Top Five Fjords in Western Norway
During the ice ages, vast glaciers gouged deep gorges into the landscape of western Norway, which duly flooded with sea water creating the natural wonders that are the modern day fjords.
Readily accessible to visitors on cruise ships and often reached from the characterful, atmospheric ports of Ålesund and Bergen, these are some of the finest fjords anywhere in the world and can be astonishingly beautiful.
Browse our selection of the most spectacular and discover what else you can do once the ship drops anchor in the fjord and you’re able to venture ashore.
Amongst the most popular and frequently visited fjords in Norway, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Geirangerfjord is a short, S-shaped scribble in the mountains. It has a wealth of waterfalls, including the impressive Seven Sisters, a series of seven separate streams that cascade down the sheer face, and the Suitor, which stands opposite and is said to be wooing the sisters .
Set out in a kayak to explore the cliffs and surrounds more intimately or board a rib (rigid inflatable boat) safari and let them take you to the best vantage points along the fjord. On land, disembark at the tiny hamlet of Geiranger, hike the surrounding trails, climb the hill at the head of the fjord and gain exceptional panoramic views of the remarkable scenery all around.
The longest and deepest of Norway’s fjords, Sognefjord allows salt water more than 200km inland from the open sea and reaches a depth of 1,308m; in contrast, cliffs surrounding the fjord rise steeply to a height of almost 1,000m. Having navigated your way to the head of the fjord you can explore it more intimately aboard a kayak.
Alternatively, disembark to visit Norway’s oldest stave church in Urnes, explore the Viking village or White Caves in Gudvangen or venture to the impressive, dry Aurlandsdalen Valley. Otherwise, take to the rails and ride one of the world’s steepest railways; the Flåm Railway travels through stunning scenery and provides an exhilarating alternative way to travel before delivering you to a panoramic viewpoint.
A branch of the Sognefjord, the Nærøyfjord, is a short and narrow fjord that is as little as 500m wide in places; its unusual landscapes have been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Smaller than many fjords, Lysefjord, Norway’s southernmost major fjord, pulls in the visitors with the promise of a unique viewpoint. Pulpit Rock, known locally as Preikestolen, has sheer 600m cliffs that plunge into the waters below. Perch on the flat plateau at the top of the rock and dare yourself to peer over the edge.
Adrenaline enthusiasts can also rock climb and sky dive at Kjerag Mountain nearby. Adrenaline not your thing, then check out the ancient rock carvings at Solbakk, dating from 500BC and including 30 ship designs, before you return to your vessel.
The world’s third largest fjord, Hardanger revels in its size but is in fact most celebrated for the superb array of springtime colours that can be seen here; the region is famous for its fruit trees and the combined blooms of apple, plum, cherry and pear trees create a kaleidoscope of seasonal colours during April-May. Take a scenic drive or set off on foot or on a bike to explore and experience the spectacle.
Other major attractions in the region include the Vøringsfossen Waterfall, reputed to be the most impressive in Norway, and the Steindalsfossen waterfall, where it’s possible to walk behind the cascades. Travel to the Folgefonna Glacier and take the time to ascend to the Trolltunga, a huge protruding rock that juts out over the fjord and provides an unparalleled viewpoint.
Breathtakingly beautiful, the Nordfjord stretches from the Jostedalsbreen Glacier, mainland Europe’s largest glacier, out to the sea. Cruise the waters to admire the striking landscapes and take a rib safari to uncover palces that have no road connections.
Alternatively, set off on an excursion to the Jostedlasbreen National Park, where you can learn about the glacier and its surrounds or sign up for a foray onto the ice itself as part of a guided glacier walk.