This week’s dream
A road trip on Norway’s spellbinding coast
Aurland fjord: Another glimpse of the Norwegian sublime
“Norway is a solo traveler’s playground,” said Sebastian Modak in The New York Times. During a recent road trip I made in Vestlandet, or southwestern Norway, I was constantly thankful that I wasn’t stuck on a tour bus with a preset itinerary. The region’s mountains and fjords had me blurting out expletives whenever I rounded a bend to confront a sight such as Latefossen—a waterfall whose twin thundering streams intertwine beneath a bridge near the town of Odda. Here’s my advice if you ever drive through this jaw-droppingly scenic country: “Take your navigation app’s estimated time and add at least two hours.”
My journey of five days (which wasn’t nearly long enough) roughly traced a loop including Bergen, Stavanger, and Voss. “Bergen is worth a trip on its own.” I spent a full day wandering Norway’s second-largest city, walking up and down its hills, between its old wooden houses, and through its bustling 13th-century fish market. “But even Bergen’s main appeal is in its natural splendor.” Seven mountains surround the harbor town, and on one particularly beautiful day, I took the cable car up to Mount Ulriken and hiked the easy, 9-mile Vidden trail to Mount Floyen. From the plateau connecting the two mountains, I could see all of the city, the surrounding fjords, and even the Folgefonna glacier in the distance.
“I felt the lure of adventure everywhere in Norway.” Though Stavanger and Voss, an extreme-sports hub, were as lovely as Bergen, “it was the in-between moments I will remember most.” Once, while driving through the mountains from Bergen to Voss, I decided to sail past my destination when I noticed that the road continued to the village at the tip of a UNESCO-listed fjord. Passing the buses parked near a Disney-like re-creation of a Viking village, I followed a tiny road into Gudvangen, an actual village with a church framed by waterfalls that spilled down the steep cliff faces and with Highland cattle that stared blankly in my direction.
At the Bergen hotel Scandic Ornen (scandichotels.com/ornen), doubles start at $128.