Top Attractions & Things to Do in Sognefjord
| by Assia A. |
| Last Updated March 31, 2023 |
The Sognefjord is the largest fjord in Norway and the third-largest in the world. It extends inland for 204 kilometers from Sygnefest to its easternmost point, Skjolden. This spectacular 4.8 kilometer wide, 6905-meter deep fjord is only a three-hour drive from Bergen city or five hours from Oslo.
The fjord splits into many narrow arms enclosed by steep rock walls rising to heights of over 1,676 meters. The climate of the Sognefjord is a combination of coastal and continental climates, which means that it has mild winters and warm summers with mild temperatures.
The Sognefjord is famous for its rugged mountains, steep cliffs, and spectacular waterfalls, exploring the Sognefjord can easily be done by car, boat, or train, and also by bike. The best time to explore the fjord is in the summer months because it’s the only time the ships of the Hurtigruten, Norway’s coastal ferry service can navigate the narrowest part of the fjord. They often sail from Bergen to Årdalstangen.
Its waters are dotted with impressive boats, cruise ships, and tour companies offering an extensive list of attractions and things to do. From spectacular national parks, mountain ranges, glaciers, waterfalls, to other attractions and fun things to do, which have made it a favorite among tourists.
To see the best places to visit in Sognefjord, Norway, check out our list of Top Attractions & Things to Do in Sognefjord. Some popular ones include visiting museums and churches, enjoying outdoor activities, exploring the nearby villages, and having a relaxing time in Sognefjord’s beautiful scenery.
Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Norway
Considered one of the most spectacular fjords on the planet, The Naeroyfjord, is a deep and narrow arm of the Sognefjord, Norway’s longest fjord. Its name is derived from the Norse God of the Sea, Njord, who is also the Norse equivalent of Poseidon. The fjord is hemmed in by nearly vertical mountains rising more than 1,700 meters above its calm waters. It is a breathtaking and picturesque place, and UNESCO has included it along with many other Norwegian fjords, on its World Heritage List.
The village of Gudvangen is one of the best places to start exploring the fjord, you can take a boat or rent a kayak to see the breathtaking scenery around you. You can also start a fun and challenging hike here, something that requires a good fitness level if the climbing is involved, this is something you should do with a trained and prepared group of people.
Take the Train: Flåm Railway Line
The Flåm Railway Line (Flåmsbana), the world’s steepest standard-gauge railway (and Norway’s third most popular tourist attraction), offers visitors close-up views of the Aurlandsfjord’s most spectacular scenery, including the 224-meter Kjelsfossen waterfalls and towering snow-capped mountains. This engineering marvel in Norway was opened in 1940 and today it is still an impressive engineering feat that has been described as a “tunnel of beauty”.
If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the legend Huldra, a mythical creature from Scandinavian folklore that dances and sings in front of the waterfall. The railway is also a popular tourist destination during the winter months.
The Viking Valley is one of the newest attractions in the Sognefjord area, bringing to life the history and culture of the Viking age while enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and a number of other tourist attractions. It’s located in Gudvangen – in the heart of the unique UNESCO-listed Norwegian fjord landscape, and it is open to everyone interested in experiencing and learning about the Vikings’ culture, how they lived and worked.
The Valley offers a fully immersive experience with its own theme park village. Tourists have the chance to explore the Viking culture and learn about their history, through many authentic buildings on the site, Viking ships, and museums.
The extended “Explore & Learn” packages include instruction in ax-throwing, archery, Viking games, and other time-honored activities, such as cooking over an open fire, fishing and hunting, and even woodworking. You can also take part in authentic Viking-style cooking, too. You can taste a great Viking menu at a traditional Viking Market.
Fjærlandsfjord & the Norwegian Glacier Museum
Fjærland is the scenic area surrounding a branch of the Sognefjord near Jostedalsbreen, with access to some of the country’s most impressive glaciers. The area has many opportunities for trekking and mountain hiking and there are numerous organized hiking trips available.
