a shot of a green fjord and coast a body of emerald water

Best Ways to See Norway’s Fjords (Updated 2022)

This story was created in partnership with: Fjord Norway 

You don’t need me to tell you how breathtaking Norway’s fjords are. The word alone conjures up almost-mythic visions of scenery that will stop you in your tracks. Chiselled over hundreds of years, these natural phenomena will go above and beyond your expectations. 

Seeing is believing, but in the case of the fjords, you can’t just look at them – you need to get as close as is humanly possible to them. Discover some of the best ways to see Fjord Norway. 

Travel to: Fjord Norway

What are fjords? 

Fjords have captured our imaginations, but what exactly are they? In geological terms, they are narrow inlets – a passageway of water with steep cliffs that were formed by glaciers. For these geological formations to qualify as a fjord, they cannot be wider than they are long, in which case they would simply be a bay or a cove and perhaps not nearly as unique. 

According to this source, the Norwegian word fjord essentially means “where one fares through.” In this instance, the context for the word fare is travel and draws on the concept of ferrying. A ferry, of course, is but one of the ways to see Fjord Norway! 

aerial photography of fjord landscape
Hoven Loen | © Espen Haagensen

Norway’s fjords at a glance 

Given that the country has over 1000 fjords, of which ten are often visited by cruise ship – some are more famous than others – it can be confusing trying to figure out which to see. Most tour packages will take you to the best ones, and so it can be helpful to consider seeing them in this way, especially if you want to prioritise fjords during a trip to Norway. 

These are are some of the most famous fjord regions with a handful of their key characteristics:

  • Lysefjord – found in southwestern Norway, this fjord is famous for viewing points Kjerag and Preikestolen. 
  • Hardangerfjord region – a national icon and Norway’s second-longest fjord, this adventure hub and stretches from the Atlantic Ocean just south of Bergen
  • Aurlandsfjord – a branch of the Sognefjord, this fjord is close to the must-see picturesque village of Flåm.
  • Nærøyfjord – listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, what’s lovely about this one is you’ll also see small farms and homes dotted along the hillsides of the fjord. 
  • Sognefjord area – dubbed the King of the Fjords, this is also the longest of them, a magnificent 204-kilometre stretch of mindblowing nature. 
  • Geirangerfjord area – another UNESCO site, this fjord region stands out thanks to the numerous waterfalls Mother Nature saw fit to bestow the area with. 
  • Hjørundfjord – tucked away from tourists, you’ll find few untouched nature and remote villages here.  
  • Romsdalsfjord – renowned for its diverse nature and isles, you’ll also find the famous winding Trollstigen mountain road in this region. 
  • Åkrafjord – this is one of Norway’s undiscovered fjords, and just east of Haugesund (the homeland of the Vikings) it’s very easy to reach. Within a 90-minute radius you the deepest lake, steepest hills and biggest glaciers.

It’s worth mentioning that the fjords are not just about nature. As you travel through these natural wonders, you’ll find charming towns and cities along the way where you can experience Norwegian traditions and culture as well as Viking heritage. 

a grey pillar landmark beside the sea surrounded by green grass
Fjord regions are renowned for having coastal beauty and unique landmarks | © Jone Torkelsen

Best ways to see Norway’s fjords

The best way to see Norway’s spellbinding fjords is to experience them by channelling your passions. Do you love hiking? Or do you enjoy exploring coastlines in a kayak? Either way, when it comes to seeing fjords in Norway, it’s not just what you see, but what you do while visiting that will shape your memory of them. 

Go on a cruise 

Opting for a cruise is one way to see the fjords, especially if you love being out on the open water. As you sail through these fjord valleys – picture cliffs impressing their beauty on you from both sides, chances are you won’t know where to look!

There are several different routes you can choose from, but Hurtigruten, a Norwegian cruise and ferry company sails from Bergen every day. And the point of seeing the fjords in this way is not to stay on board the whole time!

The best part of any cruise in this region will be the moments when you hop off to spend time in the fjord villages and towns along the way – and for a more personal encounter, this is essential. Don’t miss out on any opportunity to explore local culture and Viking heritage in these remote villages. To make the most of your time in this part of the world, we recommend booking some additional days on either side of your cruise to explore Bergen and its nearby highlights.

cruise liner sailing through coastal mountain scenery
Hurtigruten cruise ship sailing across the Raftsundet strait in Nordland county, Norway | © Arvid Høidahl/Unsplash

Take a hike

Any hiker worth their salt knows there’s nothing more life-affirming than traversing nature’s works of art. For those that relish exploring the world on foot, Norway’s fjords will make you want to walk forever. 

panorama of a city surrounded by the sea
In Ålesund you can hike to Aksla and enjoy views like this | © Nicolai Bernsten/Unsplash

A lot of places with this level of scenery require you to have a certain level of fitness. However, you don’t need to be in peak condition for these epic trails. If you want a real adventure in the fjords, you’ll find that too, but if you’re just hoping to take a gentle stroll through glacial landscapes and lush forests, easy does it. Also worth keeping in mind, from fjord cities such as Ålesund you can hike to panoramic viewpoints like Aksla that are just minutes away.

Best hikes in the fjords:

  • Preikestolen
  • Aurlandsdalen Valley 
  • Mount Skåla 
  • Romsdalseggen
  • Hornelen 
  • Trolltunga
  • Himakånå (Trolltunga’s little sister)  

Soar above them 

The Loen Skylift is a more recent addition to the Fjord Norway experience. Climb to 1011m/3316ft in the comfort of a cable car up Mt. Hoven. Once you reach the top, you can enjoy a delicious Norweigan feast in the Hoven Restaurant and enjoy some spectacular views over Nordfjord. 

This is an excellent option for people that want to enjoy the fjords in a relaxing way. If you do want something a little more active, fear not, Mt. Hoven is a good starting point for hiking and walking. There are lots of well-marked trails for all levels in this area too. 

Grab a kayak 

If you want an up-close and personal experience with the fjord coastline, another great option is kayaking. Thanks to the sheer variety of waterbodies offered by fjords, they are a haven for paddling enthusiasts. There’s no need to haul your gear all the way either, as you’ll find plenty of rental shops with everything you need. Better yet, opt for a tour, and they’ll take care of your gear and logistics!  

Explore the raw beauty of the fjords in a kayak | © Magnus Roaldset/Fjord Norge  

Along the way, you have the option of staying with local fishermen in their traditional cottages. This way, you’ll also get to indulge in Norwegian food culture and learn more about their local way of life. Some of the best spots for kayaking are the Helgeland coast and stirring waters of Nærøyfjord, and from Ålesund you can jump in a kayak to start paddling from the city centre.

With the fjords, it’s all about how you experience them. While you can camp, hike and explore many regions in the world, so few bare resemblances to anything as spellbinding as Norway’s fjords. Discover a place where mythic beauty comes to life before the word gets out.

Based in Toronto, Sahar is a full-time content editor for Days to Come and part-time travel junkie.

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