Rallarvegen lets you set your own pace through 82 kilometres of mountainous scenery. No wonder it’s Norway’s most popular cycle route.
Following the outskirts of the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, Rallarvegen (the navvie’s road) leads you along the Bergen Railway Line from Haugastøl via Finse, Hallingskeid, Myrdal and all the way down to Flåm by the Sognefjord, or to Voss, located in-between the Sognefjord and the Hardangerfjord. The route was first opened for cycling in 1974, and the last few years about 25,000 cyclists from Norway and abroad find their way here each year. You can cycle the whole distance in one day, or you can spend a few days and really see the sights along the road. There is always an option to cycle only parts of the distance according to your own desires.
The construction route known as Rallarvegen was originally designed for transporting materials during the building of the most mountainous sector of the Oslo–Bergen railway line. Today, the road is a cultural and historical monument where you will discover painstakingly detailed work in stone and earth, line inspectors’ houses of high architectural standard, and scenery that spans from tall mountains and glaciers via high waterfalls and wild rivers to lush valleys and fjord views.
The best time to cycle Rallarvegen is from mid-July to the end of September. In the high season and on weekends it is wise to pre-book rental bikes, train tickets and accommodation. Bicycle rental is available at Haugastøl, Finse, and Myrdal. You can return the bicycle in Flåm.
If you’re travelling with children – or are afraid of hights – note that Rallarvegen is pretty steep at times, and that the road is largely unsecured and not always in the best condition. You will also have to cycle through some snow-covered stretches. Make sure to bring spare breakpads and necessary equipment in case of a puncture, as well as clothes for all types of weather.
Geilo is a great starting point for the trip, and it is easy to get to Rallarvegen from Oslo or Bergen. There are a number of private hotels and mountain lodges along the route, as well as plenty of options for wildlife camping.
This stretch is recommended if you’re bringing children, as the road is in good condition. Rallarvegen starts by the Haugastøl Tourist Centre, close to the Haugastøl train station. Here, you can rent bikes or buy a bike rental package. The cycle route from Haugastøl to Finse rises 222 metres through scenic nature, with plenty of cultural artifacts from the time when the Bergen railway line was built. At Finse, you can take a guided tour on Hardangejøkulen glacier, and a visit to the Rallar Museum is mandatory.
At Finse, the highest point along the Bergen railway line, you can see the ice cap and icefalls of the Hardangerjøkulen glacier. Don’t be suprised if snow covers parts of the road well into the autumn, and be aware that some of the road is in poor condition. The route takes you into the Hardangervidda National Park and up to Lake Fagervatnet (1,343 masl), Rallarvegen’s highest point. From here, there is more or less downhill all the way to Flåm. At Fagernut, you can stop and explore the exhibition on display and taste “Rallarvafler” (waffles) and “Sluskesuppe” (soup).
Along this part of the route, the high mountain scenery changes gradually into the wilder and steeper landscape of the western part of the country. Between Hallingskeid and Myrdal, the railway creeps along a mountain shelf, a stretch troubled by avalanches during the winter months. The road follows a narrow shelf, so be careful – unmount your bike and walk. You also have to decide if you want to carry on to Myrdal and Flåm, or if you’d rather take the route to Voss.
From Vatnahalsen, a steep run through 21 hairpin bends will take you down to the Flåmsdalen valley. We strongly advise that you get off your bike at the steepest parts of the hairpin bends, as the road is rocky and in poor condition in places. From the upper part of the Flåmsdalen valley, there is a pleasant winding road down to Flåm. The Flåmsdalen valley opens up to show you steep mountains, vertical waterfalls, fast-flowing rivers and green valley terrain. Enjoy the ride, stop and look back, listen to the sounds of nature, and enjoy the streams of crystal clear water and the fresh air.
From Myrdal you can choose the route to Voss instead of cycling down to Flåm. Take the local train from Myrdal to Uppsete, where you continue along Rallarvegen to Mjølfjell. From there, follow the standard road to Voss.
Stay a few days and walk the Aurlandsdalen valley or the Royal Post Road along the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord. From Bakka at Gudvangen, you can hike up the Rimstigen path to Rimstigfjellet mountain (1,296 masl), where you have a great view of the Nærøyfjord. Join a fjord cruise, rent a kayak or take a swim in the fjord. Or you can go on a journey with the Flåm railway, one of the world’s most beautiful train rides.
Rallarvegen is an incredible place to explore, with untamed mythical landscapes, mountains, valleys, and fjords. Cycling the route varies from easy to difficult, and you need to be in average shape. Remember that some parts of Rallarvegen go through challenging terrain – step off the bike and walk if necessary.
From Bergen and Geilo, you can take the scenic Bergen railway to Finse, Myrdal, or Haugastøl.
From Oslo, there are several daily train departures for Finse and Myrdal.
From Flåm, you can travel by train To Myrdal, Finse and Haugastøl.
Check out NSB’s webpage for prices and timetables.
Express and local buses traffic the area. More information on NOR-WAY Bussekspress’ official website.
From Oslo and Bergen, there are daily flights to Sogndal Airport, from which there are bus departures to Sogndal. From Sogndal, you can travel by bus and express boat to Flåm.
Norway is a country of outstanding natural beauty, with dramatic waterfalls, crystal clear fjords, and majestic mountains and glaciers. Preserving this landscape, its communities, and the way of life is essential.
Norwegian philosophy is that conservation is everyone’s responsibility. Enjoying nature and the outdoors is considered a national pastime, and this is reflected in our attitude towards the preservation and our use of the wilderness.
Whether it’s hiking in the mountains or biking on an idyllic forest road, Norwegians try to leave as small a footprint as possible. Leave it as you would like to find it is the mantra, regardless of whether you are a guest in nature or in a small fishing village.
Quality of life is what it is all about, not only now, but for the time to come as well. It’s about recognizing that everybody else are just as important as ourselves, and taking steps to implement that thought in all aspects of life. It’s neither easy nor quickly done. But it is definitely worth it.