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4th April 2018
We thought and thought about this one, but in the end it just had to be the Western Fjords...
Norway offers magnificent scenery on such a grand scale that without featuring a 6-weeks motoring tour covering every inch of the country we simply couldn't do it justice.
So we had to narrow it down to a tour which we think presents much of what visitors expect when they hear about how beautiful Norway really is. As a result this tour features Norway's Western Fjords in all their splendour and includes drives over panoramic mountain passes, along roads with hairpin bends snaking up mountain sides, hops across islands connected by road bridges and stays in a range of hotels offering true Norwegian hospitality and cuisine.
This holiday is meant to make you stop and suck in your breath, marvel at some of the great feats of engineering, realise how inadequate your camera is at capturing the majesty of it all and, above all, enjoy some of the world's most beautiful journeys.
Day 1: Kvam Mountains to Hardanger
Flight from Heathrow to Bergen (via Oslo). Collect your hire car at the airport and drive over the Kvam Mountains descending to Norheimsund, overlooking the Hardangerfjord (approx 50 miles).
2 nights NORHEIMSUND – Thon Hotel Sandven (3 star)
Day 2: Hardanger
Explore Hardanger. For more than a century travellers have visited Hardanger to experience mountains, fjords, waterfalls and glaciers and it has been a fruit-growing region since the 14th century.
Day 3: Vikafjell Mountain
Drive alongside Hardangerfjord and climb the gorge, passing Skjervet Falls, to the lakeside resort of Voss. Continue alongside Lake Løna and over the great Vik Mountain plateau with breathtaking panoramas whilst descending to Sognefjord. Across the fjord by car ferry and around the Esefjord to Balestrand, located on a promontory of land overlooking the Sognefjord (approx 102 miles plus 1 car ferry).
2 nights BALESTRAND – Kviknes Hotel (4 star)
Day 4: Balestrand
Why not head off on one of the walking trails from Balestrand? Alternatively, the road over Gaularfjellet features racing rivers, waterfalls and steep mountain slopes and is right on the doorstep.
Day 5: Sognefjord and Sognefjellet
A delightful drive on the shelf road along the northern shore of the Sognefjord towards Sogndal. Continue alongside the Lustrafjord and begin the slow climb of Sognefjellet with panoramic views of the towering Jotunheimen Mountains and glaciers. Through lovely Bøverdalen to Elveseter (approx 115 miles plus 1 car ferry).
1 night ELVESETER – Elveseter Hotel (3 star)
Day 6: Geirangerfjord, the Eagle's Road and Trollstigen (Troll's Way)
Today’s route showcases spectacular scenery of deep fjords, the Sunnmøre peaks and lush valleys. Ørneveien (Eagles Road), has 11 hairpin bends as it climbs out of Geiranger and provides incomparable views of the village, the fjord and Seven Sisters Waterfall. Trollstigen (Troll’s Path) also has 11 hairpin bends; don’t forget to make a stop at the viewing platform for a view of the curling road beneath you (approx 111 miles plus 1 car ferry).
1 night ÅNDALSNES – Hotel Aak (3 star)
Day 7: Romsdalfjord to Ålesund
An easy drive alongside Romsdalfjord and Storfjord to the fishing town of Ålesund. The town centre lies over three islands connected by bridges and the unique Jugend style architecture is the result of a rebuild after the great fire of 1904 (approx 79 miles).
2 nights ÅLESUND – Clarion Collection Hotel Bryggen (3 star)
Day 8: Ålesund
Explore Ålesund. We recommend you visit the summit of Mount Aksla for the famous viewing point of the town.
Day 9: Molde Panorama and the Atlantic Road
Cross the Romsdalfjord to the little town of Molde; the Molde Panorama is a magnificent view of 87 snowcapped peaks laid out before you. Out to the coastline to Averøy and the Atlantic Road, an impressive road consisting of 12 bridges connecting the islands. At 1630 board your Hurtigruten ship in Kristiansund and enjoy a relaxing dinner on board whilst slowly cruising amongst the islands and skerries towards Bergen (109 driving miles).
1 night ON BOARD – Hurtigruten ship
Day 10: Arrive Bergen
1430 arrival into Bergen with the rest of the day free to explore Norway's delightful Hanseatic city.
1 night BERGEN – Clarion Admiral Hotel (4 star)
Day 11: Homeward bound
Drive to Bergen Airport and leave your hire car at the airport before checking in for your return flight home.
