No pictures can do them justice. Norway’s fjords have to be seen to be believed.
With their gigantic valleys, roaring waterfalls and quaint wooden farmhouses, the fjords in Norway are some of the most stunning natural landscapes on earth. In fact, two of the best fjords in Norway have been entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List, in recognition of their “outstanding universal value” for humankind.
But a visit to a Norwegian fjord doesn’t have to be all about soaking up the scenery. These monumental landforms are also the scene for some amazing cycling tours, as well unforgettable driving experiences. That’s not to mention exciting extreme sports such as climbing, rafting and canyoning.
Beyond this the fjords can act as a gateway to visitors who want to discover more of the authentic culture of Norway. Cruise up one of these mighty valleys and you’ll encounter many ancient churches and picturesque villages. Staying in one of these villages, with their old timbered houses and traditional ways of life, is the perfect way to experience the majestic landscapes of the fjords.
In this article, I’ll cover five of the best fjords in Norway, along with what to do and where to stay during your trip.
The Best Fjords in Norway
Geirangerfjord in Norway
The outstanding Geirangerfjord is one of only two in Norway that are UNESCO protected, and for good reason. The sight of this valley, with its steep forested slopes and crystal clear sparkling waters, is enough to take your breath away making it one of the best fjords to visit in Norway.
Particularly stunning are the many waterfalls that line the side of the fjord; keep a look out for the most famous ones, such as the “Seven sisters”, “The suitor” or “The Bridal Veil”.
If you’re taking a cruise down Geirangerfjord, you should also look out for the abandoned cottages that cling to the valley’s sides. These precarious dwellings are a testament to the hardy nature of Norwegians, and their ability to thrive even in the most difficult conditions!
What to Do and See Near Geirangerfjord in Norway
Take a detour to the nearby Trollstigen mountain pass, a winding road that offers the driving experience of a lifetime. The route includes a series of hairpin bends, as well as thrashing waterfalls, as you climb up a lofty viewpoint out over the valley below.
Alternatively, take some time to explore the unique town of Ålesund at the mouth of the Geirangerfjord. The town was completely rebuilt in art nouveau style at the turn of the 20th century, giving it a charming resemblance to a fairytale kingdom.
The Best Hotel Near Geirangerfjord in Norway
Hotel Union Geiranger is one of the best hotels near Geirangerfjord in Norway. It overlooks the Geirangerfjord and offers a mixture of luxury and practicality. Amenities include spa facilities, a rooftop garden and a vintage car museum. There’s even a heated outdoor pool. The best thing about this hotel, however, has to be the fjord views that greet you when you open your curtains in the morning.
Sognefjord is the country’s deepest and longest fjord, stretching for a staggering 204 kilometers, making it one of the best fjords in Norway to visit.
Named the ‘King of the Fjords’, and has also been hailed as “the world’s most iconic destination” by the National Geographic Traveller magazine.
The area is known for its national parks, and Sognefjord is a great place to visit in Norway for an active holiday. The Jotunheim national park offers particularly good hiking opportunities, with pristine nature and awe-inspiring views wherever you turn.
Travelers can also try out glacier walking at the nearby Jostedalsbreen national park. Children as young as six can take part in guided tours to Jostedalsbreen’s magical blue-ice caves – while more challenging routes are available for serious climbers.
There’s something here for history and culture buffs too, as Sognefjord region boasts a number of impressive wooden stave churches, each dating back to the 12th century.
What to See and Do Near Sognefjord Norway
A scenic ride on the Flåm railway should be top of every traveller’s list when visiting the Sognefjord. This hour-long rail journey carries you up from the town of Flåm up to the mountain heights of Myrdal Station – and has been named as “one of the best train journeys in the world” by Lonely Planet.
Situated in green and pleasant surroundings, the town of Lærdal is also a wonderful place to spend a few days in Norway. This farming and fishing community boasts an old town with houses dating back to the 16th and 17th century.
The Best Hotel In Sognefjord Norway
The Kviknes Hotel occupies a stunning location by the waters of the Sognefjord, and has been welcoming guests for more than 135 years making it one of the best hotels in Sognefjord. This hotel was built in the Swiss style, which fits perfectly with its beautiful and mountainous surroundings. Rooms that are stylish and comfortable, and there are a range of hikes and cycle routes to explore in the local area.
Although Næroyfjord is a tributary of the Sognefjord, it deserves to be treated as a destination in its own right and one of the best fjords in Norway.
This scenic fjord was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005, along with Geirangerfjord, in recognition of its value to humankind. The valley narrows down to only 250 metres at some points, which makes a cruise down the Næroyfjord into an especially thrilling experience. Either side of the fjord, steep mountains rise up to more than 1,400 meters tall, giving you a sense of the awe-inspiring beauty of nature.
