Explore the fjords, islands and mountains of Sunnmøre and the stunning Geirangerfjord in autumn like a modern Viking.
The charming art nouveau town of Ålesund is nestled among majestic fjords and mountains on the west coast of Norway. It's an excellent base for outdoor activities and for experiencing the UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord in the tranquil winter season.
Make sure you set aside enough time to experience everything there is to do in the area, from skiing and other winter sports, cruises, and hikes, to spas and fine dining.
Start your journey with the truly unique and iconic coastal town of Ålesund.
Towers, spires and beautiful architectural details are all around as you stroll through the historical streets and by the Brosundet strait, which divides the town in two.
The town has some of the finest architecture in the world as a result of a massive reconstruction project following a devastating fire in 1904. The buildings' designs were influenced by architects who were inspired by the Art Nouveau movement that was popular in Europe at that time. At that time, Norway had also recently become an independent nation (1905), and there were many who wanted to build up the national identity. Therefore, on several of the buildings you can see ornaments similar to what you find on stave churches and inspiration from the Viking Age, etc.
The town is surrounded by the majestic Sunnmøre Alps and is situated at the gateway to several of the country's most famous fjords, including the Hjørundfjord and Geirangerfjord.
For stunning views of the city and the surrounding fjords climb the 418 steps to the top of the Aksla viewpoint, where you'll find the Fjellstua Restaurant, where you can enjoy a delicious meal. Another spot to enjoy is the Molja lighthouse, a nice spot for a break with its view of the coast. You can even spend the night there.
For those feeling adventurous, you can explore the coast and the city using a kayak. Join a guided tour with experienced guides, and don’t forget to bring your swimsuit with you because the hot SVAI sauna in Brosundet awaits. But beware: the water temperature is for real Vikings!
The famous fishery that built the town
This fjord is a very special place for more than just swimming. The Borgundfjord fishery has a long history dating back to the Viking Age, and remains an important industry for the local economy and culture in the Sunnmøre region to this day. In waters just outside Ålesund, the Borgundfjord cod spawns from around the middle of January to the end of March, and has been doing so for countless years. The cod is known for being big and rich in flavour, much like its “brother” in Northern Norway, Skrei.
The fjord is also known for its rich stocks of species such as haddock and saithe, and the rich culinary tradition that has sprung from such an abundance of fresh seafood.
Although klippfisk (salted and dried cod) is one of the main ingredients in the well known Bacalao dish, which is popular worldwide, it is also used in many other local delicacies.
If you want to go fishing yourself, contact visitalesund.com for information on group tours, which are also held during the annual cod fishing festival “ByTorsken”. You can also join fishing trips on the fjord and participate in competitions with wonderful prizes.
Let's move on to exploring a really magical experience: The UNESCO World Heritage site of Geirangerfjord.
One of the best ways to explore this area is on a winter cruise. Geiranger Fjordservice offer boat tours hosted by Fjord Rangers, who will share interesting stories with you related to the unique fjord landscape while you travel through. The winter months are typically quieter, which means you can enjoy the breathtaking views without the crowds.
The boat usually makes two to three trips a week and goes there and back to Ålesund in one day. But if you want to really explore Geiranger, you should definitely add some more days to your visit. Get a glimpse into the past as the experienced Fjord Rangers tell you stories about life on the small, abandoned farms perched on the steep mountain sides.
Don't forget to wear warm clothes, so you can catch the best panoramic views. The wind can sometimes get pretty rough out there.