Åndalsnes and Romsdal valley

Åndalsnes is a town at the mouth of Romsdal valley in the western county Møre og Romsdal. For some reason it has attracted some unfavourable comments on travel boards but it's a superbly located transport hub and the Romsdal valley itself is one of the most monumental and romantic valleys of Norway. The small town itself is merely a village, but the valley and surrounding mountains and fjords are among the greatest in Norway. Åndalsnes is a centre for mountaineering in Norway and calls itself "alpine town at the fjord".


Åndalsnes and Romsdal valley with surroundings
Beginning of valley in the highlands

Romsdal is the deep valley stretching some 40 km from the county line near Bjorli to the Romsdal fjord at the small town of Åndalsnes. Åndalsnes sits at the mouth of Rauma river, opposite the village of Veblungsnes (the former centre), which has a characteristic parish church. Romsdal is the valley of the great Rauma river. Åndalsnes is also the terminal station for the Raumabanen (railway line) running through the valley. Near Åndalsnes the main Romsdal valley converges with the shorter but even more dramatic Isterdal valley, home to famous Trollstigen hairpin road and mountain pass as well as more wild summits. The lower parts of the two valleys are dominated by the confluence of rivers Rauma and Istra, the delta they create and the meanders through which they flow. The valley floor is surprisingly flat and even between these wild mountains. About 2/3 of the area is above the treeline.

The Romsdal valley allows easy connection to the inland counties of Oppland and Hedmark, and is in fact a western continuation of the great eastern valley Gudbrandsdalen. Lesjaskogsvatnet lake is exactly at the watershed and water from the lake flows both east and west. Åndalsnes' central location made it a transport hub and old trading post. Most visitors by car, train or bus will eventually drive through the valley. The valley has given its name to the district surrounding the Moldefjord/Romsdalsfjord, as well as the entire county.

The Romsdal valley begins around the county line in the highlands where the valley and the river quickly descends through gorges (with lovely rapids and waterfalls) to the relatively even and low valley floor. The road and the railway then runs between some of the highest cliffs and highest waterfalls in Europe. Nearby Eikesdalen valley (as well as Sunndalen) are also home to some of the highest waterfalls in Europe. All waterfalls in Romsdal valley are easily accessible and visible from the car window and from the train (Mongefossen is perhaps the tallest waterfall visible from a train).

Åndalsnes and Romsdal valley was one early key tourist destinations in Western Norway. In particular affluent English gentlemen were attracted by the salmon angling in great landscape. Property were purchased and hotels established by the English. The alpine pioneer William Cecil Slingsby visited Romsdal, in addition to Sunnmøre alps (around Hjørundfjord) and Jotunheimen.

Romsdal alps

Romsdal with Isterdalen and nearby Isfjorden and Eikesdalen valleys are home to the Romsdal alps, a group of breathtaking alpine summits. These are the most accessible of Norway's alpine peaks, easily viewed from the main road and railway the runs close. The iconic Romsdalshorn stands opposite the 1000 meter vertical rock face Trollveggen, famous among climbers and BASE jumpers (now forbidden). Trollveggen is in turn surrounded by sharp peaks and more forbidding rock faces. The Isterdalen valley and Trollstigen (on Trollveggens rear) is home to peaks aptly named Bishop, King and Queen, as well as the Troll's claws. Eikesdalen valley is also a hidden gem of imposing mountains around the lovely lake.


Raumabanen or the Rauma Railway runs between Dombås and Åndalsnes, the name "Rauma" refers to the river along which the line runs. The rail line runs parallel to road E136 and mostly offers the same views. The railway was an engineering achievement in the 1910-20s, particularly the double horseshoe curve (including Kylling bridge) system at Verma - the system was constructed to allow the train climb the steep, narrow valley and cross the gorges at Verma where the high valley (Bjorli/Lesja at upper part of Gudbrandsdalen) plunges into the low valley (Romsdal valley proper). There are several great masonry arc bridges on the line: One crossing a river gorge at Dombås, one crossing the gorge and waterfall at Verma, and a somewhat smaller crossing the river near the county line. All bridges visible from or within short walk from the main road. Raumabanen is 110 km and construction lasted about 14 years. The complicated construction of Kylling bridge lasted about 9 years. A total of some 600 men worked 15 years to complete the line.


Åndalsnes played a key role in the dramatic days following the German invasion April 9, 1940. British troops landed at Åndalsnes to support the Norwegian Army and the town was totally destroyed by the subsequent German bombing. The British troops landed at Åndalsnes (as well as Namsos) were engaged in the first Allied direct combat with German troops during the war. The King, cabinet and Bank of Norway's gold and cash holdings were evacuated through Åndalsnes amidst heavy fighting in a bold and legendary operation. The Raumabanen railway was then strategically important as it connected Oslo and East Norway to the protected harbour at Åndalsnes. Later during the war the railway was the target of sabotage intended to interrupt German transport of troops and supplies.

More than 300 years earlier Åndalsnes and Romsdal valley saw the landing of Scottish mercenary troops en route to join the war in Sweden. The Scottish troops marched through the valley and passed Otta in Gudbrandsdalen where they were slaughtered my local militia in a legendary ambush.


Get in

Kylling bridge on Rauma railway line to Åndalsnes
Romantic Romsdal along road E136

By rail

The Rauma railway terminates at Åndalsnes and runs parallel to road E136, and are connected to both Oslo and Trondheim via Dombås junction. This is also a very scenic piece of railway. Train from Oslo or Trondheim via Dombås along the Romsdal, one of Norway's most scenic lines. This is the only railway line in Møre og Romsdal and Åndalsnes the line's endstation. A Minipris (Non refundable discount) ticket from Oslo to Åndalsnes can be purchased from as low as 199NOK at www.nsb.no

Get around

Åndalsnes itself is only a village, and can be covered on foot. Outside the village, distances are long and transport is essentially the same as Get in.

Bus or 10 minute ferry to Molde, ferry from there to Vikebukt and return by bus (from Ålesund) makes a great day out. A return trip to Geiranger with ferry from there to Hellesylt and back is easily done in a day - given an early start if you are going by bus.


Trollstigen mountain pass and hairpin road with waterfall
Summits King and Bishop at Trollstigen
Trollsveggen and Rauma river near Åndalsnes


Drive,or go by bus, up Trollstigen road which is located some 15 kilometers outside Åndalsnes. Trollstigen is a road that is encircled by enormous mountains and goes in sharp curves up the mountain side. The road is normally closed from October to May, but is open during the summer months. On the top one has a spectacular view over the valley and the Trollstigen road itself. Route 63 through Trollstigen is Åndalsnes-Geiranger is a national scenic road.



Go next

Routes through Åndalsnes and Romsdal valley

Dombås Bjorli  E  W  Åndalsnes Ålesund

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