Rosendal, Norway, Road Trip to Western Norway

Rosendal, Norway – Road Trip to Western Norway

We had for a few years discussed that we should go to Norway and more specifically that we should try to visit Susann’s friend in Rosendal south of Bergen. We had, however, always considered Norway to be a quite expensive destination and hadn’t been able to find any good way to get from the airport in Bergen across the fjords to get to Rosendal. Especially since we usually looked for a longer weekend trip. It was just too expensive and too time consuming to be able to be an option.

That changed in 2022. We finally looked at another option. So on a Thursday in September the three of us got into our car and began our road trip to the west. A road trip that would take us through what is most likely one of the widest points of the Scandinavian Peninsula.

Heading Westward Through Sweden

We have around 430 kilometers of driving to reach the border with Norway. Luckily we didn’t plan to drive the whole distance at once, but instead make several stops during the day before we would spend the night somewhere across the border in Norway. How far we were going to drive was still undecided.

What we usually do during road trips is to make short stops in places that we haven’t been to before. This is the reason why we made our first stop in Kristinehamn. This is a town along the shores of Lake Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden. It also meant that we have reached the province of Värmland. It’s actually a province that we haven’t been to many times. After a walk through the center of Kristinehamn we looked at the map and asked Little A what she wanted to eat. Well, no surprise in her reply. We were soon back in the car heading towards Karlstad for a fast food hamburger.

After lunch we continued our drive towards Norway. Our road trip soon took us through dense forests before we reached the locality of Årjäng. It was time for a new walk and to say hi to the large troll sanding here at one of the squares. Our interest did however soon focus on Töcksfors instead. This is a locality right at the border with Norway and we wanted to see the border shops. This is a popular destination for Norwegians wanting to access goods that are cheaper in Sweden. It was also here that I was able to find a new pair of shoes. We did expect quite a lot of rain during our days in Norway and my old shoes was not up for it.

First Night in Norway, Reaching Drammen

By reaching the border with Norway we had around 475 kilometers left of the around 900 kilometers to Rosendal. But we had by now booked a hotel room in Drammen for the night and had only about 130 kilometers left to reach it. This meant passing the Oslo Fjord and us getting lost in the village of Kroer due to the GPS trying to avoid toll roads.

It took some time but we did reach Drammen and Scandic Ambassadeur. It turned out that this hotel would be the largest disappointment of our trip. Upon check-in they didn’t accept the agreed price we had over the phone and the receptionist failed to manage the payment. The terminal confirmed it, but it apparently went out into the void of the internet. We agreed that they would investigate and we headed out for an evening stroll in Drammen where we also found something small for dinner. It was eventually really nice to go to bed after a long day of driving, something my two travel companions seemed to agree with.

Scandic Ambassadeur Drammen – A Headache-Causing Problem

So was the payment issue resolved by Friday morning? The short answer is no. The amount was still reserved on my card and the hotel receptionist was sure that it was cancelled and that the reservation would be removed. Either way I demanded that they would wait with going forward with a second transaction before the current reservation had been resolved. They did eventually agree as I had to wait until Monday to be able to reach my bank to confirm. Sadly the hotel didn’t wait as agreed. Instead they used the credit card they had for security to make a second transaction just hours after we left.

I wasn’t so happy when I on Sunday could see both transactions completed by my bank. This was the start of a long case with the hotel, which now was not possible to get in contact with. They just didn’t reply. Instead I was able to reach their central office in Oslo and when I described the issue they could find both payments at once. It seems like to hotel had been unable to connect the payment with the booking. About a week after the transaction I received most of the money back. Yes, you can lose quite a lot of money when exchange rates changes over time and when different exchange rates are used for ingoing and outgoing transactions. About 64 SEK (5 EUR) was lost in this unnecessary transaction, something the hotel have declined in reimbursing. It took about half a year after the visit before we eventually received a gift card from Scandic. We are still unsure of its content, so hope that it is what they eventually promised.

So our recommendation after all this, try to find some other hotel than Scandic Ambassadeur Drammen.

Driving Through the Mountains toward Rosendal

After the problems with the hotel in Drammen we were happy to continue west towards Rosendal. We made a first stop in Notodden, but were greeted by rain during our short walk. Instead we drove a few more minutes to Heddal to see the large stave church and a few more traditional buildings. The stave church is considered to be the largest of its kind in Norway. We also made a short stop in rainy Åmot and cloudy Edland before we finally reached the mountains.

We had reached the mountain area of Haukelifjell. Not only could we admire the scenic views, the sky had also turned partly blue. We made several stops along the mountain road to enjoy the views, mostly with a lake nearby. It takes some additional time to pass mountain ranges like Haukeli when the tunnels are closed for maintenance. So we also gained some additional time to enjoy the views when waiting for our time to drive along the mall and narrow road leading across the old passages. We were greeted by some great views, but it also required a bit more concentration when driving.