Departure Day: Daily
Departure Dates: 1 Jun - 30 Sep 2018
Price: Price is based on two people travelling together and sharing a double/twin room).
|Dep. Dates||Price from
|1 Jun - 30 Sep 2018||£2795||On request|
Additional costs payable locally
Domestic ferry crossings for car and passengers plus road tolls, approximately £65 total additional cost
THON HOTEL SANDVEN (3 star) - Norheimsund
This hotel is a delightful mixture of Scandinavian historical and Scandinavian modern and despite the breadth of difference between them, they actually fit together rather nicely. The original part of the hotel was built at the end of the 19th century and was known simply as Sandven Hotel; this historical section is full of charm and history and was awarded the distinction 'Olavsrosa' by the foundation for Norwegian Heritage – a quality label for experiences rooted in Norwegian cultural heritage. Each of the bedrooms in this part of the hotel are different – in size and decoration – yet with the same quality of design and comfort as their modern counterparts. In the modern part of the hotel the bedrooms have a more contemporary design and those who have stayed at Thon Hotels previously will be familiar with the bright and welcoming Thon style of decoration. All Taber Holidays guests receive a fjord-view room as standard.
The hotel's public rooms in the historical section are simply beautiful with wood-panelled walls and antique paintings and furniture. The dining room is truly lovely and there are plenty of places to sit and relax in the equally beautiful lounge/reception area.
The hotel sits directly alongside the Hardangerfjord with gardens along one side and the village of Norheimsund on the other. This is a great location from which to explore the numerous sites and attractions of Hardanger.
KVIKNES HOTEL (4 star) - Balestrand
We have featured the Kviknes Hotel, and enjoyed a close co-operation with the Kvikne Family, since our beginnings - but not since theirs! At Kvikne's their beginnings go right back to 1752 and the best traditions of inn-keeping. The Kvikne family, who still own the hotel, started their reign in 1877, a little before our time, and today it is Sigurd Kvikne (4th generation) who heads up the hotel, with his sister Kari managing their reservations and Front Office.
Although the hotel originally started with only two rooms (yes, just two!), today the hotel has 200 guest rooms and is one of the largest tourist hotels in Norway. Graced with an extensive collection of artworks and antiques, the hotel also has a list of prominent guests; Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany was a frequent guest, along with royalty, emperors, presidents, prime ministers, film stars and artists from many countries.
The hotel was originally built in the ‘Swiss’ style and this section is now referred to as the 'Old Wing' or 'Historical Swiss Style Building'; however much new building, reconstruction and extension has taken place since, not least the addition of the 'New Wing' in the 1960s (see below). The Old Wing directly overlooks the Sognefjord and this is where you will find the beautiful dragon-style restaurant and lounge areas with a small number of guest rooms. In the public rooms you will find a fine collection of paintings from the numerous artists who stayed at the hotel (occasionally using their paintings as a way to pay for their stay!) and antique furniture in keeping with the antique, dragon-style wooden interior.
There are a number of different room categories available at the hotel. Our clients are accommodated in rooms on a high floor in the New Wing of the hotel with a view of the gardens and fjord. These rooms have twin beds, a seating area, desk, TV, telephone and bathroom with bath/shower and WC. A small number of twin rooms are also available in the Old Wing of the hotel which are simply and traditionally furnished in keeping with the old style of the hotel and have a view of the fjord. These rooms are available at a supplement. The Old Wing also has a small number of Junior Suites which have a separated seating area and bedroom and a view of the fjord. Please ask our reservations staff for applicable supplements.
The hotel serves a wonderful, traditional Scandinavian buffet for dinner with a broad selection of cold meats, fish and salad along with a good selection of hot dishes featuring meat, fish and vegetarian options. A large buffet breakfast is also served.
The New Wing – Beauty or the Beast?
It was during the 1960s, when Sigurd and Kari’s father, Per Kvikne, was running the hotel that he faced an increased demand for more rooms and plans for a new, modern building were drawn up. At the time Per came under considerable pressure to demolish the old, wooden hotel entirely and completely re-build a modern hotel in its place; however, he couldn’t bear to do this (he had an emotional attachment to the hotel and the memories and history it held) and he decided to have two contrasting buildings instead, retaining the old but building a new, and for them to sit alongside one another, both a testament to their place in history and both examples of fine architecture. This decision proved to be very controversial but it is one that we love and applaud! The New Wing is now seamlessly attached to its older sibling so that internally you pass from one to the other without even knowing you have done so, however, externally the two remain very distinct from one another and still cause something of a visual stir when approaching the hotel from the fjord.
