Definitive guide to touring Norway with a motorhome.

After spending the last 6 weeks touring Norway in our motorhome I think we have found motorhome heaven! Norway has everything the enthusiastic motorhomer needs. If you don’t own a motorhome or camper van, please buy one or hire one and take it to Norway, because you will be hooked, just like we are.

Trollstigen mountain road in Norway.

When to go to Norway

The best time to go to Norway is in the summer months, unless you want a skiing holiday. Many roads in Norway can be closed in winter, especially roads like Trollstigen. In fact the Trollstigen road had only opened a week before we were there and I would have hated to have missed the drive up there. There is a good website where you can check which of the scenic Norwegian roads are closed and also a table that shows you the dates that the roads opened for the past few years. You can visit that website here.

We arrived in Norway in early May and the weather was warm and sunny. The temperature reached 24C on several occasions, although Norwegians we spoke to said the hot weather we had was very unusual. I would also recommend being in Norway for their National Day on 17th May. It’s a fantastic spectacle to see so many proud Norwegians waving their national flag.

Days in Norway, of course, are very long in summer. We found it was still light at midnight and was light again at about 4am. Black out blinds in our motorhome were very useful in helping to get a good nights sleep.

Norway celebrates 17th May every year.

How to get to Norway

If you are driving from the UK to Norway with your motorhome you will need to find the best way to get to mainland Europe. There are no ferries from the UK to Norway. Our route took us from Hull to Rotterdam on the overnight ferry and we then drove through the Netherlands and northern Germany to the port of Puttgarden. Ferries run every 30 minutes to Rødby in Denmark. We took this ferry route because we wanted to see Copenhagen and drive north through Sweden.

The most popular ferry route to Norway is from the Danish ferry port of Hirtshals, to Kristiansand in southern Norway. Ferries also operate from Hirtshals to Larvik. Ferries are operated by Color Line and the journey takes 3 hours and 15 minutes. The typical cost of a one way trip with a 7 metre motorhome is about €198, based on  June departure, but costs are higher in the peak season.

If you take the Puttgarden ferry (about €100 for a 7 metre vehicle) you then need to cross the Øresund Bridge to Malmo (€98) or take the ferry from Helsingør to Helsingborg in Sweden. You could then drive via Gothenburg to Oslo.

A more expensive option is to take the ferry from Frederikshavn in Denmark to Oslo. This is the 12 hour ferry route we are using on our return from Norway. The cost for us was £335, including a 2 berth outside cabin.

The cost of living in Norway

Norway is an expensive country to visit. They have a high standard of living and food prices are high. Diesel cost us about £1.45 a litre. Before setting off for Norway we took as much food with us as weight would allow so that we could limit the amount we spent on food in Norwegian supermarkets. Of course, we bought fresh food such as milk, salad, orange juice (applesin juice) and found that we used Bunnpris and Joker supermarket chains, not because we thought they were cheap, but because we just happened to find more of them.

Driving, Tolls and Tunnels

Driving in Norway is a joy. Speed limits are low and even the main roads such as the E39 can be narrow making journey times longer than you might expect. In general, the Norwegian speed limit is 80 kilometres per hour, except for in built-up areas or town centres, where it is 50 kilometres per hour unless otherwise stated. It can be as low as 30 kilometres per hour in residential areas, and as high as 110 kilometres per hour on certain dual carriageways and motorways. Penalties for exceeding the speed limit are amongst the highest in Europe and I saw several cars stopped by unmarked police cars. I was also randomly breathalised at a police checkpoint so don’t drink and drive.

AutoPASS is the Norwegian system for collection of road and tunnel tolls. There are very few manned tolls and instead automated VNPR cameras are used to record number plates. I registered my vehicle details with Euro Parking Collection (EPC) before entering Norway and they send an invoice for payment. You can read about EPC here.

I have never driven through so many tunnels in my life. Norway has over 1,000 road tunnels that cut straight through huge mountains and underneath the sea. The longest tunnel is over 15 miles long. Most are free but there are some where you pay a toll. Drive carefully through Norwegian tunnels because many are very long and narrow and quite often they can be very dark, especially until your eyes become adjusted to the change from bright sunlight.

Many tunnels in Norway are not lined with concrete and instead have just bare rock; we found these tunnels to be the darkest to drive in. You will also be amazed when you see tunnels with roundabouts in them and road junctions.

The best tunnel we drove through was the Vallavik Tunnel which is an incredible tunnel-bridge-tunnel combination which includes two roundabouts in it!

Ferries in Norway

You can hardly drive anywhere in Norway without using ferries. They are very efficient and run regularly. They are part of the fun of a motorhome holiday in Norway, but you need to budget accordingly. The cost of taking a motorhome on a ferry in Norway depends on the length of the motorhome. Under 6 metres is the cut off point and anything over than that costs on average about double. Our motorhome is 7 metres long and the amount we paid for each ferry we used is shown below. Bear in mind that if you say your motorhome is under 6 metres and they check you can be fined so always be honest.

Our motorhome on a ferry in Norway.

Payments for ferries in Norway are normally paid after you have driven on to the ship but we paid in the queue for the Geiranger ferry. We paid all our ferry costs by card but cash is also an option.

