This driving tour of the fjords of western Norway, one of the world's greatest tourist attractions, is far more scenic than the environs of Oslo in the east previously visited. The Ice Age really outdid itself in carving out this wonderland of nature. Of course, one of the grandest experiences of it may be found in a boat -- not a car -- traversing the most scenic of the fjords, such as Sognefjord.
If all the fjords were laid out in a straight line, they would measure 21,347km (13,235 miles), roughly the distance between the north and south poles. Throw in Europe's largest glacier, little fjordside farming villages, and jagged snow-capped peaks, and you've got beauty galore.
Day 1: Ålesund: Top of the Fjord Country
Spread over three islands and opening onto two bright blue fjords, Ålesund, lying 1,186km (735 miles) northwest of Oslo, is a good launchpad for a driving tour of the fjord country. Because it is such a long distance from Oslo (and because there are no rail lines to Ålesund), it's best to fly here and rent a car before beginning your tour.
Before heading out from Ålesund, you can explore the rebuilt Art Nouveau town, including its most important attraction, the Sunnmøre Museum, one of the fjord country's best open-air museums.
Day 2: Åndalsnes and Romsdalsfjord
Leave Ålesund on the morning of Day 2, and drive east to the resort of Åndalsnes, a distance of 127km (79 miles), following the A69. Once here, check in to a hotel for the night. At Åndalsnes, try to hook up with a summer excursion, especially one involving a hike through the Romsdalen Alps that envelop the town. The summit of Nesaksla Mountain towers over Åndalsnes at 715m (2,345 ft.). You can ask about the boat trips on Romsdalsfjord, one of the most beautiful waterways in western Norway.
Day 3: The Trollstigvein to Geirangerfjord
On the morning of Day 3, leave Åndalsnes and head south on one of the greatest road trips in Norway, the Trollstigvein, a 20-hour drive along Rte. 63 to the fjord resort of Geiranger, a distance of 85km (53 miles) from Åndalsnes. At one point, the highway climbs a breathtaking 620m (2,034 ft.). When it opened in 1952, the Ørnevein, or Eagle's Road, section of Rte. 63 was heralded as a marvel of engineering -- and so it is today. Nearly one dozen hairpin turns await you, opening onto panoramic views over Geirangerfjord.
Once at the resort town of Geiranger, explore the area in the afternoon after checking in to a hotel for the night. Its waterfalls, such as the Seven Sisters, are among the world's most dramatic. If it's summer and you arrive late, an evening tour of the Geirangerfjord is available.
Day 4: A Trio of Resorts: Stryn, Loen & Olden
On the morning of Day 4, leave Geiranger and take the ferry across the Geirangerfjord to Hellesylt, a scenic hour's boat ride. At Hellesylt, follow the signs south along Rte. 60 to Stryn, a distance of 50km (31 miles). You can check in to a hotel for the night at Stryn or at Loen or Olden; the cluster of resorts are close together.
From your home base in Stryn, you are poised to explore one of the natural wonders of Norway, the ice plateau of Jostedalsbreen National Park. The glacier is the largest in Europe, and you must have a qualified guide to tour it.
Day 5: Fjaerland
On the morning of Day 5, head 60km (37 miles) to the south to Fjaerland, where you can book a hotel room for the evening. Once at Fjaerland, you can spend the afternoon touring Bøyaøyri Estuary, a protected nature reserve north of the village. Have some more time? You can also take in the exhibits at the Norwegian Glacier Museum.
Day 6: Balestrand & the Sognefjord
On the morning of Day 6, leave Fjaerland and journey by car ferry to Balestrand; the scenic boat ride takes about 45 minutes. Check your luggage in to a hotel for the night before setting out to explore one of the world's deepest and most beautiful fjords, the famous Sognefjord. This fjord stretches for 205km (127 miles), and a scenic boat ride on it will comfortably fill your afternoon.
Day 7: Voss: Summer Fun in a Winter Playground
On Day 7, it's just a 90km (56-mile) drive south to Voss, where you can choose a hotel for the night. Rte. 13 links Balestrand to Voss, but the section between Vanganes and Balestrand is serviced by car ferry. A wide range of activities awaits you in Voss. Voss is also a good connecting point for travel back to either Bergen or Oslo, one of which can be your transportation hub for leaving Norway.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.