A very specific and easy-to-use guide to activities in the Fjords of Norway,
Top 10, 35 and 100 lists are flourishing online these days. Everyone’s eager to show just how many places you should visit in 2020, how many different options you have, and what a huge range of activities you can choose from.
When I’m presented with so many different options, I actually find it hard to choose – so hard that sometimes I’m so afraid of not choosing the best option that I actually don’t choose at all. What I look for, is a place where some experiences stand out from the others! And that is exactly what I’m going to show you know. I’m going to show you the 3 things that you should do when you visit the Fjord Region of Norway!
You have the Lysefjord and Hardangerfjord that are visited by many for spectacular hikes, skiing and glaciers. And then you have the secret ones that no one yet has discovered...
Being a fjord region, makes us know for, yes, you got it – our fjords! And here are plenty of them; There are the famous ones that are protected by UNESCO – The Geiranger Fjord and The Nerøyfjord. Then you have the longest one – The Sognefjord. You have the Lysefjord and Hardangerfjord that are visited by many for spectacular hikes, skiing and glaciers. And then you have the secret ones that no one yet has discovered, like the Hyefjord, Austefjord and Hylsfjorden. In these fjords you get the same fantastic fjord landscape as in the most iconic and famous fjords, but you get it for yourself. Maybe you meet some locals, maybe not even that.
But back to the 3 things I want you to do when you’re in Fjord Norway. This is actually 3 different ways of experiencing the region, more than exact what to do, and where to go. But of course, I’ll help you as much as possible and will come with only 1 recommendation for each way of experiencing the fjords.
1. First-hand experience – being on the fjord.
To be able say that you’ve been a place, my opinion is that you need to do something active there. You can’t just take a taxi from the airport to the hotel, catch a bus through a region, or simply just do sightseeing. I have a golden rule when it comes to the places I’ve visited – if I haven’t done an active experience and haven’t had a proper conversation with a local (asking for the directions and ordering food doesn’t count), I haven’t really been there. So, the perfect way to get both of these checked and also being on the fjord, is doing a guided kayak tour. You’re so close to the water that you can touch it, smell it and even taste it. You get to meet other travelers that you can connect with and share your experience with. And you can get to know the place through a local guide’s eyes. You learn about the nature around you, the history of the place, and most likely the guide will tell you about how it is to live in this place and what the culture is like today. To be very specific in my advices, I want you to go kayaking where the fjords meet the ocean – more specifically where the Sognefjord meets the ocean – in Solund.
2. Experiencing the area and the people around to the fjord.
The term Norwegian fjords can give the impression that they are all the same – narrow and surrounded with tall and very steep mountains diving straight into the water. If this was true, the headline of this section would be impossible. There would simply not be an area around the fjord to explore – just the inner ends. You probably get my point by now – there are different kinds of fjords. Some of them are just as described above, while others are open because the mountains have a little foot on them before they plunge into the fjord. This gives room for, in most places, farmland, and by that, people. And where there are people, there is culture. Norway might not be known for an avid cultural life, so when you go and explore the area around the fjords, you might get surprised when you see that in tiny Nordfjordeid, with only 3000 residents they have their own Opera house, and that the Kraftkar cheese, made in Tingvoll, won the prize as World Champion and Champion of champions in the World Cheese Awards in 2016.
Then to my suggestion. Visit farms and producers of food and beverages that offer tasting sessions and guided tours through production areas. And now I’m going to be very biased and recommend the area I grew up in. The Gloppen Fjord, going out as a side branch to the south from The Nordfjord, is one of the fjords where the mountains have a less steep foot. The fields and orchards surrounding the fjord makes the landscape very green and open. More specifically I want you to go and visit Gardsbrenneriet and Høgt & Vilt when you’re in Gloppen. Gardsbrenneriet is a fruit farm that also produces more than 20 different kinds of beverages, ranging from apple juices, via ciders to gin. Høgt & Vilt is another farm in the area. They grow fully organic herbs and spices and sell them pure or in blends as seasoning and teas. At both farms I recommend a tasting-sessions where you’ll get to enter a world of new and exciting tastes.
3. Experiencing the fjord from above.
No, I don’t mean while flying over them, though landing with a propeller on any of the small airports between the fjords, can be exhilarating in itself. What I do mean is that you use your feet and get above the tree line, so you can get a great view at the same time as you’re active and taking part in your own experience. During winter and spring, I recommend skiing in the Sunnmøre alps with Uteguiden; A terrific place with so many beautiful faces, ridges, couloirs and peaks. They have everything you need of equipment and skilled guides, so you can just bring your outfit, and they’ll facilitate the most magnificent winter fjord experiences.
During summer I would actually stay in one of the fjords that is a bit more open and green; where the mountains are not so steep that it’s hard to get up to where the view and experiences are. A wonderful way to experience the mountains around the fjord is on a mountain bike. If you come and visit me in Gloppen, I’ll show you the most magnificent trails on a ridge between two fjords. The top of Haugsvarden has become famous all over Norway as a mountain biking gem both in terms of the quality of the trail, and the view. The greatest thing about the trail is that it’s a blue trail, which means that you don’t need much experience to go ride it.
To sum it up...
To sum up my 3 advices to the Fjords of Norway I want to say; Be active and take part in your own experience – and don’t be a passive cosumer of views and sights. When you plan your holiday, make sure that you plan activities on the fjord, explore the area around the fjord, and that you get to see it from up above.