The 45 km mountain pass between Aurland and Lærdal is one of Norway’s best road trips. Here’s how you can discover the snow road of Norway for yourself.
Early on in my Norwegian adventure I discovered the joys of driving in Norway’s fjord region. While modern highways reduce driving times, many historic mountain passes remain open.
Driving them is one of the best ways to get up close to Norwegian nature and appreciate the sheer size of the Scandinavian mountains that fill the middle of Norway.
Introducing the snow road of Norway
One of the best of the bunch is the 28 mile or 45 km road that crosses Aurlandsfjellet to connect the picturesque villages of Aurlandsvangen and Lærdal.
The captivating adventure leads you past one of Norway’s most iconic fjords, through lush green mountainsides and over a mountain that’s often covered in snow.
This breathtaking route is one of the 18 designated Norwegian Scenic Routes, a long-term initiative designed to enhance visitor experience while showcasing the country's stunning landscapes.
Start your journey with a stroll around Lærdal, the charming old harbour on the Sognefjord.
The scenic route up to the mountain will leave many powerful impressions, not least the desolation of the high mountain landscape. In complete contrast, the swift descent towards the beautiful Aurlandsfjord leaves a striking final impression.
The best time to drive the snow road
The downside of the tour? The road is only open for part of the year. Snow conditions dictate the exact reopening date, although the past reopening dates will help you plan. The earliest possible reopening date is in early May.
To experience the snow road at its finest, plan your visit shortly after its annual reopening in early May. During this time, the snow cliffs either side of the road should still be in place, and you'll enjoy a peaceful drive without the summer crowds.
Highlights and rest stops
The natural beauty of the Aurlandsfjellet road trip is enhanced by the infrastructure upgrades and added attractions from the Norwegian Scenic Routes project.
One noteworthy stop along the route is the eco-friendly Flotane rest stop, powered by solar panels. The stop provides restrooms and a trail where you can take in the surrounding beauty.
Another intriguing stop is the Vedahaugane rest stop, where a striking curved walkway leads you to an evocative art installation in a cave, reflecting on humanity's influence on nature. Watch out for traffic as you enter and exit the parking lot as the turns are sharp here.
However, the true highlight is the Stegastein viewpoint, offering panoramic vistas of the Aurlandsfjord. The elegant wooden platform blends in with its surroundings as it stretches out 30 metres over the pine trees at a height of 650 metres above the fjord.
While the mountain pass is closed from October to May, the stretch from the Aurlandsfjord to Stegastein remains open year-round, providing unobstructed views of the fjord from the striking viewing platform.
The Lærdal tunnel
For a truly unique roundtrip, consider combining the snow road with a drive through the Lærdal Tunnel, the world's longest road tunnel at 24.5 kilometres.
This engineering marvel on the E16 highway offers a stark contrast to the snow road, with its blue mood lighting and yellow-lit turnaround points creating an otherworldly atmosphere.
Rest assured, the tunnel is equipped with advanced safety features such as security stations and a dedicated air treatment plant, ensuring a comfortable journey between Aurlandsvangen and Lærdal.
Have you driven Norway’s snow road? Let us know your experiences in the comments.