Routes and sights from Oslo to Norway's west coast

There are two major routes (with variations) from Oslo across the mountains to the fjord landscape on the west coast. These are the E134 and the E16. In additon, there is a southern route (E18) along the south coast and a northern (E6 / E136) hitting the sea at Åndalsnes.

1) The E134 over Haukeli

The E134 is sometimes called the Haukeli road, named after the hamlet of Haukeli at it's highest point (1.085 meters / 3.560 feet above sea level). The road is winter open, but might be closed for short periods in extreme winter weather. Along the way, you can visit the Heddal stave church - Norway's biggest -, the funiculare inside the Gaustatoppen mountain (1883 meters / 6.178 feet), the site of the famous heavy water sabotage against Vemork at Rjukan in Telemark in 1943, the great Langfoss waterfall, the barony at Rosendal and the Hardanger fjord among many other sights.

Rjukan with Gaustatoppen are detours from the E134 (highway 37 or county road 651).

In week 27 every year there is a magnificent jazz festival at Kongsberg. In the beginning of August, there is a very good blues festival in Notodden. The whole month of july, there are different festivals at Seljord. In Seljord, you will meet the average Norwegian.

A possible advantage by the E134 over the slightly faster E16 is that you arrive sooner to the mountains and what you associate with typical Norwegian landscape. The mountains start in Telemark (west of Notodden).

To get to the E134, go west the E18 from Oslo to Drammen. In Drammen, the E134 in direction Kongsberg exits just at the far end of the long bridge across the river.

The E134 ends in Haugesund at the west coast, but it is also a convenient and interesting route to Bergen, via for instance highway 13 and county road 40.


Some sights along the E134


Along the E134: Heddal stave church, Norway's biggest.

Near the E134: Gaustatoppen with its funiculare in the interior.

Near the E134: Vemork power plant, the site of the heavy water sabotage in 1943.

Along the E134: Langfoss in Åkrafjorden.

On the way to Bergen from the E134: The barony at Rosendal in Hardanger, where you can also stay over night.

On the way to Bergen from the E134: The village of Norheimsund in Hardanger (notice the glacier Folgefonni in the background).



2) The E16 via Fagernes, Lærdal and Voss

The E16 is the main road from Oslo to Bergen. Its not the shortest, but it is fastest. The E16 has no ferries and it is never closed in the winter (bar extreme circumstances). For the first half of the distance, until north of Fagernes, the E16 runs through an east Norwegian hill andscape of forests, rivers and big lakes. After Fagernes, the mountains begin and the road hits the Sognefjord at beautiful Aurland, just after the longest road tunnel in the world - the 25 kilometres Lærdal tunnel. From nearby Flåm, there are further long tunnels to Gudvangen and towards Voss. After Voss, the road runs in deep valleys and along fjords to Bergen.


Sights along the road include the Borgund stave church, just before the Lærdal tunnel.

As is the case for the Bergen railway, the E16 does not give you a  verygood impression of the fjord landscape, since you are inside tunnels most of the time. So unless you are in great hurry, you should take one or several detours along the way.

From Oslo, you get to the E16 by taking the E18 west from Oslo (in direction Drammen) to Sandvika and taking the E16 in direction Hønefoss.


Some sights along the E16


Along the E16: The Einang stone - a rune stone from around the year 300, the oldest in Scandinavia still in it's original situation in a big, roman age graveyard.

Near the E16:
Borgund stave church just east of Lærdal.

On the E16:
The Lærdal tunnel is the world's longest road tunnel.

Near the E16:
Undredal at the Sognefjorden.The hamlet has one of the smalles medieval chuches in Norway.

Above the E16:
The new road at Stalheim (near Gudvangen) goes inside the mountain, but you can still drive the old zig-zag up to Stalheim hotel.

Near the E16: In the small town Voss, you find this building, Finnesloftet, from 1295.


 

a) E16 detour: The county road 243 detour between Lærdal and Aurland

Instead of driving the E16 into the Lærdal tunnel, in the roundabout before the tunnel, take highway 5 to the Lærdal village center. In the roundabout in the village, don't cross the river, but go straight ahead the county road 243 to Aurland. It brings you high up in the mountains, with a fantastic view from Stegasteinen down to Aurland. The road is closed in the winter (If in doubt, check the road reports with the road authority). It is quite narrow, so don't go here with a camper or trailer.





b) E16 detour: Highway 7 via Gol - with options

Leave the E16 just after Hønefoss and take highway 7 in direction Gol. The eastern part of this road has the same kind of landscape that you'll find along the first half of E16: Hills, forests, lakes and rivers. Sights include the Bear park zoo. The road is generally good, and you drive as fast here as at the E16.