  • Halsa to  Kanestraum 320 NOK (20 mins)
  • Molde to Vestnes 420 NOK (40 mins)
  • Geiranger to Hellesylt 1400 NOK (1 hour)
  • Lavik to Oppedal. 300 NOK
  • Vangsnes to Dragsvik. 320 NOK
  • Kaupanger to Gudvangen. 1580 NOK (3 hours)
  • Harvick ferry. 258 NOK (20 minutes)
The Geiranger fjord ferry

Where to go in Norway

Norway is an amazing destination to visit. It is perfect for touring. The scenery, the people, the culture, the towns and the quality of the campsites all stand out to make Norway our destination of choice, especially when touring with a motorhome. Norway is a very big country so when planning your visit don’t try to do too much; you can always visit Norway again. When planning our trip we originally wanted to visit the Lofoton Islands but we decided we would save Lofoton for another time after realising that we would be driving for longer than we wanted. Lofoten is 1,369 km from Oslo and at least 20 hours driving time on slow roads.

For more information about where we visited in Norway see the separate articles below.

Using the Internet and mobile phone in Norway

Every campsite we visited offered free WiFi and sometimes it was good enough to stream You Tube or similar and sometimes it was very poor. We also have good data allowances on our phones. My phone has a 25GB data allowance per month and I found that more than enough for our trip.  Most mobile phone companies include Norway in their European roaming as part of your monthly phone, text and data allowance but it’s worth checking with your mobile phone provider.

Motorhome service points and free camping

The Norwegian word for a motorhome is ‘Bobil’ and the word for parking is ‘parkering’. Norway is a very big country with a small population, many of whom own a motorhome themselves and the country is very well geared up for motorhomes. Car parks often having specific places for motorhomes and if they don’t there is normally plenty of space available.

Motorhome service points, where you can empty your waste and fill up with water are plentiful in Norway. Petrol stations often have service points. The excellent app. Camper Contact has many of the motorhome service points listed and is well worth getting.

Our motorhome in a free overnight parking spot by a stunning lake in Norway.

Norway also has plenty of free places to stop for the night. All the locations we stayed out appeared perfectly safe to us and there were often other motorhomes parked there too. We found it harder to find free parking places in the popular fjords area’s such as Geiranger, but maybe we didn’t look hard enough. We would rather pay to be on a good campsite in a great location rather than stay overnight in an industrial area, so we probably stayed at more campsites than we could have done. We found campsite prices to be fairly reasonable. The beautiful campsite at Oldevatn for example cost £18 a night, which is far cheaper than many campsites in the UK. Norwegian campsites normally charge about 40 Norwegian Krone extra per day for electricity and use of the showers can cost 10 Norwegian Krone a time , we avoided paying  this by just using our own shower for the most part. Campsites in the main tourist towns tend to be more expensive. For example we paid £30 a night in Bergen.

The majority of campsites in Norway that we visited had holiday cabins for rent of various sizes. It’s possible to just turn up without booking, apart from high season, and prices are quite reasonable. I enquired about several and was quoted between about £40 and £75 per night. It’s expected that you supply your own bed linnen, but it’s possible to hire that too. If you don’t have a motorhome, consider taking your car and rent a holiday cabin similar to the one I took a photo of below.

Holiday cabin in Norway
We paid £23 a night for this amazing campsite at Molde, Norway. What a fantastic view

How much did our motorhome trip cost?

Norway is an expensive country to visit but there are things you can do to reduce the cost. Food costs about 2 or 3 times more than it does in England so we took 2 large plastic boxes of food costing about £200, which I didn’t include in the table below. We did quite a lot of wild camping, but we could have done more, but the best campsites are in the best locations so we decided to use them.

Ferries are an inevitable part of visiting Norway. You can’t really avoid using ferries but you can avoid the expensive one’s that we used as a tourist attraction. Two ferries alone, Geiranger and Kaupanger, cost us £275 and we didn’t need to do these.

We didn’t really dine out but the amount we spent included 2 lunches and the inevitable coffee and cakes! What’s the point of visiting a country if you don’t do some tourism things? We visited many museums and other bits and pieces.

The cost of our motorhome tour of Norway was slightly above our budget and I haven’t included the cost of getting to and from Norway. We could have done it a lot cheaper. Overnight camping costs worked out at £18 per night on average over 45 nights.

TABLE OF COSTS 
Diesel£244
Dining Out£233
Campsite costs£842
Sundries£170
Tourism£235
TollsTBA
Ferries£446
LPG£20
Groceries£696
TOTAL£2886
Average spend per day. (45 days)£64.13

Top tips for a motorhome tour of Norway

  • When visiting popular cruise ports in Norway, such as Geiranger, Flåm, and Alesund try to avoid days when a cruise ship is visiting. Thousands of cruise passengers disembark and the towns can be swamped with tourists, not a pleasant experience in my opinion. Use crew-centre.com website for a full list of dates and cruise ship names. For example, if you arrive in Flåm expecting to use the Flåm railway and a cruise ship is in town you might find the train is fully booked.
  • We didn’t book a single campsite in advance and there is no need to book ahead apart from popular places in high season. Driving takes far longer than you might expect due to low speed limits so we only planned a few days in advance and would turn up at campsites without a booking. We found the campsites to be very quiet, although weekends would get busy. Norwegians tend to take their main summer holiday from 21 June so from then it gets a lot busier.

