Fjords In Norway
GEIRANGERFJORD FERRY TRIP – This king of fjords is a Unesco World Heritage site in Norway’s southwest and the 10-mile chug through it has to be one of the world’s loveliest ferry journeys. Long-abandoned farmsteads still cling to the fjord’s near-sheer cliffs, while ice-cold cascades tumble, twist and gush down to emerald-green waters.
KAYAKING NAEROYFJORD AND HARDANGERFJORD – Nordic Ventures runs guided tours, including one-day trips with lunch, overnight adventures with a chance to camp by the water’s edge, and three-day expeditions offering a combination of kayaking and hiking. The Voss-based company also rents kayaks if you’d rather strike out alone.
SPEED BOAT ON SOGNEFJORDEN – To see more of the fjords in less time, take an exhilarating scoot through parts of this vast fjord network in an inflatable boat (full-length waterproof kit supplied – you’ll need it). The trips, run by Fjord Safari in Flam, can include wildlife spotting, talks about the fjords’ heritage, or a village pitstop for cheese-tasting.
OTTERNES – This restored hamlet, high above the fjord between Flâm and Aurland, is a working farm and living museum. The oldest buildings date from the early 17th century and were lived in until the 1990s. There are tours and a cafe dishing up coffee, pancakes and rommegrot, a rich porridge served with cured meat.
TPREIKESTOLEN SHORT HIKE – With astonishingly uniform cliffs on three sides, plunging 604m to the fjord below, ’Pulpit Rock’ is one of southwest Norway’s most emblematic images. It’s an unrivalled fjord vantage point, with views directly up Lysefjord. The steep, two-hour, 2.4-mile trail leading there is well marked and leaves from Preikestolhytta Vandrerhjem. The final climb involves a scramble across granite slabs and along some windy cliffs (trail open all year).
AURLANDSDALEN VALLEY FOUR-DAY HIKE – This classic culture-rich and nature-abundant trek, from Geiteryggen to Aurland through a 25-mile glacial valley, follows a stream from source to sea and traverses one of the oldest trading routes between eastern and western Norway. The final section, from 0sterbo (820m) to Vassbygdi (95m), is the most scenic and also makes for a hugely enjoyable day hike (allow six to seven hours; trail open June-September).
URNES STAVE CHURCH – Norway’s oldest preserved place of worship perches in a sublime spot gazing out over Lustrafjord. The original church was built around 1130, while most of today’s structure was built a century later. Elaborate wooden carvings decorate the north wall, and ticket prices include an interesting 45-minute tour. To get here, take the hourly ferry from Solvom (open May-Sep; US$11).
BALESTRAND’S VIKING-AGE BARROWS – Just half a mile south from the small fjord-side holiday resort of Balestrand, excavation of a pair of barrows has revealed remnants of a Viking boat, two skeletons, jewellery and several weapons. One mound is topped by a statue of legendary King Bele, erected by Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II. Obsessed with Nordic mythology, he regularly spent his holidays here.
TRANSPORT – Norway’s fjords principally occupy the west and southwestern portion of the country, where there are airports at Flesland (Bergen), Sola (Stavanger) and Vigra (Alesund). BA flies from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur via London Heathrow to Bergen and Stavanger. Reach Alesund on KLM via Amsterdam. Norway has an extremely efficient public-transport system. Trains, buses and ferries are often timed to link with each other. The fjords are criss-crossed by an extensive network of car ferries, but expect long queues and delays in summer.
WHERE TO STAY – A beautiful old working farm, Westerns Gard sits high above Geiranger, and features two farmhouse apartments, five pine-clad cabins and a restaurant serving homegrown produce. Preikestolen Fjellstue’s newest lodge serves up local produce.
Preikestolen Fjellstue is a mountain lodge worthy of its natural surroundings, right at the trailhead to Pulpit Rock above Lysefjord. Options include stylishly simple lodge rooms and family cottages.
The historic wooden Utne Hotel was built in 1722 and offers smart, modern interiors, as well as older public spaces with beautiful original woodwork, enhanced by attractive antiques, local textiles and paintings.