The Fjordlands are home to other fun activities, like visiting the Norwegian Glacier Museum, Norwegian Booktown (a collection of bookshops, galleries, and cafés), and the lovely Hotel Mundal, built in 1891. There are lots of cruises on offer around the fjord. From Fjærland, a long, 11-kilometer tunnel takes you through the glacier to Skei, in the heart of the Sogn Og Fjordane. The trip is popular among tourists as it gives them a good glimpse of Norway’s spectacular scenery.
Balestrand is a beautiful town in the Sognefjord region in Norway, its surrounding area boasts gorgeous fjords, mountains, and islands. It is a popular destination for tourists as well as photographers and artists. The weather is spectacular with fantastic light conditions, which produce some of the most beautiful photos in the world.
The charming Balestrand is a small town with a rich history and lots of tourist attractions. It’s easy to spend a day in this town, making stops along its Cultural Heritage Trail, there are many beautiful and historical buildings, like the Cooper House, St. Olaf’s Church, the statue of King Bele, and many beautiful old holiday villas. The new Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism has an excellent exhibit on the area, offering a look at how people have been traveling to Balestrand over the years.
Another highlight in the area is the outstanding Kviknes Hotel, built in the 19th century. The hotel is well known as the location from which Kaiser Wilhelm II was informed about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the event that sparked WWI. The Kaiser was vacationing there in the summer of 1914 when he received the news (the hotel’s famous chair, where the Kaiser was sitting when he learned of the assassination, is still in the hotel).
Visit a Historic Stave Church
In western Norway, the village of Vik sits on the shores of Sognefjord, which is also known as Sognfjord. This is a picturesque place with a rich history of traditional churches, the best preserved of Norway’s few remaining historic Stave Churches. Hopperstad Stave Church can be found on the south side of the fjord in the village, an ancient community consisting of wide and fertile farmland. The Undredal Stave Church which is located on the Aurlandsfjord is one of Norway’s most famous churches, and the smallest church still in use. And it is a beautiful example of northern Gothic architecture.
The UNESCO World Heritage building of Urnes Stave Church on the Lusterfjord is a remarkable piece of Norwegian history with stunning views and an exceptional collection of ancient wooden artifacts. This is a magnificent example of the early wooden churches that were common in Scandinavia.
Kaupanger & Heibergske Samlinger Open-Air Museum
Located at the head of Amlabugt, a river inlet on the north side of the Sognefjord, Kaupanger was once a Viking settlement. The town’s magnificent 12th-century stave church is the centerpiece of the old part of town.
Also worth checking out is its unique open-air museum, Heibergske Samlinger, and its interesting display of local life from the Middle Ages to the present. Several boat cruise options are available to enjoy the region’s magnificent landscape.
Located in the Årdalsfjord, the small town of Årdalstangen offers a convenient starting point for those interested in exploring the area by foot, boat, or kayak. The picturesque town boasts a variety of accommodation options, great dining, and shopping, while the nearby Sognefjord is the gateway to many popular local hiking trails.
For those looking to stay active, there is plenty to do outdoors. Whether you enjoy skiing, climbing, hiking, rafting, horseback riding, fishing, or just relaxing on the beach, this charming little town has something for everyone.
Protected as a natural monument, Vettisfossen is one of the highest waterfalls in Norway, and the tallest free-falling waterfall in Europe which consists of only one drop. To the north of Årdalstangen, and also on the Årdalsvatn, Øvre Årdal is a beautiful town from which to explore some of Norway’s magnificent waterfalls, including Vettisfossen. The falls are a 3-4 hour walk up the Vettisgjel gorge and are a must.
There are other waterfalls in the area worth exploring including, Kjosfossen in Flåmsdalen, Feigumfossen in Luster, and Kvinnafossen between Leikanger and Hella.
Tours & Excursions in The Norway Fjords
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