Formed during the last ice age, the Norwegian fjords have a raw beauty on par with that of Iceland, Patagonia and New Zealand. One of the world’s greatest off-the-beaten path adventure destinations, the country’s fjord region is defined by staggering peaks, cleft by waterfalls and dotted with old farmhouses, that drop into blue water thousands of feet deep. Despite this spectacular landscape, the area is just being discovered by travelers. Our advice? Go now to enjoy it before the crowds arrive. Here are our top travel tips for the Norwegian fjords.
Commit to a full-on adventure or abbreviated luxury experience.
Norway’s luxury tourism market remains rough around the edges. The country has no five-star hotels, but this is part of its allure. It is an unspoiled paradise that welcomes adventurers and rewards intrepidness. Visitors should opt either for a thrilling weeklong adventure with a mix of nice and mid-range hotels or a shorter trip exploring the surrounding countryside from a base at the plush 30-room Storfjord Hotel.
Experience the landscape in every way possible.
Air, land and sea all offer unique perspectives on the fjords, and visitors should navigate these awe-inspiring features by helicopter, car and boat. In particular, they will want to take the high-speed RIB boat tour, during which they will cruise at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour and see porpoise, seals, eagles and more, all while learning about the Vikings who once dominated these waters. Other thrilling ways to explore include hiking, mountain biking, sailing and kayaking, which are just a few of the outdoor activities on offer.
Related: Just Back From… the Norwegian Fjords
Hit the road.
Most itineraries in this region will involve significant time on the road. But don’t worry: Norway has 18 National Tourist Routes, highways that are particularly scenic and feature architecturally interesting viewpoints, like the one on the famous serpentine mountain road Trollstigen, that break up long drives.
Splurge on a sky-high experience.
The natural landscape of these coastal features, from the iconic Geirangerfjord to the less-visited Storfjord, is both majestic and diverse. Viewing it from the air allows visitors to experience the beauty without having to deal with crowds. Indagare can arrange private helicopter tours upon request, complete with picnic baskets or lunches at remote restaurants.
Go when the days are long.
Peak season in the fjords is June to August, when the sun sets around 11 p.m. and the days are warm, around 60 degrees on average. This is also the preferred time for cruise ships to visit, so many of the most beautiful fjords can be slightly crowded. May, June and early September are much quieter and still stunning.
Combine a visit with the right add-on destination.
Bergen is a great jumping-off point for touring the region and a necessary stop for those wishing to see the Sognefjord, which is the second-largest fjord in the world. For travelers who just want light fjords immersion, however, it’s not worth spending an overnight in Bergen. Instead, they should begin their journey in the charming town of Ålesund, which has a small international airport with direct flights to and from Oslo and Amsterdam, both of which offer city experiences that perfectly complement an adventure-focused fjord trip.