From Gol, there are three alternative routes to the fjords: Highway 52 to Lærdal, county road 50 from Hol to Aurland, highway 7/higway 13 to Voss or contiuing highway 7 along the Hardanger fjord until it reconnects to E16 at Trengereid:

   
                                          

i)  Highway 7 detour: Highway 52 Gol - Borlaug

This road takes you through the pretty valley of Hemsedal, a big winter sports destination. It's less crowded in summer. Highway 52 takes you back to E16 before the Borgund stave church and you still have the possibility to drive the county road 243 from Lærdal to Aurland.








ii) Highway 7 detour:County road 50 Hol - Aurland

The county road 50 crosses the mountains from Hol (at higway 7) to Aurland (at E16), making a spectacular descent down to the lake Vassbygdvatnet (in the picture) before coming down to the fjord at Aurland. A highly recommendable way to get to the fjords.

The Hol-Aurland road might be closed in the winter. (If in doubt, check the road reports with the road authority).



iii) Highway 7 detour: Continue highway 7 to Trengereid or take the highway 13 shortcut to Voss

By continuing the highway 7 from Gol, you get to the winter sport resort of Geilo and then up at the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. If you want to take one of the more spectacular bicycle trips on the planet, you should rent bikes at Haugastøl and bicycle the Rallarvegen (the navvie's road - left) to Flåm. This will take you 2-3 days. You can park you car at Haugastøl (at highway 7) and take the train back from Flåm. The western part of the road is the best, and if you want to shorten the trip to 55 kilometres, you can rent bikes at Finse. You don't have to return the bikes - the rental people bring them back from Flåm for you.

You will need appropriate clothes to bicycle the Rallarvegen, but it is not a particulary hard trip. You sleep at Finse or Hallingskeid.


After Haugastøl, the highway 7 crosses the mountain plateau before descending down to the Hardanger fjord along a majestic canyon, ending at Eidfjord. You must absolutely stop to watch the magnificent Vøringsfossen waterfall. The waterfall is best observed from Fossli hotel, a short detour before the waterfall when you come from Oslo.

To take advantage of the bright northern summer nights, it is possible to start from Oslo late in the evening and experience the early morning by Vøringsfossen. You will be alone, there will be no traffic and it can be magical three o'clock in the morning.

The highway 7 might be closed in the winter between Haugastøl and Eidfjord. (If in doubt, check the road reports with the road authority).

After Eidfjord, the road runs along the beatiful Hardanger fjord. You cross the fjord with the ferry from Bu to Bruravik. The ferry takes about 15 minutes. On the northern side, you could either take the highway 13 to Voss or continue the higway 7 along the fjord to Nordheimsund and reconnecting to the E16 at Trengereid. This latter option is one of the prettiest car trips in the country, but the road is quite narrow. Take higway 13 to Voss if you are in a hurry.



c) E16 detour: County road 51 and county road 55 - through the high mountains

Considerably longer than the other options (Google estimates almost 11 hours of driving), this is still a highly recommended route, that will take you through some of the most spectacular landscape in Norway. You follow the E16 to Fagernes, from where you take the county road 51 in direction Vågå. From Vågå, you go higway 15 to Lom, from where you take county road 55 direction Fortun to the end at Sogndalsfjøra.

This route passes by beautiful lake Gjende, where you can follow the passenger boat and hike the Besseggen ridge (if you don't suffer from vertigo, have appropriate gear and can walk 5-8 hours, some of it a steep ascent).

In Lom, there is a stave church, the restaurant of famed chef Arne Brimi and a good bakery. Going up the Bøverdalen valley along the county road 55, you can eat and/or stay overnight at the old stage station Røisheim. From the 55, it is a short detour up to the lodges Spiterstulen or Juvasshytta, from where you can hike to the summit of Norway's highest mountain, Galdhøpiggen. Close to Galdhøpiggen, there is also a summer ski centre.

Galdhøpiggen requires no climbing, its just a long walk. From Spiterstulen, you can walk on your own (but it's quite long and steep). From Juvasshytta, you need a guide to take you over the glacier. But it's much shorter.

Following the county road 55 westwards, you also pass by Krossbu, where you can take a glacier course and walk on the Smørstabbreen glacier (never climb onto a glacier without a guide). The county road 55, Sognefjellsveien, is a "national tourist road" and highly recommendable. It is the highest road in Norway and thus closed many months in winter. It does not open until about May 1st. From the county road 55, you can view some of Norway's highest and most famous mountains, like Store Skagastølstind.

Turtagrø is the mountaineers traditional hangout in Jotunheimen. If you are a moutaineer yourself, you can hire a guide here for some exiting climbing. From Turtagrø, you can also do the spectacular hike to Fanaråken.






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