The fjords, from Bergen
The gateway to Norway’s fjords, in a valley nestled between seven mountains, Bergen boasts a strategic location for boating and exploring some of these spectacular formations. We recommend five that you can easily visit from the city: Aurlandsfjord, Sognefjord, Hardangerfjord, Lysefjord and Nærøyfjord, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
At 204km, Sognefjord is Norway’s longest fjord and the second largest in the world. Located 75km north of Bergen, it reaches its maximum depth at 1,308m below sea level, making it one of the most impressive routes in all of Scandinavia. Its shores are home to attractions and monuments for all tastes: from the mediaeval stavkirken (wooden stave churches) of Urnes (protected by Unesco) and Borgund (the best preserved in all of Norway), to glaciers such as the Jostedalsbreen, which includes points such as the 275m Vettisfossen Waterfall ( Europe’s highest), and villages such as the picturesque Vikøyri and the traditional Balestrand.
Aurlandsfjord is an inner arm of the Sognefjord and is located some 170km from Bergen. Reaching a depth of up to 962m and measuring 29km long, this fjord is impressive not only because the distance between its two shores is less than two kilometres at most points, but also because it is surrounded by mountains that reach 1,800m in height. The village of Flåm is located at the end of the fjord. As well as being known for its crafts and hospitality, it also offers incredible attractions, such as the Stegastein viewpoint, which rises 650m above Aurland Fjord, and the Flåm Railway, one of the steepest in the world.
Some 110km from Bergen is Nærøyfjord, an arm of Sognefjord also connected to Aurlandsfjord. It is notable for having what many consider some of the most beautiful and wildest natural landscapes on the planet. So much so that, in 2005, this fjord was included on Unesco’s World Heritage List because of its impressive conditions: at its narrowest point, the distance between the two shores is barely 250m. This makes it possible to see incredible snow-capped peaks, unusual waterfalls and idyllic farms from any of the cruise ships sailing its waters.
Apart from being one of the country’s most emblematic fjords, Hardangerfjord – located some 75km south of Bergen – is the second largest in Norway. Measuring 179km long and 800m deep, from Hardangerfjord visitors can visit Folgefonna glacier, which is located some 1,200m above the fjord and considered one of the most beautiful in the country, and the Fonna summer ski resort. The locals say that one of the best ways to explore this fjord is via the many hiking trails that cross its shores, reaching points such as the iconic Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue) rock, which rises some 700m above the famous Lake Ringedal.
Although Lysefjord is the furthest (some 280km away) from Bergen, it is undoubtedly a fjord that deserves special mention. To get there, the recommended route is to stop in Stavanger, a colourful and lively city and gastronomic centre with two Michelin-starred restaurants, where you can even enjoy a day at the beach in Jæren. To explore Lysefjord, it is a good idea to take some of its hiking trails, such as the one leading to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), a famous rock formation that rises 604m above the fjord’s waters. If you want to test yourself, you can take the Lysevegen road, which climbs the mountain with 27 hairpin turns, or the world’s longest wooden staircase in the roadless hamlet of Flørli.