Flåm is situated innermost in Sognefjorden, the deepest and longest fjord in the world. 204 km long and 1308 m deep.
Surrounded by steep mountainsides, rumbling waterfalls and narrow valleys. This is a true paradise if you are looking for some great natureexperiences.
Read more at my Flåm page.
Naeroyfjord is one of the narrowest navigable fjords in Norway. A round or at least one-way boat trip on it is an absolute must for a visitor to Sogn og Fjordane. The boat goes along the beautiful fjord, then turns right into the wider and sunnier Aurlandsfjord before calling at Flam. The trip starts at Gudvangen - the tourist boats don't take cars so get a ticket for a round trip, which can be combined with a ride on the Flamsbana to Myrdal and back. Alternatively, if you do not have that much time at your disposal - the boat trip takes about 2 hours one way - and you left your car in Gudvangen you can get back from Flam by bus. The bus stops right by the Flamsbana. It goes in a long tunnel, two tunnels in fact, so be prepared not to see much on the way.
You will find more information on the boat trip together with many more pictures on my Gudvangen and Flam pages.
Driving up Stalheimskleiv is a hair-raising experience. The 13 hairpin bends, steep and very close to each other are not something I would recommend to anybody but, once you get to the top, the view is stunning. The whole Naeroydalen, the deep narrow valley that leads to the Naeroyfjord lies before you flanked by high mountains. The rather unusual mountain facing you as you stand on the hotel terrace is supposed to be the head of a bewitched knight and looks surprisingly like it, including the face. Don't miss Stalheimfossen, the 26 m high waterfall nearby. Visit the hotel shop, which offers a variety of interesting souvenirs, less expensive than in any other shop in the area.
You can get to Stalheimskleiv driving from the direction of Vinje - here the road is perfectly straight but, if you want to continue your journey to Gudvangen and Flam, you will now have to take the precarious road down. And yet, even coaches negotiate it. Norwegian drivers must have nerves of steel.
If you visit Flam and go on the Naeroyfjord and the Flamsbana, there is one more attraction waiting for you there that not everybody knows of. You may leave Flam taking the longest tunnel in the world to Laerdal - 24 km but don't forget that a tunnel deprives you of the great scenery that you would have seen otherwise. And in this case this would be a really great loss. The old Aurland - Laerdal road is magnificent. Rising to 1306 m a.s.l. it commands great views of Aurlandsfjord and the mountains around it. On clear days you can see as far as Jotunheimen. Its total wilderness takes your breath away. Its popular name 'The Snow Road' is perfectly justified: some snow lies there all the year round, forming little glaciers by the roadside. The road goes up winding steeply at its Aurland end, so you'd better not attempt to take it if you are pulling a trailer. There are hardly any barriers and you are driving on the edge of a cliff that goes all the way down into the fjord. And there is nowhere to turn back once you get onto the road. Even going in a small car, the experience is scary but unforgettable. Don't miss it if only you can.
For more pictures and details of the road, see my Flam page.
Looking quite innocent on the map, this is another mountain road, not as dangerous as Aurlandsveien though. While there are no fjords along it, you will still come across beautiful blue mountain lakes and see your first little glaciers. We could see people walking on them, if with difficulty. Some parts of Road 13 have been cut out in rock right across a mountain to avoid more winding roads - another feat of Norwegian engineers.
In Vik you drive down the mountainside to the Sognefjord and follow its coastline to Vangsnes.
Vik is a village you pass through on your way from Voss or Gudvangen to Jotunheimen or Jostedalsbreen. Before you get to it, a serpentine road will take you to the top of a mountain which gives you a bird's eye view of the place. The scenery is stunning with the village far below and Sognefjord in the distance. I now often see it on the webcam, which even shows the way it changes throughout the day.
The village itself is quite pretty and has two buildings of historical interest: the Hopperstad stave church dating back to 1130 and the Hove stone church built in 1170.
After spending a night on Sandane campsite we took Road 13 going south. On the map it is marked as scenic so we expected great views. But what we saw by far surpassed our expectations. Its part between Moskog and Dragsvik is a fantastic mountain road, extremely winding, and no less difficult than the famous Trollstigveien, Trolls' Ladder (see my Andalsnes page). But this time we were going down and when I saw the road we were going to descend in a minute my hair stood on end. The view was superb, the wilderness of the mountains overgrown with low forest and the narrow ribbon of the road winding its way down and down into the valley below. It was one of those places where you are awed into silence by nature's creations.
There was just another couple there admiring the view - most people just go to see the Jostedalsbreen glacier and then take a direct road to Sogndal, much of which runs in a tunnel.
And yet here in this wild spot, civilisation had left its mark. Unbelievable as it seemed to us, there was an ultra-modern toilet in this deserted beauty spot, with all the latest appliances and very well kept. For the trolls perhaps? There is no end to surprises in Norway.
