Norway’s wildest and Most Breathtaking fjords
Spectacular, majestic scenery that you’ll never forget!
In the Douglas Adams sci-fi franchise The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, we learn that our planet was in fact designed and built by extraterrestrials. The author even praises one of the alien architects for the fine job they did with Norway’s coastline and fjords. It’s easy to understand why the author chose this particular place as a symbol of natural beauty since Norway’s rugged fjord landscape boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. National Geographic has even called the west coast of Norway, where the majority of the fjords are located, as “the world’s most iconic destination”. But which fjords are absolutely a must?
Dramatic, precipitous cliffs, snow-capped mountains and fairy-tale waterfalls make this UNESCO World Heritage site the archetypal Norwegian fjord. There are countless ways to experience the majestic surroundings first hand and take in the unabashed wonder of this force of nature. Follow the Fosseråsa National Hiking Trail as it winds behind the waterfall, get your adrenaline kick on the zipline, take a tour of the canyon, or climb up to one of the area’s viewpoints.
Nærøy Fjord, part of the long, meandering Sognefjord, is both rugged and alluring. Due to its unparalleled natural beauty, UNESCO added it to the World Heritage list in 2005, alongside Geiranger Fjord. Once you get there, the fjord is so spectacular you won’t believe your eyes. The fjord, at its narrowest, is just 250 meters across while the surrounding peaks tower as high as 1,400 meters above sea level. Don’t miss the waterfall with two names: Sagfossen and Lægdafossen. At one point, the water plunges 125 meters down!
If you ever watched the Tom Cruise movie Mission Impossible: Fallout, then you’ve surely noticed the iconic Preikestolen, the pulpit-like cliff suspended high above the Lysefjord. Another spectacular rock formation is Kjeragbolten, where a boulder is wedged tight between two vertical cliff sides. These top attractions make the Lysefjord an absolute must for fjord lovers and hiking enthusiasts alike, but if you prefer to view the mountains from the water, you can also take a boat ride down the fjord.
Nordfjord offers a wide variety of outdoor experiences. Glaciers, mountains, and islands – you’ll find it all here, including a sandstone sea cliff (Hornelen) and an idyllic beach (Grotlesanden). It’s the perfect place for adventurous families – regardless of your age or skill level. If you’re little ones are tuckered out, the Loen Skylift can sweep you up to a dramatic viewpoint, but if you’re still full of energy, you can make a safe ascent up the rock face with the Via Ferrata Loen, one of Europe’s most expansive climbing trails. Surf lovers will enjoy Norway’s westernmost point, Vestkapp [the West Cape], while adrenaline seekers may prefer the fast-paced descent to the fjord on a mountain bike.
If you enjoy a good drama, Troll Fjord in the Lofoten Islands is just the ticket. The steep cliffs drop down into the deep blue waters of the fjord amid a backdrop of jagged mountain peaks. The fjord is small, just 2 km long, but its narrow inlet makes it feel secretive. You can only reach Troll Fjord by boat or kayak, but once you finally arrive there, you’ll experience a breathtakingly wild fjord landscape that’s far off the beaten path. The fjord also has a fascinating history. In 1890, the rowboats of traditional cod fishermen and the new steam-powered fishing vessels of the fishing barons faced off in the Battle of Trollfjord.
In the springtime, a magical spectacle unfolds all along the Hardanger Fjord as hundreds of fruit trees bloom along the slopes of the fjord. Since it’s so far north, the area known as Norway’s fruit capital has a very short growing season that runs from April or, more typically, the middle of May to the middle of June. You’ll definitely want to taste the apple cider that’s produced here. There’s plenty of adventures to be had around the fjord: climb up to the stunning Trollunga rock precipice, explore the vast Folgefonna glacier, ascend the cliffs on one of the via ferrata trails, or just listen to the thunderous roar of the Vøringsfossen waterfall.
The magnificent Sognefjord is Norway’s longest and deepest fjord. Located just north of Bergen, it extends 205 km into the interior from the coast and branches into several smaller but equally familiar fjords. There are a number of superb tourist destinations in the area, such as Jotunheimen National Park, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Urnes Stave Church, and Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier on the European continent.
Text by Daniel Björk