Picture deep blue inlets knifing into snow-roofed mountains. Green countryside dotted with peaceful towns and villages. Now put yourself in the picture. You’re in fjord country, a breathtaking vertical expanse of fjord, mountain, and sky—and you can almost feel yourself soaring like the eagles overhead or patrolling the deep waters like the whales.
The stunning landscapes of Fjord Norway were created by a succession of ice ages, and since then the landscape has stayed pretty much the same. Fjord arms and their lacy waterfalls are accessible virtually everywhere you go. UNESCO has included the Norwegian fjord landscape, exemplified by places like Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, on its prestigious World Heritage List.
Fjord Norway is perfect for the adventurous traveler in search of great outdoor experiences, local culture, and fine food. There are any number of opportunities for hiking, kayaking, glacier walks, and many other activities. Ready to fall in love with the natural world? Head to Fjord Norway.
The changing seasons in the fjords make every time of the year a different experience. True, it’s a classic summer destination, but there’s also Norway’s spring-in-summer, an excitement not to be missed. It’s that time in early summer when you can feel the change in the air and the people, when nature and Norwegians alike are ecstatic about sun and warm weather, and everything returns to life after a long winter. The landscape opens up: Waterfalls thunder with snowmelt; the land turns green; fruit blossoms paint the orchards. Or come in fall and experience an explosion of autumn colors and enjoy the sweetness of fresh apples, pears, plums, cherries, and strawberries at local farms.
The most famous attractions in Fjord Norway, like Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord, are best savored in spring and autumn, when the crowds are gone and you can take in the spectacular sights in tranquility.
On the other hand, it’s been said that you haven’t seen the fjords until you’ve seen them in winter. The crispness of the air, the contrasting colors, the drama of changing weather and daylight heighten the senses and make the fjords even more spectacular. The landscape feels more original, more perfectly itself; it hearkens to the deep past of the Vikings and the time of Norse legends.
King of the Fjords
Norway’s longest and deepest fjord, Sognefjord will steal your breath and heart. The stats on this quintessential Norwegian place: 4,265 feet deep, mountains 5,570 feet high. But you have to be there to understand. Steep mountain walls shoot up from narrow Nærøyfjord arm, while other famous arms sparkle emerald-green from glacial meltwater. Add to the natural beauty a scattering of picturesque villages, and you’ll be clicking your shutter nonstop.
Do take time to look around one or two of those fjord villages. Places like Balestrand, Fjærland, Leikanger, and Vik each have their own distinctive history, culture, and personality. Balestrand has through the centuries been loved by artists, royals, and visitors. Perched beside the Fjærland fjord, Fjærland has a distinctive charm, as well as a fascinating glacier museum and ten bookshops that make it an “international Book Town.” Flåm, at the end of Aurlandsfjord is well known for its many outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, and kayaking. And don’t miss the Flåm railway, a gorgeous ride on a railroad that cuts through deep ravines and along towering mountains.
For an invigorating hike among the glaciers that feed the fjords, head to Jostedalsbreen National Park, half of which is covered by the largest glacier in mainland Europe.
Do Sognefjord in a Nutshell roundtrip by Fjord Tours, an ideal way to explore the area from mid-April through mid-October. You can go out for the day, or make it a longer excursion. The trip starts in beautiful Bergen, then proceeds by bus, train, and ferry (along with the locals), making stops en route in such places as Balestrand, Leikanger, Flåm, and Voss. It’s an easy and sustainable way to discover the fjord country. Attractions include the Sognefjord, the village of Flåm, and the Flåm railway, Take your time, get out and do things, and really get to know the fjord life.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
This new attraction at Nordfjord is a wonderful way to get out into the mountain air, even if you don’t ski. A cable car will whisk you from the fjord to the mountain in five to seven minutes. The ride itself is a thrill, and then from on high you have awe-inspiring vistas of fjord country and its snow-capped mountains. The stunning views of Nordfjord and Jostedalsbreen glacier are a photographer’s dream. In the summer you can hike to your heart’s content and discover magnificent viewpoints around every bend. Catch a bite in the restaurant and savor the scenery.
While in the area a visit to one of the glaciers near Lodalen—Briksdalsbreen and Bødalsbreen (an arm of Jostedalsbreen)—is a must.