley), in Gudvangen, Aurland. It only took about 30 minutes to get to our next destination, which I will speak about in my next post. I though it was worth sharing some the landscape, which was dominated by towering mountains and featured cascading waterfalls.
Have you visited any of these sights in Norway?