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Road 63 (Norway)

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Trollstigen viewpoint and hairpins

Road 63 is a 100 km regional route in Møre og Romsdal between Åndalsnes and Skjåk/Stryn via Valldal and Geiranger. The route runs through some of Norway's top sights, including the road itself with 3 iconic hairpin roads and an excellent panorama of the famous Geirangerfjord. Previously labeled the "golden route" now it has been named one of 18 national tourist routes. Because of deep snow and avalanches most of the route is available only from late May until November.

Understand[edit]

Snow remaining on the mountain pass in early June

Road 63 runs through Norway's famous fjord and alpine landscape. There is a surprising variety of landscapes and climates within this relatively short drive. The barren, snowy slopes at the mountain passes is a sharp contrast to the fertile valleys and shores with extensive strawberry and fruit production, as well as corn on the plains at Åndalsnes. From gentle farmland at Rauma river amidst the wild and majestic mountains of Romsdalen, along the deep Isterdalen valley lined with summit chess pieces and through the bold Trollstigen road construction. From the high point of Trollstigen mountain pass the road runs slowly downhill through the fertile Valldal valley until the village and municipal centre (Sylte) at the Storfjord (main or literally "big fjord"). Near the village the road continues by ferry across the fjord to Eidsdal, yet another green valley that at first is narrow and steep then widens around a nice lake beneath jagged mountains at the top. At about 600 meters, the Eagle's road is the lowest of the mountain passes on this route, but one that offers the famous view of Geirangerfjord from a high point. After the descent to Geiranger the road immediately starts climbing towards the mountain pass. The road is partly steep and with countless hairpin bends. Near the highest hotel (Utsikten) the roads along the famous Flydalsjuvet gorge.

Trollstigen mountain pass opens late May.

Background[edit]

Bispen (the Bishop) and Kongen (the King) summits seen from the road

The 1956 completion of Eagle's road (Ørneveien) between Eidsdal and Geiranger connected two of Norway's top sights: Trollstigen road and Geiranger. Geiranger had already been connected by road to Stryn and East Norway via the bold Geiranger road construction (30 hairpin curves) in 1889, while Valldal in 1936 was connected to Åndalsnes through the even more daring Trollstigen road. The Geiranger road was built horse and carriage. 300 men worked 8 summers to complete the road. The Geiranger road has been carefully widened to accommodate cars and increasing traffic, but the road is basically the same as in 1889. Trollstigen was also built by hand, one team for each hairpin - the name of the team is shown on a sign. Even if Trollstigen was designed for cars, hairpins have been widened somewhat to allow longer buses. Trollstigen road is also largely the same as in 1936. When Trollstigen was completed many workers moved on to build the road to Mt Dalsnibba, a detour from Geiranger road to a summit, the Dalsnibba road was completed in 1939, but official opening i 1948 because of the war..

Until 1956 only a very long ferry ride connected Valldal and Geiranger. After 1956 only the short (10-15 minutes) ferry crossing to Eidsdal was needed on one of Norway's most dramatic and scenic drive. For instance the trip from Otta via Åndalsnes and Valldal to Geiranger and return to Otta could then easily be done. The Geiranger road at Grotli joined with the first Stryn mountain road (completed 1894) that created a direct road connection to Stryn. The Old Stryn mountain road (Gamle Strynefjellsvegen) is the fourth great hairpin road in the area and also a national tourist route (not part of road 63).

Around 1912 the first cars were used in the Geiranger-Stryn mountains. These cars were modified so they could handle the hairpin bends and were fitted with larger engines for the steep hills. Before the second world war, Geiranger had a greater density of cars than Oslo.

Prepare[edit]

Visitors in early season (May) should check whether parts of the road are still closed. Drivers and cyclists in late season should check weather conditions on the mountain pass, which are usually much cooler than down in the valley. Even at midsummer temperatures can be close to 0°C at the highest point. Bicycles need good breaks to handle the steep descents.

Get in[edit]

Map of Road 63 (Norway)

By car[edit]

Starting point for the entire route is either Åndalsnes or junction with road 15 in Skjåk.

  • 1 Road E136 (junction with road 63) (Sogge bridge), 4 km south of Åndalsnes. Few kilometers south of Åndalsnes, across the river direction Trollstigen.
  • 2 Road 15 (junction with road 63). Road 15 between Otta and Stryn. Just at the opening of tunnel to/from Stryn in the barren high valley.

By rail[edit]

The Rauma railway terminates at Åndalsnes the closest and only railway in the area.

Otta in Gudbrandsdal is served by railway on the Oslo-Trondheim line. Bus connection along road 15 direction Stryn and Måløy.

By air[edit]

There is no airport on the route, closest airports:

By boat[edit]

Hurtigruten usually makes a detour to Geiranger during summer, otherwise the nearest ports are Ålesund and Molde.

