Norway is synonymous with scenic fjords, just as Venice is for its beautiful canals. The Scandinavian country has over 1100 fjords, of which about 10 are accessible via cruise ships too.
The Norwegian word fjord comes from an ancient Viking term that relates to a phrase for a ‘crossing point; (der man ferder over) and also the word ‘ferry’ (ferje).
Fjords are masterpieces formed over millions of years by the interplay of natural forces. The U-shaped valleys crafted during several glacial cycles are the epitome of spellbinding beauty. Many people flock to the land of fjords to witness their grandeur with their own eyes and relax their hearts and minds amidst the lap of pristine nature.
Right from the UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord to the fresh and calm waters of the Nærøyfjord, every fjord is unique and offers a different experience to the visitors.
Apart from the breathtaking aesthetic sceneries, the fjords have harboured captivating Viking tales, traditions and life of the native fishing communities. Know more about the top 10 Fjords in Norway in this article.
1. The Geirangerfjord
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Geirangerfjord is the king of all fjords, given it is the most popular and most visited fjord in Norway. It garnered attention when it was shown in the movie ‘Frozen’.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is close to Alesund, lying in More og Romsdal county. The fjord stretches for 15 km and culminates at the Geiranger village, which might soon cease to exist. It is predicted that a part of mountain Åknesfjället might fall into the fjord, and massive waves from the impact could wash away the village.
There are talks of putting power lines along the fjord as well. Hence, one should see its beauty while one can.
Near the fjord are many abandoned farms and beautiful waterfalls that can be explored. The Seven Sisters Falls and the Suitor Waterfall are close to the fjord and are a must-visit.
According to a Norwegian legend, 7 sisters run and dance in the mountains while a suitor flirts with them across the waters. There are actually 7 distinct streams with the highest falls from approximately 250 m.
Situated in Ryfylke district in Rogaland County, Lysefjord is one of the most well-known fjords in Western Norway. Its name means light fjord, as it is surrounded by light-coloured granite rocks.
The fjord is also visited by many, thanks to the pulpit rock or Preikestolen, which overlooks the fjord and is a dream come true for hiking enthusiasts.
It is a high cliff that gives a stunning view of the fjord below, so make sure to carry a sturdy pair of shoes and binoculars while you are there. Apart from Preikestolen, a hiking trip to Kjerag is also quite rewarding. Both places can be reached in a day from the nearest city of Stavanger.
Since there are no roads along the fjord due to the rocky and steep terrain, the population along the fjord is sparse, with only two tiny villages of Forsand and Lysebotn dotting the landscape.
Lysebotn is a beautiful and quiet village with several hotels for tourists. Most people of the village work in nearby hydroelectric plants that generate electricity for 100,000 people.
One can also take a cruise on this fjord and also a car ferry in summer, which takes you to Lysebotn. The ferry halts in Florli, a small settlement where one can rest and rejuvenate. If you have the energy, you can hike over 4000 steps up the longest wooden staircase in the world called Florli 4444.
This fjord nicknamed ‘The King of Fjords’ is true to its name since it is the largest Norweigna fjord, also the longest and the deepest among all out there. It can be found right in between Fjord Norway, and is dotted with several small villages like Laerdal, Solvorn, Balestrand, etc.
Sognefjord is 205 km long, 6 km wide and has a 1308 m depth. It has many branches or smaller fjords like Arnafjord, Naeroyfjord, Sognesjoen, etc.
One of the smaller fjords, called Lustrafjord, stretches to the Skjolden, a tiny rural settlement that serves as an entry point to the Jotunheimen National Park.
Apart from the magnificent fjord, people can also visit the three stave churches made entirely of wood in the medieval period. The churches of Kaupanger, Urnes and Borgundthe are the most famous and are among the 32 such churches in the country.
Sognefjord also has the world’s second longest power lines, called Sognefjord Span.
Apart from admiring the fjord’s beauty, one can also explore glaciers and Viking settlements, go hiking, biking, kayaking or even visit farms. Many day cruises are also available.
An inlet in the southeast of Norway, Oslofjord stretches from Torbjornskjaer and Faerder lighthouses to Langesund and Oslo. It is a part of Skagerrak Strait, which links the North Sea and Kattegat Sea region and finally goes to the Baltic Sea.
If one is going to Oslo on a short trip, then one can still visit a Norwegian fjord apart from all the other great sights that the city has to offer.
The main attractions near Oslofjord are islands and beaches. The island of Hovedoya is famous for the ruins of monasteries, while others like Lindoya, Nakholmen and Bleikoya are known for their vistas and cosy cabins made of wood.
Langoyene is a great hiking place, while Gressholmen was once a dwelling place of rabbits, but it is still visited by many for swimming, hiking, kayaking and relaxing.
One can reach these places by a ferry that runs between Oslo and Copenhagen. Regular boats also ply from Aker Brygge, Oslo.
The reason why Oslofjord is popular among tourists is that it has the highest all-year temperature in Norway, which is around 7.5 degrees Celsius.
It is quite warm in July, about 17 degrees Celsius. Islands amidst the fjord are warmest, with warm and pleasant summers and moderate winters. The comparatively high temperatures here allow different flora and fauna to flourish near this fjord.
Oslofjord was the site of Stone Age and Bronze Age settlements, and near it, 3 best preserved Viking ships were found by archaeologists.
5. The Hjørundfjord
This 35 km long fjord is an arm or branch of the much bigger Storfjord, lying close to Alesund. The fjord is deep and wide but gets narrow as one goes into the interior.
Hjorundfjord, known for its stunning high peaks, offers the best hiking terrain in Norway. The fjord can challenge the mighty Geirangerfjord regarding the beautiful landscape around it. However, it is not filled with tourists.
