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The fjords – more than a pretty facade

Pictures of Fjord Norway reveal stunning scenery with deep blue fjords, flowing waterfalls, and sharp, snow-capped mountains that tower high above the water. Here, the seals and eagles reign, and the whales and fish patrol the deep fjords.

The striking landscapes of Fjord Norway were created by a succession of ice ages, and the characteristic landscape hasn’t changed a great deal since people started living here. Fjord arms and waterfalls are accessible virtually everywhere you go, and UNESCO has included the west Norwegian fjord landscape, exemplified by the Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord, on its prestigious World Heritage List.

In Fjord Norway you’ll find everything from solitary islands to some of Norway’s largest cities. A short drive is all it takes to go from urban life to quiet countryside or prime wilderness.

Along the sides and at the inner and outer ends of each fjord you’ll find small communities and villages, each with its own speciality that reflects its local traditionsand what was possible to grow in each place.

Many of the region’s fertile valleys are ideal for growing fruit, and apples, pears, cherries, and strawberries are popular and common crops. Wild game, fish, or locally reared sheep form the base of many a special dish from Fjord Norway.

Things to do

Take a tour on a world heritage fjord, hike to Instagram friendly mountain plateaus, or drive the scenic route between some of Norway’s most charming cities – Fjord Norway offers fantastic nature experiences not matter what activity level you choose.

Travel from the small villages and towns in the inner areas of the fjords to the extreme western coast and its many islands holding old settlements and fishermen’s cabins. Or start in Bergen and take the train into the mountains or the coastal steamer Hurtigruten northwards – all the way to the Arctic, if you so desire.

Alternatively, stay put and enjoy the fjords in Fjord Norway, which form natural playgrounds for all sorts of salt-water activities. From fishing to kayaking via camping and scuba-diving, you’ll find many nooks and crannies with calm waters and mysteries to explore.

In this area, winters are mild, and ports are often free of ice even in the dead of winter. Further inland and higher up, however, snow is abundant and provides plenty of opportunities for fun – with or without skis.

On dry land, you can explore to your heart’s content on foot, by car, or on a bike. Follow modern-day roads, ancient postal routes, or the Navvies’ Road, take the Loen Skylift cable car to 1,011 metres, or climb the Via Ferrata Loen high above the fjord, surrounded by the mountains and the Jostedalsbreen National Park.

Some of Norway’s most prominent architecture is located in the west. The old Hanseatic wharf Bryggen in Bergen is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. If you want to keep moving, most of the award-winning Norwegian Scenic Routesare found in this region, such as Atlanterhavsvegen (the Atlantic Road) and Geiranger-Trollstigen. Here, already dazzling nature is enriched by striking architecture, creative engineering solutions, and brilliant designs.

One landmark is the acclaimed Community Church Knarvik just north of Bergen – a dramatic and stunning, yet still peaceful wooden church. Juvet landskapshotell in Geiranger and “The Tree” in Bergen – at 51 meters, the tallest wooden house in the world– is also worth mentioning.

Lastly, we should give the many festivals of Fjord Norway a mention. The Bergen International Festival (classical music, dance and theatre), Gladmat in Stavanger (food) and the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund are just three examples.