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The Trollstigen is the grand finale of one of the eighteen official National Tourist Routes (Nasjonale Turistveger) of Norway: Geiranger – Trollstigen.
This twisting mountain pass full of hairpins is, without exaggeration, world famous. Each year it’s being driven by many road-trip enthusiasts. The translation for the word ‘Trollstigen’ is ‘ladder for trolls’ or ‘troll steps’. It used to be a dangerous mountain path for sheep herders, but on the 31st of July 1936 they opened the modern tarmac road. And since then it has grown out to be one of the most famous roads in the world. It’s earned its way into many prestigious top 10 lists, from National Geographic till The Guardian. And rightly so, because it creeps up the mountain wall with a staggering 9% incline (!) and along the way it passes the thunderous Stigfossen waterfall and 11 hairpin bends. Once at the summit awaits a truly spectacular and dizzying view over the fertile valley below.
How to get to the Trollstigen?
If you’re coming from the direction of Geiranger, you’ll pass the dramatic road called Ørnevegen (104 kilometer, 1038 meter above sea level) on your way to the Trollstigen. Follow route 63 via Eidsdal and then cross Storfjord with the ferry towards the little town of Valldal. From this point on you’ll slowly start climbing, till you eventually reach the top of the Trollstigen.
They’ve made a fantastic scenic overlook, called Trollstigheim, on the top. With clear weather you can look down on the twisting Trollstigen pass, the Stigfossen waterfall, the surrounding mountains and the entire valley! It’s definitely worth a stop. So, that was exactly our plan!
But we weren’t having the best of luck when we left Geiranger that day. When we started driving it rained all the way until we were finally high enough in the mountains that we were in and above the clouds. At that point we saw the thick clouds rolling over the hills and the road ahead, occasionally driving through a thick misty cloud. But we hoped for the best! After about two hours of driving we reached the top of the Trollstigen. We parked the car and started walking through the rain towards the scenic overlook, accompanied by a herd of tourists that just exited a touring bus at the same time, but then…
There was NOTHING to see! Except for a bunch of overly enthusiastic tourists photographing away all hyped by… clouds?! We wondered what exactly they were photographing, so for the fun of it we joined them for a bit of fun.
After this big disappointment we went back to our car to start working on a Plan B. We decided to drive to our cabin, below in the valley. It was situated about 10 minutes from the Trollstigen. The drive down was quite anticlimactic. Somewhere after the third hairpin we got below the clouds and could finally see something, but it was merely a poor view.
After we arrived at our cabin (that we can definitely recommend, ’cause look at it!), we immediately checked the weather forecast for the following day. And it was nothing less then clear skies and sun! So, we turned the stove in the cabin on, enjoyed a nice evening together and set our alarms an hour earlier so we could try the Trollstigen again the next morning. A sound Plan B.
And boy, was that a good plan! Look at that crystal clear sky! We decided that each of us would drive one direction. I drove up the Trollstigen and Bart-Jan down. With our spirits sky-high, smiles from ear-to-ear and the song I Don’t Know Why from Wolfmother on repeat. Goosebumps guaranteed.. Oh, I recommend skipping the following pictures of you have a fear of heights!
The staggering mountains that surround the Trollstigen in the Romsdalvalley, are named appropriately. From big to small they’re called Kong (King) – 1593 meter, Dronning (Queen) – 1568 meter) and Bipse (Bishop) – 1475 meter. On this picture shined upon by the sun. Mighty impressive!
At the top of the Trollstigen is a parking lot with some souvenir shops and a place to sit down, relax and maybe eat or drink something. There’s also the relatively new ‘Visitor Centre‘, opened in 2012. The building is a design by Reiulf Ramstad Architects and serves as both a restaurant and exhibition area. They tried to enhance the experience of the plateau’s location and nature, and one must conclude that they’ve definitely achieved what they were aiming for, don’t you think?
I recommend visiting early in the morning, because the Trollstigen itself and the surrounding area is visited by many tourists. That way you’ll get the most out of your stay and you won’t be bothered by all the mobile homes, motorcyclists and even even fanatics on bikes.
Planning on driving the Trollstigen? Make sure to check the weather. The pass is only open from May till the end of October, so plan wisely and inform yourself. I mean, surely, don’t you wanna drive down this beast of a pass with the windows down and the volume cranked up till 11 and then up again?
Plan on taking a Rock ‘n Roadtrip this summer? Have you visited the Trollstigen? Share your thoughts in the comments below!