Trollstigen: Driving Norway’s Scenic Hairpin Bends

Trollstigen, known as The Troll’s Pass in English, is a famous Norwegian road known for it hairpin bends and unique look. It’s part of one of Norway’s 18 national roads, and most people consider it to be the very best one! It’s a popular destination for road trips and scenic drives with plenty of stunning landscapes and incredible views.

The main reason to visit Trollstigen is that it’s one of the most scenic drives in all of Norway. Driving down the characteristic serpentine mountain pass is a special experience you are not going to be able to experience anywhere else, and you are guaranteed to be amazed!

Trollstigen
Trollstigen. Photo published with permission.

Why you will want to experience the Trollstigen road

Trollstigen is something truly special. The road has a 9 % incline with 9 different hairpin bends along the steep mountainsides. The elevation from the bottom of the serpentine road to the top is 675 meters, while the distance is just under 10 kilometers.

During your way up or down the scenic drive, you will be able to see high mountains, steep slopes, amazing waterfalls like Stigfossen waterfall, and breathtaking views.

The viewing platform at the top of the mountain is extremely popular, and gives a great view down towards the road itself. There’s also a cafeteria with a souvenir shop at the top, giving you a nice place to rest and relax before taking on the challenging drive down.

Trollstigen road is among the most popular tourist attractions in Norway, and each summer entices over one 1.1 million people to drive down the zigzagging, narrow road. It’s one of very few tourist attractions that are free, and it’s a regular road that you can can with any car.

You can do the crossing and connected national car route in around 2 hours, but most people spend upwards to 4 or 5 hours. The reason is simply because there are lots of amazing areas to stop at to check out the incredible view and wonderful natural sights.

Stigfossen waterfall in Trollstigen
Stigfossen waterfall in Trollstigen. Photo by Frokor / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Trollstigen viewing platform and visitor centre

The Trollstigen viewing platforms are found in the upper parts of the Trollstigen road, and all three of them are worth a visit. The most popular platform (the one on the photo below) allows you do look directly down at the valley and road below. The other two are considered viewpoints, but are still worth stopping at if you got the time for it.

The view platform itself is actually suspended 200 meters above the ground, but solid steel construction makes it completely safe. It’s very rare to see it without crowds as on the photo below, and as a matter of fact you can expect it to be super crowded for most of summer.

Trollstigen viewing platform
Trollstigen viewing platform. Photo published with permission.

The Trollstigen Visitor Centre was designed by the famous architect firm Reiulf Ramstad Architects, and opened to the public in 2012. It has an incredible cafeteria where you can experience some real Norwegian food dishes, as well as a small gift shop where you can buy all the troll souvenirs you will ever need.

The visitor center was made out to be characterized by precise transitions between the architecture and the natural landscape outside. The choice of materials are made to reflect this, and the main materials are concrete and steel that matches the mountain.

There’s a parking lot and lots of places where you can sit and relax both inside the visitor centre or outside of it.

The visitor centre was hit by an avalanche in the 2021/2022 winter season, but it was ready again for the summer season of 2022.

If you want to take a break after driving up or before driving down Trollstigen, then the visitor centre is the place to stop by. Be aware that it’s pretty costly in the cafeteria, so you might not want to eat a full meal there if you are visiting Norway on a budget.

Trollstigen visitor center
Trollstigen visitor center. Photo by Rob Stoeltje / CC BY 2.0.

How to experience Trollstigen: driving, cycling or just going on a bus tour?

Most people experience Trollstigen by driving a car, and there are about 2,000 cars that crosses the mountain pass every single day during the season. That said, there are multiple other ways to experience Trollstigen without renting a rental car.

It’s also getting increasingly popular to ride a bike up Trollstigen, and it’s considered a challenging, but also very rewarding bike ride. Most people opt to bike up the scenic hairpin beads, since it’s very technically challenging to ride it down without hugging your breaks. However, it’s absolutely possible if you feel comfortable with it.

You can rent bikes or electric bikes from Hotel Aak in Åndalsnes if you feel up to the challenge.

If you don’t want to ride a bike or your own car, getting on a tour bus is always an option. There are lots of tour buses that depart from Åndalsnes, drive the Trollstigen road (or even the entire golden route), and takes you back to the town again.

I recommend riding a tour bus if you don’t feel comfortable with driving the distance (which can be a bit difficult to be honest). There are lots of traffic jams and narrow passings on the road, but you don’t need to worry about any of this from a bus!

And as a final part of the alternative methods of getting up to the top of Trollstigen is to hike. Hiking Trollstigen is a fine option, but the hiking trail is not the same as the roads for vehicles. That said, it’s a scenic and interesting hike! The road is too narrow for hikers to fit in it, so please don’t be the person who attempts to walk along the car road.

When to visit Trollstigen

Trollstigen is a summer-only road that is completely closed in the winter. This is because of how difficult it is to mow the snow there, so the government simply closes the road when the first snowfall of the year begins to get a hold.

The exact dates for when Trollstigen opens and closes varies from year to year, but it’s typically from the middle of May to the middle of November.

Learn more about the Trollstigen season here.

Trollstigen aerial view
Trollstigen aerial view. Photo published with permission.

Trollstigen does experience severe winter weather in the winter months, and it’s simply impossible to get rid of all the snow there.

