Road 63 (Norway)

This article is an itinerary.
Trollstigen viewpoint and hairpins

Road 63 is a 100 km regional route in Møre og Romsdal between Åndalsnes and Skjåk 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

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

The 1956 completion of Eagle's road 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. 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.

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

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

By car

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

By rail

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

There is no airport on the route, closest airports:

By boat

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

Go

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

Trollstigen hairpins

This stretch of the road runs along the deep valley to the iconic Trollstigen ("Troll's path") mountain pass. 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.

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.

Detour to Romsdalen

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. 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

Eidsdal-Linge ferry
Storfjord panorama

Detour to Tafjord

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.

Valldal to Eidsdal

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

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.

Eidsdal to Geiranger

Geirangfjord as seen from Eagle's bend.

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.

Detour to Norddal and Herdal

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).

Detour to Hellesylt

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

View from Mt Dalsnibba to Geirangerfjord, Geiranger road hairpins below

This 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 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.

Detour to Mt Dalsnibba

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.

Stay safe

Steep descent warning at Trollstigen

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

Go next

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