Go[edit]

The route is particularly interesting by car. During two summer months (from late June) there is a bus service from Åndalsnes to Geiranger and further to junction with road 15. Note that the junction with road 15 (place is called Langvatn) is in a high barren valley, it is nothing there except an ordinary cross road. The route can also be done by bicycle, but several steep ascents/descents (10 %) offers hard work for the cyclist uphill and hard work for the breaks downhill. The highest parts of the road can rather cool (close to 0 °C) even at mid summer. There is only one tunnel, the 600 meter long tunnel at the pass between Eidsdal and Geiranger.

Drivers should use the car's engine to control speed downhill to avoid overheating breaks.

Åndalsnes to Trollstigen[edit]

Trollstigen hairpins

Norwegian-road-sign-102.1.svgNorwegian-road-sign-104.1.svgThis stretch of the road runs along the deep valley to the iconic Trollstigen ("Troll's path") mountain pass. Trollstigen mountain pass reaches 850 meters above sea level, the northern slope (from Åndalsnes) is the steepest, the southern slope (Valldal) is relatively gentle. Trollstigen mountain pass is closed during winter because of deep snow and avalanches. Normally opens late May and closes late October.

  • 1 Trollstigen (Trollstigvegen) (Road 63 from Åndalsnes). Late May-October. The road itself is an impressive piece of construction along the almost vertical cliffs. The road was completed in 1936 and offered for the first time road access from Valldal to East Norway by car or rail (Raumabanen). There are 11 characteristic hairpins. The pass is surrounded by jagged imposing summits, many only accessible for skilled mountaineers and climbers. The Trollstigen pass does in fact sit on the reverse side of the iconic Trollveggen, one of the tallest vertical cliffs in the world. Note: Map coordinates are for the bridge across the waterfall free.

Detour to Romsdalen[edit]

Åndalsnes sits at the lower end of majestic Romsdalen valley. A few kilometers south of Åndalsnes along E136 or Rauma railway gives an excellent view of the imposing summits and rock faces, including Trollveggen cliff rising 1000 meters vertically from the valley. The entire valley is less than 40 km, but offers great views all along until Bjorli in the high part of Gudbrandsdal. Travellers approaching Åndalsnes by car along roads E6/E136 or by train Oslo-Lillehammer-Dombås-Åndalsnes will pass through Romsdalen valley before Åndalsnes.

Trollstigen to Valldal[edit]

Eidsdal-Linge ferry
Storfjord panorama
  • 2 Gudbrandsjuvet gorgeRoad 63 (15 km from Valldal). All day, all year. The gorge and waterfall at Gudbrandsjuvet (15 kilometers upstream). The dry stone bridge across the gorge constructed in the 1920s as part of the Valldal-Åndalsnes road is still in use. The main river runs through a narrow (5 meters) and deep (25 meters) gorge, in fact a series of large "giant's kettle". The gorge is so narrow and complex that it is hard to see all even if the road runs across and there is an elaborate system of viewing platforms for visitors. Lovely rapids/waterfalls at Skjerdsura (boulders) just north of Gudbrandsjuvet along the road. According to the Sagas, king Olaf the Saint built the first road through the Skjerdsura boulders in year 1028. Free.
  • 3 Holsfossen (waterfall and bridge) (Road 63 (bus, car, bicycle)). In Holsfossen (waterfall 10 km from fjord) next to the road there is a tiny power station recently reopened after 50 years. Free.

Detour to Tafjord[edit]

Tafjord is the fjord that stretches east from Valldal village, it is also the name of the small village at the top of the fjord. A local road runs through several tunnels from Valldal village to Tafjord village and further through steep and deep valley beyond. Tafjord hosts the major hydropower plant in the Sunnmøre district, most of the vast hydropower complex is hidden in the mountains, but tall dam at Zacharias lake can be visited by car.

  • 4 Zacharias damTafjord (Road uphill from Tafjord (car needed).). All day, all year.. The Zacahrias dam in Tafjord is a 95 meter high concrete dam in a narrow river gorge. The main reservoir for the Tafjord hydro power complex. Grand nature. Free..
  • 5 Tafjord power station and museum. 11:00 to 17:00 (summer). Tafjord power plant, first power station built 1920s, now museum. Free.
  • 6 Muldalsfossen (Drive towards Tafjord, hike.). 24 hour. Muldalsfossen (waterfall) is a strange waterfall on the road between Tafjord and Valldal. The waterfall is hidden in a steep gorge and exit height is not known, about 200 meters. Best viewed from the abandoned farm on the shelf (about 1 hour hike uphill). Be extremely careful on the slopes around the waterfall, fatal accidents have happened. Free.
  • Walk the small road to Muldalen and visit the abandoned farms at the shelf overlooking the spectacular Muldalsfossen. The small road starts close to the small bridge after the 5 kilometer tunnel on the road from Valldal to Tafjord.

Valldal to Eidsdal[edit]

A campervan pulling up Road 63 from Eidsdal towards Eagles Highway and Geiranger.

There is a short drive between Valldal village and Linge ferry dock where a 10 minute ferry crossings connects to Eidsdal valley on the south shore. The ferry has frequent departures in summer. There is no booking, and at day time in the high season there may occasionally be waiting time to cross. Eidsdal is a narrow valley in the lower part, but wide and panoramic at the higher part just before the mountain pass to Geiranger.

