What to do in Ålesund
The Art Nouveau town of Ålesund could be taken right out of a fairy tale. Destroyed by fire in 1904, the coastal town rose from the ashes almost immediately, rebuilt to a singular Art Nouveau vision by a string of ambitious Norwegian designers and architects. A century later, it remains postcard perfect, its delightful architecture preserved largely intact. If you look up as you explore the town, you will discover an abundance of imaginative ornamentation on the fronts of the buildings. Take a trip to the top of Mount Aksla and you will be rewarded by unforgettable panoramic views.
Viewpoint of Aksla/Fjellstua
Mount Aksla, with the Fjellstua and Kniven viewpoints, is one of Ålesund’s most visited attractions. The views of the town, the islands and the majestic Sunnmøre Alps further inland are simply fantastic. Fjellstua has a viewing platform and cafeteria with outdoor seating in summer.
To get to Aksla you can either climb the 418 steps from the Town Park or drive all the way up via the Borgundveien and Fjelltunveien roads. The Town Train is another option in summer. In the Town Park you will find a nice playground for the children, in addition to a statue of Rollo the Viking, who founded Normandy in the year 911. He was the forefather of William the Conqueror, who conquered England in 1066, making Rollo the forefather of the English royal family as well.
Art Nouveau Centre (Jugendstilsenteret)
This handsome landmark building, a former pharmacy, was converted in 2003 into a museum dedicated to Ålesund’s architectural heritage, the Art Nouveau Centre. Many of the immaculate fixtures and fittings have been left in place, most dramatically in the museum’s entrance hall.
The displays are supplemented by the Time Machine multimedia exhibit, taking passengers back to the night of the fire that ravaged the city back in 1904 and its aftermath. The café serves coffees and cakes, and adjoining the centre is the Kube Gallery with shows by local artists.
The Atlantic Sea Park (Atlanterhavsparken)
This is one of the largest saltwater aquariums in Europe, built right into the coastal landscape. The focus in The Atlantic Sea Park is on Atlantic marine life, from the relatively prosaic (halibut, mackerel, turbot) to the decidedly exotic (thornback ray, spiny dogfish shark, even the occasional octopus).
Every day at 1 pm (also 3:30 pm June to August), a diver pops up in the main tank, sparking a feeding frenzy among its fishy residents and wide-eyed fascination among the children on the other side of the glass. At 2:30 pm, it’s the turn of the penguins outside to be served by a man in tuxedo.
Activities for young and older children include feeding fish and fishing for crabs. The large outdoor area offers excellent spots for swimming and fishing, as well as paths and even areas for scuba diving. The Atlantic Sea Park is located three kilometres out of town, and is accessible by car or by bus (departures hourly from the town centre). Tueneset,+47 70 10 70 60, www. atlanterhavsparken.no
What to do around Ålesund
Bird island of Runde
Out in the jaws of the ocean in Herøy Municipality lies the bird island of Runde, a protected area, with rules for moving about. The bird cliffs are the southernmost in Norway, and have the largest variety of sea bird species in Scandinavia. The little island has about 150 permanent inhabitants but during the nesting season from February to August every year more than 500,000 sea birds take over the island. Around 100,000 pairs of puffins nest here, but large colonies of great skuas, gannets and shags also establish themselves here in the nesting season.
The nature areas on Runde are vulnerable, important and interesting for research. Runde has also been called “Treasure Island” because of the finds of gold coins from the wrecked Dutch ship Akerendam from 1725. The area is also well suited for activities like diving, fishing and hiking.
The Runde Environmental Centre (Miljøsenter) opened in 2009, is an international environmental research, information and communication centre used by researchers from both Norway and abroad. The centre has a permanent exhibition on the Runde treasure, and launches a bird exhibition in April 2012 in connection with the brand new Runde Bird Festival.
The Geirangerfjord is known as the jewel of the Norwegian fjords. With its characteristic S shape, high waterfalls and abandoned mountain farms, the fjord landscape is included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. Here you find unspoilt and beautiful nature and cultural experiences year round.
The Hjørundfjord is surrounded by the impressive peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps. The combination of fjords, mountains and living local communities makes the Hjørundfjord and the Sunnmøre Alps a varied and exciting destination.
Geiranger - Trollstigen National Tourist Route
Geiranger - Trollstigen is a road through west Norwegian nature at its most powerful, with a dizzying view of sheer mountainsides, deep fjords and fertile valleys. Since tourism was in its infancy, Geiranger and Trollstigen have been visited by tourists from all over the world. Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord have been chosen to represent the fjord landscape of western Norway on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Atlanterhavsveien National Tourist Route
The famous Atlantic Road with its eight bridges winds like a sea serpent through the mighty ocean, over islets scoured smooth by the elements, from Kårvåg on Averøya to Vevang on the mainland. Wind and weather make for a great variety of experience, from howling storms sending breakers crashing over the road to a calm and peaceful sea. For more information about the project and these two tourist routes, please visit National Tourist Routes.
Round trips starting in Ålesund
Go on the round trip to Norway’s two most beautiful fjords with Fjord Tours.
Fly Norwegian direct to Ålesund from just £39*
Reach the Art Nouveau gem of Ålesund in Fjord Norway within two hours on Norwegian's direct flight from London Gatwick to Ålesund Airport Vigra. With departures twice a week, on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and prices from just £39* one way including taxes, there is no reason why this summer should not be the one where you too experience city life in Ålesund and activities such as hiking, kayaking, fishing and bird-watching. You can also explore the wonderful surroundings of the UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord.
Book your flight now
* Fares are based on cheapest one way fare, whether outbound or return journey including taxes and charges.