Activity seeking holidaymakers and nature lovers alike will find numerous opportunities to enjoy a holiday full of outdoor adventures in the Sognefjord area.
The fjord landscape includes the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord; the Jostedalsbreen National Park, with the spectacular Nigardsbreen glacier; the Jotunheimen National Park, home to Norway's highest mountains; and the Utladalen valley with the majestic Vettisfossen waterfall.
Other well-known names for outdoor adventurers are Rallarvegen, the Aurlandsdalen valley, Breheimen, Stølsheimen and the historic Royal Road in Lærdal. In the artist's village of Balestrand you can go on a heritage walk and in Leikanger you can stroll through the orchards along the fjord.
Explore the area on your own, or join a professional guide to explore more remote places. Hikers will find an enormous network of well-marked trails, and many hiking paths stretch from the fjord to the mountain peaks.
The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) also offers a great variety of mountain lodges in the mountains around the Sognefjord.
The climate is dry and mild, with an early spring, introducing a long season.
Jotunheimen National Park – Norway's most popular hiking area
Jotunheimen is characterised by Norway's highest mountains and glaciers, and is the most popular outdoor destination in Norway. There is an enormous net of marked trails and mountain lodges to choose from, and the western part, with the impressive Hurrungane mountain range, is a magnet for rock climbers with its many peaks over 6,561 feet high. Explore Hurrungane from Turtagrø - the cradle of mountaineering in Norway, only a few minutes drive from the fjord. One of the most popular hikes that you can do on your own is Turtagrø - Fanaråken (four hours). You can also make just short strolls from the Sognefjellsvegen Route, the highest and most scenic mountain pass in Northern Europe, or walk from cabin to cabin for many days.
Jostedalsbreen National Park – explore the blue ice world
The national park consists of Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier on the European mainland, and its surrounding area. The Jostedalsbreen National Park is distinctive for the contrasts it offers over short distances. It varies from lush valleys to bleak mountain areas and blue glaciers. You can choose from a great variety of daily guided glacier walks at the spectacular Nigardsbreen in Jostedal, both for families and experienced glacier hikers, or hire a guide at some of the other glacier arms in the municipalities of Sogndal and Luster. A very nice and easy walk you can do on your own is Krundalen – Bergsetbreen glacier in Jostedalen (one hour). The walk up to the Flatbreen glacier in Fjærland is strenuous (five hours), but you get rewarded by a fantastic view of the fjord.
The Aurlandsdalen Valley
The well-known and historic Aurlandsdalen valley was once one of the main routes between the eastern and western parts of Norway. The area known as Norway's Grand Canyon is wild and breathtaking, rich in plant and animal life, cultural treasures, history and geological features.
You can hike through the valley and stay overnight in the mountain lodges along the way, or come by bus or private car for shorter trips.
Each section is also suitable as a single day tour.
Finse - Geiteryggshytta Mountain Lodge
From 4,009 to 4,015 feet above sea level
Train to Finse. Cross the railway at the station, continue along the western side of Jomfrunut and over the Finseåni River bridge. A short detour to St. Pål (named by Lord Garvagh) is a must. Spectacular views over Gausta, Hardangerjøkulen and parts of Jotunheimen. The route continues towards Bakkaheleren. On the way you pass an old hunting pit. Continue along the south bank of the river to Geiterygghytta mountain lodge.
- Distance: 11 miles
- Time: Approximately five hours
- Starting point: Finse
- Directions to starting point: Train to Finse
- Marked trail
Geiteryggshytta Mountain Lodge - Stemmerdalen Valley
From 4,015 to 3,510 feet above sea level
Follow the path up from the construction road north of the lodge and ascend the west side of Sundellerskarvet. Here the path forks off to Kongshelleren and Iungsdalen. The path to Steinbergdalhytta continues northwards and cross Rausdalen. Another climb west of Bolhovd to Breibakka. Magnificent view over Stemmerdalen. The path descends diagonally along the mountain side to Steinbergdalhytta mountain lodge.
- Distance: 6 miles
- Time: Approximately three hours
- Starting point: Geiterygghytta Mountain Lodge
- Parking: By Geiteryggtunnelen on the Fv50 road from Aurland to Hol
- Directions to starting point: One mile walk from the parking to Geiterygghytta mountain lodge
- Bus-connection several times a day May - September
- Marked trails
Stemmerdalen - Østerbø
From 3,510 to 2,690 feet above sea level
Rejoin the path up the slope north of the lodge and continue your ascent. Fine view over Stemmerdalen. The path joins an old route by Grøna-dam. Continue over the Grøna River bridge, up past Grønestølen and down to Østerbø Fjellstove and Østerbø Turisthytte.
