With more than 1,000 fjords around the country, 10 of which are frequented regularly by cruise ships, it’s not surprising that tourists wonder where to go and which fjords to see. Learn how to differentiate the most famous ones with the help of our fjord-wise guide Øyvind Heen.
“Fjord is a Norwegian word gone international".
Øyvind grew up by a fjord and has been exploring these unusual landscapes practically all his life, documenting them in texts and pictures by hiking, climbing, kayaking, and other ways of moving around.
“I understand why visitors to Fjord Norway are confused. Not only are there so many fjords, they are also long and deep and have numerous side arms. To add to the confusion, some of the branches are far more famous than the main fjords”, Heen states.
According to Heen, the most dramatic fjords are in fact such side arms: The Geirangerfjord, the Aurlandsfjord, the Nærøyfjord, and the Lysefjord. His list of fjords worth visiting also include the Romsdalsfjord, the Nordfjord, the Sognefjord, the Hardangerfjord, and the northerly narrow Trollfjord.
“‘Fjord’ is a Norwegian word that has gone international. It’s an ancient Viking term related to the phrase for ‘where you travel across’ (der man ferder over) and the word ‘ferry’ (ferje)”, Heen tells.
“The fjords were created by massive glaciation that went below sea level”, he continues. “Over a period of 2.5 million years, the U-shaped valleys were carved out of the ground during a succession of glacial cycles. In other words, the fjords were shaped by the glaciers.”
Think of Norway’s fjords as main roads with side streets and narrow back alleys – a bit like the canals of Venice gone XXL. And by the way – many tourists are fascinated by the changing weather conditions of the fjord landscape.
“For those who come from warm and sunny places, the weather is an attraction in itself”, Heen claims. He himself plans to explore even more of the fjord universe that was engraved in him so long ago. Below, he gives a quick guide to Norway’s major fjords from south to north.