Borgund stave church is situated in Laerdal, in the south east of Sogn og Fjordane. Dating back to 1180, this real pearl of medieval architecture is one of the largest of the existing stave churches in Norway. We visited it twice, once in 2001 on our first visit to Norway when Road E16 ran past it so that nearly all the motorists stopped to admire it and then again in 2005, by which time the road had been put in a tunnel and you had to take another minor road to get to it. Though this may protect the famous church from pollution, it also means that many tourists are likely to bypass it in a hurry. A new huge Borgund Visitor Centre has also been built to provide information on Borgund and the other Norwegian stave churches.
If you compare the two pictures of the church: from 2001 and 2005 you will notice that also the wall surrounding the church has changed - from one constructed of huge lichen-covered stone blocks to a more sightly and prettier, but less authentic wall of smaller stones.
Another change, this time definitely for the worse, is the entrance fee which has risen considerably from NOK50 to NOK100.
Open: 2.05-30.09 - 10.00-17.00, 11.06-20.08 - 8.00-20.00
off-season - by prior arrangement
No photography inside.
On our first visit to Norway in 2001 I wanted very much to see the place where the fjords start - the North Sea. I had to be convinced they were not just mountain lakes and being so close to the sea and not seeing it would have been unpardonable. So, driving south from Geiranger we took Rd15 towards Maloy and then turned into Rd618 to Vestkappe, the westernmost point in Norway. The road was so winding it took us ages to get there. We should have visited Selje on the way and St Synneva Kloster nearby but the weather was getting worse so we wanted to get to the promontory as soon as possible. By the time we got to Ervik, a few miles from Vestkappe, it was already raining. Still, it was here that we caught the first glimpse of the North Sea. We parked our car beside the charming St Swithin's chapel and followed a path to the beach. There was not a soul to be seen. At that point we could still see the grassy coastal cliffs and even a lighthouse in the distance. On a small hill to our right was a little cemetery and I almost envied its residents the great view of the sea. The chapel was closed so we just drove off to our next destination.
Unfortunately, by the time we got to Vestkappe the visibility was next to nil. We drove up the cliff with the wheels astride a dirt track, a little precariously as the wind was getting high and the car could have rolled down the grassy slope. We did make it though, parked the car and got out. We knew there had to be a great view from the spot, but we could see very little of it in the pouring rain. We wanted to shelter in the cafe at the top to have a cup of tea and wait a little for the clouds to disperse. There was a man inside but the door was locked. We rang the bell and banged on the door but to no avail. It was lunch time and he obviously didn't want to let us in. Hungry and cold, we could do nothing but get back into the car. Our first disappointment with Norway. And that's why, having been there, I can't show you any pictures of Vestkappe. I hope you will show me yours.
Lodal valley and Kjenndal Glacier should not be missed. The valley offers a wonderful landscape. But the valley was the setting of tragic events: twice in this centrury, huge blocks of stone fell from the sides of Mt. Ramnefjell into the Lovatn lake below and 135 lives were lost.
The Kjenndal valley and the Kjenndal Glacier lie at the end of Lodal valley, 17 km from Loen and a 15 minute walk from the Jostedal Glacier's lowest glacier arm. Between 1980 and 1997 the glaciers grew by over 300 metres, but in the last few years the glacier arms have actually been retreating slightly.
The wondefulBriksdal Glacier forms part of the Jostedal Glacier National Park. The wild glacier slope plunges from a height of 1200 metres down to the valley. Briksdalsbreen Glacier is located at the end of Oldedal valley, about 20 km from Olden. From the mountain lodge it is 2 km on a gravel road up to the glacier. You can walk there or be driven in open cars.
Melkevollsbreen Glacier is a small Glecier that you find in front of you when you're traveling in the Briksdal Valley. There is a car park near the bridge of the road where you can find a path which allow you to reach the glacier.
Nordfjord is a nice fjord in the Sogn og Fjordane region.
The fjord, sixth longest in Norway, is 106 km long and along its borders you can see the Jostedal glacier, Europe's largest mainland glacier. In the Nordfjord there is also the Hornindalsvatnet, Europe's deepest lake at 514 meters. When you visit the Nordfjord you must see the Briksdalsbreen glacier!!!!
The wonderful Nigardsbreen Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers.
Followinf the road in the valley of Jostedalen, you will arrive at the Breheimsenteret with an architecture inspired by the glacier formations. From this centre a short walk lies you to the lake and to the glacier.
Even at this low altitude of close to 300 metres (1000 feet) above sea level, you get the feeling that you are in an alpine, even polar environment between the lake and the glacier tongue, and further down at the river delta you can observe some of the processes forming the landscape.
Boyabreen Glacier is one of the most spectacular and beautiful of the glacier branches. When you visit the Norwegian Glacier Museum in Fjorland, you can see parts of it. A five-minute drive from there you can get a full view of the impressive ice fall. Fantastic!!!!!
Flam, 5742, Norway
Good for: Couples
I didn't stay, I only stopped by for the dinner buffet, a whopping 395 kroner per person, but well...more
E16, 5747 Aurland Gudvangen, , 5717, Norway
Good for: Business