I hope this guide helps you if you decide to visit Norway. It’s an incredible country but we did not see many people from the UK. Maybe it’s the perception that Norway is expensive, but that should not put you off visiting Norway, because it has an incredible amount to offer, especially if you are touring in a motorhome.

Please leave a comment if you have a question about visiting Norway with a motorhome or if you have any advice of your own to add. We would love to hear from you.

Motorhome picnic stop at 1200 metres high.
Briksdall Glacier Norway
Our motorhome pitch on a campsite in Norway.
Our motorhome parked on the Atlantic Road in Norway.
Our motorhome parked on the highest mountain road in northern Europe

 

Guide to visiting Oslo with a motorhome.

Our motorhome tour of Norway is in its final week and we have reached the capital city, Oslo. This blog article is a guide to visiting Oslo with a motorhome, including where to stay, what to see and my top tip for visiting Oslo.

Driving south on the E6 toll road felt strange because we drove on our first 3 lane motorway for nearly 2 months. The last 5 weeks have seen us driving our motorhome on mountain roads and in narrow tunnels with an average speed of probably 35mph. We have driven the famous Atlantic Road and the terrifying Trollstigen hairpin bends. Reaching a speed of 50mph today felt very strange, although much of the E6 is a huge construction project as a new motorway is being built which looks like it will take many years to complete.

Prior to arriving in Oslo we had spent 2 enjoyable nights in Lillehammer, the location of the 1994 Winter Olympics. We parked our motorhome overnight in the car park of the Olympic stadium, £9 a night, and it’s only a short walk to the fantastic ski jumps. It’s possible to walk the 900+ steps to the top or you can take the lazy way to the top and pay to use the chair lift. Just for the record we did both!

David at the ski jump in Lillehammer, Norway.

Next day, driving south on the E6 we stopped in the lakeside town of Hamar to visit Anne’s cousin. After a very hospitable welcome, and a very nice home cooked meal, which we have not had for 2 months, we continued south on the E6 building site, sorry road, to Oslo.

Bogstad Camping, Oslo.

City campsites are never the best and this one in Oslo is no exception. At £34 a  night I would have expected perfection but with only one fresh water tap that I could find for about 600 pitches and very poor wifi it was poor value for money. At least it was very convenient for the bus into Oslo centre, which runs every 15 minutes.

There are other places to stay in a motorhome in Oslo. There is a large parking area at the marina, although it always appeared full when we passed it and we heard that motorhomes had been turned away due to block bookings.

There is free parking for motorhomes at the TV tower, with no facilities, but only 10 minutes walk to the T-Bahn.

Four museums in one day!

One of 3 Viking ships at The Viking Museum in Oslo

Having spent £55 per person for a 72 hour Oslo Pass, which should have cost us £72 per person, but we were under-charged, we were determined to make sure we got value for money. After arriving in Oslo centre we set off on our culture trip of the best museums and attractions. Five days of walking was about to commence before we needed to catch the ferry to Denmark.

Norwegian Folk Museum

Catching the ferry to Bygdøy, where there are many museums, our first stop was The Norwegian Folk Museum an open air museum, featuring 160 historic buildings,  where you can see life in Norway from 1500.

The Viking Museum has three recovered Viking ships on display. These ships are 1100 years old and the museum also tells the story of how the Viking culture spread throughout Europe.

The Kon Tiki Museum tells the story of an expedition that defied the odds to sail the Pacific on a few bits of wood tied together.

The Fram  Museum has been voted Norway’s best museum and it houses The Fram ship which sailed to the south and north poles. It was fascinating going on-board and below deck to see how the expedition team, led by Amunsden, lived for six years  on-board. You can read more about the fascinating Fram expedition of 1893 here.

The Noble Peace Centre.

With aching feet after previouly having a full day walking we opted to use the Hop on Hop off Oslo fjord cruise and stayed on the cruise without doing any hopping off!

The Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo is well worth a visit. Of particular interest was an exhibition by award winning filmmaker Lauren Greenfield about the global fascination with wealth and how materialism and narcissism have replaced the traditional values of hard work, thrift and modesty.

The National Gallery was our next stop where Edvard Munch’s The Scream is on display. We were certainly getting our fill of Norwegian culture!

19 hours of daylight
Stave church at the Folk Museum in Oslo.

It’s the longest day of the year. The sun rose this morning at 03.54 and set at 22.45 in Oslo. Back to the Norway Folk Museum to visit the Stave church that we missed the first time before walking to the excellent Maritime Museum. Amongst the many highlights was a 2,200 year old boat carved out of a tree trunk as well as the history of Norwegian shipping.

Exploring Oslo on foot
Oslo Opera House

Our Oslo pass, having expired, we decided to catch the bus to Oslo centre to have a mooch around and visit as many free attractions as we could. First stop was the very impressive Opera House on the Oslo waterfront, where it is possible to walk on the roof.

The Royal Palace Oslo

If you are in need of refreshments or a coffee and cake then you could visit Østbanehallen, an old train station converted to a food hall. The main shopping road is Karl Johansgate and this is worth walking along as it eventually reaches the Royal Palace at the top of the hill. Unlike Buckingham Palace it’s possible to walk right up to the palace itself. As I had my back turned, watching the changing of the guard, I missed the royal car that came out of the gate with the king of Norway in it!

