Norway’s wild and dramatic Norangsdal Valley is the country’s narrowest: Highway 655 slicing through the middle closes in winter due to avalanches that tumble down the mountain slopes, leaving the road impassable for several months.
When the road is passable, it runs through some of the country’s most stunning scenery, with mountains that rise steeply from the valley floor and are capped by glacial remnants, from which stream countless waterfalls.
Begin your journey near the down-in-the-mouth town of Hellesylt, which you won’t be sad to leave. At around five kilometers in, near the gorgeous Villa Norangdal Hotel, the valley narrows to a pinch-point barely wide enough for the road to slice through. Roll down your windows if it’s a nice day; the sound of waterfalls tumbling from high above will accompany your trip.
You’ll pass flocks of sheep and goats trotting among historic mountain pastures, though most of the farming here has been long abandoned for more forgiving terrain. At 10 kilometers, pull over to glimpse turf-roofed cabins once occupied by milkmaids in summer. A roadside plaque talks about their lives here. At 13 kilometers, pull off to your right along the emerald waters of lake Lyngstøylvatnet, created when a rock slide dammed a stream in the valley in 1908. You can still see the submerged remnants of the farmhouses that once stood in the valley. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot scuba divers investigating the ruins up close.
The valley yawns open near the town of Øye, at the tip of the Norangsfjord. Bright green pastures skirt the base of impressive mountains, and traditional clapboard houses painted in bright red and pristine white line the road. Stop for a coffee break at the Hotel Union Øye before continuing on to the end of the road at the minuscule town of Leknes along the inky Hjørundfjord. The road passes charming fjord-side homes looking out over the scenery and ends at a small ferry terminal. Here, you’ll have nearly panoramic views of the fjords and the steep, knife-ridge peaks that rise precipitously from the water. You’ll be hard-pressed to leave this spot.
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