What to See and Do Near Næroyfjord in Norway
Ever wondered what it’s like to live as a viking? At the Njardarheimr Viking Village, you can find out! Hear about Norway’s famous warriors, find out more about how they lived, and try your hand at a spot of archery or even axe-throwing. This has to be the most enjoyable history lesson you’ll ever experience.
Another of the excellent things to do in the Næroyfjord region is sea kayaking. You can explore the length of this breath-taking fjord by kayak – with some tour companies even offering camping by the waterside.
The Best Hotel Near Næroyfjord in Norway
The Stalheim Hotel is sheltered in the green and pleasant Næroy valley, bordered on both sides by soaring mountains. This beautiful and peaceful setting has been an inspiration for many artists over the years and is one of the best hotels near Næroyfjord in Norway.
The hotel offers a range of well-furnished rooms, a good-quality restaurant, and a spacious garden terrace. Better still, it’s located right next to the Stalheim Folk Museum, where you can discover cultural and artistic treasures from many periods including Norway’s middle ages.
Nordfjord – One of the Best Fjords in Norway
Sandwiched between Sognefjord and Geirangerfjord lies another wonderful destination for lovers of scenery and active holidays – Nordfjord. This fjord encompasses a range of environments, from sandy beaches to towering mountains to rolling green hills. On its way inland, it journeys past a range of ancient Norwegian settlements as well as one of the country’s best national parks.
Ice and snow rule supreme in the Jostedalsbreen national park, where mighty glaciers carve up the landscape. These huge landmarks are well worth exploring, whether on foot, by kayak or even by troll-car (see “What to see and do” section).
Then of course, there’s the food; Nordfjord is famed for its tasty local ingredients, including freshly-caught fish, handmade ribs and sausages, as well as fruit and berries from mountainside farms. These delicacies can be sampled at one of the fjord’s many excellent restaurants.
What to See and Do Near Nordfjord in Norway
Looking for an adventure holiday in Norway? Try the Loen region at the far end of the Nordfjord. The star attraction here is the Loen Skylift, one of the world’s steepest cable-car rides, which takes you soaring up to the top of Mount Hoven. Once at the top, you have a choice of guided hikes, skiing tours, toboggan rides and even the famed ‘Via Ferrata’ climbing route. Here, experienced mountaineers can test their mettle by crossing a swinging rope bridge high above the valley below.
For something a little more sedate, you can take a ride in a “troll-car” (a bit like an open-topped safari vehicle) to the foot of the impressive Briksdal glacier, which tumbles down the steep Briks valley like a gigantic, frozen waterfall.
The Best Hotel Near Nordfjord in Norway
Head to the Hjelle Hotel, a traditional establishment that has been run by the same family since 1896. Classically-furnished, with a great menu, this hotel offers all the comfort you need after a day of hiking. With its calm location by the side of the Oppstrynsvatnet fjord, and a good selection of couples’ rooms, this would be the perfect romantic retreat and one of the Best Hotel Near Nordfjord in Norway!
Lysefjord in Norway
If you’re after wild and craggy, Lysefjord in Norway’s southern region is the place to go. This magnificent valley is home to sights that attract tourists from all over the world. One of the Lysefjord’s main attractions is Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), a stone viewing platform that juts out into the air, many hundreds of metres over the fjord below.
Adventurous travellers can also hike to the Kjerag Bolt, a huge boulder that is wedged between two sheer cliff walls. Or, attempt the Flørli stairs – at an incredible 4,444 steps, this is one of the longest wooden staircases in the world. If your calves can stand it, the view from the top is well worth the climb.
What to See and Do Near Lysefjord in Norway
One of the Lysefjord region’s best attractions is the large and cosmopolitan city of Stavanger, located at the fjord’s mouth.
Norway’s third-largest settlement is known as the country’s “Oil City”, due to the vast oil reserves found off the coast here, but it has also reinvented itself as a cultural hub. With a first-rate collection of museums and art galleries, Michelin-starred restaurants, and a lovely old town full of quaint wooden buildings, you’ll be spoilt for choice with a visit to Stavanger.
If you want to head into nature instead, you could try one of the many guided tours around the Lysefjord area – these include a horse-riding adventure, kayaking and camping tours, and much, much more.
Where to stay near Lysefjord
For convenience and comfort when exploring the Lysefjord area, choose the Lilland Brewery Hotel in the town of Tau. This family-run hotel is perfectly located, with both regular ferries departing for the big city of Stavanger, and buses taking you to the start of the Preikestolen hike during summer. With traditional Norwegian cooking, pleasant rooms and free WiFi, this is an excellent base for discovering one of Norway’s best fjords.
About the Author: Ben Steele
Ben spent his childhood in London, and has until recently been living in Brighton on the south coast of England. He and his family relocated to the small town of Kristiansund in Norway in August 2017. He is currently working as a freelance writer and social media manager, while planning further adventures around Scandinavia and the world.
You can read more articles by Ben right here in the near future, or on his blog.
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