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THE FJORDS

Once in a lifetime...

...you have to experience this.

Kayaking on the Nærøyfjord .
Photo: Trigger / Visit Norway
Experience the fjords .
Photo: Trigger / Visit Norway

Impressive waterfalls. Grazing goats. Places where time moves at its own pace.

Sheep grazing by the Nærøyfjord .
Photo: Trigger / Visit Norway
Fjords of Norway .
Photo: Trigger / Visit Norway

Giant glaciers shaped these underwater valleys, where salty arms of the sea embrace the feet of the majestic mountains.

Preikestolen in Ryfylke .
Photo: Outdoorlife Norway
Preikestolen in Ryfylke .
Photo: Outdoorlife Norway

The word "Fjord" comes from the Norse fjorðr, meaning to go, pass or cross over.

It has the same origin as the verb å fare, to travel.

Something the many Vikings that once resided in this area were particularly good at.

...you can probably also guess where the word farvel (farewell) originates!

Myklebust viking ship in Nordfjord .
Photo: Ruben Soltvedt / Fjord Norway
The Myklebust viking ship in Nordfjord .
Photo: Ruben Soltvedt / Fjord Norway

Today, modern Vikings cross the fjords in lots of different ways.

Wooohaa!

Zipline in Loen .
Photo: Marius Beck Dahle / Loen Skylift
Zipline in Loen .
Photo: Marius Beck Dahle / Loen Skylift

Or aaaah...

Enjoy a super-silent electrical day cruise on a UNESCO-listed fjord.

The ship Vision of the Fjords .
Photo: Sverre Hjørnevik / Flåm AS
The ship Vision of the Fjords .
Photo: Sverre Hjørnevik / Flåm AS

Norway has thousands of fjords, the most famous of which you will find in Fjord Norway, in the western part of the country.

Fjord Norway is also a hiking paradise (but don't worry, you can also cheat and catch a ride to the top in a gondola on some mountains!).

Loen Skylift in Nordfjord .
Photo: Loen Skylift
Loen Skylift in Nordfjord .
Photo: Loen Skylift

Stay for a while and experience the quiet tranquillity of one of the many quaint fjord villages.

Lærdalsøyri in Sogn, Fjord Norway .
Photo: Vegard Aasen
Lærdalsøyri in Sogn, Fjord Norway .
Photo: Vegard Aasen

You will also find pristine, dramatic fjordscapes in Northern Norway, like the famous Trollfjorden (pictured here).

A cruise along The Coastal Route aboard Hurtigruten or Havila lets you see all the most famous fjords in one trip!

Trollfjorden .
Photo: Agurtxane Concellon / Hurtigruten
Trollfjorden .
Photo: Agurtxane Concellon / Hurtigruten

Norway also has urban fjords, like the Oslofjord, full of fascinating WWII history...

Oscarsborg Fortress .
Photo: NLE / Visit Greater Oslo
Oscarsborg Fortress .
Photo: NLE / Visit Greater Oslo

...and very tasty fjords, like the renowned apple and cider heaven, the Hardangerfjord.

Edel Cider in Hardangerfjord. .
Photo: Gunn Gravdal Elton / Visit Hardangerfjord
Edel Cider in Hardangerfjord. .
Photo: Gunn Gravdal Elton / Visit Hardangerfjord

There are more than a thousand fjords in Norway, all along the coast. But most of the iconic fjords– those you may have seen on the postcards, like the Sognefjord, the Lysefjord, and the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord – are located in Fjord Norway, in the western part of the country.

But you can also find dramatic fjordscapes in Northern Norway and smaller and more tranquil fjords in the South.

Many fjords resemble still blue lakes yet consist of saltwater (sometimes mixed with fresh water from the rivers and glaciers, though) – they are prolonged arms of the sea, often reaching deep inland with majestic mountains towering above them on both sides.

Even though the fjords are often intertwined, and you can sail from one fjord to another or back out to sea, visiting them is like stepping into a secluded universe – especially when visiting the region in winter.

From past to present

However, the key to understanding why the fjords are perhaps the most important symbol of Norway – and amongst the country’s most popular attractions – lies in what they represent.

More than anything, the fjord landscapes evoke images of Norway in the past: A time when people lived as farmers in impossibly steep and rocky surroundings (in certain places they still do). A time when you could harvest from the bountiful fruit trees, and a sheep’s head was considered a delicacy (it still is).

Although the landscapes may seem untamed and wild, the fjord areas are nevertheless easy to explore both on your own and through guided tours. There are small villages spread throughout, and trails for both glacier walks and mountain hikes are plentiful.

If you want to have the fjords for yourself, travel outside of summer! The fjords will give you a unique and magical experience in every season!

Flåm in Fjord Norway .
Photo: Berge / Knoff / Natural Light / Visitnorway.com
Flåm in Fjord Norway .
Photo: Berge / Knoff / Natural Light / Visitnorway.com

Things to do by the fjords

Whether you want to experience the famous peace and quiet or get an adrenaline rush, the fjords are the ideal destination.

Start off with a fjord cruise, an easy hike or relaxing walk by the fjord, or take a guided tour to viewing points of the fjords, mountains, and waterfalls.

More challenging trips include steep hikes up to rewarding views at the top. You can also explore by kayak, or go SUP boarding, rafting, glacier hiking, rock climbing, and climbing on a via ferrata route. There are guided fishing tours in many places.

Go skiing all year round high above the fjord in the Hardangerfjord region, among other places. Summer skiing is a popular activity that may be combined with swimming in a fjord earlier or later on the same day.

There are many fascinating historical sites for history buffs, ruins of ancient buildings, art and folklore museums, open-air museums, and Viking Era sites. Unesco World Heritage sites include Bryggen in Bergen, Urnes Stave Church, the fjords of Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord, and the surrounding landscapes.

There are several national parks in Fjord Norway with marked trails, where you can experience everything from wildlife, lakes, rivers and glaciers to mountain cabins and visitor centres.

Stunning World Heritage landscapes

The fjords of Fjord Norway, exemplified by the Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord, were granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2005.

“Their exceptional natural beauty is derived from their narrow and steep-sided crystalline rock walls that rise up to 1,400 metres from the Norwegian Sea and extend 500 metres below sea level. The sheer walls of the fjords have numerous waterfalls while free-flowing rivers cross their deciduous and coniferous forests to glacial lakes, glaciers and rugged mountains,” writes UNESCO.

Not sure which fjords to visit?

With more than a thousand fjords around the country, it’s not surprising that many travellers wonder where to go and which fjords to see. Learn how to differentiate the most famous ones, and narrow it down with our recommended trips below.

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