7 different ways to see the spectacular fjords in Norway

Fjords in Norway

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When you think of Norway, you think of fjords and snow-capped mountains that seem like they touch the sky. Waterfalls cascade from rocky peaks. 

Houses painted Scandinavian red perched on tiny islands look out over flowing waters.

The Norwegian fjords and surrounding terrain are a perfect wilderness.

So what is the best way to see the fjords in Norway?

I started to become obsessed with seeing the fjords from as many different angles as I could on our recent trip to the fjords that began in Bergen and ended in Flåm.

Fjords in Norway

Osterfjorden - Norwegian fjord cruise

Fjords are long and narrow inlets flanked by steep sides or cliffs that were created by glaciers eroding mountains in their path. The inlets are often very deep – sometimes up to 1300 metres!

Where the fjords meet the coastline, they are dotted with thousands of skerries or small island rocks.

There are 1,190 fjords in Norway. We only managed to see a few of the major fjords – Sogneford, Aurlandsfjord, Nærøyfjord and Osterfjord – and they are some of the most beautiful natural landscapes I have ever seen.

Best ways to see the Norwegian fjords – Bergen and Flåm region

1 | The fjords from up high

Bergen and fjords from the air

Try to get a window seat if you are flying into Bergen. The views from altitude on a clear day are incredible. You get a full perspective of the landscape and can see in detail the tiny islets and skerries unique to this part of the world.

In Bergen take the Fløibanen funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen for impressive views of Bryggen and the area surrounding the city.

You take the funicular from the station close to Bryggen. Tickets are 95 NOK for adults [2018], and the attraction is open all year round – more information.

View from Stegastein viewpoint

For spectacular views of the Aurlandsfjord near Flåm, you must visit the Stegastein viewpoint.

Jutting 650 metres above the fjord, from here you can admire the landscape back towards Flåm and in the other direction to Undredal. To get here, you can drive or take a bus tour from Flåm – more information.

Tip – check the weather in Norway before you head out looking for views using this recommended Norway weather site

2 | Bergen to Flåm ferry on the Sogneford

Views from Sognefjord ferry from Bergen to Flam

Many people take the popular Bergen railway train and bus route via Voss and Gundvangen to reach Flåm. We opted to take the ferry service on a high-speed catamaran down the Søgneford instead. I’m so glad we did.

The largest and deepest of the fjords, Sogneford is also known the King of the Fjords. The journey is scenic and probably the best way to appreciate the changing landscapes along the fjord.

The boat passes through wide open water and skerries. You can spend time on deck watching waterfalls cascade dramatically down cliff faces and try to count how many you see.

There are several stops along the way when the boat slows down, so there are plenty of opportunities to take photos and enjoy the landscapes out on deck.

Sognefjord Norway

Conditions on the ferry are comfortable with huge glass windows so even if it is cold you can enjoy the views. There are luggage storage areas and a cafe onboard as well as wifi for those who need to be connected.

The ferry service departs daily from Bergen from 1st May to 30th September at 8:00 am and takes 5 hours to reach Flåm. Prices are from NOK 865 [2018] and children under 4 travel for free – more information.

Scandinavia dreaming? Check our 10 day Scandinavia itinerary including the fjords, Oslo, Gothenburg and Copenhagen here

3 | A half or full day cruise from Bergen

Mostraumen fjord cruise

Bergen is rightly called the gateway to the fjords. You can take tours north and south to explore the many islands and inlets that are features of the landscape.

We took a three-hour cruise from Bergen to Mostraumen on the Osterfjorden. Heading northeast from Bergen, the cruise takes you past tiny settlements perched strategically to capture the best vistas of the fjords.

Mountains rise majestically above the fast flowing waters and waterfalls seem to appear around every corner. I was surprised at the diversity of the terrain and how narrow the channels between islands are at points along the route.

Waterfalls and scenes from Norwegian fjords

You’ve never tasted water so pure as the crisp clear drops our guide collected for us to taste when we stopped close to a waterfall.

The Osterfjorden fjord tour vessel is a comfortable modern catamaran and leaves from the Zachariasbryggen pier outside the fish market and the tourist office on Bryggen Harbour at 10:00 am and 14:00 pm daily with another sailing at 18:00 pm in July and August. 