Detour along the Storfjord[edit]

Between Linge ferry dock and Ålesund there are several panorama points to the Storfjord (the main fjord). One good panorama point is at Liabygda few kilometers west of Linge, another one just west of Stordal and Dyrkorn.

  • 7 panorama point at LiabygdaRoad 650 Liabygda (Towards Ålesund/Sjøholt). View of the fjords from a high point on road 650.

Eidsdal to Geiranger[edit]

Geirangfjord as seen from Eagle's bend.

Norwegian-road-sign-104.2.svg Eagles road (Ørneveien), the road through the mountain pass between Eidsdal and Geiranger, was completed in 1956 and thus created the now continuous road 63. The road up through Eidsdal valley is a long steady climb until the high valley with a picturesque lake. The descent to Geiranger is through the famous Eagle's road with several hairpin turns and a breathtaking view of the Geirangerfjord. A viewing platform has been installed at the highest hairpin bend (called Eagle's bend), parking available for a handful cars. Steep descent to Geiranger village.

  • 8 Ørnesvingen (The Eagles' Curve), Road 63 (Route 63 Eidsdal-Geiranger). View of the fjord and the village from high point.

Detour to Norddal and Herdal[edit]

The smalle village of Norddal 3 km east of Eidsdal dock is home to a picturesque octagonal 18th century church. The church was built on the site of the previous stave church, and the present church contains parts from the old church. Herdalseter summer farm is part of Geiranger-Herdalen protected landscape area and UNESCO world heritage site, private toll road runs some kilometers uphill to the "seter" (shieling or summer farm).

  • 9 Norddal Church (Norddal kyrkje), Norddal (3 km from Eidsdal). Picturesque 18th century church, the first octagonal design in the county. The church spire is in classical baroque style.The altarpiece includes figures, relief and leaved doors, all painted with great skill and care. The altarpiece is from the late Middle Ages (approx. 1510-20), possibly by German masters in Lübeck. The church is in an ideal location at the foot of Kyrkjefjellet, close to the shore. In the churchyard, there is a monument erected to the memory of those who perished in the Tafjord disaster of 1934.

Detour to Hellesylt[edit]

Ferry on Geirangerfjord

During summer there is a car ferry connecting Geiranger village to Hellesylt along the iconic Geirangerfjord. This can be done as a roundtrip (leaving car in Geiranger) or as part of further transport towards Ålesund, Stryn or Bergen.

Geiranger to road 15[edit]

View from Mt Dalsnibba to Geirangerfjord, Geiranger road hairpins below

Norwegian-road-sign-102.1.svgNorwegian-road-sign-104.1.svgThis part of route 63, known as Geiranger road, is the oldest of the three hairpin roads on route 63. Up to 300 men used 8 summers to complete the road in 1889. The ascent is up to 10 %, there are 9 masonry arch bridges on the original construction and 29 hairpins. The completion of the road allowed for the first time overland transport between the valleys of East Norway and fjords of Sunnmøre, the 1894 completion of county road 258 (Stryn mountain pass) also allowed overland transport to Stryn. The Geiranger road was awarded the gold medal at the Paris world fair 1900. Road 63 ends in the junction with road 15 near Langvatn lake in a barren high valley. The segment between Geiranger village and Langvatn junction is closed during winter, usually opens mid May.

  • 10 Norsk Fjordsenter +47 70263810fax: +47 70263141. 1May-20Sep:. Visitor centre for the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Adults: kr 90, Children: kr 50.
  • Geiranger church is small wooden church constructed in 1842. The octagonal design and central tower resembles the nearby Norddal church.
  • 11 Knuten (The Knot) (Close to road 63). 1889 overpass designed to gain altitude. Dry stone construction is still usable.

Detour to Mt Dalsnibba[edit]

From the highest point of the public road at Djupvatnet (1000 meters) lake there is a toll road to Mt Dalsnibba (1500 meters) with excellent panorama of Geiranger valley and fjord, as well as the endless sea of mountains around. Dalsnibba is in fact the watershed between East Norway and West Norway: Rain falling on the eastern slopes flows 500 km through Gudbrandsdalen and finally into the Oslo fjord at Fredrikstad, while rain falling on the western slopes flow only a few kilometers to the Geirangerfjord below.

  • 12 Dalsnibba (Detour from route 63 towards Grotli). summer only. Norwegian-road-sign-104.1.svg Dalsnibba is a 1500 m (4920 ft) mountain summit. Faboulus view over the fjord and the mountain behind. Detour from road 63 (Geiranger mountain pass) direction Skjåk and Stryn. Tollroad: kr 80 (cars), kr 50 (motorcykles).

Stay safe[edit]

  • Norwegian-road-sign-104.2.svg Drivers should use the car's engine to control speed downhill to avoid overheating breaks.
  • Norwegian-road-sign-106.1.svg Road width varies, partly too narrow for vehicles to pass, take it easy, be courteous.

Go next[edit]

This itinerary to Road 63 is a usable article. It explains how to get there and touches on all the major points along the way. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.