Like it or loathe it, the New Wing is a beautiful example of post-modern 60s architecture and, without it, there simply wouldn’t be a historical, wooden building at all!
ELVESETER HOTEL (3 star) - Elveseter
Elveseter is an old farmstead situated in Bøverdalen valley in Lom County. Tourists from all walks of life, queens, kings, and heads of state as well as internationally acclaimed adventurers have all visited Elveseter. The family have always been great collectors of art, which are on display today, including paintings of Norwegian masters as well as works from the great Norwegian woodcarvers of the eighteenth century. One of the characteristics of Elveseter is the use of names and symbology from the ancient Norse Mythology. Names such as Midgard, Utgard, Tor and Odin make history come alive and create a bridge to modern time. Despite its historical, rustic wooden buildings Elveseter Hotel has been carefully modernised to provide travellers with the level of comfort and service they expect of a 3 star hotel and a level of cuisine famous in the region.
CLARION COLLECTION HOTEL BRYGGEN (3 star) - Ålesund
A lovely hotel situated in the city centre by the waterfront in Ålesund's picturesque harbour district. The building was originally a warehouse and today the hotel's interior tells the story of the bacalauo clipfish industry - an important industry to the town. On the ground floor there is a well-equipped recreation area where you can relax and read your newspaper or book or try the sauna. There is no restaurant however during the afternoon there are complimentary waffles and during the evening a complimentary evening meal with bread, a hot dish/soup, fruits, vegetables and coffee/tea and juice. All rooms have shower and WC, satellite TV, telephone and free wireless internet access. Lift to all floors.
We don't like to use the word cruising for Hurtigruten since it is so much more. This is a wonderful means of transportation and accommodation; no fancy dress parties, cabarets or days at sea with no land in sight - this is a slow, gentle exploration of beautiful scenery with local food, tradition and community involvement. The true 'Norwegian Coastal Voyage'.
Hurtigruten ships have been a staple along the Norwegian coast since 1893. The current fleet consists of classic ships, ships built in the late nineties, and ships built after the millennium. The ships are regular service vessels carrying freight, mail and passengers along the 2,500 nautical miles of coastline from Bergen to Kirkenes. Accommodation is very comfortable in two, three and four berth cabins (all our clients receive outside cabins with porthole or window) and meals are of a very good standard with breakfast and lunch being substantial buffet meals and dinner being a 3-course served dinner. Particular focus is placed on locally sourced ingredients from local suppliers - chefs take the opportunity, when in port en-route, to purchase quality foods guaranteed to provide a true flavour of the destinations you visit. Please note, not all our holidays include lunch and dinner therefore do check what each holiday price includes.
The public areas of the ship offer plenty of lounge seating and there is a bar (certain ships will have more than one), cafeteria and shop.
CLARION HOTEL ADMIRAL (4 star) - Bergen
Clarion Hotel Admiral is the only true waterside hotel in Bergen with the best view of Bryggen (the Hanseatic harbour) , Vågen and Fløyen. The hotel was completely renovated in 2014 and is now an extremely stylish yet supremely comfortable and easy-going hotel. Centrally located in the heart of Bergen and within a couple of minutes walk of the fish harbour and main shopping street, the hotel is actually an old storehouse which dates back to 1904. The hotel has a lovely restaurant called Kitchen and Table and an area called the Living Room both of which are, as the names suggest, places to relax with good food, either a glass of wine, a cup of tea or just with other people or perhaps a good book - the whole point is that you should feel at home! All bedrooms included in our tours are with harbour view and are equipped with satellite TV, telephone, trouser press, mini-bar and hairdryer and free WiFi. These rooms also have a small balconette directly overlooking the water. Lift to all floors.
Please note, rooms at the Admiral have twin beds which are pushed together, each with their own set of bedlinen, but which cannot be separated.
Norway's Greatest Driving Routes
This holiday isn't just about driving, it's also about doing...or not doing - the choice is yours!! We just want you to know what is possible to enhance your stay.
Extend your stay
Add a couple of extra nights to your holiday? An extra night in Lom means you can stretch your legs on one of the many marked walking routes in the Jotunheimen National Park, and an extra night in Bergen gives you time to take the funicular railway to the summit of Mount Fløien for panoramic views of the city.
Extra night price for Elveseter: £140 per person including breakfast and dinner.
Go glacier hiking!
This holiday offers you a really great opportunity to go glacier walking/hiking and/or climbing. This is during your stay in Norheimsund by taking the ferry across the fjord to Jondal and the Folgefonni Glacier.
