National Scenic Routes in Norway

Norway's most scenic drives

Look no further for road trip inspiration. These 18 roads offer simply the best scenic drives in the country.

Norway's 18 National Tourist Routes are specially selected roads that take you through the best scenery Norway has to offer.

Funding from government has improved the condition and facilities along these 18 roads and the program of improvements will continue through to 2023.

Rest stops and picnic areas are now combined with modern architectural features to make them tourist attractions in themselves. Because of their high elevation and poor weather, some of the National Tourist Routes are closed during winter.

Fjord Region

Aurlandsfjellet – Known as the “Snow Road” due to the steep snow that lines both sides of the road for much of the year, what makes this drive special is the sudden contrast between the mountains, pine forests and the fjord. Although the road is closed over winter, the modern Stegastein viewpoint is open all year round and offers a spectacular view from 650 metres above the Aurlandsfjord.

Stegastein viewpoint
Stegastein viewpoint on the Snow Road (Photo: Roger Ellingsen / Statens vegvesen)

Gaularfjellet – One of the lesser known routes, the Gaulerfjellet road skirts the epic Sognefjord before snaking up the mountain. The wonderful village of Balestrand on the edge of the Sognefjord is the perfect place to start the trip. Highlights include several waterfalls and the impressive Utsikten viewpoint that dangles over the edge of a mountain.

Utsikten viewpoint at Gaularfjellet
Utsikten viewpoint at Gaularfjellet (Photo: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen)

Geiranger-Trollstigen – The many hairpin bends of Trollstigen is one of Norway's most famous roads, yet the Tourist Route continues on all the way to the Geirangerfjord. This is Norwegian nature at its most dramatic, and highlights include the Gudbrandsjuvet gorge, the award-winning Juvet Landscape Hotel, and the Ørnesvingen and Flydalsjuvet viewpoints above Geiranger and its fjord.

Trollstigen photo
Looking down on Trollstigen

Hardanger – A romantic drive past the bright orchards that line the Hardangerfjord. Take in several of the country's most visually impressive waterfalls, buy fruit from local farmers at the Hesthamar rest area, then take a walk to the Stone Cross monument and beach.

Skjervsfossen waterfall on the Hardanger route
Skjervsfossen waterfall on the Hardanger route (Photo: Roger Ellingsen / Statens vegvesen)

Hardangervidda – The drive across northern Europe's largest mountain plateau is one you won't forget in a hurry. Weather on the plateau can change quickly and the road is kept open for most of the winter thanks to snowploughs and convoy driving. The steep scenic Måbødalen valley and fjordside village of Eidfjord are other highlights.

The awesome Hardangervidda
Hardangervidda (Photo: Sigmund Krøvel-Velle / Statens vegvesen)

Jæren – The coastal landscape of Jæren, Norway's agricultural heartland, is the main attraction of this drive between Ogna and Bore. The long sandy beaches are perfect for picnics, slow walks or just pure relaxation.

Orrestranda beach in Jæren
Orrestranda beach in Jæren (Photo: Helge Stikbakke / Statens vegvesen)

Gamle Strynefjellsvegen – Built in the latter part of the 19th century, the old road from Skjåk to Stryn features old stone masonry and long rows of guard stones. A high point of the drive is the Videfossen waterfall, which people have been visiting for as long as the road has been open.

Gamle Strynefjellsvegen
Gamle Strynefjellsvegen (Photo: Trine Kanter Zerwekh / Statens vegvesen)

Ryfylke – A diverse, beautiful landscape of high mountains, forested hillsides and deep fjords. At the southern end of the road is the Lysefjord, which is home to the world-famous natural attractions Preikestolen and the Kjerag boulder.

Svandalsfossen waterfall in Ryfylke
Svandalsfossen waterfall in Ryfylke (Photo: Fredrik Fløgstad / Statens vegvesen)

Sognefjellet – Rising to 1,434 metres in the Jotunheimen mountain range, Sognefjellet is northern Europe’s highest mountain pass. A vital connection between the west coast and inland areas, the road facilitated the transport of salt and fish eastwards, with butter, pitch and leather going west.

Snow keeps the snow closed during the winter, but when it reopens in the spring you can drive along the road with banks of snow up to ten metres either side.

Sognefjellet in the spring
Sognefjellet in the spring (Photo: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen)

The Atlantic Road – One of the most famous roads in the world, let alone Norway. As an engineering project it is a marvel yet there is some artistic merit too as the road elegantly hops and weaves its way across a series of islets and skerries, to link the island of Averøy with the mainland. Fishing and birdwatching are popular activities here.

The Atlantic Road

Central Norway

Rondane – The towering mountains along the eastern edge of Rondane National Park are hard to ignore. For the best vantage point, visit the Sohlbergplassen viewing platform at Atnsjøen. The architect wanted to recreate the atmosphere from the 1914 painting “Winter's Night in Rondane”.

