Sailing the fjords of Norway
Norway is famous for its fjords. Carved out of the mountains lining Norway’s coast by millennia of glacial expansion and retreat, these sheer cliff faces form deep, jagged inlets into the coast all the way up the countries prodigiously long shoreline.
Dense carpets of pine trees compete with monumental rock outcroppings and breath-taking waterfalls to dominate the haunting beauty of these foreboding landscapes where Viking longships once plied the icy water. Today, in their spirit, you too can sail through the twisting fjords, visiting picturesque villages and sheep farms nestled hundreds of feet up in the rocks.
How to Sail The Fjords
As the fjords are one of Norway’s biggest tourist attractions, dozens of companies offer guided tours, but the most popular has to be Norway in a Nutshell, which can book all the necessary arrangements for you before you ever even leave home.
For about two hundred dollars, Norway in a Nutshell will arrange for you to take the train to Bergen and from there up into the mountains and down the valleys to the coast, where you can catch a tourist barge that will take you around the Fjords and even point out some of the most significant sights on the way.
Your journey will begin in either Oslo or Bergen, though I highly recommend you take the train to Bergen from Oslo, as the Bergen-Oslo route is host to some mind-blowing views of frozen glaciers, sky retreats, and rustic cabins that are encased in dense snow all year round due to the altitude.
Once you are in Bergen, the trains will take you to the tiny village of Flam, which has been settled for centuries, and despite having become the major tourist destination for those aiming to see the Fjords, it retains much of its bucolic charm. On the way there, you will see massive waterfalls created by the melting ice that tumble hundreds of miles down sheer cliff faces and the train will stop at several so you can take some pictures that will make your friends truly envious.
Once in Flam, you can spend an hour or so taking in all the adorable buildings or basking in some rare Nordic sun in its meadows. Once the ship weighs anchor the real fun begins as it gets underway and begins cruising through the maze of inlets that make up the Norweigan coast.
All along the fjords are tiny farmsteads where Norwegians have been raising sheep and simple crops for centuries. There is one that is particularly famous which is known as “Stigen Gard,” or “the ladder” in English, so called because that used to be the only way one could get up to it.
Each of the tiny villages has its own story and an ancient church to go with it, including one village where the locals claim the purity of their drinking water enables them to live far longer than ordinary people.
Once the boat tour comes to an end, it is time to head to Voss, a slightly larger village with a few breathtaking views of its own. However, if you still haven’t seen enough of the fjords by then, consider taking a day to sleep in Voss and prepare for some of the region’s great hikes the next day.
The most popular, and for good reason, is known as Pulpit Rock and it dominates its surroundings from the top of the local fjord, offering a once in a lifetime view of the area.
Finally, no trip to western Norway would be complete without a day in Bergen, where you can sip Norwegian beer and take in the charming city and it’s surprisingly vibrant music scene with any number of cheap concerts that seem to be playing every night. All in all, it is an amazing experience, and you can’t really say you’ve “been” to Norway unless you’ve done it. So pack your bags and get ready for the unforgettable fjords of Norway.