- Distance: 6 miles
- Time: Approximately five hours
- Starting point: Stemmerdalen
- Parking: Stemmerdalen
- Directions to starting point: Follow Fv50 road from Aurland to Hol, park by Steinbergdalhytta. Bus connection several times a day May – September
- Marked trail
Østerbø - Vassbygdi
From 2,690 to 164 feet above sea level
This section of the valley is famous. Walk past the old cemetery and over the Langdøla Bridge; continue past Viki to the once notorious Nesbøgalden (this was a system of ramshackle vertical and horizontal ladders fastened to cracks in the rock). Now a wide pathway has been blazed into the cliff face along Nesbø lake. The path continues past picturesque Nesbø to a fork at Tirtesva.
The original route is now restored, and it provides much better views than the path along the river. Handrails and steps assist the steep descent from Bjønnstigvarden. The walk continues past Svartatjødn lake. We recommend a visit to the "Vetlahelvete" Cave to the west of the path. Descend once again to the river, and walk to the bridge over the Veiverdalselvi River.
Ascend to Sinjarheim farm (now fully restored having been closed since 1921). On the way you pass the tiny Almen farm situated beneath a towering rock overhang. Continue along the river to Belle in Vassbygdi.
- Distance: 12 miles
- Time: Approximately six hours
- Starting point: Østerbø
- Parking: Østerbø
- Directions to starting point: Follow Fv50 road from Aurland to Hol, park by Østerbø. Bus connection several times a day May – September.
- Marked trails
Hiking suggestions in Årdal
Hjelle – Vetti Gard Farm – Vettisfossen Waterfall – Hjelle
From 80 to 820 feet above sea level
Explore Utladalen, a gateway to Jotunheimen National Park. The trail leaves Hjelle on a good tractor path, through the wild and beautiful Utladalen, to Vetti Gard Farm and further to the spectacular Vettisfossen waterfall (902 feet free fall), and returns taking the same route. You will find an information centre by the starting point, Utladalen Naturhus, which is open during high season (mid-June to late August).
- Distance: 6 miles (three miles one way)
- Time: Approximately four hours
- Starting point: Hjelle Skåri Farm – Utladalen
- Parking: Hjelle Waterfall
- Directions: From Øvre Årdal on the Fv53 road, follow signs to Vetti/Utladalen. Three miles to Hjelle.
Hiking suggestions in Lærdal
Vindhellavegen winds through the mountain pass between Husum and Borgund Stave Church. The present road was built between 1840 and 1843. Combine Vindhellavegen with Sverrestigen for a splendid round trip. You can start or end the trip at Borgund Stave Church, Norway's most distinctive stave church, built around 1180. Vindhellavegen takes about one hour. The round trip Vindhella – Sverrestigen takes two to three hours.
Galdane – Seltåsen
The road winds its way along the wild Lærdal River. Start from Seltun or Sjurhaug. If you want a round-trip, walk Galdane Path from Selthun to Sjurhaug, follow the old main road back and take the path across Seltåsen down to Koren and finally walk along the road back to Seltun. A fantastic hike which takes about four hours.
Vindhellavegen, Galdane and Seltåsen are beautiful historic roads. Here you will find amazing stonework, houses, and remnants of the war and the olden days. The path follows the old historic roads and makes for an easy hike.
Habben – Hognåsen – Sviggum
Start from Lærdal ferry quay. This is a marked trail with trail guide and sign showing place names. This steep walk takes you up to 2,952 feet above sea level and takes five to seven hours. At the top you will see a summer farm. From here you walk at the same altitude until you find red markings at the forest outskirts. Beautiful view of the fjord and the walley.
Stødno – Åsastølen
You can walk to Stødno via Mjølkeflaten or via the Øye bridge. The road to Åsen is signed and takes off from the Hedler path about 328 feet before you reach Stødno Farm. Steep at the start, easier terrain later on. Rich plant life. Åsen, 2,559 feet above sea level, is the summer farm of Stødno. Beautiful views. The walk from Stødno takes three to four hours. There is a marked trail over the mountain to Fodnes from Åsastølen.
The walks to Hognåsen and Åsastølen are steep and you will get up to about 800 to 2,952 feet above sea level, so you should be in pretty good shape to undertake these.
Gaularfjellet Mountain lies to the north of Balestrand. The Gaular watercourse runs on the north side of the mountain, and offers good opportunities for trout and salmon fishing. Remember to buy a fishing permit. On the south side of the mountain, the road passes through nine hairpin bends on its way down to Balestrand. There are excellent fishing spots and easy hiking terrain in the area, ideal for the whole the family.
Stølsheimen and Vikafjellet
This mountain district is south of Vik. The mountains are varied and all of the old mountain pasture farms are characteristic for, and have given their name to, Stølsheimen. Several of these have been restored lately and are used for accommodation. In the east, Stølsheimen borders onto Vikafjellet. The road through the area, Rv13, provides an ideal base for hikes in both mountain districts.
Maps are for sale at the tourist information offices.
For information on how to stay safe in the Norwegian mountains, read these safety brochures:
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