Photograph by Paul Edmundson/Fjord Norway

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Preikestolen: The view of Pulpit Rock overlooking the Lysefjord. Easy to reach from Stavanger.

Photograph by Paul Edmundson/Fjord Norway

Home of the Viking Kings

Launch your fjord exploration from Norway's coastal cities and towns.

From small towns to small cities, Fjord Norway’s coastal communities make perfect locations for immersing yourself in Fjord country/the fjordlandscape. Each town has its own unique and welcoming atmosphere, so feel free to dive right into local culture and cuisine. Once safe havens for sailing ships, these towns continue to thrive as ports for international trade. With the town as a base, and the natural world right at your doorstep, get out into the fjord country you’ve been longing to see. Spring and Summer evenings back in town, you’ll have a wide choice of concerts, festivals, and dining options.

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Vågen, the harbor in Stavanger. Site of the Gladmat (Happy Food) Festival and starting point for excursions to the Pulpit Rock and Lysefjord.

Urban Nature Break

Start your tour in Stavanger, food capital of the fjords. This delightful, compact city has everything you to need to convince you of the magic of Norway. Start off in the old part of town, where you’ll admire the many white wooden houses. Be sure to check out the museums and galleries. Stavanger is also known for its Nuart (street art), with an annual festival in late summer and possibilities for guided tours. Then, yes, the food. You’ll be tempted by the local lamb, halibut, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Dining possibilities include the Michelin-starred Re-naa and Sabi Omakase, both excellent restaurants. If you’re here in late July, take in the aromas and flavors of the Gladmat Food Festival.

You need another day in the area, because you’ll want to head out to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) for absolutely stunning views. On a stone pedestal nearly 2,000 feet above Lysefjord, you can behold a vast sweep of fjord-sliced landscape. (For those who want to combine the hike with a Fjord Cruise, company Rødne offers Cruise and Hike tours; or for more a relaxing day you can observe the spellbinding rock from the Lysefjord.) Another amazing clifftop experience awaits at nearby 3,700-foot-high Kjerag, a more challenging hike.

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Take a liking to a Viking at Norway’s oldest royal seat at Avaldsnes.

Home of the Vikings

A couple of hours north lies Haugesund, a youthful town of 35,000 people. Jazz lovers flock to the Sildajazz festival in August to hear local and international talent. Interested in history? This is the area where Harald the Fairhaired set up a kingdom in the late 9th century. He was a little heavy-handed for some locals, but you can learn all about him and other early seafaring warriors in the adjacent village of Avaldsnes on the island of Karmøy, known for its long, white beaches. Site of Norway’s oldest throne, Avaldsnes now hosts the Viking Festival in June, where you’ll encounter a number of “Vikings” at a reconstructed village.

If you have time, try to make an excursion to Røvær or Utsira islands. These are perfect getaways for hiking, kayaking, and absorbing the peaceful life of a small Norwegian community. For a farther excursion, head out to Åkrafjord and its lovely 2,000-foot Langfoss waterfall.

World Heritage and Cultural Experiences

A city of modern culture and small-town charm, Bergen boasts any number of art venues, cultural happenings, and opportunities for savoring local cuisine. It was founded more than nine centuries ago and became the northernmost outpost of the Hanseatic League, an important European trade and defense confederation. Pop down to Bryggen (the “Hanseatic Wharf”), designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and get a whiff of the Middle Ages as you stroll among the pubs, craft shops, museums, and restaurants.

Take a tram or bus over to Troldhaugen museum, home of composer Edvard Grieg; enjoy a lunchtime concert; and be sure to check out the lakeside writing hut. Experience the four buildings of the KODE Art Museums, with their innovative and exciting exhibitions, installations, and videos, including one of the top Edvard Munch collections and a fine exhibition of Nikolai Astrup.

Bergen’s music scene runs from club bands to the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. And don’t forget that Bergen has several renowed restaurants, with focus on local produce and, of course, fresh fish.

Bergen is the perfect starting point to explore the Sognefjord and the Hardangerfjord. For a day trip or longer stay in this lovely landscape, you can easily arrange it with Fjord Tours.

Adventure Capital

For a Norwegian fairytale of a town, head up to Ålesund. The colorful art nouveau architecture, with its spires and flourishes, is a constant eye-pleaser. Explore what may be Norway’s most beautiful city by foot, kayak, or bike. A short walk up to viewpoint Aksla gives a stunning view of the city, the coastline, and also the mountains of the fjord landscape.

Then head out into the jaw-dropping countryside—rugged mountains rising 6,500 feet from sapphire-blue fjords, refreshing lakes, and highland farms create a compelling Nordic canvas.

Venture into the fjordscape with a visit to Geirangerfjord, with its plunging waterfalls and lush greenery clinging to sheer cliffs; the bird sanctuary island of Runde; or the spectacular summits of Hjørunfjord the snow-topped Sunnmørsalpene.

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Driving along one of the National Scenic Routes such as Trollstigen gives travelers both natural and cultural experiences

Two Small Cities and the World’s Most Stunning Roads

The two coastal towns Molde and Kristiansund are strategically located close to the Norwegian Scenic Routes Geiranger-Trollstigen and Atlanterhavsvegen.

The Atlantic Road has National Tourist Route status, and the entire stretch between Bud and Kristiansund is one continuous experience packed with coastal scenery, culture, and history. The contrasts between a trip on a sunny and tranquil summer day and a foam-sprayed journey in a northwestern storm are huge. But whether the ocean is flat calm or cascading over the road, the Atlantic Road experience will give you memories for life.

As one of the most famous National Tourist Routes, Trollstigen (“The Trolls Road”) is a visual feast. If you see it from the right height and angle, you can feel the view hit you in your stomach.

Molde faces south towards the Romsdalsfjord and has a view of the 222 mountain peaks in the Molde Panorama. Kristiansund is one of Norway’s most distinctive towns, with its post-war architecture on four different islands. In Kristiansund you’ll find Norway’s oldest opera and in Molde a renowned annual jazz festival.

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