THE LOCALS’ GUIDE TO ÅLESUND
Top insider tips
Imagine a city built completely in art nouveau style...
You can even rent a kayak and paddle through parts of it!
Apart from the beautiful buildings, you can enjoy a combination of charming restaurants and some of Norway’s most famous viewpoints. And did we mention that you’re in the middle of a hiking paradise?
“The art nouveau town of Ålesund is incredibly beautiful and you just have to explore the city on foot”, says Natalie Sandtorv.
The innovative, award-winning musician from Ålesund behind the album “Heart Echoes” is a well-known name on the European music scene.
Natalie Sandtorv, musician
Sandtorv’s tips for cultural experiences in Ålesund
Art nouveau through and through: My favourite building is Arbeideren Kulturhus (the Workers’ culture house), which is located in the middle of the city. This art nouveau building was constructed in 1906 and used to house a theatre. Today, it is being used as a theatre and a concert place. The Art Nouveau Centre & KUBE have exciting exhibitions, both permanent and temporary.
Art: I always stop by KHÅK Kunsthall to buy ceramics. They also have a wonderful collection of graphics by Norwegian artists, including Håkon Bleken, Bjarne Melgaard, and my local favourite Ørnulf Opdahl.
Cool street: Go for a walk down Moloveien. Look for treasures in the antique shop Trankokeriet or catch a concert at Teaterfabrikken, which is the most unique bar/concert venue I have ever been to. Imagine a mix of an old fancy dress shop and the hippest bar in Berlin.
Fresh fish in the harbour: One thing that is quite unique, and which I always do with friends who visit Ålesund for the first time, is to get up early and go down to the harbour. We seek out the local fishing boats to buy fresh crayfish or crab. Just get there early, because it sells out fast! The best sushi I’ve ever had (except when I was on tour in Japan) can be found at Zuuma. It’s a cool, modern restaurant with a gorgeous view of the harbour. The fish soup at Fisketorget is pure magic and perfect for lunch.
Cultural evening: Make time for a concert at Terminalen Byscene. This venue manages to be both hip and homely, and they always have interesting artists booked. Despite its small size, it has lots of exciting theatre and music events, from concerts to small and large festivals with both Norwegian and international artists.
Wine and dine: I went to Bro Restaurant recently and had one of the best meals ever. Their food concept is "coastal gastronomy”, made with the best local ingredients. They also have a fantastic wine list that includes a good selection of organic wine. This is where I usually end up if I just fancy a glass of wine or a cocktail with a few friends on a Friday night.
Saturday with the locals
“Ålesund is unique in that no two days are the same. We often have four seasons in one day. So every Saturday is different”, says Sebastian Brevik.
Brevik is a happy-go-lucky local with an interest in everything that can be eaten or drunk. According to himself, he is also “a bartender, a glassblower, a socially critical dad, and full of charity”.
Sebastian Brevik, "happy-go-lucky-local"
Brevik’s tips for a Saturday with the locals in Ålesund
A good start: I would start the day with a scrummy breakfast at Racoon in Kongens gate. Whatever the weather is like, it’s a great place to observe how the city pulse builds up as Ålesund wakes up.
Charming neighbourhoods: Go for a walk towards the elegant area of Brunholmen. Stop by the foodbar, cocktail bar and restaurant Apotekergata No. 5. Check out the evening menu and pick up a bun to eat on the way to an unusual experience at Trankokeriet. A visit to this antique shop is cool on a sunny day and even better when it rains, and they have great coffee, too.
On top of the world: The city’s most beautiful and Instagram-friendly activity is the walk to Mount Aksla. From the city park, follow the stairs up the mountain to the open view of the whole city. Whether you live here or just visit, this is something you should do as often as possible. Afterwards, you can go down to Kipperviktorget, a wonderful lunch spot full of life and fantastic food trucks. The quesadilla in Evergreen is a favourite! If you’re unlucky with the weather, it’s a great idea to visit the aquarium Atlanterhavsparken.
Pub crawl: There are numerous options for everyone who wants to explore new flavours. If you like grapes, VinoBar is a real gem. For a local beer with a burger in a place with plenty of space, try Molo Brew. To make sure you meet some locals, my best tip is the backyard at Piano. Last but not least, you’ll find the finest cocktails in the city in the bar Arkivet. You can also check out the classic venue Smutthullet. When it comes to the keywords “pub” and “dancing”, there’s nothing like it! It must be seen and experienced – just not too late in the evening …
Restaurants and bars: The restaurants Apotekergata no. 5 and Bro represent what the Ålesund region has to offer in the best possible way. Both places have their own bar with handmade cocktails, often made with local spirits and ingredients, as well as fine wines. You don’t need to worry too much about the prices either, because these places have something for all budgets.
Sunday city walks
“Ålesund’s beautiful nature and fantastic location among fjords, mountains, and the sea offer endless opportunities for an active holiday all year round”, says the professional skier and consultant Karsten Gefle.
Gefle is a professional skier, consultant, and father of two, and has lived in Ålesund since 2012.
Karsten Gefle, professional skier
Gefle’s tips for urban Sunday walks
Urban hikes: There are many marked hiking trails close by. From the city centre, you can follow the steps to Fjellstua and enjoy fantastic views along the way. If you want more, you can continue your hike on the trails around Mount Aksla. Sukkertoppen (314 metres above sea level) is also a pleasant trip just west of the centre at Hessa. The views are just as good, but there are probably more people there, too. You can also take the bus to Høgenakken, around 15 minutes from the centre. Expect marvellous views of the city, the sea, and the Sunnmørsalpene mountain range.
Island trip: Another fantastic walk is to go up to Godøyfjellet (497 metres above sea level) on the beautiful island of Godøya. There are plenty of trails to choose from there, from steeper climbs to paths with sturdy stone steps. Take the trail from Alnes or Godøya school, for example. Alnes lighthouse makes a nice break with a restaurant, a café, and an art exhibition. If you’re lucky, you get to see surfers taking up the challenge of the waves by the beach. There is a bus to Godøya from the city.
Active Sunday: Rent a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard from Uteguiden and explore the centre from another perspective. You can also rent a bike. If you want a little more speed and excitement, a RIB boat trip is a cool option.
Winter activities: Ålesund is a fantastic starting point for skiing. There are endless possibilities within easy reach in Sunnmørsalpene, one of the most beautiful summit terrains in the world. Strandafjellet offers the country’s best lift-based off-piste. You can drive there or take a bus, and all the equipment you need is available to rent. You can also reach Stranda by a special ski boat. Another great winter experience is fishing. Check out the “Borgundfjord fishery” and visit during the fishing festival in February/March.
Packed lunch: We usually eat lunch outdoors, in one of many nice picnic areas or by a viewpoint. You can also stop for a coffee and something to eat in the coffee shop Racoon, whether you want to sit down or buy something to take with you.
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