Oslo skyline. Massive amounts of building work is on going.

Oslo is undergoing a huge expansion and regeneration programme. I counted nearly 30 cranes in the city centre alone and the city is a modern and diverse one. Everyone we have met on our tour of Norway has been very friendly and polite and the capital city is no exeption. We have seen groups of teenagers who have been very well behaved and seen no anti-social behaviour, although we haven’t been out late at night and Oslo does have it’s problems like most major cities.


Top tip when visiting Oslo – Buy a day ticket costing 100 NOK for the bus, trams and T-Bahn. Use this ticket to take the number 1 T-Bahn to the end of the line at Frognerseteren. Walk down the hill 200 metres to the Frognerseteren Restaurant for a portion of their famous apple pie and cream. The trip alone is worth taking for the scenery and the fantastic view of Oslo at the top.


Vigeland Sculpture Park

One of Norway’s most popular, and free, tourist attractions this unique sculpture park represents the life work of Gustav Vigeland and, with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and forged iron.

We have loved visiting Oslo. It’s not our first visit and due to family connections it’s a special place for us.

The Fram Museum in Oslo
The Monolith in the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo
One of the famous sculptures in the Vigeland Sculpture Park.
The famous Grand Hotel in the centre of Oslo.
One of the efficient trams in Oslo

 

Hardanger Tourist Route – the ultimate driving experience.

I think I have discovered the ultimate motorhome driving experience!  The amazing Hardanger Fjord tourist road  includes narrow mountain roads perched hundreds of feet above fjords, very long tunnels with roundabouts in, tunnels that spiral upwards through whole mountains, an incredible suspension bridge linking two tunnels and a road that runs over the largest plateau in Europe at 3,500 ft. This tourist route in Norway is not for the novice driver but it is sensational, as I will try and describe.

After paying nearly £30 per night on the campsite when we visited Bergen in our motorhome we wanted to find some free camping stops as we made our way to the next stage of our motorhome tour of Norway – Hardangerfjord.


It’s worth visiting Norway just to experience the incredible Vallavik  Tunnel and the Hardanger Plateau. Norway is a country full of fantastic driving experiences.


The weather so far in Norway has been superb. We haven’t seen rain for a month and today the temperature has been a hot 27c. As well as the excellent weather, the other phenomenon worth a mention is the length of the daylight hours. At 10.30pm I can still see blue sky and at midnight it is still light enough to read outside. In fact it does not get properly dark, which is great for our solar power.

Our search for a free night motorhome stay did not take long as we soon found a rest/picnic area just off road 48 next to Holmefjord. With a brand new toilet block with motorhome waste point it was a near perfect overnight stop.

Steinsdalsfossen, Norway. You can walk behind this waterfall.

The next day we stopped at Steinsdalsfossen, a fantastic waterfall with the added attraction of being able to walk behind the waterfall.

Hardanger Tourist Route and the Vallavik Tunnel

Beautiful Hardanger Fjord. (With power cables)!

We joined the Hardanger Tourist Route at Øystese and followed the spectacular E7 road perched on the side of a mountain road hundreds of feet above the fjord below. This road is not for the novice driver or anyone scared of heights because this road takes in the best of what Norway offers in terms of scenery. It is single track road for much of its length, with passing places, and only a thin concrete barrier separating you from certain death! It’s impossible to see around corners and you have no idea if another vehicle is going to meet you. The good thing about driving a motorhome which is 2.8 metres high is that you can be seen, and although we met many cars and even several coaches coming the other way most gave way to us.

Take a look, below, at the You Tube video I took of the amazing Villavik Tunnel.

One of the roundabouts inside the Vallavik Tunnel in Norway.

Turning right at the village of Granvin onto road 13 took us through the 4.7 mile Vallavik Tunnel. This tunnel is one of the most famous in Norway because it  has two roundabouts in it with junctions and also the new Hardanger Bridge links another long tunnel, which makes for a truly spectacular drive.

I would have loved a ride on this sea plane parked up at Eidfjord.

After a lunch stop at Eidfjord, where I was tempted by a sea plane flight, and where a Viking Sea cruise ship was berthed disgorging it’s cruise passengers into the tiny village, we continued our journey on the E7 road. A series of spectacular winding tunnels carved their way inside the mountain passing Vøringfossen, which was unfortunately shrouded in low cloud as by this time the hot weather had given way to rain and cloud.

It was a dark and gloomy start to the day when we drove over the Hardanger Plateau.

The incredible Hardanger Plateau.

Try to imagine one of the wildest and remotest places on Earth and that is how I would describe the Hardanger Plateau. It has an area of of 2,500 square miles and an average elevation of 3,500 ft. It is the largest mountain plateau in Europe. The land is strewn with boulders, lakes and small pools of water which makes it impossible to walk far unless a marked path is used. A network of paths connect mountain lodges some of which have honesty boxes whilst others are staffed. Despite the temperature of only 8c on the top of the Hardanger Plateau we found somewhere that looked suitable to park for the night and together with another motorhome that arrived we spent a comfortable but chilly night.

Where next?

