Ålesund, Europe and Middle East, Newsletter, Norway, Trip Reviews, Western Norway

The Geirangerfjord. Discover the jewel in the crown of Norway’s fjords.

15/04/2024 by .
Sarah Kingdom visits Geirangerfjord

Sarah Kingdom visits Geirangerfjord, one of Norway’s most popular fjords.

At 62° latitude, Ålesund is a long way north. Built on a row of islands extending out into the Atlantic Ocean on the northwest coast of Norway, the town is widely regarded as Norway’s most beautiful town. While it may be most famous for its beautiful Art Nouveau buildings, it’s also located right between the ocean, islands and Norway’s best fjords, making this the perfect starting point for exploring the country’s breathtaking fjord and mountain scenery.

Traverse the winding roads that lead out of this small coastal fishing town and head into the Norwegian backcountry, and you’ll pass through some of the most dramatic landscapes you’ve ever seen.

If you look at a map of Norway, you’ll see the coastline is crisscrossed with long thin ‘fingers’ of water reaching inland from the sea. These ‘fingers’ are fjords. What exactly is a fjord? The term traces its roots to the Norse, or Viking, word ‘fjodr’ referring to a ‘crossing point’ used for human passage. Norway’s 1,000+ fjords were created by 2.5 million years of glacier activity. A fjord is a deep, narrow, elongated inlet, formed when the glaciers retreated, and seawater flooded the U-shaped valleys. With their steep-sided cliffs and long sinuous forms, fjords differ from other bays and inlets and are usually surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery.

Sarah Kingdom visits Geirangerfjord

Fjords nibble into Norway all the way up the coast. What would the country’s coastline be without its fjords? Well, for a start, it would be a lot shorter! Measure the west coast of Norway in a straight line and it’s 2,500 km, but if you measure all its inlets and wiggles, made by the fjords, you’d get 26,592 km, more than 10 times longer!

In a region with no shortage of them, the 15 km long Geirangerfjord, the innermost branch of the Storfjord, is a place of outstanding natural beauty. The deep, blue UNESCO World Heritage listed, Geirangerfjord is one of the jewels in the crown of Norway’s fjords and, in the high season, is one of its most visited attractions.

Standing on the top deck of the Bolsøy, the ferry between Hellesylt to Geiringer, there’s a chill in the air. Although it is spring, the crystal-clear fjord is enveloped in mist. The summer visitors have yet to arrive and the fjord, minus the high-season crowds and cruise ships, is silent and tranquil, the beauty seeps right into your soul. Sheer rock cliffs rise sharply out of the water, stretching upwards, dotted with lonely, long abandoned farmhouses clinging precariously to the cliffs, and flanked by streaming waterfalls, the most famous being De syv søstrene (The Seven Sisters), Friaren (The Suitor) and Brudesløret (The Bridal Veil).

Sarah Kingdom visits Geirangerfjord

Sarah Kingdom visits Geirangerfjord

Not only is Geirangerfjord lined by some of the steepest cliffs on the west coast of Norway, but it’s also incredibly narrow, with almost no shoreline, giving it an even wilder feel than many other fjords.

The tiny, charming village of Geiranger, tucked into the end of the fjord, looks like it tumbled straight out of a fairytale and is a great starting point to explore the dramatic nature that surrounds it. For active nature lovers, there’s plenty on offer, from hiking and biking to kayaking, though of course you can just sit back and take in the scenery.

Start off by visiting the Ørnesvingen viewpoint. If you’ve come to Geiranger by road you’ll find it on the steep approach into town, if you’ve come by boat, you’ll need to drive up to the viewpoint to see the stunning views over the town and into the fjord.

Next up, get out onto the water on a RIB boat (Rigid Inflatable Boat). Taking in the fjord from water level gives you a whole new perspective on the place and will give you a dose of adrenaline while you sightsee. The boat will stop along the way for your guide to impart fascinating facts and interesting stories about the fjord and its people, past and present. With a bit of luck, you might even spot some porpoises, eagles or jumping mackerel.

Sarah Kingdom visits Geirangerfjord

Back on dry land, a small restaurant by the harbour, just inches from the Geirangerfjord and housed in the old post office, Brasserie Posten is the place to eat in Geiranger. Freshly baked bread, locally cured meats and cheeses, langoustines with wild garlic aioli and decadently delicious chocolate brownies, all washed down with beer from the local Geiranger Bryggeri (brewery)  and cider from the lovely Kristine and Carlos at Skarbø Gard. In the hands of chef Kenneth Løken, the fusion between old and new at Brasserie Posten is nothing short of stunning and this is a fantastic place to dine.

Tell Me More About Geirangerfjord

Ålesund Airport is the closest to Geirangerfjord, there are daily flights there from both Oslo and Bergen. A flight from either city would take under an hour to get to Ålesund, and from there, Geiranger is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive. You can also get the bus to Geiranger from Oslo or Bergen – from both it’s around a 9 or 10-hour journey. Travelling by car is a more comfortable option, just keep in mind some routes are closed in the colder months.

Geiranger is linked by regular ferry service to the old Viking port of Hellesylt. The ferry costs around £12 per passenger, or £15 per day, and is one the most magnificent ferry routes in Norway. Take the ride even if you don’t need to get to the other side.

Hurtigruten coastal steamers also sail in Geiranger, the ships normally arrive in Geiranger around 2.30 p.m. and leave at approximately 3.15 p.m. every day from June to August.

Recommended stay

Hotel Union Geirangervegen 101, 6216 Geiranger, Norway

E: booking@hotelunion.no

Rooms at the Union Hotel start from £145. A Fjord View Room from £175. This is for two people and includes breakfast. For those who want everything, including the opportunity to sit in your bathtub with views of the fjord and a mini hammam in your bathroom the Spa Suites are priced from £640 for two people, including breakfast.


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