Despite being marked by the country’s famous fjords, northwest Norway is often overlooked, with tourists preferring to spend their entire trip in Oslo or Bergen and the surrounding area. In the northwest, the coastline is divided into miles of idyllic islands where the North and Norwegian Seas converge and weave their way further inland via bays, channels and fjords. Trondheim, located just over 300 miles north of Oslo, is one of the largest cities in the region, offering cultural sites, Viking sights, local restaurants and a bustling city center ready to welcome visitors. foreign visitors.
Highlights include the 11th-century Nidaros Cathedral, the Ringve Music History Museum, and the world’s first bicycle lift. Trondheim is easily accessible by plane or train, and car hire is available. While there is plenty to do in Trondheim, the remaining towns and natural phenomena that define the North West are equally exciting, especially if you go through them at your own pace. A road trip through a new country is an unforgettable way to experience local destinations and, more importantly, everything in between.
If you’re departing from Trondheim and still have a few days to continue exploring the area, consider heading to Ålesund, a town perched on Norway’s west coast overlooking the open sea. Colorful architecture, crisp alpine air and a serene harbor will ring the bell at the end of your road trip; After spending a few nights in the city, you can fly to Oslo from nearby Ålesund Airport.
While the journey only takes around five and a half hours in total, you can easily dedicate a long weekend or more to the full experience, stopping at small towns along the way and lingering where the time suits you.
Although tackling an alien road network may seem daunting at first, you’ll get there easily with some planning ahead. Leaving Trondheim you will want to follow road E6 to Oppdal where you will take road 70 towards Sunndalsora. From Sunndalsora, turn onto Route 62, heading north towards Angvik. It’s a great place to stop for the night; the drive from Trondheim should only take around three and a half hours, so if you leave early you’ll have plenty of time to grab a bite to eat and soak up the atmosphere. Angvik Gamle Handelssted is a family-run hotel representing fine Norwegian hospitality in this small community overlooking Tingvollfjorden. You can even rely on the hotel manager or another family member for a tour of the property, which includes a restaurant, spa, and bathhouse.
After indulging in a long swim in the Badehuset spa bath, head to the on-site museum to learn more about the family that brought the hotel to life and continues to maintain it in pristine condition to this day. The exhibits not only introduce you to their central presence in the community, but also the progress and development of the city.
While you’re there, don’t miss the Tore Bjorn Skjolsvik Gallery, where 75 renowned works of art by Norwegian artists make up a one-of-a-kind permanent collection. In the evening, the hotel’s restaurant, the Bokkerstua, offers five-course gourmet dinners chosen by the chef every day, guaranteeing a pleasantly surprised return to your room.
From Angvik, you’ll take a sharp turn north towards the city of Kristiansund, your first real seaside stopover. Known as “The Atlantic City”, Kristiansund encompasses four islands and is considered the gateway to Norway’s scenic Atlantic Road. Similar to the Pacific Coast Highway in the United States, this route follows the coastline, bringing drivers as close as possible to Norway’s rugged beaches, crashing waves and sights along the way. Before heading down the coast, spend a few hours exploring Kristiansund, especially if you want to stretch your legs before continuing. Here you will find Norway’s oldest opera house, local restaurants and the charming island of Grip, located just 12 km by boat outside the city. In February, the city hosts an annual opera festival and in October, the Northern Lights Photography Festival attracts visitors from all over the world.
If you can only stay in Kristiansund for a few hours, be sure to put the Mellemvaerftet Shipbuilding Museum at the top of your list. Inaugurated in 1856, the shipyard is today the only “living” museum in the country, which means that it is as much a workshop as a historical destination. The center focuses on the preservation, restoration and maintenance of maritime vessels while allowing the public to see and learn firsthand about Norway’s vast maritime history. The Sundbaten ferry stops nearby, allowing you to take a short cruise on the oldest uninterrupted public transport service in the world.
For lunch in Kristiansund, stop at the Bryggekanten brewery for local specialties prepared with an expert touch. Overlooking the water, the restaurant is a perfect way to say goodbye to Kristiansund and get back on route 64.
At this point, you will be on the famous Atlantic Road, where you will encounter several exits and viewpoints to take photos. This stretch of highway is one of the most photographed scenic drives in the world, having served as the setting for several films. Featured in the latest James Bond film, the iconic Storseisundet Bridge is one of the many stops you’ll want to make while driving south. A clearance near the bridge makes it easy to park and set up a few shots.
A break on the island of Eldhusøya is also worthwhile; After parking near the cafe, stroll along the walkway that circles the island for panoramic views following the shape of the water’s edge.
After getting back on the road, continue west to the village of Bud. Jutting out into the sea, Bud is a historic fishing village where you can easily spend a long morning or a lunch break exploring. After sampling the local seafood, stop at Ergan Kystfort, a former WWII German fort now open to the public as a museum. Then, take a walk on the city’s coastal path, which features exhibits chronicling the city’s history in a beautiful setting.
Heading south you will reach the Romsdal Peninsula, where you will probably want to spend the night before continuing to Alesund. Stop in the town of Molde, home to the Scandic Seilet Hotel and even more fjord vistas. Molde’s panoramic viewpoint is the best place in town to take in a 360° view of the fjords and the 222 snow-capped peaks that stretch to the horizon.
Then, treat yourself to the Glass Restaurant and Bar, an intimate eatery serving Italian classics. Back at the Scandic, expect a comfortable stay, mountain views, and an easy walk to downtown, home to a famous international jazz festival. Relaxing at the hotel’s Masta Skybar is a great way to ring in the night before continuing your road trip in the morning.
From Molde it will take you another two hours to reach Alesund, where you will end your trip. The city’s Art Nouveau buildings will be the first thing you notice on your way to your hotel; they are a mark of the reincarnation of the city after a tragic fire that left it largely destroyed in the winter of 1904. The Art Nouveau Center and the KUBE Art Museum are the best way to discover this part of the city’s history and architecture that eventually brought it back to life. Fjestulla viewpoint is your next must-see, especially if you fancy a short hike after a long drive. The viewpoint at the top of the hill offers stunning views of Alesund’s colorful city center as well as the peaks that surround it. Aksla Mountain is another easily accessible hike from the city center – and probably the first peak you will notice as soon as you arrive in town.
Whether you sign up for a walking tour with a local company or explore Alesund on your own, the best way to soak up the spirit of the city is to immerse yourself in its streets and shop windows neat. Antiques, gifts, local delicacies and more are available throughout the city for you to discover.
With Trondheim and Alesund as the gateways to northwest Norway, you’ll get to know the heart of the region as you discover everything that connects the two cities along the way. A strong maritime and outdoor culture, combined with a local flair and a passion for history will make your road trip much more than a drive. Devoting a day or two to each destination on your list is the best way to get the most out of your experience, especially if you’re lucky enough to attend an annual festival or go on a tour. Driving through Norway means slowing things down enough to appreciate how the landscape changes, the slight differences between each enclave, and the roadside gems that are often overlooked. Starting with the urban bustle of Trondheim and completing with the quiet waterfront of Alesund gives you the full scope of life in this idyllic part of the country.
For more information and to start planning your own trip to Trondheim and the northern part of Norway’s fjord region, go to visitnorway.com, visitnorthwest.no, visittrondheim.no and visitalesund.com.