The terrain will get less dramatic from now on as we head east. We will be visiting Anne’s cousin who lives north of Oslo before reaching Oslo itself where we will spend a few days exploring before catching the ferry to Denmark.

Our motorhome parked up for the night at 1100 metres on the Hardanger Plateau
Lots of snow near to where we parked for the night on the Hardanger Plateau.
We spent a night at Sæbo Camping on the E7 Tourist Route.
Driving on the Hardanger Plateau at 3,500 ft. Not much of a view at this point due to low cloud!

 

Visiting Bergen with a motorhome

The E39 is a major road that runs north to south in the west of Norway. For such a major road it can be very narrow and winding, but it runs through fantastic scenery and it was on this road that we set off driving south to visit Bergen with a motorhome.

If you don’t like driving through long tunnels then don’t visit Norway because Norway has over 1,000 tunnels, including one over 15 miles long. On our drive to Bergen we drove though many tunnels including one very long one where there was road works and we had to wait 20 minutes before we were escorted through in a convoy. There was also a spectacular tunnel-bridge-tunnel combination.

Visiting Bergen in a motorhome.

It was on the E39 that we came across a random  police checkpoint where they were testing everyone with a breathalyser for drink driving. The policeman showed me the reading of 0.00 and I joked with the policeman that I couldn’t afford alcohol in Norway! This was the 2nd time that I had been breathalysed on this motorhome trip as I was also randomly checked in Sweden. The Scandinavians are very keen on random breath checks and they have a zero tolerance approach.

Bergen – Norway’s 2nd city

We were last in the city of Bergen in 1999 but I couldn’t remember much about it, so we left our campsite at Lone Camping for the number 90 bus, which stops outside the campsite. We had already bought bus tickets at the nearby supermarket costing 37 NOK each way per person. The bus stops at Nesttun where you change to Bergen’s light rail system to the city centre.

The view from the top of the Bergen Floibanen.

Bergen has a population of 275,000 people and it puts British cities to shame with its transport system. Light rail, efficient busses and trams get people around the city quickly. Having visited many European cities on our motorhome journey they all have very good public transport with the majority having trams or Metro systems, yet my home city of Leeds with a population of nearly 1 million people can’t get its act together to build a modern public transport system.

Having arrived in Bergen centre we headed for the harbour area where it was teeming with cruise tourists from 3 cruise ships that were docked that day including the huge  P & O Azura. We asked one English lady if she was enjoying the cruise and she said there were too many people on the ship, but she loved Norway. If you want to see Norway for a few days then a cruise is probably the cheapest way to do that but touring Norway in a motorhome is the best way!

What to do in Bergen

As we only intended to spend one full day in Bergen, and with a limited budget, we started the day with a walk around the harbour area, and this is where you will find the famous Bryggen area. Protected by UNESCO this is where the very first buildings in Bergen were situated , although the wooden houses have been devastated by fires many times, including the great fire of 1702 when the whole city was reduced to ashes.

Tallship in Bergen harbour

It’s interesting strolling through the narrow alleyways of the Bryggen area, although there are lots of shops selling traditional Norwegian crafts, which personally I don’t have any interest in but Anne of course loves!

The next place we headed for, along with about 5,000 cruise passengers, was the Fløibanen funicular railway. Costing 90 NOK per person, the railway takes you to a viewpoint 302 metres above the city where you get splendid views of the city and harbour area below.

At the top of the Bergen funicular railway

After descending the Fløibanen we needed lunch and found a very nice cafe serving freshly made sandwiches and coffee. At a cost of 250 NOK (£23.15) we savoured every mouthful. A small bottle of water later cost us £2.50 and a coke and ginger ale another £10. We are loving Norway but the high prices are the only negative.

An Edvard Munch painting at the Kode gallery in Bergen.

We wanted to visit the Kode Art Museum. There are four separate buildings that make up the whole museum. Entry costs 120 NOK per person (£11) and we were able to see famous paintings by Edvard Munch and Nikolai Astrup.

Bergen fish market

Finally, after a visit to the famous Bergen fish market where whale was on the menu, and I again winced at the high prices, we headed home. By this time, the cruise passengers had gone back onboard ship and it was much quieter. Today, we only touched the surface of what Bergen has to offer the tourist. I did feel a little sorry though for the cruise ship passengers. Most seemed to walk around the harbour area and go up the funicular railway before buying some souvenirs in one of the many shops and then heading back to their cruise ship. Today we also acted like cruise ship tourists, but we have now been touring Norway in our motorhome for one month, with another three weeks left. During this time we have really been able to explore this magnificent country, meet the Norwegian people and see the places that no cruise ship can take you. For that we feel very lucky!

Lone Camping, Bergen

The city of Bergen doesn’t welcome motorhomes in the city centre and they operate a toll system for any vehicles entering. Cars cost 29 NOK and 67 NOK over 3.5 tonnes. We could only find 4 places to park our motorhome in Bergen and they were all very busy. We decided to stay at Lone Camping, which is next to a large pretty lake and takes about 45 minutes to travel to Bergen city centre.

Lone Camping is an average quality campsite. There was a lack of fresh water taps and there is, as there always is in Norway, a charge of 10 NOK to use the showers. We used our own.

We enjoyed Bergen, although it’s not my favourite part of Norway. Ålesund has been my favourite Norwegian town so far. Next we head further south and to Hardanger fjord.

