Norwegian Fjords: A Quick Travel Guide

Norway is a unique country for travellers looking for nature travel, with a focus on sustainable tourism, environmentally friendly practices and respect for the local culture.

Mountains, fjords, forests, waterfalls and glaciers form a scenery of rare beauty, offering travellers the opportunity for numerous outdoor experiences, such as cruising, hiking, kayaking, and bird watching.

What are Fjords?

Glacier

The striking fjords are symbols of Norway’s natural attractions. These long, narrow inlets were formed when the glaciers retreated and the sea invaded the U-shaped valleys during the last glacial era, about 10,000 years ago.

Where are the Fjords of Norway?

The fjords of Norway are everywhere, but the biggest and most impressive are the western fjords located around Bergen, Norway’s second largest city, about 500km / 311mi from Oslo.

Sognefjord is the longest (200km / 124mi) and deepest (1300m / 4,265ft) of the Norwegian fjords. In one of the fjord arms, the village of Flåm is famous for stunning views and the Flåm railway, one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys through the mountains to Myrdal.

Nærøyfjord is another narrow fjord arm, near Flåm. It’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List, together with Geirangerfjord. The latter is located north of Sognefjord, and is known for the magnificent waterfalls and the panoramic Trollstigen road through the mountain slope. Further south, Hardangerfjord is Norway’s second longest fjord with 179km / 111mi.

How to Visit the Norwegian Fjords

The Flåm Railway

There are several ways you can experience the fjords of Norway: independent travel, cruises, and organised circuits.

Independent Travel

The best way to experience the fjords on your own is to rent a car and drive around. From Bergen, visit the Nærøyfjord and head to Flåm for panoramic views. Enjoy one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys on board of the Flåmsbana, and make the round trip to Hardangerfjord.

However, a cruise from Bergen along the Sognefjord is the only way to catch the best views. If you want flexibility, there’s a 3-hour cruise to Osterfjord that takes you through the strong currents of the shallow and narrow Mostraumen strait. Cruises leave from Zachariasbryggen, right next to the Fish Market in Bergen.

Cruises

Another option to experience the fjords is on a cruise with Hurtigruten. The ships sail the western and northern coasts between Bergen (in the south) and Kirkenes (in the far north). Described as the world’s most beautiful sea voyage, it takes 6 days and visits 34 ports along the route.

Tours

There are a number of tours in Bergen to experience the fjords, glaciers, waterfalls and mountains, from guided half-day tours to three-day tours. See a selection here.

Midnight Sun and Northern Lights

The northern lights

Fjords, glaciers, waterfalls and mountains aren’t the only natural attractions in Norway. Two other natural phenomena draw travellers to the country: the midnight sun and the aurora borealis (also known as northern lights).

During the summer months, you can experience 24 hours of sunlight in places north the Arctic Circle. You can see the midnight sun between 14 May and 29 July in the North Cape, between 20 May and 22 July in Tromsø, and between 4 June and 8 July in Bodø (these are approximate dates).

On the other hand, you can witness the northern lights in winter, between late September and late March. The aurora borealis are diffused, bright coloured lights across the dark sky. They are the result of the particles emitted by the Sun that are captured by the Earth’s magnetic field and react with the atmosphere of the planet.

Some of the best places in Norway to see the aurora borealis are Alta, Tromsø and the Lofoten islands. To find out the best time to witness the northern lights, use the NorwayLights app, or visit norway-lights.com.

When to Go

You’ve decided you want to experience the Norwegian fjords but are unsure about when to go, what is the best time to visit. Visit our page on:

Where to Stay

There’s a wide range of accommodation throughout Norway, from hotels to b&b, country houses, fishing houses and camping. Try our suggestions: