West Norway is about unique landscapes that can take your breath away and I totally recommend to visit. The ocean, the fjords, the hills and mountains that surround low land villages and the mirror effect of the water will make every photographer envy your spot. This is what I imagine when I think about this Nordic country.
Scenic landscapes and routes
Fjords in West Norway offer unique scenic views. I don’t think you have this type of landscape in another place in Europe, except similarities with Iceland. The fjords shape the land in many forms and every corner can be great to watch and admire. Ferry boat journeys and many hiking routes can reveal even more of this original landscape.
Transportation is well organized in Norway, and even the road trip can be an attraction in its own way. I’m thinking now of Atlantic Road that connects a few islands in the Atlantic ocean, which is a must-drive touristic route. Many scenic routes have embedded minimalist modern architecture and viewpoints in order to offer a great experience.
Although it’s recommended to have a car hired, buses and ferry boats go through small towns and it’s easy to find your way around. Fram is the local transportation site you need to know if you want to travel by public transportation. Needless to say, departure hour is respected, all stops are displayed on a screen, all drivers (as probably every Norwegian) speak English and are willing to help.
Mountains and hikes
You may search for recommended mountain routes, but trust me, everywhere you’ll go, you have options to walk and hike and to see at least green forests, sheep or deer. I’ve walked easy trails through the woods but also enjoyed approx 6 hrs hike. If you are an experienced mountaineer and an adventure seeker, combine hiking routes that last for days! The view from the top offers a better image of the peninsulas and islands shaped by the fjords.
In Tresfjords, for example, the peaks uncover many glacial lakes, streams, and waterfalls. On the other side, from the top of Molde, from Varden viewpoint, you can enjoy a wonderful panorama of 222 mountain peaks in Romsdalen. In Geiranger area, you can admire the huge waterfalls that fall directly into this spectacular fjord.
Admire the nature even if you don’t go up for hiking! Many road routes have well-organized viewpoints, so you don’t have to take on your hiking boots.
Endless summer days
There’s no question about the recommended season to visit West Fjords in Norway. Go there during summer, as the sun stays in the sky till midnight starting May to September (unless you want to see the Northern Lights, which is another great reason to visit). The natural phenomenon Midnight Sun occurs in June, and the period can be longer as north as you can go. We had about 2 hours of darkness (1 – 3 am) and the days were so loooong! Imagine how many hours can you wander from one place to another.
Fjords’ small cities and villages
Wood houses, beautifully colored or covered in moss perfectly integrate into nature. Red, white, yellow and black painted houses with no fences align at the bottom of every mountain. The grass is carefully cut and windows are proud of any Instagram hashtags, with white curtains, table lamps, flowers, charms as the locals appreciate beautiful details. This is Norway’s countryside, different than a bustling city.
Historically, these towns have a fishing industry tradition, but nowadays you can discover distinctive areas. While Aalesund is well known for its Art Nouveau architecture style, Molde is a small town known for the landscape view it offers, and Kristiansund, the 4 islands town, has a long shipyard and fish warehouses’ culture.
Fresh fish tastes so good, and I am not talking about fancy restaurants here. Because eating out is very expensive even for Norwegians, buy from the markets and cook at home, if possible. Somehow salmon, cod, halibut taste better than in any other places I’ve tried it. We went in Bud, at a typical fish restaurant called Bryggjen i Bud, where you have an open buffet during the weekend and plenty of local fish dishes to try. I had the best fish soup and good steamed salmon with cucumber salad. Whale is also on the menu.
Norwegians eat a lot of bread and butter, be it first course or dessert, and enjoy sandwiches, in general. Salads and vegetables are rarely on the traditional plate, so if you are on a diet watch out! In the morning, they usually serve sandwiches with local cheese (I loved brown cheese) or with eggs and fish pasta. Svele, a sort of American pancakes with butter and sugar, waffles with butter and jams and ice-cream are the most common desserts.
Ski all year long
Another plus for the adrenaline junkies is the long ski season. In Fjord Norway mountains you have an all-season ski touring and freeride. While driving to Europe’s highest fjord view from a road, in Geirangerfjord (btw, this opens in May or June), you have the chance to stop for climbing and skiing whatever mountain section you want to.
Any disadvantages in Norway?
All in all, you probably think it’s always freezing cold and extremely expensive. Well, it can be cold, but you’d rather go there starting mid-May to September and have a chance of the long sunny days. I just went there, at the end of May and the weather was pretty fine for what you can expect. It’s true that you can experience all seasons in one day, from showers and wind to the burning sun.
Also, I can confirm it’s expensive. If you’re a nature lover and you came here for the scenery, you’ll have a wonderful holiday staying in a camping, Airbnb or book a budget room. As most locals do, buy from the supermarkets and save your money for other expenses. Reduce the unnecessary purchases, because you will spend enough on transportation.
These being said, make sure you have a wind and water repellent jacket, comfy shoes, a good camera and start planning for the amazing Norwegian experience.