The famous funicular railway in Bergen.

Sognefjord – the longest and deepest fjord in Norway.

How would you recover a motorhome from the bottom of a Norwegian fjord 1,300 metres deep? This was the question that briefly ran through my mind whilst we were on the Kaupanger to Gudvangen ferry that runs daily on Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord. Luckily, there was no ferry disaster that day so we never got to find out the answer to that question, but I can confirm that Nærøyfjorden is a UNESCO area for very good reason.


Sognefjord facts and information

  • Sogneford is 127 miles long
  • Maximum depth is 4,291 feet
  • It’s 3,300 feet deep for over 70 miles of its length.
  • During the last ice age the ice was 3,000 metres deep in Sognefjord.

Kaupanger to Gudvangen car ferry

Running from the middle of May to the middle of August the Kaupanger to Gudvangen ferry is special because it is basically a 3 hour fjord cruise that includes Naeroyfjord, a branch of Sognefjord, which has been awarded UNESCO status. The fjord is 17km long and at the narrowest point is only 250 metres wide. The passage through Naeroyfjord is said to be one of the most dramatic fjord trips in Europe and just like Geiranger fjord is a ‘must see’. It passes giant waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and ancient farms that cling to the mountainside.

Kaupanger to Gudvangen ferry.

The Kaupanger to Gudvangen ferry is not cheap to take a 7 metre long motorhome on, but we thought the £146 cost was well worth it as we saved a significant amount in diesel and this was no ordinary Norwegian ferry.

Undredal – A hidden gem

After arriving on the ferry at Gudvangen there is a Shell station with a motorhome service point, that we didn’t use, but there is also a small Joker supermarket (its real name!) which we did use.

Turning left onto the E16 we immediately entered the Gudvangen tunnel, which is Norway’s 2nd longest tunnel at 11.4 km. It’s dead straight and all uphill. If you follow the E16 it takes you to Laerdal but we turned left just after the tunnel onto the road to a lovely place called Undredal. This is located on the fjord and is a small traditional Norwegian village with a population of 100 people and 500 goats! The road to the village was only built in 1988 and until then the only access was by sea or a long trek over a mountain.

Undredal is situated on an arm of Sognefjorden. A beautiful place well worth a visit.

There is a small campsite at Undredal, not featured on any apps. which turned out to be excellent (coordinates N60º 57’4″, E7º 6′ 18″). The location of Undredal is really good, with mountains all around and even a small cafe. Undredal is famous for a very special brown goats cheese that is sweet tasting called Gjetost. It was made by farmers as a method of using the goats milk  because they couldn’t transport it due to lack of roads, and has a sweet caramel taste.

The FV13 to Vikøyri

Just when you think you will be driving on an ordinary road, another high mountain road surprises you with its magnificence. This was the case with the FV13. This stretch of road took us to 1,281 metres over Vikafjell up hairpin bends, past mega frozen lakes and so close to a huge raging waterfall that we could nearly lean out of the window to touch it. We were heading for a campsite on the side of Sognefjord but came across a parking area with such an awesome view that we decided to stay the night. ( Coordinates N61°0’47”, E6°32’34”)

Room with a view. Our free overnight stop at 920 metres high on the FV13

After a night on the campsite, Tveit Camping, where we saw porpoises in the fjord, we caught the ferry from Vangsnes to Dragsvik via Hella and stopped at the historic town of Balestrand where we visited Norway’s National Travel and Tourism Museum, and walked into the historic Kviknes Hotel, owned by the same family since 1877.

Vangsnes to Dragsvik ferry via Hella
Lunch stop at 750 metres on the FV13.

Another free night was spent beside Sognefjord at the Kvamsøy Rasteeplass, Balestrand, where there is room for at least 10 motorhomes. (Coordinates N61°7’51”, E6°28’52”).

After a peaceful night next to the fjord we set off to continue on the FV13, to complete another of Norway’s National Tourist Routes. Our majestic journey on the FV13 was completed with our 4th overnight stay at Haukedalen. (Coordinates N61°24’11”, E6°13’31”) before we reached the town of Førde on the E39. We had spent 4 nights in total on the FV13 and it had turned into a mini epic adventure.

Setting our table for one of our lunch spots.
View of the FV13 from a high viewpoint that we stopped at.
One of the smallest Stave churches in Norway is at Undredal.
Undredal, Norway

Conquering the highest mountain road and an interview with Norwegian radio

Yesterday was an eventful day. We drove on the highest mountain road in Norway, managed to have a small altercation with another vehicle breaking our wing mirror, and I was interviewed for Norwegian radio, live!

The RV55 from Lom starts with lush valley meadows and the road slowly ascends through the valley before reaching the summit at 1,434 metres, making the road northern Europe’s highest mountain pass. According to Google maps, the route we covered is 138 km long and should take 2 hours and 52 minutes. It took us 24 hours, including an overnight stop, in a parking area next to a fast flowing deep river, many other viewpoint stops and a very slow descent on one of Norway’s steepest roads.

History of the RV55 road

The road was used for trading and was an important transport link to the coast of Norway. Using this mountain road was not without its perils in days gone by as bandits robbed travellers and merchants. The weather is so severe on the road in winter and the snow so deep that it is impossible to keep the road open. Snow poles mark the edge of the road at close intervals and there was still very deep snow when we were there at the end of May.

