Think the fjords are just for huge cruise ships moving at a glacial pace (if you’ll pardon the pun)? Think again. Here are our top 5 experiences in the Norwegian fjords from land, sea and air!
1. Helicopter Sightseeing
One of the best ways to experience the fjords is from the air! Just a short transfer from Hotel Brosundet to the helipad at the main airport in Alesund allows you to first fly back over the city and watch the landscape transform from low-lying rocky tongues disappearing into the sea to majestic snow-capped peaks – even in June. Choose to fly along the fjord itself, spotting tiny fishing boats meandering with their catch or head through the mountains themselves to see unexplored territory.
2. Rowing the fjords
With a broken finger to contend with, I felt more than a little trepidation at the thought of ‘rowing the fjords’ during my stay at 29/2 Aurland. However with boats seating 3, the guide can row unaided across the stretch of water from one side to the other with relative ease, leaving me to relax and gaze up at the majesty of the Naerofjord over 1500m above me. Of course had I wanted to test my mettle in these traditional wooden boats your guide is more than happy to offer another pair of oars for the full Norwegian experience. Safely back on dry land, we then did a gentle hike along the old postal route, where villages would pass their post from one to the other until it reached the main town.
3. Gurines Food farm
I didn’t really know what to expect when we arrived at this mixture of old and new buildings by the side of the storfjord, only a 5 minute drive from the storfjord hotel. What I wasn’t prepared for was the detail and history that the family had put into the little house you have your tastings in. Encouraged to explore this tiny piece of history, my eyes were pulled everywhere by the story of their ancestors lives through each perfectly preserved room. The real highlight was when we were ushered into a beautiful dining room set with candles and flowers with a table perfectly set for two. What followed was a succession of dishes prepared and cooked by the couple, each a unique insight into the region, from crab claws caught in the North Sea to lingonberry jam made using foraged fruit. Absolutely delicious and unforgettable.
4. Flatflesa Lighthouse
Norway is all about getting away from the stresses of modern life, and nowhere is better placed to instil a sense of relaxation than spending a day on your very own lighthouse island in the North Sea. Barely 100m across, you are greeted on arrival (rib boat or helicopter – your choice!) by your host and chef who take you on a tour of the island to see the lighthouse itself, outdoor wood-fired hot tub and sauna looking out over endless waves and miniature mountain peaks in the distance. We enjoyed a fresh seafood lunch of langoustines, snow crab, prawns and a just cooked fish stew around a rustic wooden table in the ‘Crab Shack’, warmed by the wood burner and our contentment. After lunch you can fish with the host and cast out crab pots or take a dip in one of the rock pools before plunging into the hot tub for the ultimate in rustic luxury.
5. Flam railway
There is a reason this 20km long stretch of railway has been called one of the most scenic journeys in the world. Starting in snow-covered peaks in Myrdal, you drop over 800m in an hour before pulling into Flam at sea level at the bottom of the valley in a breath-taking journey. The carriages hark back to the 1940s when the line first opened, with forest-green carriages and red and wood-panelled interiors to give a more experiential feel. The excitement and enjoyment can be felt from all passengers as we made our way from one side of the carriage to the other and back again, to glimpse thundering waterfalls, soaring peaks and tiny primary-colored wooden houses set into the slopes.
Finally – don’t forget one of the most important and authentic experiences of all in Norway – at the end of a day exploring the outdoors what better way to recharge than with a sauna and wood-fired hot-tub!