Tucked away amidst the stunning landscape of Norway, Åndalsnes is a small town that offers big experiences. Often dubbed as the ‘Alpine town by the fjord', Åndalsnes is a haven for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike.
I recently spent a day in Åndalsnes, a small town in a picturesque part of Norway that's often missed by international travellers. If you are planning a trip around the Norwegian fjords, Åndalsnes and the Rauma valley is a place well worth considering.
From picturesque railway rides to awe-inspiring hiking trails, the Rauma valley is a destination that truly encapsulates the rugged beauty and adventurous spirit of the fjord region.
Like many small towns in Norway, Åndalsnes itself is rather ordinary due to the damage inflicted during World War II. But as a cruise ship port or a base camp for exploring the surrounding area, it's ideal.
An introduction to Åndalsnes, Norway
Åndalsnes is a small town in Rauma municipality, part of Møre og Romsdal county. Approximately 2,400 people live in the town, but it has a lot of facilities and services that are used by people who live throughout the region.
The town is connected to the Norwegian railway network via the Rauma line to Dombås, and it's a cruise ship port often used by smaller ships and German lines.
So despite its small size, Åndalsnes boasts a wide range of attractions and activities that cater to travellers of all types, from thrill-seekers to tranquility-seekers. Here are some of the best things to do in Åndalsnes.
Ride the cable car
One of the main attractions in Åndalsnes is the Romsdalsgondolen, a recently opened cable car that takes visitors up to the mountain peak of Nesaksla.
As you ascend in the cable car, you'll be presented with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, the town below, and the mesmerising fjord. Once you reach the top, a modern mountain lodge awaits, offering food and beverages to enjoy with the spectacular panorama.
At NOK 540 for a roundtrip, a ride on Romsdalsgondolen is not cheap, but the view is incomparable. Those taking just a one-way trip will pay NOK 360. The cable car opens at 10am.
Ride the Rauma railway
For those who prefer an even more leisurely adventure, the Rauma Railway offers a relaxed yet joyful experience.
This scenic train journey takes you past some of Norway's most dramatic landscapes, including the iconic Trollveggen (the Troll Wall), which is Europe's highest vertical mountain face, and over the stone-hewn Kylling Bridge.
The train's slow pace allows ample time to appreciate the stunning views, and the large windows offer unobstructed panoramas of the breathtaking surroundings.
Allow a few minutes before boarding the train at the station in Åndalsnes to visit the chapel. Built inside an old train carriage, the chapel was consecrated in the presence of King Harald and Queen Sonja.
Mountaineering visitor centre
Norsk Tindesenter is a destination for mountain and outdoor enthusiasts, before or after you’re done with the actual mountains, of course!
A blend of museum and activity center, it captures the spirit of Norwegian mountaineering through engaging exhibits and interactive experiences.
Visitors can delve into the rich history of climbing in Norway, watch a panoramic film showcasing the stunning local mountains, learn about local fauna and flora, and even tackle an indoor climbing wall.
However, I would say it really is only a destination for keen hikers and mountaineers. There is a popular cafe on the ground floor.
Admire the Troll wall
As mentioned above, the Rauma railway passes the imposing Trollveggen rock face. Just a 10-minute drive away from Åndalsnes, the Trollveggen visitor centre gives you the best possible view from the roadside.
The visitor centre contains a cafe, a large gift shop, and tiered seating giving an interesting perspective on the mountains.
Åndalsnes is also often used as a base for trips to see the Trollstigen mountain pass, which is part of the Åndalsnes to Geiranger scenic route.
Spectacular hiking trails
Åndalsnes is a hiker's paradise, offering numerous trails that cater to different fitness levels. Here are some of the most notable hikes in Åndalsnes:
One of the most popular trails is the Romsdalseggen ridge, known for its sweeping views of the fjords and mountains. On days graced with clear skies, your vision can stretch as far as the ocean, offering a rare view of the Romsdal mountains typically unseen by most tourists.
However, a word of caution – this trail is not suitable for novices, or for those uncomfortable with lofty heights. Additionally, if you're not a planner, this might not be the excursion for you, as the ridge demands a full day of dedicated commitment.
If that sounds like too much, consider the hike to Rampestreken viewpoint instead. It's actually the final stretch of the Romsdalseggen trail, but you can hike there and back from Åndalsnes in about two hours.
This one still requires a decent level of physical fitness, though. It's a steep climb! You could instead take the cable car up and walk down, or vice-versa if you prefer.
For those arriving by cruise ship, you don’t have to worry about overnight accommodation. But if you’re a keen mountaineer or hiker, consider the accommodation at Åndalsnes Camping.
In the shadow of the epic mountains of the Rauma region, the riverside campsite offers space for pitching a tent, parking for motorhomes, and cabins for rent. Cabins are equipped with kitchenettes, while there is a service building that includes cooking facilities, bathrooms, and showers.
What are your favourite things to do in Åndalsnes? Let us know in the comments below?