European route E39

This article is an itinerary.
E39 through West Norway
Sign used throughout

European route E39 is a European route stretching from Nørresundby in Denmark to Trøndelag in Norway. The main part of the road runs on Norway's west coast, and goes through some of the most beautiful natural scenery in Norway, mountainous, with deep fjords, as well as many cities and towns. Unlike in many European countries, where the European routes are not signed or signed poorly, the European route system is fully integrated into both the Norwegian and Danish road networks; the roads have no other national numbers.

This itinerary starts in southern Norway, despite the fact that the south end of the route is actually in Denmark. This is due to convenience; only a tiny part of the route is in Denmark. If you are in Denmark, however, a ferry goes from Hirtshals(the last Danish town on the route) to Kristiansand (the first Norwegian town).

Understand

Within Norway the route includes seven ferry crossings, more than any other route in Europe. The route crosses most of the great of the many fjords of west Norway, there are few bridges or underwater tunnels across these wide and deep fjords. Ferries are part of the route and not regarded as a separate means of transport. The road and route sign leads to the dock where vehicles wait for the next departure (first come, first serve principle). Scheduled buses, ambulances and some other special transport has priority on ferries. Road standard on the European route E39 is very variable, in some places tolerably well, other places narrow and winding. There are several ferry crossings along the route, and several toll booths passed. The next few years will E39 undergo a sharp improvement.

This perhaps Norway's most complex road as it cuts across the complex terrain of steep mountains and deep fjords. Norway's two pontoon bridges are both on this route. Most of the road is two-lane undivided, some more narrow and winding stretches remain, particularly between Lavik (ferry) and Førde. Substantial upgrade is currently (2014) in process. Because of the difficult terrain there is plenty of tunnels (even more after upgrade) and hills. Of Norway's well over 1000 road tunnels, about 100 are on E39. Traffic is generally moderate or light, except long lines of cars leaving ferry and except around major vacations. Drivers must be patient, speeding and overtaking is often risky and gain little.

The most southern part between Kristiansand and Stavanger runs through lowlands and moderate hills. The stretch from Stavanger to Halsa (near Kristiansund) runs across the famous fjords of west Norway.

Prepare

Norwegian roads in general are of low quality compared to roads in most European countries. The only motorways in the country are in and around the largest cities, and mostly in the flat eastern parts of the country. E39 is motorway first in the Stavanger-Sandnes conurbation, and later in Bergen. Elsewhere, it is generally two-lane (one in each direction) undivided - sometimes worse and sometimes better.

Keep in mind that long stretches of the road go through desolate areas without towns and petrol stations. It is therefore necessary that your car is in good condition and that you are never close to running out of fuel. While E39 is a relatively busy road, being the main road between Bergen and Sogn og Fjordane, it may still be difficult to get help in case your car breaks down. Cellphone (GSM) coverage is of varying quality, but generally acceptable. There is G3 (UMTS) coverage in most towns above a certain size.

Get in

E39 by ferry across the great Moldefjord
Along lovely Jølster lake

By plane

This itinerary starts in Kristiansand (not to be confused with Kristiansund). Route E39 runs near the following main airports (international connections and to Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, the largest airport in Norway):

Minor airports:

By train

Railway stations connected to the route:

Drive

Byrkjelo and Våtedalen, one of the many picturesque places along E39

Kristiansand to Stavanger

The southernmost section runs through the lowlands of Vest-Agder and Rogaland. Partly rugged hills, valleys and lakes, but not great elevations.

Sidetrip to Jæren and beaches

The low plains of Jæren is the one of the few really flat areas in western Norway and the coast is not protected by skerries and islands. The road along the coast from Egersund to Stavanger airport (Sola) offers a different kind of west Norway, including wide sandy beaches often with generous waves loved by surfers and kiters.

Bergen to Byrkjelo

Huldefossen waterfall at E39
Sidetrip to Balestrand

Instead of going directly north to Oppedal ferry dock, road E16 to Voss then road 13 over Vikafjell mountain pass and across the great Sognefjord to Balestrand. From Balestrand continue along national tourist route (road 13) via Gaularfjell mountain pass and the romantic land of lakes and waterfalls until junction with E39.

Romantic and alpine Stryn, as seen from the mountain road

Byrkjelo to Ålesund

Sidetrip to Stryn and Geiranger

In the interior around Stryn and Geiranger fjords are wilder and mountains higher than further west. Switch to road 60 at Byrkjelo and climb the hills towards Utvik and Stryn. At Stryn there are two options: The scenic mountain road to Geiranger or turn west and get back on E39 near Grodås (quick drive through the new tunnel to Volda and Ørsta).

Ålesund to Kristiansund

Sidetrip to Valldal and Åndalsnes

Instead of driving straight to Molde, a drive through Valldal and Trollstigen to Åndalsnes is one of the highlights in the area. The magnificent valley and wild mountains at Åndalsnes is worth a detour.

Sidetrip to Atlantic road

From Molde an easy detour is along the very coast where an interestings stretch of road jumps from skerry to skerry on the edge of the atlantic.

Stay safe

Drivers must be patient. There is little to gain by speeding and overtaking. Norwegian traffic is generally very safe, partly because speed limits are fine tuned to conditions - there is always a reason for reduced speed limits. While some stretches of roads like these may look scary or dangerous, surprisingly few serious accidents happen.

Go next


From the north end of the E39 European route E6 leads you north to Trondheim in Norway, and continue north until the Russian border. Head south over the Dovre mountains to Oslo and the Swedish border.

From the Norwegian south end of E39 in Kristiansand, ferries to Hirtshals in the South, where the European route E39 continues in Denmark. European Route E18 leads you north to Oslo and further east to Stockholm in Sweden.

From the Danish south end leads the European route E45 you south on Jutland, to Aarhus and the German border.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, November 02, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.