Click for more information on the Osterfjorden tour

Some other day tour options we considered:

✪ a half-day tour to Skjerjehamn, a heritage town north-west of Bergen at the beginning of the Søgneford – click for more info

✪ visiting Rosendal on the Hardangerfjord – full day tour (7.5 hour) round trip from Bergen

4 | Fjord safari from Flåm

Kids on fjord safari

My favourite experience of our short time on the fjords was joining a Fjord Safari in Flåm. Not surprising really as I love specialist guided tours.

After being suited up in warm, waterproof clothing, hats and gloves, you hop into a small speed boat and go whizzing across the world heritage Aurlandsfjord.

Your guide gives you lots of interesting tidbits of information about the local area and history and helps you spot local wildlife. Yes, seals and porpoises live in the fjord.

Where Aurlandsfjord meets Nærøyfjord, there is a hairpin bend, and your speedboat glides across the waters as dramatic mountains loom overhead.

Your guide will tell you stories and legends inspired by the landscape and of Vikings who once lived there.

Undredal goats cheese

We chose to join the 3.5 hour Heritage Taste Safari which includes a stop in Undredal to taste the local award winning goats cheese. The cheese is delicious and the stories behind how it is made equally fascinating.

The Fjord Safari seems quite adventurous, but it is an activity for the whole family to enjoy.

Our preschooler twins had a blast. The company runs a range of tours that differ depending on the time of year and length of tour you wish to take – more information.

5 | The Norwegian fjords by rail – Flåm railway

Flam railway

One of the world’s greatest train journeys, the Flåmsbana railway connects Flåm and Myrdal a mountain station over 850 metres above sea level.

Built between 1924 and 1940, the Flåm Line is a great engineering feat due to its steep gradient and over 20 tunnels along 20 kilometres of track.

The journey takes just under an hour and you past gaping gorges, massive waterfalls and the small hamlets and farms that the railway was built to serve.

You constantly crane your neck to see what natural wonder is around the next corner. It’s an incredibly beautiful journey worthy of all the accolades.

Kjosfossen waterfall Flam Norway

A short stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall is your opportunity to experience the full force of nature. We visited in Spring, and the waterfall gushed over the rocks in spectacular fashion.

The train departs almost hourly during the summer season – May to September. Tickets for the Flåm Line are from NOK 360 one way – more information

6 | Hiking the fjords of Norway

Norway fjords

There’s no better way to appreciate the terrain than when you walk and hike through it.

The Norwegian fjords attract hikers from all over the world as there are many trails in the region suitable for people with all levels of fitness. Our experience was quite tame as we had small children with us but I’d like to go back to the region and try some of the more challenging walks.

Here is a list of top 5 hikes in Norway to add to your list – the ones to note in this area are the hikes in the Aurlandsdalen Valley. You can also hike back to Flåm from Myrdal after taking the Flåm railway. The downhill route takes around 5-6 hours.

We stayed at the Flåmsbrygga Hotel in Flåm, and they were only too happy to help with a list of shorter walks taking in waterfalls and fjord views.

Tip – due to weather conditions, most of the walks are suitable for hiking between June and September.

7 | Kayaking the fjords

Still ford waters perfect for kayaking

Having experienced the fjord safari tour and getting close to the water, if we visited again, I’d like to try a kayak tour.

I watched people paddling out across the fjord from Flåm, and it looked like the perfect way to connect to the water and truly appreciate just how magnificent the Norwegian fjords area is.

You can do half day tours and overnight kayak tours with Njord Sea Kayak who are committed to respecting the local environment and wildlife.

Click for more information about fjord kayak tours

Self guided fjord day trips from Oslo

Many people choose to do a self guided tour full day fjord experiences from Oslo. These is a popular route:

Oslo to Bergen in a day starting in Oslo, this tour takes you through the fjord region and finishes in Bergen. This self guided tour takes you on trains, ferries and buses across some of the most beautiful scenery in the world – click for more info

Guided Norway fjord tours

fjord tours norway

If you want to relax and simply enjoy the scenery you can always join a small group tour and let your guide manage the logistics for you.

Here are some suggestions based on our experience and feedback from travelers we met along the way.

