For those that haven’t yet read my Bergen, Norway blog post, you should do so now! This post is a continuation of me and Cody’s adventure in Norway. It mostly goes over the ‘hiking in Norway’ day we had in Flåm and Aurland.
So after spending the weekend in Bergen, me, Cody, and Erik drove to Oslo where we would be staying at Erik and Emily’s house for the remainder of the trip. In the middle of the week is when we decided to do our day-trip to hike in the Fjords. That’s where this post’s story begins.
Renting The Car And Departing
If I had to pick one thing, as my MUST-DO thing while in on this trip, it was hiking in Norway and spending time in the Fjords. To use the official definition: A Fjord is a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley. Basically, they’re a series of valleys, mountains and cliffs that run along rivers that flow into the ocean. The whole country of Norway is covered with Fjords, and I knew that I wanted to spend some time exploring them no matter what.
We chose to drive to Flåm from Oslo, as it was about 4 hours of driving, and a good middle-point in the country where we could access great hiking in any direction.
Here’s a picture of Cody slav-squatting by our rental car. Renting the car was easy-peasy. We researched car rental companies and took a train into the city the day before to rent our car. If we had done more up-front research before going on this trip (or more internet sleuthing for coupons/deals) I’m sure we could have gotten a better rate than we did. It cost us a little over $200 for 2 days of rental, which I was fine with, as renting a car gave us a lot of flexibility in our timeline. We could have figured out a system of trains and buses to get to Flåm, but it would have been a much longer journey (12+ hours) and we wanted to maximize our time. So in my opinion, renting a car is the way to go!
The Drive To Flåm
The drive… oh… the drive. Cody and I were speechless at how beautiful this drive was. Once you get an hour outside of Oslo the mountains start appearing, and it was BEAUTIFUL. Mountains and quaint farmland on every side, with the huge lakes, more mountains, waterfalls coming down the mountains and fall colors everywhere. Cody and I both agreed it was the best drive we ever went on!
We left very early that morning (at around 5am) so that we could get into Flåm at around noon for lunch. We were pretty much spot-on with our timeline. Once we arrived we parked the car (got some pictures by the lake) and got out our snacks for a little hatch-back picnic in the back of the car!
The day before we went to the store for snacks. We got hummus (of course), pita bread, BBQ flavored pringles (which I found out recently are vegan and they are delicious!), grapes, and clementines. It was a great little hodge-podge meal, and so cool to be eating it next to a beautiful lake while surrounded by tall mountains on every side of you.
Flåm was very cute. It is a tiny lakefront town, and one that sees a lot of tourism due to its cute-ness, and fairytale feel to it. It actually reminded me a lot of Halstatt, Austria!
We walked down by the docks and saw a huge Cruise ship parked near the shore. After a bit of walking around we went into an information center and looked for a map we could use to find hiking paths. The friendly desk attendant told us that the best lookout point in the area was actually in Aurland, a tiny town just 20 minutes north of Flåm. He told us to check out the Stegastein Lookokut point and then after taking pictures there, to drive an additional 400m up the road to a hiking trail point for another great view. So, we got back in the car and headed out!
Ok, I know at this point I’ve said it a million times how gorgeous this country is, but Cody and I just couldn’t get enough of it. On the drive between Flåm and Aurland we climbed a lot in elevation, and after each switch-back in the road the view got more and more incredible.
The Stegastein lookout point is a really neat piece of architecture – a platform that juts-out 30 meters from the side of a mountain, 650 meters above the Aurland fjord. It’s a straight drive to the top, so getting to this point is very easy. And the view is stunning!
I took a lot of photos on the drive here, and at this lookout point. A lot.
And forgive me for the few cheesy photos I snapped, but I couldn’t help myself! I was just having so much fun.
Hiking In Norway
After spending some time at the lookout, we were ready for our main event of the day. Our hike. We got back in the car and drove up the mountain road once more, until we saw a little parking section on the left side of the road. The trail was well-marked and easy to spot from the road, just like the gentlemen in Flåm said it would be. We parked, gathered our gear, and set out.
As soon as we started up the trail we were thrown into crazy-harsh winds. Let me emphasize that real quick… it was EXTREMELY WINDY. The wind was whipping around us at crazy high speeds and intensity. We both instantly had to put our hoods up for some protection! I actually took my glasses off for a bit too, I was afraid they were going to fly right off my face!
