Aurland is beautiful! See our guide and add this town to your road trip

should i visit aurland aurlandfjord summer norway day trips hiking things to do

If you’re considering a road trip around Aurlandsfjord and the Norwegian countryside Aurland is the picture perfect town to base yourself. Aurland itself is is location only a 10 minute drive away from the popular town of Flam, and in our opinion is a better base to avoid the cruise ship crowds while still enjoying all of the natural beauty that the area has to offer. We spent a wonderful 2 days in Aurland exploring the fjords. Below is a summary of our top recommendations for things to do in the town and the great day trip options.



Things to do in Aurland – what we loved from our stay!

Being a small town there isn’t a whole heap to do in Aurland, but that’s part of the charm of the place. Plus the views from almost every angle are so incredible you’ll find more than enough entertainment in just looking out the window (or better yet getting out into nature) every chance you get.

Marianne Bakeri and Kafe: Enjoy a decent coffee with incredible views on the little terrace out the back. If a cafe back home had views like this it would be absolutely packed, but the beauty of coming to Aurland over Flam is far fewer tourists and therefore plenty of spots to perch and soak up the scenery. Might as well throw in one of their home made cinnamon buns while you’re at it – would be rude not to.

Try a sauna overlooking Aurlansfjord in Flam: After having fallen in love with sauna culture in Oslo, we decided to book another one overlooking the stunning Aurlandsfjord in Flam. At the time we visited there was also another sauna under construction in Aurland however it was a few weeks off being up and running. Desipte a couple of cruise ships in our line of sight, the experience was still magical. Once you’ve thawed out at a toasty 80 degrees Celsius you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the crystal clear arctic waters. The water was significantly colder than what we experienced in Oslo.

Have a meal at the one restaurant in Aurland: Yes, we warned you Aurland was small, but that’s part of the its charm right? We celebrated Ky’s birthday in the cute outdoor terrace at Vangsgaarden Gastropub which served up tasty food at relatively reasonable prices (by Norway’s standards). Majority of the menu revolves around seafood with some additional meat and vegetarian options available.

Picnics at cute view spots scattered around the town: Some of our best memories of our time in Aurland didn’t involve spending any money at all. We thoroughly enjoyed picking a cute little spot to stop, sit and take it all in. Whether we shared some snacks, took the opportunity to put the drone up or just use our ‘eye cameras’, we could never grow sick of that view. All along the town there are outdoors chairs and sometimes tables set up for waterfall watching (there’s always at least 1 waterfall within eye sight no matter where you are in the town). Drive a little further out along the road between Aurland and Skjerdal to get a slightly higher vantage point and really take in the enormity of where you are in the world.



Day trips near Aurland?

Aurland’s real appeal and why we chose it as a base for our road trip was its proximity to so many other cute towns and scenic roads. Below is a non-exhaustive list of some potential day trips you could consider taking from Aurland. Check our other day trip guides for more in-depth information about some of these places and other areas of Norway that we think are worth a visit.

Undredal: This ‘cute as a button’ township is a 30minute drive from Aurland (via Flam) and can be seen from across the fjord. Famous for its brown goats cheese it has a population of approximately 100 people and 400+ goats! We chose to spend a quiet night here, however you could very easily see the town in an afternoon. Its home to one of the smallest working churches and fire stations in Europe as well as a very cute little pier that we enjoyed sitting on and having a beer while we reminisced over our favourite parts of the trip to date.

The road most beautiful road.. Nasjonal turistveg Aurlandsfjellet: This will be one of the most beautiful road trip drives of your life. Connecting Aurland and Lærdal, this road trip takes between 1-2 hours, and is considerably longer than the underground tunnel, however it is well worth it! You will be treated to panoramic views, contrasting landscapes of snow, mountains, lakes, waterfalls and wildlife. We think this is a must do in Aurland. The road is normally open from the 1st of June to approx. 15th of October, so keep this in mind.

Bakka: Another tiny town 5 minutes down the road from Gudvangen… or maybe 15 minutes depending on if you get stopped by a herd of goats crossing the road like we did! It’s got more cute vantage points overlooking the fjord and is a common starting point for one for hikers to set off on one of the more popular hikes in the region. There is also some great camping spots by the fjord in Bakka.

Gudvangen: This one surprised us in a good way. We planned on only passing through it however managed to find a lovely little coffees shop and an incredible 360 panoramic view that treated us to 10+ waterfalls! There’s a viking museum that we didn’t venture into (bougee on a budge remember), but it looked decent from the outside at least. Being a ferry port there was an influx of tourists on their way through as the ferry unloaded, but it quickly settled down as everyone went on their way. Overall we would recommend included it in any day trip adventures if nothing else for the views, a quick rest break and someone to fill up on petrol along the way.

Flam: White its considered the ‘gateway’ to Norway’s fjord country and supposed the starting point to the popular ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour we’re calling it now, don’t bother. Aside from our sauna experience here which we very much enjoyed, the rest of the town feels like a tourist trap geared towards the cruise ship crowd. Prices were inflated, food and coffee average, and minimal attractions. A small drive further will open up much cuter towns with more substance like Aurland or Laerdal.

Laerdal valley and Laerdalsoya: At the end of the Aurlandsfjillet road (which was an experience in and of itself) you’ll come to the fjord village of Laerdalsoya which sits nestled in the Laerdal valley. It was once a bustling market place being positioned along a key mountain pass route and still has a few streets with incredibly well preserved wooden cottages. We felt as through we had stepped inside a time capsule as we wandered its old town. We also stopped at an excellent bakery Fredag & Fretland BakeryΒ for a savory spinach scroll that was to die for. After a delicious feed, drive another 30 minutes down the road to check our Borgund Stave Church, one of the best preserved old Viking ‘Churches’ dating back to 1180. We’re not usually that impressed by big old buildings but this one was something else!

Stegastein viewpoint. This beautiful wooden bridge sticks out over the mountain boasting panoramic views of Aurlandfjord below. While it is quite touristy, the view is worth it, and it’s an easy, free attraction in Aurland. You will need a car to get there, as its about 15 minutes out of town.



Should I stay in Flam or Aurland?

If you haven’t realized already, we much preferred Aurland to Flam (see above). We would definitely recommend Aurland over Flam, however always best to do your own research based on the sort of things that you enjoy doing on holidays and also taking into account how you plan to travel – Flam is home to the Flam railway making it easy to reach via train from Bergen, however to get the most our of Aurland and the surrounding area you really need access to a car.

Where to stay in Aurland?

We stayed in the beautiful Winjum Stegastein Hostel, and despite the ‘hostel’ in the name, this place delivered. Think of it more like shared guesthouses, however there’s numerous options for camping, apartments, or the shared houses. The views from the property are incredible, there’s free parking, and it’s close to most things (~3min drive from town). Book Winjum Hostel Stegastein here.

A few other excellent options in Aurland include:

 

Keen to travel more around Norway? See a few of our guides below..



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