Oslo to Bergen small group tour – 7 days of the highlights of Norway and lots of fjord experiences – click for more information

Best for solo travelers who love culture – 4 day small group tour leaving from Bergen – click for more information

Best for adventurers – 4 day trekking tour including a glacier walk departing from Bergen – more information 

A note on cruise liners on the fjords

I haven’t mentioned the overnight cruise liner option here, and there’s a reason why. When you are visiting a country to experience its incredible natural wilderness, it is disturbing to be confronted by cities afloat.

We saw three mega cruise liners dock while we were in Flåm. They offloaded thousands of people who flooded the tiny town and dispersed on their own fjord adventures – some of these mentioned above.

There is no doubt that these ships make an enormous contribution to the local economy. And I’m sure the views on deck would be fantastic.

But there’s nothing like having the wind in your hair and the fresh waters of the fjords splashing your face to feel truly at one with nature.

And after all, isn’t that what you’re there for?

Fjord landscapes Norway

Thanks to Visit Bergen and Fjord Norway for kindly supplying Bergen city cards and our tour to the Stegastein Lookout. This post contains affiliate links for products we recommend. All opinions are our own.

As featured in:

Suitcases and Sandcastles


52 thoughts on “7 different ways to see the spectacular fjords in Norway

  1. Wilbur's Travels says:

    Great advice and beautiful pictures. I once went fishing on a fjord near Bergen (think the Sonjefjord) in a small rowing boat. I caught a bright blue fish which nobody recognised. I put him back of course.

    • Katy says:

      Thanks Wilbur! Fishing on the fjord sounds wonderful. I’m sure little bluey enjoyed the rest of its life swimming in those pristine waters.

  2. California Globetrotter says:

    I would do every single one of these (ok, except the cruise). Norway is not somewhere I want to wham-bam-thank–you-ma’am my way through! haha #FarawayFiles

    PS. I tried to pin your pin, but it refuses to let me pin it as it says your sight doesn’t allow people to pin 🙁

    • Katy says:

      EXACTLY Lori. Oh my gosh those ships were awful. I am having pin problems but it should work if you use my buttons.. thanks anyway

  3. Ali May says:

    Ok, so we have up in the air, ferries, cruises, hiking, trains, kayaks and safari. AMAZING! I love how most of these are really peaceful activities that would suit the peaceful surrounds. I once went kayaking in Milford Sound in NZ, and I got myself pretty freaked out about how DEEP the water was. I kept looking up at the surrounding mountains and the thought of how the water below is as deep as those mountains are high seemed to really freak me out. I would love to try kayaking in the Norwegian Fjords. And hiking. And cruising. And Ferrying. And going up in the gondola. Thanks for sharing this lovely experience! #FarawayFiles

  4. Allison says:

    I’d love to see the fjords one day. My brother and his wife actually just got back from Norway so now I really want to go. I think the ferry would be cool, though my husband sometimes gets seasick when the water is rough so that long in a boat might be hard for him. #farawayfiles

  5. Corey with fifi + hop says:

    This is a great post, Katy. So helpful. The safari sounds awesome. I’d like to try all of these and agree the best way is to get out there in nature and not aboard a massive ship. Pinning for later! #farawayfiles

  6. Amanda says:

    We did a very similar trip a few years ago, saw the fjords by train, boat, bus and funicular. The most memorable though, was kayaking the fjords from Flam. I felt so tiny in my kayak with the cliffs towering overhead. I agree about the cruise ships, Flam is such a tiny town and to see it flooded with people is a bit bizarre. #FarawayFiles

  7. Erin Gustafson says:

    Love love loved our time in Norway – so excited to head back further north this summer. I agree – I would love to get out on the fjords in a kayak! Seems sooo serene. We were very glad we stayed in Flåm overnight – such a different place once the ships and throngs and masses are gone. Your littles all kitted out in safari suits is just too much adorable! What a trip you had Katy! #FarawayFiles

  8. Clare Thomson says:

    I seem to be kayaking several times a week at the moment so the thought of kayaking along these fjords sounds incredible. I’m desperate to visit the fjords and I like the way you’ve seen them from lots of different angles and modes of transport. Just love that photo of your two suited and booted up for the safari! #FarawayFiles

  9. Vanessa Brune says:

    Travelling by Flåm Railway is still on my bucket list and I would love to go kayaking one day as well! And I understand what you mean about the cruise ships. We have them in Tromso as well in the summer but it’s actually more good than bad cause most locals head to their cabins or to warmer climates in the summer which means that most Norwegian cities are quite empty during that time so obviously the economy needs the cruise ship tourists…

    • Katy says:

      Thanks for sharing your local perspective Van. Cruise ship travel is such a conundrum. I completely acknowledge the importance to local communities and I think the environmental impact was managed well in Norway, helped by the topography and deep fjords.