In the summer months when Trollstigen is open, you can visit at any time of the day. It tends to be most crowded between 12.00 and 17.00, so you can attempt to visit outside of these hours if you want to have the road more to yourself. This will make the drive a bit easier, but you will still meet some passing cars.

Is it dangerous to drive Trollstigen?

It’s not really dangerous to drive Trollstigen, but it’s a challenging drive that can lead to minor incidents if you don’t pay close attention. It’s important to be aware that the road is extremely narrow at some parts!

There are lots of traffic jams, and these are often caused by larger buses. It’s generally somewhat easy to drive up or down Trollstigen by a regular car or RV, but be careful when passing a bus in one of the hairpin bends.

There are also always a few traffic jams caused by drivers who simply try to park their cars at the side of the road to get a photo for Instagram. This might seem like a good idea, but it’s very difficult to pass a parked car on this narrow road.

Trollstigen traffic jam
Trollstigen traffic jam. Photo by Sundgot / CC BY-SA 4.0.

It’s also considered a bit dangerous to drive Trollstigen in the dark, especially if it’s raining or wet on the ground. The bends can be difficult to see in the dark, so make sure you don’t drive at a too high of a speed.

How to get to Trollstigen (and the golden route in general)

Trollstigen is part of Nasjonal turistvei (National tourist roads of Norway) that begins at Langvatnet just south of Geiranger, and ends at Sogge bru just south of Åndalsnes. This entire road is an extremely scenic ride where you get to see some of the most incredible natural places in Norway.

The road itself is in Møre og Romsdal county in Rauma municipality.

Some highlights from the Geiranger – Trollstigen road is Gudbrandsjuvet, Ørnesvingen view point (Eagle road), the Geirangerfjorden (Geiranger fjord) and Flydalsjuvet. This means that you will see plenty of amazing waterfalls, deep fjords, narrow tunnels cutting straight trough the mountains, incredible mountains and lush valleys.

Geirangerfjorden
Geirangerfjorden is the most well-known fjord in Norway. Photo published with permission.

You need to ride a ferry to get from Geiranger to Trollstigen. Most of the road is pretty technical challenging with narrow roads that twists and curls all the time. However, the entire golden route only takes about 2 hours, so there are short distances between each spot that is worth checking out.

Many people call the Geiranger – Trollstigen road for the “golden route”, and it’s considered to be the very best of the Norwegian tourist roads in the country.

To get to the Geiranger – Trollstigen road in the first place, you either need a rental car or to book a guided tour bus ticket. Trollstigen is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and the closest city would be Molde. This city is about 2 hours away from Trollstigen.

It’s also possible to get to the village of Geiranger by bus or even cruise ship. There are unfortunately no train ride to Geiranger or any town near Trollstigen.

Hiking at Trollstigen

The top of Trollstigen with the visitor centre is actually the beginning of several different hiking routes, so the Trollstigen mountain road is a great place to start a mountain hike. You can get to many amazing hikes from there, including some famous hikes like:

  • Kongen (The King). This mountain is 1,614 meters above sea level, and an incredible hike. The hiking trail begins at the Trollstigen plateau, and takes between 3 and 4 hours each way.
  • Dronningen (The Queen). Dronningen is yet another incredible mountain, and reaches 1,544 meters above sea levels. If you manage to get to the top, you will get an amazing view down towards the Romsdalen valley.
  • Bispen (The Bishhop). It’s difficult to hike to the top of Bispen, and it requires certain parts where you need to climb. It’s a very popular place for people to jump with wingsuits.
  • Trollveggen (The Trolls Wall). Trollveggen, also known as the Troll Wall is a dramatic hike, but most people prefer to watch it from the ground. It is the highest completely vertical mountain wall with a sheer drop in all of North-Europe.
  • Romdalshorn.
  • Alnestind.
Kongen on the Left and Bispen on the right
Kongen on the Left and Bispen on the right. Photo by Simo Räsänen / CC BY-SA 3.0.

The meaning of the name and the history of Trollstigen

Trollstigen can be translated to Troll’s ladder or the ladder for a troll, but the road is actually referred to as troll’s pass, troll’s road or the troll’s path in English.

This popular tourist attraction was made back in 1916, but it was not ready to open until 1936 when King Haakon VII opened it on Jule 31.

The reason why it took so long was because of how short the construction season was, and how difficult it was to get construction materials to the site.

The serpentine mountain road was intended as a way to cross the mountain pass, but soon because a popular tourist attraction for both Norwegians as well as for foreign tourists. It’s now among the most popular tourist attraction in all of Norway!

Despite being finished almost 90 years ago, the road requires maintenance often, due to extreme weather conditions, rock falls and insane amount of snow in the winter. As a matter of fact, the official opening of the road was delayed by 2 weeks in 2022 because of the avalanche that hit the road in the winter.

Other things do to near Trollstigen

After you are done with the hairpin bends of Trollstigen, where should you go next? You should begin by driving the rest of the golden route of course! However, that only takes a few hours, and there are plenty of other things to do in the area.

Trollstigen is right in the middle of the fjords on the western coast of Norway. If you want more spectacular scenery, consider driving a few hours south to get to one of the two national parks in the area: Jotunheimen National Park and Jostedalsbreen National Park. These have some of the most accessible glaciers and highest mountain peaks in all of Norway!

Gravdalen in Jotunheimen
Gravdalen in Jotunheimen. Photo published with permission.

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