This fjord is nestled amongst quaint and charming village settlements like Saebo, Oye and Urke. Some of the toughest hiking trails, like Urkegga and Saksa, are located here. After a tiring hike, one can relax in a sauna and stay at a historical hotel called Hotel Union Oye, which is an exclusive establishment in Norway.
While in this fjord, get a good look at the breathtaking Sunmore Alps, one of the most famous mountains of Norway. Slogan, the most popular mountain peak with a triangular or pyramid-like summit, rises 1564 m from Hjorundfjord.
Many members of European aristocratic families like Emperor Wilhelm 11 of Germany, King Oscar II, Queen Willemina, etc., visited this fjord. A famous climber who traversed 15 routes around the fjord was Charles W. Patchell, a guest at the Union Oye from 1923-39 and a skilled British mountaineer.
6. The Trollfjord
A sidearm of the Raftsundet Strait, Trollfjord is a 3 km long fjord lying between the Lofoten islands and the Vesteralen archipelago that experiences mild summers and wet winters.
Although it measures only 100 m at its narrowest point, it is visited by cruise ships such as Hurtigruten in summer. The fjord is surrounded by steep mountains, so there are no roads along its coasts. One can explore Trollfjord on a boat or on a cruise ship only.
Although most fjords in Norway are located along its western coast, Trllfjord is situated in the northern part of the country, north of the Arctic Circle.
It is small compared to other fjords. However, it has much to offer, such as birdwatching trips, cruising, kayaking or even swimming in its crystal clear waters. It is truly an unspoilt wonder with no settlements along its shores.
It garnered much attention internationally after a movie called Downsizing, starring Matt Damon, was filmed at this spectacular location.
Trollfjord was also the site of the historic Battle of Trollfjord, fought on 6th March 1890 between the first emerging steamboats and local fishermen. The scene is depicted in a painting by painter Gunnar Berg and is one of the most appreciated works in Norway.
7. The Nærøyfjord
Naeroyfjord is a mighty fjord with towering peaks reaching 1660 m surrounding it from all sides. It is one of the narrowest branches of the bigger Sognefjord.
The fjord offers a panoramic view of the valleys, accompanied by fields, waterfalls and tiny hamlets, making it one of the most visited fjords in Norway.
It stretches for 20 km and is just 250 m wide at its narrowest point and over 1 km wide at its widest point. At its shallowest, it is only 12 m deep and goes to 500 m in some places.
In 2005, it became a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List. During a cruise to this fjord, one can see traditional farms and sometimes goats grazing on the steep mountainsides and seals basking on rocks along its shores.
One can also experience a fjord sauna in Flam, go on a kayak tour from Gudvangen or explore the Viking Village Njardarheim.
8. The Romsdalsfjord
Said to be the 9th longest fjord in Norway, spanning 94 km, Romsdalfjord is known for its diverse and rugged landscape. It is an ideal place for day excursions, with many tourist places to visit.
Famous ones are the winding mountain road Trollstigen and Europe’s highest vertical mountain wall called Trollveggen. The Nesaksla mountain is part of a renowned hiking trail across the ridge of Romsdalseggen.
The Romsdal area is known for its diverse and stunning nature. While the western part of the 88-kilometre-long Romsdalsfjord is mainly a coastal landscape dotted with skerries, the inner section consists of a long fjord and steep mountains. If you love skiing, then do not miss going to Kirketaket, voted one of Norway’s top mountains for skiing.
Romsdalsfjord is also one of the cleanest and richest fjords in Norway, and about 68 species have been discovered in the area.
The fjord is 800 m deep at its deepest point and, unlike other fjords, has many islands and handing valleys.
Considered to be one of the most picturesque fjords in the world, the Aurlandsfjord is a 17 km long arm of Sognefjord, the second longest fjord on earth. Aurlandsfjord is a part of the World Heritage Area which surrounds the Naeroyfjord.
It lies in Aurland and starts at Flam and ends at Beitelen mountain. The fjord is surrounded by tall peaks that rise over 1400 m above sea level. The fjord reaches a 1000 m depth at some places and is less than 2 km wide as it narrows.
The best way to explore it is to go on a cruise trip or a ferry. Two new ferries operate between Flam and Gudvangen. If you are not interested in exploring the fjord on water, there is another way. You can drive to Stegastein viewpoint, which has a steel platform that juts out from the side of the mountains.
It offers a panoramic view from 650 metres above the fjord. This point is open all year round and gives visitors an opportunity to appreciate the winter view of this fjord that you rarely get to see in pictures.
Nordfjord is the 6th longest fjord in Norway, stretching 106 km from the island of Husevagoy to the Loen village. It is known for its pristine, raw terrain along the Stadlandet peninsula, which divides the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea.
Nordfjord is heaven for walkers, having hundreds of waymarked trails with stunning views. One can opt got a glacier walk or go skiing at the Stryn summer Ski centre. One can also admire the scenery from Mount Hoven, which is over 1000 m above sea level.
One can also go on fun boating trips, canoes, kayaks or scuba diving and swimming. Mountain biking on Haugsvarden and fishing in the inland lakes is a must.
In the Nordfjord Folk Museum, you can see the biggest Viking Vessels or go on a trip to Selja island to witness the monastery ruins. Close to Hornelen sea cliff is Vingenfeltet, one of the biggest prehistoric rock carving sites in Northern Europe.
While visiting Nordfjord, you can stay at Nesset Fjordcamping, which offers cosy cabins along the coast. Another great option is Visnes Hotel Stryn which is a B&B, originally a 19th-century construction with an old old-fashioned interior and an open terrace that gets the most amazing views.
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Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.
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