Famous the world over thanks to multiple car television ads, the Atlantic Road (also called the Atlantic Ocean Road) is one of Norway’s most popular attractions. Linking the western coast of Averøy island with the mainland, the 8.3-kilometer (5.1-mile) stretch of Route 64 dances across skerries and islets interspersed with lookouts, fishing spots, and even the odd hotel. The most famous of the eight bridges is the sweeping Storseisundet, which seems to defy engineering logic from certain angles. In fact, the road was voted as Norway’s greatest engineering feat in 2005. If you never believed a road could look beautiful, think again.
As it is exposed to open ocean, the road can be struck by sudden changes in weather conditions. In fact, 12 European windstorms interrupted construction from 1983 to 1989. Be wary of driving during storms, as high waves can result in water sweeping across the bridges. On calm days, take advantage of the many parking areas to follow the trails around the islets and take in the road and its natural surroundings from all angles.
The road is a popular location for anglers and bird-watchers given its exposure to the ocean, the latter hoping to glimpse the mighty sea eagle. One of the bridges, Myrbærholmbrua, has been specially designed with a pedestrian walkway to better facilitate fishing. A great catch of cod is all but guaranteed even for just hobby fishers, so Myrbærholmbrua is usually bustling with anglers of all nationalities and experience levels.
It’s not just anglers who are attracted by the area’s unique characteristics. Divers too flock to the Atlantic Road to explore the region’s shipwrecks and remarkable life on the ocean floor. Certified divers can join a guided trip run by the experienced Strømsholmen Sjøsportsenter (Strømsholmen, tel. 71 29 81 74, daily). Prices vary from 250kr to explore the local reef up to 680kr for a long boat trip to canyons and a seal colony. The same company also offers kiting, kayaking, fishing, and biking experiences. A three-hour fishing trip (noon daily, but call in advance to check) costs 750kr plus equipment rental, but you are guaranteed to come back with a catch.
Food and Accommodations Along the Atlantic Road
There are few more atmospheric places to stay anywhere in Norway than the original fishing and trading islet now occupied by Håholmen Havstuer (tel. 71 51 72 50, mid-June to mid-Aug., 1,090kr s, 1,690kr d). Transfer from Håholmen Marina (Håholmen Gjestehavn), halfway along the Atlantic Road, is by boat with departures on the hour 11am-9pm. The 49 spacious double rooms are spread across 25 buildings that also include a pub, restaurant, and museum. Rooms can lack natural light, but the views out of the small windows and from the island itself are unbeatable.
Located on Averøy island, the wooden cabins of Atlanterhavsveien Sjøstuer (tel. 71 51 23 91) overlook the Atlantic Road and the open ocean. Two small cabins sleep two (990kr), while six cabins have enough room for up to six guests (1,400kr). A one-off cleaning charge of 500kr applies to both options. Three of the larger cabins come complete with a sauna. Despite their traditional appearance, the cabins are relatively new and are equipped with Wi-Fi, TV, stovetop, fridge, microwave, and dishwasher.
Food options in the area are largely restricted to expensive hotel restaurants with sporadic opening hours. Your best bet is to do some shopping in Kristiansund and bring a packed lunch or snacks to last the day. One recent addition to the Atlantic Road itself is Eldhuset (Lyngholmen, tel. 970 69 071), a simple café serving sandwiches, waffles, and coffee; it also doubles as a tourist information center. The modern structure is smartly built into a natural cliff so as not to disturb the aesthetics of the area, with a walkway circling Lyngholmen island. Opening times vary, but the typical schedule is daily June-August, weekends only during spring and fall.
Information and Services
Along with a café, the Eldhuset center contains public restrooms and maps that show the area’s hiking trails and best spots for fishing. Although the staff are connected with the café only, they are a mine of information and will happily help you out with advice if the café isn’t too busy. For more detailed travel planning help, contact the office of Destinasjon Kristiansund & Nordmøre (Kongens Plass 1, tel. 71 58 54 54, 9am-6pm Mon.-Sat., 9am-3pm Sun. mid-June to mid-Aug., 9am-3pm Mon.-Fri. rest of year) in Kristiansund.
Getting to the Atlantic Road
From Kristiansund, drive on westbound Route 64 through the Atlantic Ocean Tunnel (98kr car plus driver, plus 40kr for each additional passenger) to Averøy island. Spend time on the scenic island, which has some worthy distractions, or head straight through on Route 64 to the Atlantic Road. The 31-kilometer (19.3-mile) drive from Kristiansund to the Atlantic Road takes 35 minutes.
After the Atlantic Road, Route 64 continues south for 50 kilometers to the town of Molde, from where you can continue a further 58 kilometers (36 miles) along Route 64 to Åndalsnes, or 80 kilometers (50 miles) along the E39 to Ålesund. Both routes include a short trip on a car ferry from Fjord1 (tel. 57 75 70 00). From the Atlantic Road, allow around 2-2.5 hours to reach Åndalsnes and about 3 hours to reach Ålesund.
Options to reach the Atlantic Road without your own transport are limited, but Fram (tel. 71 28 01 00) runs several daily services from Kristiansund to Molde via the Atlantic Road. The buses are regular scheduled services and not sightseeing tours, so you will need to plan in advance how much time you want to spend at the road and plan your return accordingly. Alternatively, you can stay on the bus through to Molde to continue your journey south, although this will seriously limit the experience and likely leave you frustrated. The journey from Kristiansund takes around 50 minutes to arrive at the Atlantic Road and costs 150kr. The service does run on weekends but the frequency is much more limited.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Norway.