On the first day of our Norwegian road trip, we saw Sør-Trøndelag, the Coastal Road, the Atlantic Road and Åndalsnes. On the second day, we saw Trollstigen, the Geirangerfjord, and Ålesund. What treats could possibly be in store for day 3?
First up, a spectacular morning in Ålesund!
The plan for the day was simple – get back to Trondheim. But rather than use the most direct route, the E39, we chose to head back to Åndalsnes and then turn south-east, away from Trondheim along the E136 to Dombås. This route was significantly longer, but allowed us to see some completely different scenery, the Dovre mountains.
Our stop at Trollveggen (the Troll Wall) was an unexpected surprise – the joys of road tripping! After a morning drive from Ålesund back to Åndalsnes, we decided to stop for drinks and a comfort break. The first place we came to was a visitors centre at Trollveggen, with no idea that it's a well-known tourist stop!
The Troll Wall is the tallest vertical rock face in Europe, up to 1,100m high with a 50m overhang at one point. It's a popular spot for rock-climbing and BASE jumping, even though the latter has been illegal here for 25 years. The visitor centre (Trollveggen Besøkssenter) is beautifully designed and offers a stunning view of the intimidating rockface, from tables inside, tables outside, or from the specially constructed viewing platform.
Trollveggen isn't a place to spend hours, but if you're in the Åndalsnes region and need a rest stop, perhaps before tackling the nearby Trollstigen, it's perfect.
The E136 from Åndalsnes to Dombås follows the Rauma River through the Romsdal valley. It offers several views across the valley and stopping points alongside the river. But be warned, it can be a slow road. Many trucks use the E136 as it's an important east-west link, and they struggle with the many steep climbs along the route. So allow plenty of time to reach…
There's very little of note about Dombås. It exists purely due to its location as central Norway's biggest road and rail junction, where the E136 meets the E6, and the Dombås Line meets the Dovre Line. The town centre is basically a big car park with a series of facilities for people stopping by, and a nice church. We ate at Jafs, a relatively good fast food joint, enjoyed a quick stroll around the town (car park), then we were on our way.
The Dovre Mountains
The E6 is so much more than Norway's north-south highway. It's a vital transport link, yet often closed for short periods due to heavy snowfall. It takes you through some of Norway's most stunning scenery, including our route, through the Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park. We chose this route so Chris could see a different aspect of the Norwegian countryside.
Sadly we didn't see any wild animals, despite our stop at the Wild Reindeer Centre at Hjerkinn. As time was getting on and we had a rental car to return, we didn't fancy the walk to the Snøhetta viewpoint but we still took a time to marvel at the natural beauty of Dovrefjell. I remember thinking that the mountains didn't seem that tall, until it occurred to me we were already 1,000m above sea level!
Then to Oppdal, for an afternoon coffee and a step back in time at a weird restaurant, the kind of place the same people have been going every Sunday for 60 years. Obviously, Oppdal is a place to hike or ski, not mix with the locals.
It might not sound as fun-filled as the first two days, but taking a longer route home kept things interesting. As we approached Trondheim the road became better and busier, and the scenery became plainer. Cue the boys catching a nap, and me doing my best to stay awake accompanied by NRK P3 on the radio.
Back to Trondheim
The next day Chris still had a few hours before his flight home, so I gave him a whirlwind tour of Trondheim on foot – the perfect end to our first Norwegian road trip!