Gateways to the Norwegian Fjords
On a Norwegian Fjords cruise holiday, you’ll not only experience the stunning beauty of the fjords, but you’ll also get the chance to visit historic Norwegian towns of the region along the way, including Bergen, one of the ‘gateways to the fjords’
Norway is home to more than 1,000 fjords, including two of the three longest in the world. As one of the planet’s most spectacular and unspoilt natural wonders, it is often said that the best way to experience a Norwegian Fjords holiday is by sea. We, of course, agree.
As you sail through the fjords, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of glacial valleys, mountains and picturesque fishing villages as you sail through pure Nordic waters, as well as the chance to visit historic and beautiful Norwegian towns and cities along the way.
Bergen is widely known as the ‘gateway to the fjords’ due to the city’s unique location, sitting between two of the region’s biggest fjords – the Sognefjord and the Hardangerfjord.
What is the world's longest fjord?
The Sognefjord (the world’s longest and deepest fjord) extends from the coast to the mountains of the Jotunheimen and Jostedalsbreen National Parks, and has beautiful emerald-green water thanks to the meltwater from nearby glaciers. The Hardangerfjord is the fourth-longest fjord in the world, and the second-longest in Norway, and offers everything from waterfalls and glaciers to Trolltunga – an iconic outcrop of rock that hovers around 700 metres high.
As well as being a perfect place to explore the fjords, Bergen is often referred to as the ‘city among the seven mountains’, and there is much on offer for adventurous explorers. For inspiring panoramic views, hike up one of the mountains (there are actually many more than seven) that surround Bergen, or take the funicular railway to the top of Mount Floyen, which overlooks both the city and the surrounding region.
The colourful, gabled wooden houses that line Vagen Harbour on a Bergen cruise are an unmissable sight, too. This area, known as Bryggen (the Norwegian word for ‘wharf’), is UNESCO World Heritage listed and is the city’s oldest quarter, buzzing with life and history. The very first buildings in Bergen were built where Bryggen stands today, and the area was of great importance for trade for the city for centuries. Damaged by a number of fires over time, Bryggen has been rebuilt closely following the original architecture. It is very much the thriving and active cultural centre of the city, with many coffee shops and restaurants, galleries and shops, plus the fish market.
Explore the fjord region
Nestled on the innermost part of Sognefjord, Flåm is perhaps most famous for its dramatic railway – one of the steepest in the world. Take a ride on the scenic Flåm railway and you’ll travel through stunning landscapes as well as 20 tunnels, travelling from sea level to the mountain station of Myrdal, 867 metres above sea level, in just 12 miles.
The coastal town of Stavanger steeped in Norse history and is known as the ‘cradle of the Vikings’. Like Bergen, it is the gateway to many of the region’s beautiful fjords, including Lysefjord. This breathtaking fjord is filled with must-sees such as Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock) and Fantahala (vagabond’s cave).
Stretching across three islands at the mouth of the magnificent Geirangerfjord, Ålesund and the surrounding area are among the most visited sites in Norway. The Geirangerfjord, a jewel among the Norwegian Fjords, has a characteristic ‘S’ shape, and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The peaceful village of Olden is found at the southern end of one branch of the Nordfjord and at the entrance to the Oldedalen Valley. Probably one of the region’s most spectacular sights is the Briksdal Glacier – one of the three outlets of the Jostedal Glacier and the largest in continental Europe. Set between cascading waterfalls and mountains, seeing it is an experience you’ll never forget. You can hike through idyllic scenery, pass waterfalls, trickling streams, snow-capped mountains and wildflowers before arriving at the imposing Briksdal Glacier itself.