Go whitewater rafting!
The popular lakeside resort of Voss offers the opportunity to go rafting on the Stranda or Raundal rivers. This is a fabulous activity and guaranteed to set the adrenaline rushing! Voss Rafting offer a selection of rafting trips including other activities.
Experience the Flåm Mountain Railway
En route from Norheimsund to Balestrand you have the opportunity (with an early departure from Norheimsund) to take a side trip to the village of Flåm which overlooks the Aurlandsfjord. Flåm has a rather famous mountain railway and a return trip will take approximately 2 hours with fantastic views as it climbs and turns up the mountain to Myrdal. A return ticket costs NOK420 locally (approximately £38 per person) and it is possible to combine the trip with a bicycle ride down. Be warned though - during high season Flåm is a popular cruise and excursion destination and crowds are not uncommon.
Walk behind a waterfall
Take a walk behind Steinsdalfoss at Norheimsund, one of Norway's most popular waterfalls, and feel the rush without getting wet!
Climb the mountain for a view the town
Climb the 418 steps from Ålesund centre to the viewing point at the top of Mount Aksla for a panoramic view of the town, the archipelago and the Sunnmøre Alps. Then reward yourself with waffles at the Fjellstua...
Absorb the atmosphere!
Stop off at the viewing point during your climb of Sognfjell (between Balestrand and Lom). Whilst surrounded by all those mountains, take a deep breath, stretch your arms in the air and ask someone to take your photo! Photos of the mountains alone will NEVER do it justice so it's how it made you feel that you will enjoy remembering ;-)
Treat yourself to cake and hot chocolate
Indulge yourself with a delicious cake from Bakeriet i Lom, Morten Shakenda’s lovely bakery, made famous by those Hairy Bikers!! There are lots to choose from and the cafe has a glorious view of the river rapids.
Atlantic Road walkway
During your journey along the Atlantic Road stop off on Eldhusøya island and enjoy the ocean scenery from a latticework walkway, suspended just above the terrain and accompanied by information boards, a service centre and café.
People watch in Sogndal
Stop off for a walk around the Sognefjord's main town, Sogndal. This is where the locals need to come to do their 'big shop' and it is also the main administration centre for the Sogn og Fjordane region.
Here you will find further information regarding this holiday. If you were looking for something and didn't find it here please let us know and we will add it to the list.
Who is this holiday suitable for?
It is suitable for everyone but most especially for those who like driving and the freedom that a car provides to explore side trips along the way. Young children may become a little bored as amazing scenery is not such a priority at this age, however older teenagers will enjoy the excitement of the hairpin bends and the availability of outdoor activities at each destination.
How difficult is it to drive in Norway?
Norway is a huge country with a tiny population so it stands to reason that the roads are not the most crowded you will ever drive on! Like all countries around the world you will find the cities the busiest and more challenging to negotiate, but even in Ålesund and Bergen (the two busiest destinations you will be driving around) you will find you have time to think about where you are driving.
This holiday does have some magnificent roads, several with hairpin bends, though it's usually the passenger who does the gasping at this point and not the driver! There are no routes on this holiday that a 50 seater coach or lorry is not allowed to drive on so this may make you feel a little better about being in a much smaller vehicle.
Our friends at Visit Norway have put together an excellent information page regarding driving in Norway (rules, regulations, sppeds etc) and we would recommend you visit it by clicking here.
Norwegians are very courteous drivers overall, though they do have a habit of putting their foot down when racing to catch the next ferry. Just take your time though and let them pass you - you'll no doubt meet them again, one place forward, in the queue at the ferry quay.
Is there an age limit for driving in Norway?
Not an upper one, no. With our car hire company you can be 99 years of age; as long as you still have a valid driving license at home then you are OK to drive in Norway. There is, however, a lower age limit for driving a hire car in Norway and this is 25 years old at prices quoted for our holidays, though you can drive from 19 years of age for a supplement. This is all to do with insurance and not that we don't like people under 25 years old!
What sort of clothing should I take?
Exactly the same sort of clothing you would take for a similar type of holiday in the UK, i.e. be prepared for any type of weather! For those of you who intend to go hiking whilst in resorts (and these are some of the FINEST hiking destinations you will ever visit) then you will need your hiking gear; good boots, outdoor clothing, back-pack and, if going off the beaten track, knowledge of navigation. Always let your accommodation know if you are going 'off-roading' so they know to look out for you later in the day...