The spectacular fjords, glaciers and mountain scenery across Norway’s west coast set the scene for an unforgettable road trip.
Many of these natural wonders are easily accessible thanks to a network of more than 500 road tunnels.
The 15.2 mile-long (24.5km) Lærdal tunnel that connects the villages of Aurland and Laerdal is the longest road tunnel in the world. It also links the capital, Oslo in the east with Bergen to the west. Given its length, the tunnel’s environment and lighting systems have been designed to retain driver concentration.
Inside the tunnel, three large caverns or ‘mountain halls’ have been built with special lighting designed to try and make the drive less monotonous – and safer.
A little further on from the Lærdal tunnel lies the entrance to the Gudvangen tunnel. At 7.1 miles long, it’s the second longest tunnel in Norway and the eighth longest in the world.
Where to start your tunnel tour
The road trip can be started from any one of five airports: Bergen Airport, Flesland – just south of Bergen, Norway’s second biggest city; Førde Airport, Bringeland – just outside Førde, the biggest town in Sogn and Fjordane county; Florø Airport – Norway’s westernmost town; Sandane Airport, Anda and Sogndal Airport, Haukåsen.
The Laerdal tunnel is a pleasant drive and ferry crossing away from Sogndal Airport, Haukåse: the starting point on the map (marked on the map, above).
On the way, you’ll pass through several tunnels before taking the car ferry across the Sognefjord from Manheller to Fodnes and then hit the road again for the final stretch to Laerdal.
After passing through the record-breaking tunnel, you’ll soon end up at The Gudvangen tunnel.
From there you can either return to Sogndal Airport or continue on through one of the densest road tunnel networks in the country and the world.
Drive through Voss, Nesttun, Bergen, Knarvik, Matre and then take a break in Oppedal, where a ferry awaits to take you across the Sognefjord to Lavik.
Continue the journey through Leirvik, Dale and Førde and you’ll pass through The Naustdal Tunnel on your way to Florø, the westernmost town in the country.
Not overdosed on tunnels or scenery yet?
Then continue via Isane to Oldeide, take the ferry across North Fjord (Oldeide to Måløy) and drive via Nordfjordeid, Stryn, Skei and Fjærland, where two tunnels spanning nearly 4 miles (7,000m) between them await, before your return to Sogndal Airport.
This 560 mile (900km) round-trip journey by road is also a chance to take in the breathtaking scenery of mountains, glaciers, fjords, rivers, waterfalls and valleys – when the views are not blocked by any of the 135 tunnels, that is.
The west coast is a gem for those wanting to go fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, surfing, paragliding, rafting or photography, so plan plenty of stops.
How to get there
The best way to reach the middle of this scenic Wild West is by plane. Widerøe, a subsidiary of Star Alliance member Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is the only airline that flies to four of the five airports that will be passed on this road trip itinerary: Sogndal Airport, Haukåsen; Bergen Airport, Flesland; Førde Airport, Bringeland; Florø Airport and Sandane Airport, Anda.
Another option is to fly to Bergen, a larger airport, which is served by a range of international carriers from several European cities. It may take longer to drive through the longest road tunnel in the world, but when you come out the other end, you can rightfully say you’ve been on the ultimate tunnel trip.