At the head of the Geirangerfjord lies the small tourist village of Geiranger, a hugely popular cruise destination during the summer season. Amid the beautiful green mountainsides of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the sleepy village (with a population of only 250 permanent residents) certainly does not look like Norway’s third busiest cruise ship port. During peak months, however, some 180 ships and 300,000 tourists visit this small enclave.
It’s Day 7 of our roadtrip and we have Geiranger to ourselves; the busy period has mostly passed and the village is slowly returning to its off-season routine. Enjoying the clear skies and balmy temperatures, we spend some time at the serene harbour before spotting the first cruise ship arrival of the day. That’s our cue, time to move on!
From Geiranger we head north towards Eidsdal, traversing a stretch of road by the village known as Ørnevegen, the Eagle’s Road. Part of Route 63, this twisty steep ascent of the mountainside consists of eleven hairpin turns, the highest being Ørnesvingen (the Eagle’s Bend) where a lookout platform has been installed for sweeping views of the Geirangerfjord 620m below. According to local lore the peak used to be the domain of a large number of eagles.
Continuing north from Eidsdal via ferry to Linge and the Valldal valley, we stay on course amid lush farmland until the terrain gradually becomes rockier and the mountains bigger, welcoming us to Troll country!
Amid this rugged landscape, Trollstigen, the Troll’s Path, is the name given to a serpentine mountain stretch of Route 63 and part of a popular National Scenic Route. Like the Eagle’s Road, this narrow road consists of eleven hairpins and a steep 10% incline. At the top, 858m above sea level, a tourist facility and several lookout points provide expansive views of Isterdalen valley and the impressively twisty road infrastructure. The Troll’s Path is on every driver’s bucket list and is not to be missed on a Norwegian roadtrip! No word on any troll sightings, though… unless you count the ones in the tourist shops.
Keeping with the day’s troll theme, we also make a stop at Trollveggen (the Troll’s Wall), a few minutes drive from the valley floor. Trollveggen is a 1100-meter mountain massif that is Europe’s tallest rockface and popular climbing destination. It’s hard to describe how impressive this wall is, and pictures don’t do it justice.
From the town of Åndalsnes, we track west back towards the coast and our final destination of the day, the port of Ålesund. Once again the scenery turns from country to city, and we arrive in time for sunset in this beautiful Art Nouveau-inspired town. Check back for pictures on the next post!