Parked at one of the many viewpoints on the RV55 mountain road in Norway.

As we reached the summit of the road the Norwegian ski team were training in the still significant amount of snow left, although at its peak the snow is 10 metres deep. We parked our motorhome at one of the many viewpoints and stood awestruck at the magnificent snow capped mountains and wilderness on view before us, stretching as far as the eye can see. We stopped at one point to see a memorial for six men who lost their lives in the 19th century when they went looking for food and perished in the extreme cold.

An incident with a wing mirror

We stopped to take photographs and I got my drone out to take some aerial video. It was shortly after this that we damaged a wing mirror when a fast approaching van failed to slow down when we met and cracked the plastic casing of the passenger wing mirror. Luckily the glass was unaffected but I wished that I had listened to Anne’s advice and bought some mirror guards to help prevent damage like this.

An interview with Norwegian radio

After a very steep descent down a road with too many hairpin bends to count and many curses with “surely this road must end soon” we eventually  reached Skjolden, a pretty town at the end of Lustrafjorden, where we stopped for lunch. The final part of this road is a dramatic drive along the fjord, where we had to stop for 20 minutes when the tunnel was closed due to roadworks. When the tunnel re-opened there were only about 20 cars in the queue, which shows how quiet the road was. The roads we have driven along in Norway just keep getting more dramatic and the RV55 was much longer and steeper than Trollstiggen (blog post here) or Dalsnibba (blog post here) that we had driven along recently.

We eventually reached the town of Sogndalsfjora and found the Kjørnes campsite, which turned out to be a very good choice. With immaculate showers and great views we decided to spend two nights here.

Eating waffles, in our motorhome, with the owner of Kjørnes Camping whilst being interviewed for Norwegian radio.

We were relaxing in the evening sunshine,  without beer because it’s too expensive to buy, when a Norwegian radio car pulled up and a friendly young lady asked us if she could interview us for Norwegian local radio. Never to shy away from such things, and telling her that I had several times been interviewed by the BBC about travel and tourism, she returned the next morning for the interview. The lovely campsite owners were also interviewed and we were all crammed into our motorhome whilst being live on the radio. An interesting experience!

Tomorrow we go on a 3 hour ferry journey from Kaupanger to Gudvangen along the Naeroyfjord (UNESCO)

We spent 2 nights at the excellent Kjørnes Camping.
Map of our journey along the RV55 from Lom to Sogndals.

I put together a short video using a drone and motorhome dashcam.

Dalsnibba – The best view in Norway?

Fantastic, dramatic, spectacular, authentic or unique? I don’t think that any of these words adequately describe Fjord Norway. Reading through a leaflet this morning about the Geiranger area of Norway a phrase in it said “Norway is not a place. It’s a feeling”. I totally agree. You need to be in Norway to fully appreciate the magnificence of this country. Our journey to Dalsnibba would exceed all expectations.

We had a free camping night last night (Sunday 27th May) at 922 metres altitude, on the E15, next to a partially frozen lake and surrounded by snow clad mountains. (Coordinates N62 0’ 48”, E7 24’7”). It was another incredibly warm 24C and we have not seen rain for 2 weeks now.

Our last venture up a mountain road was the famous Trollstigen road (blog post here) and down the very steep Eagle Road into Geiranger fjord. This resulted in some very hot brakes that we weren’t too keen on repeating. It was with this in mind that we discussed whether we should take our motorhome up the very steep road to the Dalsnibba viewpoint, 1500 metres above sea level. I said that we are so close we should do it, so off we went. Why would we want to miss the highest viewpoint of fjords in Europe, even though we might have brake failure and plummet hundreds of feet off a mountain road!

Stopping in the middle of the road to talk to fellow Brits!

The road to the Dalsnibba viewpoint started off very gently along FV63. The road was quiet and we were admiring the scenery around us when we saw a motorhome approaching us from the opposite direction. As we got closer, we noticed the couple were waving frantically at us and they had a British number plate. Motorhomers do tend to wave at each other but this was more enthusiastic waving than we normally see.  We noticed in the rear mirrors that they had stopped. We also screeched to a halt in the middle of the road and got out to say hi. It turned out that Richard and Annie were also touring Denmark, Sweden and Norway and were following our travels by reading our blog and they had recognised us! What are the chances?  Naturally, they were full of enthusiasm for Norway and we wished we could have talked for longer, but we were blocking the road and had to crack on. What a lovely couple Richard and Annie were and I hope that we get chance to meet up again for a longer chat sometime soon.

The Dalsnibba Viewpoint

Dalsnibba viewpoint with Geiranger fjord 1500 metres below.

The Dalsnibba road turns off FV63 Geiranger road and you have to pay a toll of 140 NOK (about £13). It’s expensive but considering the effort that has been put into building this mountain road, that ascends 500 metres in a short length of time, I think it’s worth it. We hadn’t chosen the best day for it though because the sky was grey and I was worried that I might not get my £13’s worth of photo opportunities!

In typical Norway fashion there is a visitor centre, shop and toilets as well as one of those viewpoints where the walkway is see through. I could see a drop of hundreds of metres below my feet and many people were refusing to walk on it! I noticed very big steel girders embedded in the rock as I walked out on it and I felt a little more reassured. Geiranger fjord was in the distance below us and the view was awesome. The photos below I took turned out better than I had hoped despite the poor light.

