Trollstigen is Norwegian for “troll ladder,” which instantly makes this twisty mountain highway more interesting to kids. Trollstigen is Norway’s most visited scenic drive, and it pops up on many top ten lists of things to do in Norway. I admit I was initially skeptical that just taking a drive would be enough to keep my boys interested, but it turns out there are lots of fun things to do around Trollstigen—especially if you include dangerous and/or potentially irresponsible activities (my boys’ favorite, of course).
Trollstigen is made up of 11 hairpin turns crisscrossing down a steep mountainside, while the powerful Stigfossen waterfall tumbles down right in the middle. The original road was paved in 1939, and if you want to hike the original hiking path instead of risking your life in a motor vehicle, you can.
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Getting to Trollstigen
Trollstigen is a two-hour drive from the tiny town of Geirenger (of Geirengerfjord fame), and the road connecting the two is a Norwegian Scenic Route, so it’s a totally gorgeous drive, if you’re into that sort of thing. At the bottom of Trollstigen is the town of Åndalsnes, where you can rent bikes (including electric bikes) if you are interested in doing this the eco-friendly way.
Here’s how we actually arrived at Trollstigen from our house rental in Ørsta: we took the Geirangerfjord ferry from Hellesylt to Geirenger, where friends picked us up, showed us around Geiranger and drove us to Trollstigen. While you can do this yourself (even from Ålesund), I wouldn’t recommend it as it was a LONG day for our kids. Instead, from Geirenger, consider staying a night in between the two, then taking a leisurely day to explore Trollstigen.
Things to Do at Trollstigen
Yes, drive down the road…but the kids aren’t going to get excited about that, I promise you.
First, make sure you stop at the visitor’s center at the top. We actually did not do that, but I have great regrets because apparently all the best viewpoints are up there. (Also, bathrooms.)
If the kids start to get antsy, make sure you have them look for the trolls—which are made of stone in Norway—in the mountains, and explain that the blue glacier water is troll pee. Thank you Norwegian friends for this fun fact! It saved us on this trip!
Just after you cross the bridge over the waterfall—make sure to open your windows and feel the spray from Stigfossen hit you—there is a pull out where you can park and take photos. Do this.
Do NOT let your kids walk up the narrow shoulder of the road in order to throw rocks down into the waterfall from the bridge, even though your distant Norwegian cousin says they can, and it makes them deliriously happy, because the other drivers will be very unhappy with you and also your kids might get hit as cars careen down the serpentine highway. And nobody wants to spend their vacation in a Norwegian hospital.
At the bottom of the road, there’s another place to park. Look up for some more incredible views of both the road and the waterfalls.
But don’t stop there! I hope you brought a picnic. Because just off the road here, you’ll see signs for hiking trails. Thank you Norway and your gorgeous hiking trails! You don’t have to walk very far at all before you run into the stunning blue of a glacier-fed river. It’s the perfect place for a picnic, hiking, or just to let kids who’ve been in cars to long run free for a while. I wish we had spent all afternoon here—so plan for that, if you can.
Trollstigen: Know Before You Go
Like lots of things in Norway, this road is seasonal, closed from around October to May, depending on weather, so check before you go.
Even in the hottest part of summer, you may find clouds and rain and cold wind here, so pack your jacket.
Where to Stay Around Trollstigen
Although many tours seem to just tack a visit to Trollstigen on to a visit to nearby Geirengerfjord or a day-long bus tour, I say Trollstigen would make a great hiking/exploring day trip on its own.
I wish we had stayed at the , which is located between Geiranger and Trollstigen. This would have allowed us to see Geirenger, which is quite busy in the summer, then spend a quiet night in Valldal and explore Trollstigen the next day.
Alternatively, the closest town to Trollstigen is Åndalsnes, the “mountaineering capital” of Norway. Åndalsnes has accommodation options for every taste there, from the Grand Hotel Bellevue to the more economic Trollstigen Resort, which has camping options.