All roads lead to Bergen.. Well, at least (almost) from Oslo they do. Whether you drive the Southern route E134, the Northern route 55 or straight west on the National Road 7.
The National Road 7 from Oslo to Bergen
Driving from Oslo to Bergen
A few weeks back I traveled on the number 7 from Oslo to Bergen. This is the shortest route, but also very scenic and there are many nice sights along the way. I’ve been fortunate to borrow a VW T3 Camper Van from my uncle to do this journey, so she’ll be my mobile home along the way. The total distance of this drive is 463 kilometers (287 miles), and I’m spending four days to be able to do a lot of stops. You can do this drive in one long day, but I recommend spending at least two days to not have to rush through it.
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My mobile home – A 1986 VW T3 Camper Van
My first stop – The Kistefos Museum
Driving northwest out of Oslo and towards Hønefoss I make my first stop at the Kistefos Museum. Kistefos is one of Northern Europes largest sculpture parks for contemporary art, where you’ll find more than 45 sculptures by significant contemporary artists. There is also an industry museum at Kistefos, dedicated to the old wood pulp mill which was running up to the year 1955. This is actually Scandinavias only intact wood pulp mill.
All Of Nature Flows Through Us – Marc Quinn
The highlight for many, is the building named “The Twist”. This is world class architecture by the renowned danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group. The Twist is a sculpture in itself, it’s also an art gallery, and a spectacular view hovering over the Randselva river. At the midway point it “twists” and crosses the river in a 60 meter span. Inside there are rotating exhibitions, and it’s a real treat to see art in such an exciting environment.
For more read my article about the Kistefos Museum
The Twist at the Kistefos Museum
Driving up the Hallingdal Valley
The next part of the drive goes up Hallingdalen, one of the major valleys of eastern Norway. I follow the Hardanger river, same as the train going from Oslo to Bergen. I guess you can say this is where the scenic part starts, driving past small farms, through little towns and all the time surrounded by the steep hillsides and lush landscape.
Bæææ – Sheep grazing down below a farm
My second stop – Hallingdal Open air folk museum
The Hallingdal Folk Museum was opened in 1899. It’s one of the oldest open air folk museums in Norway. In the museum you can find thirty historic buildings, and it’s a great way to see how people lived in rural Norway back in the old days. I find the “Emigrant house” especially interesting. The house, which is created from solid oak logs, gives you a glimpse into the life of a Norwegian family who left everything behind and started a new life in the US. The most amazing part about this house is that it was transported back from Hatton North Dakota and here to the Hallingdal Museum. It’s actually an authentic house that belonged to she Svensen family which emigrated from Hallingdalen to North America back in the 1800s.
A couple of churches along the way
Further up in the valley I stop at a couple of churches. I make a stop at the Herad church from 1934. I also make a stop at the Torpo Stave church, and I’m very impressed by the wood carvings on the main door, and the fact that the church was built back in the 1160s.
Wild Camping in Ål
Since I’m spending several days driving I need to do some camping stops. I find a spot to park for the night close to the town of Ål. In Norway you are allowed to do so called wild camping. Meaning you can park on any public side road and stay there for the night. Check out the article and video I made about the public’s access to Nature in Norway.
One of many beautiful wild camping spots along the way
A short stop at an antique store
Hallingdal is known for it’s crafts, and I stop by a local antique store to see what he has to offer. Rosemaling, or rose-painting as you can see here (image below) is a decorative folk painting which was popular in the 1700s and well into the 1800s. Its inspired by baroque and rococo art, and each region have their own styles. Often you see it painted onto furniture and kitchen utensils. I think it looks really nice! Great souvenir to bring back home from Norway.
The Hardangervidda mountain plateau
From here the mountains are next, and I start driving towards the Hardangervidda National Park. Along the way I pass by many cabins and farms, as I zig zag through the backcountry of Norway.
