I had heard about this route after a few travel articles praised it as being one of best drives in the entire WORLD. Naturally – after having driven the epic Transfagarasan Highway in Romania – I added it to the top of my Norway itinerary.
Trollstigen – or Troll’s Ladder – is a winding road with hairpin turns up a cliffside surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, and lush greenery. It requires your full attention at all times, leaves passengers gripping the ‘Oh Sh*t’ handle, and you don’t breath much during the stretch.
But how does it compare to other roads in Norway and is it really worth the hype?
This road was number 1 on my must-do list during my 2 week trip through Norway. I planned my whole trip around it and went nearly 10 hours out of the way to drive it. Once at the top, gazing down and letting my stomach settle, I was extremely satisfied with the feat. It truly was an amazing view, a great drive, and worth the struggle. However, I couldn’t help but notice there were other nail biting, hair raising drives similar to it – maybe better? – en route.
For example, the ascent up road 55 from Skjolden toward Galdhøpiggen Mountain was intense. This winding beast took us by surprise and had everyone praying until the top. The views of Lustrafjord below and the alien terrain atop was just how we wanted to start our day.
The biggest competitor to Trollstigen was on the drive back from it. We had wanted to see Geirangerfjord, so we popped it in the GPS and headed south that way. Pretty soon we approached a birds eye lookout over the whole fjord, instantly taking our breath away. We couldn’t oggle for long because we were on the Ørnesvingen-eagle Road which dropped into plunging, one-lane, blind turns down the side of the mountain – cringier than what we had just experienced at Trollstigen. By the time we were at the bottom, we were pleasantly surprised with the show Norway had just put on for us.
So if Norway is full of these serpentine circuits, then why – or IS for that matter – Trollstigen rated the best?
I suppose in comparison to the others, it literally has all the best parts of Norway in one dramatic stretch. There are no trees to block the view or extra edge if you veer off. There are waterfalls tumbling next to the road that you dare not avert your eyes to. It climbs a sheer rockface at the very end of the fjords crevice, so once at the top you have full, unobstructed views of all the land. Not to mention it’s impossibly ideal for a photoshoot.
So was it my favorite? Actually no. I loved the Ørnesvingen-eagle Road and felt the views along with the complexity of the drive was superior. Was it worth the 10 hour detour to visit Trollstigen? Absolutely. I loved it still and wouldn’t have discovered any of the beautiful bits of the drive on the way there if we hadn’t included it in the itinerary.