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How To Visit Norway’s Famous Mountain Road

by Staff

As you drive towards an imposing mountain face on a narrow country road, it’s natural to assume it’s a dead-end. Yet look closely, and you’ll soon see a car or two slowly creeping up the mountainside.

You’ll soon be joining them on Trollstigen, a serpentine mountain road with a steep incline, eleven hairpin bends, and incredible views from the summit.

Opened in 1936, the critical transit link between Åndalsnes and Valldall replaced a bridle path and took eight years to build. It’s one of several historic mountain roads in Norway that have become tourist attractions in recent decades.

Today it’s part of route 63 between Åndalsnes and Geiranger, and a popular place to include on a road trip itinerary around the Norwegian fjords region.

The Trollstigen Drive

Known as the ‘Troll’s Path’ or ‘Troll’s Ladder’ when translated into English, Trollstigen is packed with narrow, sharp bends, although several of them were widened once it became clear how popular the road had become among tourists.

Trollstigen’s name plays on the area’s reputation in Norwegian folklore. The supernatural creature known as a troll is said to be able to help or hinder humans, but often chooses to do neither.

The full mountain pass is 35 miles long, but the section of hairpin bends known as Trollstigen is only a few miles long. But it’ll take much longer than you think to make your way up or down the road.

That’s because no matter how many times you’ve driven the road, it’s impossible not to gaze at the incredible view back down the valley. At the height of summer, thousands of vehicles per day make the drive, including large tour buses, which can struggle with some of the tightest bends.

Rather than become frustrated, simply enjoy the view. Watch out for waterfalls, especially the 1,000-foot Stigfossen, which you’ll cross over on an old stone bridge.

Trollstigen Visitor Center

Although known as an attraction for drivers, Trollstigen is about much more than the drive itself. This visitor center, opened in 2012 as part of the national scenic routes program, has turned a fun drive into a major tourist attraction.

Not only does the center allow visitors the chance for a cup of coffee and a bathroom break, it also provides sensational views of the road and valley from three viewing platforms that dangle over the mountain edge.

The largest of the three—and farthest from the visitor center—dangles 650 feet above a sheer drop, but the glass and steel platform keeps you safe as you take in unbeatable views of the racetrack-like road below and the stunning valley beyond.

Walking in the rain, weather unfortunately common in the Norwegian fjords region, is still rewarding as the valley, partly shrouded in clouds, still presents a spectacular sight. However, the pathways can get slippery, so take care when walking, especially on the steep sections.

Highlights Beyond Trollstigen

Trollstigen isn’t the only highlight on this scenic route towards Geiranger. The viewing platform at Gudbrandsjuvet gorge is a must-see, and handily-placed halfway between Trollstigen and the ferry crossing at Linge.

Expect stunning views of steep mountains, the raging river, and the gorge. A pathway leads visitors down to the edge of the rushing river and to the Gudbrandsjuvet café, open during summer.

As you approach Geiranger, the hairpin bends of Ørnevegen (The Eagle’s Road) rival Trollstigen for their fun and spectacular views, this time of the famous Geirangerfjord.

At the biggest bend, Ørnesvingen (The Eagle’s Bend), a small parking lot and viewing platform gives the handful of visitors lucky enough to find a parking spot a sensational view. Take care driving through here.

Plan Your Trollstigen Road Trip

Note that parts of Route 63, including the Trollstigen climb itself, are closed during winter.

The road is usually open from mid-May to early October, but the exact dates are dictated by the weather conditions and so can vary considerably year to year. In some years, the road doesn’t open until as late as June 1.

To guarantee you’ll get to drive the road, plan your visit from mid-June to mid-September. If you’re already in Norway and wondering about the latest opening information, check the website of the National Scenic Routes program or ask at any tourist office or hotel in the region.

Time your drive early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the busiest time for day trippers and tourist buses.

To facilitate this, overnight in Åndalsnes, or at one of the nearby campsites near the River Rauma. Typical Norwegian cabins are available as well as space for motorhomes and tents.

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