It was an empty feeling when we eventually got down from the mountain and reached Røldal. The mountains were still nearby and it didn’t take long before we once more gained altitude and were passing through the next mountain pass at Skare. In the nearby valley we were able to see several waterfalls and just had to stop at a rest area close to Låtefossen and Espelandsfossen. The rest of the drive towards Odda included many more views of waterfalls.

In Odda we made our last proper stop to make a few purchases for the last part of the drive. We were now getting closer to Rosendal and we were looking forward to reaching our destination. Soon enough we had the entrance of the Folgefonna Tunnel in front of us. This is a never-ending tunnel that has a length of 11.150 meters, the fourth longest road tunnel in Norway. It is a indescribable feeling when reaching the other end of a tunnel like this. Getting out on the other side with a view of the Hardanger Fjord was a very special feeling. The last kilometers of driving took us along the shores of the fjord and included the view of the waterfall Furebergsfossen. After two days of driving we eventually reached Rosendal and were welcomed by Susann’s childhood friend. It was time for some lovely tacos for dinner.

Enjoying the Sunshine in Rosendal

Little A was really happy in the morning, she did have two new friends here to play with. Looking out of the window we were all quite surprised. This is supposed to be one of the most rainy parts in Europe. Actually, nearby Bergen is by many considered to be the wettest city in Europe. So, guess our surprise when we woke up for our first day in Rosendal with blue skies and the sun shining.

It was eventually the young girls who got to decide much of the plan for the day. Susann’s friend’s two girls wanted to go shopping and Little A was not late with agreeing with them. So we were heading towards the nearest commercial center located in Husnes. Here we began with a visit to the library and before visiting a few stores. But we did also enjoy the sun. A short visit to the grocery store and we were soon enjoying a small picnic at the shores of Lake Onarheimsvatnet. After the picnic, we returned to Rosendal and a visit to a large playground next to the local school. Here they have used large tires and a lot of steel to create an impressive attraction for kids.

Once we were all back at Susann’s friend’s house it was just to enjoy the view of the fjord. Well, almost. While the girls played and rested I headed out for a walk through Rosendal. At the small marina was probably the most impressive sight if you exclude the view of the fjord. Here was Gurine, a Hardangerjakt dating back to 1875. This sail ship was actually built in Rosendal and it is just possible to imagine how many adventures she has been on. On the way back it was just to enjoy the amazing sunset with the mirror-like fjord providing an even more impressive sight.

An Easy Hike in Rosendal

Our second day in Rosendal did not provide the same blue skies as the day before. From the window we could see a cruise ship disembarking its passengers for a day in Rosendal. We did, eventually, decide to join many of the other tourists on their easy hike along the river Rosendalselvi. It was a beautiful gravel path that eventually took us to the waterfall Hattebergfossen. Little A was the one who did not enjoy the walk. She considered it to be too hard already after a few meters and it is hard to change that opinion. We did, however, reach the waterfall and eventually we were heading back along the roads on the other side of the river. These roads led us to Baroniet, a small castle. Well, a very small castle. This is by many considered to be the smallest castle in Scandinavia. The castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and the scenic view of the surrounding mountains.

We were soon back at the house, just in time before it started to rain. Well, we did have to enjoy a small drizzle of rain during our walk, but Rosendal did eventually prove itself to be quite rainy. So it was a cozy evening indoors as we prepared our return trip to Sweden.

Driving Back Home

Early the next morning we drove back in the direction from where we came. It had been a nice weekend in Norway and we hoped to be able to see a bit more on the way back. We did, however, expect it to rain quite a lot. And, yes, the rain did prevent us from really enjoying many of the places we had hoped to stop at. But rain was not all.

Eventually we reached the mountain area of Haukelifjell again. Expecting to drive across the small temporary mountain pass again we were quite worried when we met a red light and the road assistant asked us if we had the winter tires on. Remember this was in September, but it was actually snowing along the road ahead. They were trying to prepare the temporary passage and I was really happy that I had changed from summer tires the week before in anticipation of this mountain pass. In the end, they changed tactics and led the traffic through the tunnel that was under renovation. The long queue of cars was led through the tunnel where the work had been paused. Once on the other side we got to see a now snowy landscape.

Snow-clad mountains? It was just so different from just two days earlier. It was a nice pause from the rain. The rain was, however, not done with us. Once back down on the other side of the mountain the rain continued. It would rain most of the way back to the Swedish border and we only made one short stop in Notodden for some fast food. We had initially planned to stay one night at the hotel and by doing so splitting the drive for two days. Due to the rain, we didn’t really know where we wanted to stop. Instead, we decided to drive all the way home. Remember, it is around 900 kilometers from Rosendal to Vagnhärad. In addition to Notodden we also made a stop in Töcksfors once we were back in Sweden. Other than that we kept driving and arrived back home in Vagnhärad shortly after midnight. We had left Rosendal around 7 in the morning. The 900 kilometers had taken us around 17 hours to drive. Even with the rain, it had been an amazing weekend. We will see when we will find time for a return visit.

Read More About the Stops in Sweden

Read More About the Stops in Norway

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