It's raw, rough, and full of contrasts. It's the time of year when Fjord Norway shows its mystical and magical self. Autumn, winter and spring are what we call the Viking season.
The Viking season
If you visit Fjord Norway during the Viking season, that lasts from October to April, you can enjoy popular sights and world-famous nature attractions without the crowds. The active traveller has plenty of activities to choose from at this time of year, like downhill skiing, ski touring, snowshoeing, rib safari, and fishing to mention a few.
What exactly is a fjord?
A fjord is a deep, narrow, and elongated sea or lake inlet, often surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery. The fjords are often described as ”nature’s own work of art”, and was formed when the glaciers retreated and seawater flooded the U-shaped valleys. Some of the world’s longest fjords are located in Fjord Norway. Read more about these and other popular Norwegian fjords in our article "The fjords explained”.
Learn to speak “Fjord”
Do you speak Fjord? Pick up some local terminology that will be useful on your visit to the Norwegian fjords.
Foss – waterfall
Fjordarm – fjord arm
Ferge – ferry
Isbre – glacier
Svele – a compact, thick pancake that locals often eat as a snack between meals, especially on ferries
Vik – cove
Tåke – fog
Brudeferden i Hardanger – famous painting that represents a wedding entourage in a rowboat, painted in 1848 by artists Adolph Tidemand and Hans Gude.
Havn – harbour
During the Viking season, that lasts from October to April, it’s like the fjords in Norway get an entirely different character. See how the shifting weather affects the structure of the landscapes and changes our mood. The crystal-clear fjords are enveloped in mist, and the mountain peaks are covered with snow. The shorelines often remain bare and the fjords free of ice, due to the temperate waters of the Gulf Stream. Summer visitors have left and well-known attractions have returned to their laid-back, tranquil pace. Just feel how the silence and the mystical, almost fairy tale-like atmosphere sneaks into your soul.
Visiting Fjord Norway at this time of year will awaken all your senses. The striking landscapes make a natural playground for fun activities in the snow, such as skiing, snowshoeing and winter fishing. Big cities and small villages offer several restaurants and eateries that serve local specialities based on seasonal ingredients. Throughout the whole region, there are opportunities to learn more about the culture and history of the people from Fjord Norway – descendants of the Vikings.
Enjoy the space and serenity at your own pace and set out on adventures into the unknown. As we would say: Go Viking in the fjords.
Explore some of the highlights
Bergen, Ålesund, and Stavanger are ideal starting points when you want to explore Fjord Norway. Because they are the largest cities in the region, they are well-connected with the rest of Europe through direct flights. A short ride by train, boat, or bus is all it takes to go from urban life to quiet countryside or prime wilderness.
Weather conditions can cause roads and mountain passes to close during heavy snow and strong wind. When visiting Fjord Norway at this time of year, we therefore highly recommend that you use public transportation and allow some extra time for travelling.
Starting point: Bergen
Duration: 2–7 days
Combine bustling city life and peaceful nature in historical Bergen – the city between the seven mountains. Take the Bergensbanen train from Bergen to the charming fjord village of Flåm, which is surrounded by steep mountains and frozen waterfalls. Join a fjord cruise, a rib safari, or a guided snowshoe tour. You can also do nice walks in the local areas and visit the Viking village in Gudvangen. You can also go on exploring the beautiful Sognefjord area by bus og boat.
The Flåm railway – named the world’s most incredible train journey by Lonely Planet – is an attraction in itself. In winter, many ski tourers actually use the train as a "ski lift".
Myrkdalen ski resort, situated less than a two-hour drive from Bergen, offers a wide range of courses, terrain parks, and off-piste slopes. The same goes for Voss, where the gondola of the ski resort starts right at the train station of the famous Bergensbanen railway.
The Hardangerfjord in white
With Bergen as your base, you also have the opportunity to go on an adventure-filled trip to the picturesque Hardangerfjord. If you are up for a challenge, you can join a guided snowshoeing tour to Trolltunga (from mid-February to May), one of Norway’s most famous rock formations. At Hotel Ullensvang you can relax in a sauna with panorama views of the fjord landscape.
Starting point: Ålesund
Duration: 2–7 days
The art nouveau town of Ålesund is the perfect starting point if you want to experience the UNESCO listed Geirangerfjord dressed in white. During the Viking season, the Geirangerfjord area offers plenty of fun activities, including fjord cruises and safaris, as well as guided snowshoeing and snow rafting trips. You can hop on a day cruise from Ålesund, or stay for some days.
Ålesund is also very close to the snow-capped summits of the Hjørundfjord and the Sunnmøre Alps, a paradise for downhill and ski touring enthusiasts. Only 50 kilometres from Ålesund lies Stranda Ski Resort, famous for its powder conditions, long runs, and the possibility to ski from the top of the mountain and down to the fjord. It is also possible to take a gondola to the top of the mountain to enjoy a panoramic view of the fjord landscape. If you are new to ski touring, Stranda is a great place to join a guided tour.
Ålesund is also the closest international port if you want to visit the Loen Skylift, a modern cable car situated in the inner part of Nordfjord about two and a half hours by bus from Ålesund. The cable car will take you from the fjord to the peak of Mount Hoven 1,011 metres above sea level in five minutes. At the top, you can enjoy a scenic view of a frozen fjord landscape, either from the restaurant table or whilst tobogganing or cross-country skiing (equipment for rent). As a great way to finish off an active day, you can visit the swimming facility at Hotel Alexandra, which offers both a spa and in- and outdoor swimming pools.
Starting point: Stavanger
Duration: 2–7 days
About 200 kilometres south of Bergen is the Stavanger region, known for its natural attractions, culinary scene, and old wooden houses.
Join a guided walk to see some of the amazing street art created by some of the world´s best artists during the annual Nuart Street Art festival in the lively city of Stavanger. Explore the fascinating Oil Museum and enjoy a concert with the renowned Stavanger Symphony Orchestra before you book a table at one of the best restaurants in the fjord region, like Michelin star Sabi Omakase and RE-NAA.
Stavanger is surrounded by great natural experiences. The long, white beaches facing the North Sea is ideal for both a refreshing stroll and for surfing – all year round. You should not miss a winter cruise on the famous Lysefjord or join a guided walk or snowshoeing excursion to the mountain plateau Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock), named the world’s most breathtaking viewing platform by Lonely Planet. You can also combine a cruise with a hike.
At this time of year, you can often enjoy the natural beauty blanketed in snow, as well as crowd-free trails and views.
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