The Fjord Norway region has carved a reputation for being one of the most breathtaking places on Earth. While the fjords themselves are a sight for sore eyes, the nooks and crannies that lie beyond the valleys of these mythic natural wonders are brimming with history, culture and more adventure. If you’re on the hunt for the most amazing travel experiences in the Norwegian fjords — read on to find out exactly where you can find them.
Read the article: Best Ways to See Norway’s Fjords
Discover music, movies and Viking culture in Haugesund
In southwest Norway, where the North Sea crashes against ancient fjords you’ll find the region of Haugesund. Purveyors of film and music will delight in the numerous festivals that take place here, and travellers obsessed with history or Vikings shows on Netflix can relive the story of these mighty Scandinavian warriors.
Haugesund is a great starting point for anyone that wants to explore this stretch of stunning coast. To the north of Haugesund, you’ll find the Folgefonna glacier and the mountain formation of Preikestolen in the south.
Haugesund is a tranquil and charming coastal town and becomes full of energy and life while hosting numerous festivals throughout the year, and the most significant of them is the Norwegian International Film Festival and the Sildajazz Festival. Viking history is especially important to this region as well – the royal bloodline can be traced back to the Haugesund region. One of the best places to explore Viking roots is Avaldsnes at Karmøy Island.
- Visit the idyllic island of Utsira. In just over an hour-long ferry ride from Haugesund, you’ll find yourself in a bird-watching haven. Even more surprisingly, you’ll also see street art by artists from all over the world – and make sure you take a hike out to the lighthouse for the great views across the sea.
- On Karmøy, visit Norway’s most beautiful beach: Åkrasanden. Then explore the picturesque ship town of Skudeneshavn before seeing the History Centre and Viking Farm at Avaldnes – this is where Norway was united into one kingdom.
How to get there:
Drive past Stavanger and hop on a ferry over the Boknafjord to get to Haugesund. After exploring the main city, set out for the islands of Utsira and Røvær by boat, and use the bridge from the mainland to get to Karmøy.
Recommended tour: Norwegian Fjords Explorer
Trace ancient coast living in FjordKysten
A little north of Bergen lies the Coast of Fjords. Shaped over thousands of years, surrounded by nature, mountains, pristine beaches and fjords, you’ll find some of the most authentic Norwegian experiences here.
For centuries, people lived along the coast of Norway, and it’s still possible to trace the history of those communities. The country’s largest petroglyph fields are at Vingen in Bremanger and Ausevika in Florø – here the rocks are imbibed with stories, pictures and messages as old as time.
You’ll find other things to behold among the Norwegian rocks. At Utvær in Solund, which is the westernmost point in Norway you can still see the markings of where Vikings sharpened their swords. In Gulen, there’s a sculpture park to commemorate The Gulating – the largest regional parliamentary gathering from the Middle Ages.
Long ago, the sea shaped life on the coast, which is why fishing villages of different sizes emerged along here. From the 1800s onwards, the abundance of herring led to a booming fishing industry and the establishment of Norway’s westernmost city – Florø – a blissful settlement from where you can hop on a ferry to the island paradise of Solund.
- Solund is comprised of 1700 islands, islets and skerries and is where the fjords meet the open sea. Explore this beautiful area by island hopping with the local post boat, or choose the more active option of kayaking.
- The naturally-beautiful and historical island of Kinn – easily accessed from Florø – is a popular excursion. You’ll find hiking experiences, a Romanesque-style church that dates back to the 1100s and the famous sailing landmark: Kinnaklova mountain.
- The Mill Stone Park in Hyllstad is an outdoor museum in the largest stone quarry landscape from the Viking period and Middle Ages in Northern Europe. Here you will experience another side of history and come to learn about Vikings as skilled craftsmen and traders!
How to get there:
You can visit Fjordkysten by taking the express boat from Bergen, with the iconic Hurtigruten, or arrive via bus from Norway’s largest cities.
Recommended tour: Majestic Norwegian Fjords
Eat your heart out in Nordfjord
Nordfjord is a traditional region of Norway where you can take your tastebuds on an adventure of their own. Encompassing the municipalities of Stryn, Gloppen, Stad, Bremanger, Volda and Kinn – the Nordfjord region has a long-established practice of folk music, arts, and crafts. Food and clothes traditions are integral to the country’s rich heritage.
Along with culture, there’s the promise of mountains that plunge straight into the sea, glaciers and cascading waterfalls that make for some epic outdoor activities like hiking (there are more than 230 walking trails in the area), glacier walking, biking and even surfing – but all of it is served with a side of Norwegian food.
- Break bread on the edge of a cliff overlooking the landscape from 1011m (3316ft) above fjord level. Hoven Restaurant offers delicious local food and beverages – apple juice fresh from the foothills of a mountain and Odin’s beer – but the main dish here is the jaw-dropping scenery.
- In the small rural town of Nordfjordeid, you can enjoy charming white wooden architecture, visit Sagastad to walk onboard one of the world’s largest Viking ships – the 100ft Myklebust – and eat some street food alongside a brew at Aske Gatemat and Bryggeri.
- In Stad, you can visit Norway’s oldest monastery for some history and local food. People have been visiting Selje Monastery for over a millennium. Explore this ancient monastery on a guided tour and then have a meal at Doktorgarden Selje, a guesthouse and restaurant in an old wooden house that overlooks the harbour.
How to get there:
You can get to Nordfjord from Bergen via the express bus or express boat or the Hurtigruten. There are also buses available from Oslo via Lillehammer and Otta to Stryn and Måløy.
Live a Nordic fairytale in Ålesund & Sunnmøre
Picture rows of colourful art nouveau architecture resting gently against the lapping sea and backdrop of fjords and mountains, a sky tinged with pink and orange as the sunrises – it’s like something out of a storybook. Ålesund is located in the Sunnmøre – a region that’s considered the heart of Fjord Norway and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Given this accolade, it won’t come as a surprise that nature and views here will knock you off your feet.
The dramatic mountain scenery opens the door to an array of ways to experience the fjords. Hiking and skiing opportunities are abundant, as are places from where you can admire the view, go fishing, and you can also visit waterfalls and abandoned mountain farms. The bottom line is you’ll find unspoilt nature that can be enjoyed throughout the year – and Ålesund is the perfect place to launch yourself into the this UNESCO World Heritage fjord landscape.
- Visit the tiny island of Ona – you’ll find a fishing village where there’s a permanent population of about 20 people. Stay for a bite at the café, and in the summer you can take a ceramics workshop.
- Have lunch or dinner at Bro. Bro – meaning bridge – is located in downtown Ålesund and takes you on a journey through a little coastal gastronomy. The menu changes with the seasons – and the amazing view from the restaurant along with Bro’s understanding of food culture all come together to give you one of the best local experiences.
How to get there:
Ålesund is very accessible. You can take a boat or ferry, train and bus from Oslo, or fly into one of two airports: Ålesund Airport Vigra, and Ørsta/Volda Hovden Airport.
Ready to discover some these amazing experiences in the Norwegian fjords for yourself? See our selection of tours to Fjord Norway and carve memories that you will remember for a lifetime.