The Fjord Norway region boasts hundreds of fjords and stretches along Norway’s western coast. This is home to some of the most stunning scenery on the planet and the deep valleys, carved out by ancient glaciers provide the backdrop for some unforgettable activities.
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1. Historic Stavanger
In Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger) you can find more than 170 wonderfully preserved wooden houses dating from the turn of the eighteenth century, along with numerous galleries and shops selling handicrafts. Stavanger Cathedral is Norway’s oldest, dating all the way back to the twelfth century, and is also worth a visit.
2. Hike the Preikestolen and cruise the Lysefjord in winter
Like all cities in Fjord Norway, Stavanger is surrounded by spectacular nature and cruises along the 42-kilometre Lysefjord are amongst the most popular activities for visitors. You can board a boat in the town centre and travel out to the iconic Preikestolen which juts out from the mountain wall 600 m above the water. But to get the best view, join a guided tour and hike the six kilometres up to Preikestolen which makes for a natural viewing platform – it takes about four hours but is well worth the effort!
3. Beautiful Bergen
Bergen was Norway’s capital back in the thirteenth century, and you can explore some of the city’s past among the colourful houses of the Bryggen district. The buildings here are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and many date back to the 1700s, although their foundations are much older. The district also has several museums that delve into the city’s rich history, like the Hanseatic Museum, which explores the period when the Hansa guild of German merchants wielded huge power in the area.
4. Take a fjord tour and discover Hardangerfjord
The Norwegian coastline looks magnificent in winter. In Hardangerfjord, the snow-capped mountains plunge almost vertically into the freezing waters below. Experience it for yourself on the Hardangerfjord in a Nutshell Winter tour, which includes a cruise along the fjord as well as a traditional Norwegian meal served inside a lavvu – a traditional tent used by the Sami people.
5. First-class skiing in Voss
Bergen isn’t just the gateway to the fjords. Just over an hour from the city you’ll find two first-class ski resorts, which offer something for everyone from families and beginners to more advanced off-piste and cross-country enthusiasts. The Voss resort has 24 ski slopes and 18 kilometres of cross-country trails, while Myrkdalen has some of the highest snowfall levels in Europe and is perfect for off-piste runs.
6. Enjoy great street art in Stavanger
Stavanger is famous for its annual Nuart street art festival, which takes place in September each year. But you can enjoy the city’s open-air art at any time by joining the Nuart Street Art Walking Tour, which includes a stop at the colourful street of Øvre Holmegate. This area is sometimes called ‘Stavanger’s Notting Hill’ thanks to its brightly painted houses, featuring hues chosen by the artist Craig Flannagan.
7. Stegastein viewpoint
The spectacular Stegastein viewpoint juts out 30 metres from the mountainside, 650 metres above Aurlandsfjord, offering an unparalleled panorama of the fjord, mountains and surrounding landscape. You can reach Stegastein by bus from nearby Flåm or as part of a guided tour.
8. Explore Viking country
Viking history can be uncovered everywhere in Fjord Norway. In Stavanger you’ll find the 10-metre-high Swords in Rock monument, which celebrates the victory of Viking chief Harald Fairhair at the Battle of Hafrsfjord in 872, leading to the unification of Norway. And just outside Haugesund is Avaldsnes, the site of King Fairhair’s house, which was built in around AD 870 and remained a royal residence until 1450. While in Gudvangen you can find a replica Viking Village, a ‘living cultural heritage site’ where volunteers recreate the Viking way of life.
9. Hike the Trolltunga in winter
Slip on your snowshoes and head out on an alpine adventure to the famous Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue). This lick of rock sticks out 700 meters above lake Ringedalsvatnet and is perhaps one of the most famous Instagram motifs in Fjord Norway – but there are far fewer crowds in the winter. Join a guided hike (you must have a professional guide in winter) for the experience of a lifetime.
10. Explore the Nærøyfjord
Take the Norway in a Nutshell Winter Tour and explore both Nærøyfjord and the Flåmsbana (Flåm railway line). The Flåmbana – which runs from the end of Aurlandsfjord up to the high mountains at Myrdal station – has been described as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, and is one of the leading tourist attractions in Norway.
Discover more about Norway:
Norway is a phenomenal place to visit thanks to its fantastic cuisine, bounteous nature and fascinating history – not to mention the amazing northern lights. And following an increasingly favourable exchange rate between the pound and Norwegian krone in recent years, the country is more affordable than ever.
The northern lights are one of nature’s greatest displays, and Northern Norway is an excellent place to see them. Cities like Bodø and Tromsø provide a great mix of cosy accommodation and next-door wilderness in which to view the northern lights without interference from man-made light sources.
Surrounded as they are by fjords and mountains, Bergen and Stavanger in Norway make for an unforgettable weekend away. And in addition to their natural beauty, these trendy cities are packed with excellent, five-star restaurants and unmissable historical sights.