In January of 1904, the town center of the west coast city of Ålesund all but burnt down in a great fire, leaving just one house still standing. As a result of Kaiser Wilhelm’s passion for the western Norwegian fjords, he played an integral part in rebuilding the whole city. Many of the Norwegian architects used to rebuild the city had studied in Germany during the Jugendstil movement so a more Germanic Art Nouveau style was adopted, remodelling the traditional wooden clapboard houses to a collection of three-storey, charming, pastel colored brick and stone buildings crowned with towers and turrets, creating the distinctive look that we know and love today.
Added to Ålesund’s idiosyncratic style are Neoclassical and Gothic façades and decorative faces, flowers and dragons that adorn the porticoes. The complete ensemble is a delight to wander around and there are some fantastic cafes and restaurants to dip in and out of while you do so. Sailing the surrounding archipelago is a lovely way to spend a summer's day, or for something more extreme, suit-up and head out to Runde Island by RIB and catch a glimpse of the local seals and puffins inhabiting the island.
The North Western Fjords surrounding Ålesund are Nordfjord, Storfjord and Geirangerfjord. The mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers that together make up these incredible fjords offer a wealth of activities, from gentle to extreme and everything in between, all of which maximize views of the breath taking scenery. Hiking is the number one attraction and varies from gentle trails to more challenging routes where guides are necessary as you pick your way up rocks and narrow paths leading to the peaks and rewarding yourself with the most impressive panoramas.