Fjords are seawater inlets normally surrounded by steep cliffs and mountains. Fjords were formed during the last Ice Age, and they are found in Scandinavia, New Zealand, Chile, Greenland, Canada, and Norway. Norway’s Sognefjord is one of the most scenic fjords in the world, and a visit to Norway is not complete without seeing it.
The Sognefjorden is Norway’s largest and best known fjord; it is the third longest fjord in the world. Because the two longer fjords are often covered in ice, Sognefjorden is one of the most often visited – partly because it is accessible the whole year round. This 205 kilometer Sogneforden is an “open” fjord, meaning, it is largely free of ice. Taking a cruise through it means feasting on the sight of ultramarine waters, majestic mountains, and an unspoiled landscape.
You will need time to fully explore and enjoy this amazing fjord and the magical places along its banks. The fjord’s length encompasses two UNESCO sites, three national parks, and breathtaking waterfalls. Here are three musts for visitors who travel along the Sognefjorden.
Lærdal. The Sognefjorden runs through nine municipalities, one of which is Lærdal. This quaint municipality is found in the innermost portion of the fjord. By itself, this gem deserves at least a two day visit; visiting Lærdal is like being in an entirely different world. The village is surrounded by mountains and it is home to lush farms that produce fruits and vegetables. One of the most important attractions in Lærdal is the Borgund Stave Church. Built during the early part of the 12th century, this well-preserved church features a multiple level roof, wooden portals with carvings, and X-shaped scissor beams.
Jostedalsbreen National Park. The Jostedalsbreen National Park is one of three national parks found along the route of the Sognefjorden. It is named after Jostedalsbreen, the glacier that covers 800 square kilometers of the park. Incidentally, this plateau glacier happens to be the biggest one in Europe, and it is a popular spot for expert hikers, skiers, and mountain climbers.
Flåm Railway. If you pick a cruise that allows you to ride the Flåm Railway, you will have the opportunity to see the mountain peaks and waterfalls (such as the Kjosfossen waterfall) in the area. The ride includes a steep incline and a chance to walk around at least eight extremely scenic sites.
Looking at Options
You can book yourself for a straight fjord cruise, or you can take choose one that allows you to explore the different fascinating municipalities along the way. One of the most adventurous options you can consider is a fjord safari on a RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat). There are safaris that take all of two to five hours, and these allow visitors to stop and explore places of interest along the way.
A Sognefjorden vacation means there is something for everybody – the nature lover, the sports enthusiast, and the culture buff. Most cruise services run from May to September, and some boat services are available throughout the year. Accommodations are not a problem; there are hotels and lodging houses for every taste and budget. Sognefjorden is a place that beckons to everyone because it guarantees a truly unique break from the usual tour.