After a short waffle stop in Haugastøl I finally enter the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. This area is one of the biggest mountain plateaus in northern Europe. You find high mountains, glaciers in the far distance, waterfalls, fjords and vast plateaus.
Hardangerjøkulen glacier in the back
The national road 7 over Hardangervidda stays open all year. In winter the road conditions can change from hour to hour, and you can notice the wood sticks next to the road, making it easier for the snowplow to remove the snow.
About half way over the mountain I stop at a small café for a late lunch. Up here they serve traditional Norwegian food, and I order a plate of rømmegrøt, sour cream porridge, which is always served with cured meat, flatbread and red fruit juice. One of my favorite Norwegian dishes!
Sour cream porridge – Rømmegrøt – My favorite!
The Vøringsfossen waterfall
Driving down from the Hardangervidda mountain plateau you come to the The Vøringsfossen waterfall. I’d say this is one of the highlights, and the roaring water never cease to impress me! I got some great views from here, looking down into the Måbødalen valley and the road that I’ll be driving later on. Norway is beautiful!
Next I start driving down the steep and narrow Måbødalen valley. The old road that went here was the first road connection between Eastern and Western Norway. The new road that I’m driving on now opened in 1986 . It’s a quite curvy road, with many tunnels and a thrilling ride down to the bottom of the valley.
An old farm down in the Måbødalen Valley
Driving along Eidfjord and over the Hardanger bridge
I continue my drive west along the Eidfjord, quickly approaching the impressive Hardanger bridge, which goes across the Eidfjorden branch off of the main Hardangerfjord. It replaced a ferry connection here, and shortened the time driving between Oslo and Bergen. The bridge is the longest suspension bridge in Norway, and a pretty spectacular sight.
The Hardangerfjord bridge
The Norwegian Rasteplass
If you are going on a road trip in Norway you need to know about “rasteplass”. It translates to a “rest area” and is usually a spot next to a main road where you can park and have a rest. Normally they are equipped with some benches, waste bins and restrooms. You are also allowed to spend one night at a rasteplass, so it’s an ideal place to sleep in your RV or tent. I dont always recommend tenting if there is a lot of traffic driving by (better to go into the forest). On the image below you can see the symbol for a rasteplass (the WC with a tree). The “i” means that there is some information about the region here, and the one to the right means that there is a viewpoint. In this case its a viewpoint over the Skjervsfossen waterfall. The symbol on the lower left means that you are driving on a National Tourist Road.
A typical rasteplass in Norway
Driving along the Hardanger fjord
Next day I start driving along the Hardangerfjord. This is the second longest fjord in Norway, and stretches for 179 kilometres. It’s a scenic drive on a typical narrow fjord road, with the fjord on one side and the mountain on the other. There are several bridges, and I pass by many small farms and communities along the way which have been in this area for hundreds of years.
It’s a wild and lush landscape well known for its fruit production. The gulf stream coming up the Norwegian west coast contributes to a fairly mild climate here. Ideal for growing berries and fruit, and the Hardanger apples are considered the best apples in Norway.
mmm… Hardanger apples!
At a small shop by the road I find delicious some Hardanger apples and fruit juice pressed that same day. There is Hardanger lefse, and of course some real Norwegian goat cheese, brown cheese. I’m in heaven! If you are curious about this cheese read my article what is Norwegian brown cheese.
Before driving into Bergen I make one last stop at Steinsdalsfossen. This is one of the most popular waterfalls in Norway. With it’s 50 meter drop its quiet beautiful, and you can walk behind the waterfall and enjoy the power of the roaring water without getting wet.
Arrival to Bergen
After four days and almost 464 kilometers I arrive to Bergen. What a ride this was! It’s something I’d highly recommend doing for anyone traveling to Norway.
My recommendation is to spend at least two days driving this road. A good mid-point for spending the night could be up in the mountains at the Hardangervidda Mountain Plateau. There are many small mountains hotels, and you could combine it with an evening or morning hike.
Thanks for reading this article! I also made a YouTube-episode from this drive, which you watch here.