An amazing view from the Dalsnibba viewpoint

Not wanting to have the same brake problems we had descending Dalsnibba as we had descending the Eagle Road, I erred on the side of caution on this much steeper road and went most of the way down in 1st gear!

Lom, a stave church and another free night

Lom is at the intersection of the E15 and RV55 and is the location of one of Norway’s largest Stave churches. A Norwegian Stave church is made completely from wood and even uses wooden pegs instead of nails. Parts of Lom Stave church date from the 1150’s and it was a masterpiece of joinery and quite ornate inside. The Esso station in the town also has a free motorhome service point which was a welcome sight and we were soon on our way again heading west again on the E55 towards Sogndalsfjora

The RV55, another of Norway’s official tourist routes, took us past raging rapids, deep gorges and lakes. The snow poles running on either side of the road were a reminder that in winter these roads would be impassable. At one of  the several places of interest we stopped at we got talking to a French couple in a 4×4 super cool camper van and we exchanged information on where we had both been, which is always a good thing to do.

Monday night was spent in another free camping area for which we are now loving Norway for. It’s not on any apps. But we came across a perfect parking area on the RV55, right beside a fast-flowing river and surrounded by mountains, one of which is Norway’s highest mountain, Galdopiggen, at 2469 metres high. The only downside was that we had no phone signal at all, although some would say that’s a good thing.

Driving a motorhome through Norway is proving to be an amazing experience.

The Stave church at Lom, Norway. Made entirely of wood.

 


 

The amazing Briksdal Glacier campsite in Norway.

Plunging 1200 metres into the awe-inspiring Briksdalen Valley, the Briksdal Glacier is an arm of the huge Jostedalsbreen Glacier and is another of Norway’s most visited attractions. Every day, during the summer season, hundreds of cruise ship passengers call at nearby Olden and board coaches to take them the short distance to Briksdal Glacier.

Melkevoll Bretun Camping

Melkevoll Bretun camping is a short walk to the visitor centre at the Briksdal Glacier, which is where the 45 minute walk to the glacier starts, and we decided to spend a few days there on our motorhome tour of Norway.

Melkovoll Bretun is in an awe inspiring location. We can see the gigantic waterfall Volefossen from our motorhome, thundering 355 metres down the mountain, and as soon as we arrived it was clear that we had arrived at a special place. The beauty of the surrounding landscape is a million miles away from the frantic day to day life and commuting that we still had this time last year . There is no pollution here, just fresh crisp mountain air that fills your lungs. All I can hear as I type this blog is the sound of water from the nearby river that a few minutes ago was at the top of the nearby mountain.  Our motorhome is parked up and all around us we can see snow capped mountains; this campsite must surely be in one of the best locations you could wish for.

I made a short video about Molkevoll Bretun camping, below.

The Briksdal Glacier

It was a warm and sunny day with clear blue sky when we arrived at Melkevoll Bretun so after plugging in our motorhome electricity cable we set off walking in the direction of the glacier.


The Briksdal Glacier and the camping at Melkevoll Bretun make an excellent combination as part of a motorhome tour of Norway.


Most of the cruise tourists were taking the troll carts (motorised buggies) to the glacier but we decided to save ourselves £22 each by walking to the glacier, which is about a mile and takes about 45 minutes. At the Briksdal Glacier visitor centre it said the walk was a gentle incline but I would describe the walk as being a bit of a tiring slog up a steep hill!

The walk up to the Briksdal Glacier takes you past amazing scenery such as this huge waterfall,

The walk up though proved to be the best option because you get to stop to look at spectacular waterfalls and mountain scenery. When you reach the glacier there is a glacial lake and we drank the water from the lake because it looked so crystal clear and fresh. So far no ill effects!

Walk up to the Briksdal Glacier takes you over this bridge.
The Briksdal Glacier in Norway has shrunk considerably over the last few years due to global warming.

On the walk down the very warm weather had made me thirsty and I said to Anne that I fancied a beer. So far on our motorhome tour of Norway we have had only one beer. Knowing that beer is very expensive in Norway, and even more so at popular tourist spots, I was still determined to have a beer to quench my thirst. So, at the Briksdal Glacier visitor centre I bought 2 x  half litre cans of beer at a staggering cost of 180 Norwegian Krone, the equivalent of £8.30 a can!

The area of Briksdal Glacier is fantastic. It’s an easy drive from the town of Olden to get to Briksdal and I would recommend a visit when doing a motorhome tour of Norway.

Coincidences

What are the chances that we would meet the friendly German couple, Monika and Michael again. Originally we met them in February at the top of El Torcal National Park in Spain, 3500 km away. (Blog post here ) Well, that’s exactly what happened! We were  down to our last two bottles of wine but thought the occasion warranted a celebratory bottle to share the evening with them .We spent a very happy few hours talking about motorhome touring and travel plans. We couldn’t quite believe the cooincidence of us meeting up again. When we finished talking at 00.30hrs  it was still light and the nearby mountains and waterfalls looked beautiful.

Meeting up with Monika and Michael from Germany again at Melkevoll Bretun.