A Norwegian Road Trip

Brian Jones/February 17, 2013

In 2002, the government of Norway launched a program to attract more visitors to their 18 scenic highways designated as “National Tourist Routes” by building a variety of architectural overlooks and rest stops along the way. The 18-year project has already built nearly 120 sites that have been designed by Norway’s best architects.

The estimated cost of the project is more than $375 million, a huge endorsement for design from a government who understands the long-term value it can add to the country. While the primary purpose is to draw visitors out to enjoy the nature, the architectural sites enhance that experience while showcasing the countries architectural and engineering talent throughout the country in remarkable ways.

Shortly after moving to Sweden I visited my new neighbor, taking a drive along the west coast of Norway to visit several of the sites. That trip left such an impression that it still inspires me to this day. Here is a selection of photos from that trip to encourage you to put Norway high on your travel destination list.

National Tourist Routes in Norway

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Sohlbergplassen is a scenic picnic area and viewing platform that overlooks Rodane National Park, the oldest national park in Norway. The elevated cement structure winds its way through the pine trees as if it were floating in the forest. (architect: Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk)

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Storseisundet Bridge is the longest of 8 bridges along Atlanterhavsvegen (the Atlantic Road) that arch over the islets connecting several small islands. The 850ft cantilever bridge has been nicknamed, “the bridge to nowhere” because of the optical illusion it creates as you’re driving over it.

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Trollstigen (troll’s ladder) is a winding mountain road made up of 11 hairpin turns and a 9% grade. There’s a remarkable overlook and visitors center at the top with views of the valley and the road far below. (architect: Reiulf Ramstad Architects)

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Gudbrandsjuvet is a gorge not far from Trollstigen were a winding elevated path connects a beautiful café to a platform where you can look down at the swirling water beneath you. (architects: Jensen and Skodvin)

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Stegastein has become one of the more well known sites to visit. The arched wooden platform hangs 100′ over the edge of a cliff with unobstructed views of the Aurlandfjord that’s 2100′ below. (Architects: Todd Saunders/Tommie Wilhelmsen)

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The Lærdal Tunnel is the longest road tunnel in the world at 15.25 miles long. At four points in the tunnel there are domed caves that serve as rest points. The caves are lit in soothing colors to give drivers a rest and break up the routine to keep them attentive during the more than 20 minute drive.

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Dalsnibba is a nearly 5000 ft peak with fantastic views of the Geiranger valley (when the weather is clear). The peak often has snow on it all year round.

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A few extra shots from the road, including Jostedalsbreen (the largest glacier in Norway).

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