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A couple enjoying the view of the Hjørundfjord in Norway
The Hjørundfjord.
Photo: Mattias Fredriksson / VisitNorway.com
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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.

Get to the know the fjords

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“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.

Explore the most famous fjords
Step on world famous mountain plateaus like Preikestolen and Kjerag, and then challenge yourself on the 4444 steps of the wooden staircase of… Read more
The Lysefjord area
From the fjord itself to Folgefonna glacier and the iconic Trolltunga, the Hardangerfjord region offers Norwegian nature at its most scenic. The area… Read more
The Hardangerfjord region
A narrow, lush branch of Norway’s longest fjord, the Sognefjord. The village of Flåm is located by the Aurlandsfjord, and you can travel there on the… Read more
The Aurlandsfjord
The Nærøyfjord is on the UNESCO world heritage list and is a side arm to the Sognefjord. Read more
The Nærøyfjord
The Sognefjord is Norway’s longest and deepest fjord, and it’s famous arm the Nærøyfjord has World Heritage status. The… Read more
The Sognefjord area
The deep blue UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord is surrounded by majestic, snow- covered mountain peaks, wild waterfalls and lush, green vegetation. Read more
The Geirangerfjord area
This fjord has much of the same dramatic physique as the Geirangerfjord, but with far fewer tourists and more untouched nature. Quaint villages are… Read more
The Hjørundfjord
The Romsdal area is known for its diverse nature. Two well known tourist attractions in the area are the winding mountain road Trollstigen and the… Read more
The Romsdalsfjord
This fjord measures only about 100 metres across at its most narrow point, but it is still frequented daily in the summer by cruise ships like… Read more
The Trollfjord
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    Statens Kartverk, Geovekst og kommuner - Geodata AS
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    • The deep south: The Lysefjord

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    • Apple tree blossoming: The Hardangerfjord

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    • Wandering in wonderland: The Aurlandsfjord

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    • The UNESCO branch: The Nærøyfjord

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    • All fjords in one: The Sognefjord

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    • Walls of waterfalls: The Geirangerfjord

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    • Embraced by silence: The Hjørundfjord

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    • The film location: The Trollfjord

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