That landscape was so cool though. It was incredibly colorful and vibrant, despite the harsh conditions we were in. All around us I couldn’t get over how bright the colors were.
After about 35 – 50 minutes of climbing, we reached a plateau of sorts, and stopped to look at the view before us.
Words really can’t describe how extraordinary the view was at the top. I just hope my pictures can do it some justice.
We must have stayed at the top, just looking out over the Fjord, for over an hour. We talked, and sometimes sat in silence, and just took in the beauty around us.
It was honestly, maybe, the best moment of my life. Looking out over the Fjord, it felt like my whole life was meant to lead up to that moment. I was just so speechless with how happy I was, and how overwhelmed I felt at what I was seeing.
If there’s any one photo from this trip that describes how overjoyed I was at being there, in the moment, it’s that photo above! So needless to say, I was amazed to be there, but I also remember how cold it was! We tried to stay bundled up in our jackets in between talking and taking photos.
One of the most amazing parts about this moment, was that we had that mountain all to ourselves. There was no one else around. No one to crowd our view, to be noisy, to dirty the path or block our line of site. It was just me and Cody up there, which made it all the more special to share that moment with just each other.
After a long while, we decided it was time to start heading back. We actually had the option to climb a bit higher (the trail continued up for a little bit more), but we decided that we got what we came for, and were satisfied with our view. After some careful descending (and taking a million more photos) we got back to the car and started our drive back to Oslo.
The Snow Road & Drive Home
Instead of returning back the way we came, we decided to continue along the same road and take the “snow road” over the mountain to get back to the highway. All of the wonderful recommendations we got (The Stegastein Lookout point, the hiking spot, and taking the snow road) we owe it to that kind gentlemen back in Flåm who let us take that map with us and marked these locations for us. He was the real MVP of the day! (And Cody for doing all of the driving 😉 – but hey, I DID offer many times to drive!)
Back to the story though – So we decided to take the “snow road” that goes over the mountains instead of under, and I’m so glad we did! On the drive to get there we went through soooo many tunnels, which were very cool in their own right. We even went through a tunnel that was 30km long (~19 miles), with roundabouts in it! But taking the snow road was a different kind of ‘cool.’
Up until this point, our scenery was that of lush greenery and vibrant fall colors. Trees, waterfalls, and lakes everywhere. But on the snow road path, all of a sudden our surroundings did a 180 on us. The landscape looked barren, rocky, with this strange rust and turquoise cast to the stone all around us. It was such a startling difference, we kept saying that it looked like we were suddenly transported to Mars!
After climbing down the mountain and getting back on the main highway to Oslo we returned to our familiar beautiful mountain/lake/Fjord scenery. But that snow road man, it sure was odd and unique!
At around the halfway point we stopped in a little town for dinner. I got a rice + stir-fry vegetable dish at a Chinese restaurant. And at around midnight we finally arrived back at our friend’s home.
I really can’t stress enough, or put into words, how much this day meant to me. It checked a major item off my bucket list, and it achieved for me, the most important thing I wanted to do while in Norway.
It was so special to me, to be able to share this day with Cody too, and see the incredible things that we did together. I will never ever forget the day we had hiking in Norway, the quaint towns of Flåm and Aurland, the drive, or all the laughs we had along the way. It was one of the best days of my life!
So, to conclude this post, all I will say is that if you are ever in Norway, I highly recommend you rent a car and get out to see some Fjords. Flåm is a great central point in the country to do this at, with options for hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, etc. We actually looked into doing a sea-kayak tour in the Sognefjord Fjord just outside of Flåm but the place we were going to go to was closed for the season (They closed for the season 2 days before we arrived!). Our hiking in Norway adventure was more than worth it to me though, and completely satisfied my craving to explore and experience nature while in Norway.
I hope this post was fun and captivating to read! I had a lot of fun writing it and reliving that day. If there is any information in here that helps you plan a trip hiking in Norway I’ll be glad! And if you are panning a trip to Norway, leave a comment below if you have any specific questions to ask that I might be able to help with!
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for part 3 of me and Cody’s Norway adventure: Our stories from Oslo.