Driving through Rondane National Park
Rondane National Park (Photo: Helge Stikbakke / Statens vegvesen)

Valdresflye – In the very centre of Norway, Valdresflye offers open mountain landscape that's only possible to drive through outside of the long winter.

Valdres
Valdres at more than 1,300 metres above sea level (Photo: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen)

Northern Norway

Helgelandskysten – At 433km and featuring six ferries, the Helgeland coastal road is the longest of the 18 Norwegian Scenic Routes. Unlike many of the routes the terrain is flat and therefore perfect for cycle trips.

Crossing the Arctic Circle is a highlight for many, while the stone-vault bridge and sandy brach at the Storvika bay rest area is a picturesque spot and ideal for camper vans.

Åselidalen on the Helgeland coast
Åselidalen on the Helgeland coast (Photo: Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen)

Lofoten – The main road through the dramatic Lofoten archipelago, the E10 from Svolvær to Å is my favourite road trip in all of Norway. Allow three times as long as you think you'll need because around every corner is another mountain, fishing village or beach just begging to be photographed.

Driving through Lofoten
The Lofoten islands

Andøya – The island of Andøya at the northern end of the Vesterålen archipelago offers a pleasant alternative to the busier Lofoten islands. This route hugs the western coastline and leads to the long sandy beach at Bleik. There's also views out to Bleiksøya island, which is home to thousands of puffins and a colony of sea eagles.

Bleik beach on Andøya
Bleik beach on Andøya

Senja – Between Lofoten/Vesterålen and Tromsø, the island of Senja is known for its steep mountains that plunge deep into the ocean. Husøy island in the Øyfjord is home to a few hundred permanent inhabitants and an active fishing community. Visit the Bergsbotn viewpoint for the route's best view of the Bergsfjord and surrounding mountains.

Tungeneset viewpoint on Senja
Tungeneset viewpoint on Senja (Photo: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen)

Havøysund – If you're heading to the North Cape, consider a detour out to Havøysund. The lack of trees gives you a feeling of driving along a mountain plateau yet the road hugs the rugged coastline of the Arctic coastline.

Known for its deep sea fishing and a stop on the Hurtigruten coastal route, the surprisingly active village of Havøysund marks the end of the route.

Lillefjord on Havøysund in Norway
Lillefjord on Havøysund (Photo: Werner Harstad / Statens vegvesen)

Varanger – Few international tourists make it as far as Varanger, situated close to the north-eastern border with Russia. Popular with bird-watchers due to the number of rare and unique species found here, Varanger is also home to reindeer (often on the road itself!) and a landscape of birch woods, marshland and rugged cliffs.

Birdwatching hide at Vadsø in Varanger
Birdwatching hide at Vadsø in Varanger (Photo: Fredrik Fløgstad / Statens vegvesen)

Whether you're planning a Norwegian road trip or just dreaming of travel, I hope you enjoyed this look at Norway's 18 National Tourist Routes. If you use Pinterest, here's an image especially optimised for you. Enjoy!

Did this post inspire you to plan a road trip to Norway? If so, why not share your plans on Pinterest? There's a pin for that…

Road Trip Norway: Plan your dream driving vacation in Norway with this guide to the 18 National Tourist Routes

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

3 Comments

  1. Dear David,
    I am planning a road trip from mid Sept 2018 and time is not restricted but budget is.
    I want to hopefully get as far north as Kersenes Russian border area and wanted to follow as many Scenic Roads as possible.
    Intend driving my own 4×4 through the Channel Tunnel and up over the Oresten Bridge and onwards up Norway into the Arctic Circle and up north via e.g. The Atlantic Rd and back again down southwards by varying routes.
    I would welcome your itinerary suggestions bearing in mind we are 69 year old couple reasonably fit and well.
    We are easy with accommodation as long as its clean, comfortable and somewhere to eat at night.

    I’ve driven globally but never in Norway so is it easy to get diesel even up in the remote North? My car has a range of c.400 UK miles.

    Any advice welcome.

    1. Hi, yes diesel is available but there are long distances between petrol stations so bear that in mind. Also, driving from Oslo to Kirkenes is an extremely long way and will be very expensive on fuel, so if budget is a concern you may want to stick to the area between Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim. Anyone driving from Oslo to Kirkenes would usually drive through Sweden/Finland as it is much more direct. The plus point is with a car you can stay fairly cheaply on campsites in basic cabins for 500-800kr per night, in most parts of the country. Have a fun trip!

  2. Hello David,

    I am from Brazil and I am planning a road trip in March (March/01 to March/09) from Oslo to Bergen passing by Geilo (where I am planning to stay 3 days).
    I drove sometimes in snow (Canada and Germany) but I do not have much experience.
    Do you recommend a 4×4 vehicle for this trip? How will be the condition of the road until March/10? Is there much snow at this time? This trip is famous by train. Do you think by car is a good option to see beautiful landscapes, although this is not a touristic road trip?
    Thank you very much!

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