  10. Dan says:

    Such a beautiful and unique landscapes. We are thinking of doing a Norway trip next year or even late this year. Great post and I’ll have to come back to this.

  11. Liana Moore says:

    This was so much fun to read. I grew up in Stavanger, Norway and haven’t been back. But I have great memories of the fjords. I mostly saw them from ferries, but did have the opportunity a couple of times to see them from an oil rig too. #FarawayFiles

  12. Ruth | Tanama Tales says:

    I am amazed by the figures in here. Didn’t know there were so many fjords on Norway. Agree the scenery is spectacular. I have heard a lot of people seeing it is some of the best they have seen in the world.

    I have a similar opinion about cruises. In some places, if you go deep, they do not even benefit the community (excursions are monopolized and people and not encouraged to get out of the boat on their own). #FarawayFiles

  13. Lorna ✶ The Painted Globe says:

    It’s a dream of mine to see the fjords, this is such a great reference for fulfilling that some day! I always assumed the ferry would be best but I love the idea of taking a funicular for aerial views, plus I have a feeling my fiancé would be all over the Flåm railway. #farawayfiles

  14. April | Minivan Adventures says:

    Oh my goodness! What an amazing experience! The waterfalls are amazing, the kids all suited up for your Fjord Safari were adorable, and I love your picture from the kayak with the shoreline reflecting in the water. #FarawayFiles

  15. Stephanie says:

    FJORDS in Norway are so so beautiful. These pics are amazing. Our planet consists of lots of beautiful places; and the pictures of some of those places are here in this post 🙂 Epic!!

  16. Hilary says:

    Wow, I had no idea! You’ve done a fabulous job showcasing many of the way in which to see and experience this beautiful and unique place! Hopefully, I’ll find my way there someday… #farawayfiles

  17. Sol Solntze says:

    Do you know, I’d never actually thought about what a fjord might actually be. Norways, fjords, I thought, and that was it. So now I know, and clearly I want to go. Definitely a river cruise is my choice for how to experience them.

  18. Kat says:

    Oh so gorgeous!!! I would like to try the ferry or cruise option (day/half day tour) and the train experience. I can imagine how fresh and clean the water is! #farawayfiles

  19. daisythebus says:

    We’ll be heading this way later this summer, so this will come in very useful – thank you! In particular – of course – I am eager to get out on a fjord or two by kayak.

    Don’t get me started on cruises… Thank you for bringing this “irresponsible tourism” issue to your readers’ attention.

    Greetings from Luxembourg! #FarawayFiles

    • Katy says:

      How exciting Jonny. The kayaking looked amazing but the fjord safari was a nice compromise. Looking forward to reading your posts!

  20. Wherejogoes says:

    It’s so hot today that I want to jump right into those fjords they look fabulously blue yet green and cool and refreshing. I love the pic of the twins all kitted up for their experience – reminds me of when my twinnies were younger. Absolutely beautiful pictures I’d love to take the funicular and also a cruise through the fjords at a leisurely pace watching the world go by and admiring the stunning scenery and the beauty of Norway. #FarawayFiles

    • Katy says:

      Thanks Jo! It’s an incredibly beautiful spot and we picked a great time to visit with the kids. They really enjoyed themselves and we didn’t have much extra to pay as they are under 4!

  21. Christina says:

    Great article. However, you refer to “Søgnefjord” as the “The King of the Fjords” which is not correct. In Norway, it is the Sognefjord which is the largest and deepest, so I reckon you just have a misspelling here?

    Anyways, great photos!

    • Katy says:

      Thanks for pointing that out Christina – it is indeed a typo I shall fix straightaway. Happy New Year – hope it brings many exciting new adventures for you

  22. Kunal Gupta says:

    Thanks for the views and details Katy. I am planning to visit Norway in first week of July for about 8 days. Your blog has really helped me in finalizing my itinerary . Keep sharing?

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