It’s the weekend. Your schedule is open. You want to go on an adventure. Preferably one that lets you get a taste of the wonderful Norwegian scenery and culture that abound in these parts. You don’t want to spend money on a hotel, so you decide on just a day trip. Now where to go?
If you are looking to get out of the Stavanger area for the day, try taking a mini-road trip to Lysebotn.
Lysebotn is a tiny town at the veeeery tip of the Lysefjord and is often cited as one of the most breathtaking places in all of Europe. The journey to get there is beautiful too, even on rainy days! You’ll get to see some great views of the fjords, try some traditional Norwegian food, wander through quaint little villages, drive on harrowing yet fantastic roads, and get stopped by the occasional wandering herd of sheep. Not too bad for a single day!
The drive straight to Lysebotn and back is about 4 hours, but there is plenty to do along the way to stretch your legs and extend the trip. It is recommended that you do the trip between June and October, as some of the main roads are closed due to snow the rest of the time. This is also a great trip to do with visitors!
Here is a great itinerary to help get your planning started:
Take the E39 south until you pass Ålgård then turn left onto the 45 towards Sirdal. You will get some spectacular views of the fjords as well as a feel for the quaint little towns that dot the rural landscape of this area. Follow the signs to Månafossen (about 1 hour into the trip).
Månafossen Falls and Mån Farm
Månafossen Falls is one of the top 10 tallest free falling waterfalls in Norway. It’s a short, but steep hike up wooden stairs to get from the parking lot to the Falls.
If it isn’t raining, this is a wonderful place to stop for a picnic lunch. You can continue to explore the outdoors if you like and hike above the falls towards the historic Mån farm. You can read more about Månafossen in another article here.
From Månafossen, backtrack back to highway 45, continue East and you will run smack dab in to Byrkjedalstunnet in about 20 minutes.
Don’t miss stopping at Byrkjedalstunnet. You can read about it in detail here, but in summary it is a quaint little old dairy/candle factory turned into hotel/shop/restaurant. If you didn’t stop for lunch at Månafossen, you can try some traditional Norwegian food here, or just enjoy some ice cream and treats! The candle shop is well worth a look-around, especially since it has much more than just candles. Kids can try their hand at dipping their own candles and it’s a great place to get some early Christmas shopping in.
From Byrkjedalstunnet, continue East on the 45 for about an hour and a half towards Sirdal. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for all the hydroelectric power developments you can spot along the way!
You will pass right by Sirdal on your way to Lysebotn. Sirdal is primarily a ski town/resort in the winter, but there are a few fun things to check out in the summer, including another waterfall, the Tonstad Power station, and an old viking burial site. Check out the full list of ideas here! Once you’ve had your fill, continue on the 45 East towards Lysebotn.
This is where the awesome part of the road trip really kicks in. Seriously. The stretch of road between Sirdal and Lysebotn is often cited as one of the most magnificent roads in Europe. The views are fantastic, but the drive is a bit harrowing at times! Parts of the road are only wide enough for one vehicle so it takes a wary eye and careful maneuvering to navigate through with cars going in the opposite direction. Don’t be afraid to pull off on some of the turn offs along the way for great views and photo-ops. A little ways into the drive, you will drive across some barren mountaintops covered for miles in little rock stacks called cairns. It’s really quite eerie, as nobody knows for sure why there are there and how they got started. Definitely stop for a bit to build your own and add it to the collection!
When you are almost to Lysebotn, you will arrive at a parking lot right at the edge of the fjord. Overhanging the edge of the cliff is Øygardstøllen, or the Eagle’s Nest, a restaurant/overlook. From the lookout you can get a great view of both the Lysefjord and Lysefjord down at the bottom. Also of note, you can begin your hike to Kjeragbolten from the parking lot as well…but that’s another day.
From the parking lot, you begin a roller coaster of a drive 932m down the steep side of the fjord. The road is famously known as Lysevegen, or the Lysebotn Road, and it has been said that it is one of the most fun roads you can drive on 4 wheels (it’s a can’t-miss for motorcyclists too!). It has 27 hairpin switchbacks, 3 of which are inside a 1.1 km tunnel. It’s truly magnificent!
For being surrounded by famous tourist attractions, Lysebotn really is tiny. You can unwind from the road in one of the little coffee shops, take a guided kayak tour, or, for the really adventurous, sign up for beginning base jumping classes. Mostly it’s a quaint and quiet little town where you can just take in the beautiful scenery surrounding you.
When you’ve had your fill of the scenery, you can either turn around and head back up the Lysebotn road the way you came or, if you have arrived in time, you can take the Lauvvik ferry back. We recommend the latter! The last car/tourist ferry leaves at 18:00 from May until October. It’s a bit pricey (around 500 nok for a vehicle) but it’s a great way to end your trip! It takes you all the way back through the Lysefjord and you’ll have the chance to see Kjeragbolten and Preikestolen from below, as well as learn about some of the history of the area from the guides. You might even get to see some seals!
The ferry takes you to Lauvvik, where you can take Rv13 straight back to Sandnes and then the E39 back to Stavanger.
The great thing about this trip is that it can be completely tailored to suit your needs and can last anywhere from 4 hours to several days depending on how much you want to see and do. It’s a fantastic way to get out of the city to see the countryside and get a taste of the local culture.
Happy road tripping!