One of its kind
Almost everyone has heard of this particular fjord and most of the tourists travelling to Norway spend at least a day or two in this stunning area. And they are right: having travelled quite a lot in Norway, we agree that this fjord probably is the most beautiful in Norway. Here is why.
Spectacular arrival either way
Getting to Geiranger is what you call "a spectacular arrival". You have two options and both are breathtaking:
From the car ferry Hellesylt-Geiranger, which we took the first time we came here, you have the best view at the famous waterfalls "the 7 sisters" on the Northern side and "the suitor" right opposite of them as well as the simply overall stunning scenery this fjord is so known for. If you do not come here by ferry, take one the excursion boats.
The second option is when you get here from Ålesund, as we did during our second visit: it has the advantage to see the Geirangerfjord for the first time from high up, at the end of the bendy Ørnevegen road.
Here you find one of Norway's amazing, very lofty sightseeing points: all steel, wood and glass, reaching several meters out into the air over the fjord, presenting you a grand sight over the fjord. It is especially impressive when one of the big cruise ships is on its way in or out the fjord as it puts the dimension of the surrounding mountains into the right perspective.
So whether you come from the North by car or from the West by ferry, it will give you a sight you will not forget ever!
Hiking and kayaking at the Geirangerfjord
The first time we came here we mostly explored the Valldal area north of the Geirangerfjord. The second time we were here in late May 2015, together with friends, to show them one of Norway's highlights and at the same time to do things we had on our Norway-travel-list.
It was just before the main tourist season, which gave us the advantage of having all the great spots and essentially the whole fjord nearly for ourselves!
Unlucky fishermen + lucky paddlers
As Norway is known as a great fishing destination, our friend brought all his equipment with him (and he has quite some stuff!). So, the first activity during that holiday was to catch lunch and dinner for the next days: we rent a boat twice, we spend hours waiting for the fishes to swallow our bait, tried different techniques - only to buy later some packed salmon in the supermarket and enjoying an evenings barbecuing, with some beers and wine in light drizzle and 12 degrees.
All in all, perfect Norwegian spring days :-)
Realizing two plans: by kayak to an abandoned farm
We like kayaking a lot since we did it the first time on the Lofoten. To do that on the Geirangerfjord had become kind of a dream for us over the years. So now was the time! And really, it is just stunning to glide along the shore, close to the waterfalls and immensely steep and high rock walls.
And it was on that very tour we spontaneously decided to combine the kayak tour with a hike to the Skageflå farm (see box): We paddled to the starting point, managed the challenge of getting out of the kayak without falling into the cold water, "parked" our kayaks pretty confidently on the shore and off we went up the hill.
Another hike led us to the Storseterfossen waterfall (tipp: park your car at Westerås gard, spares you 30 min) where you can get actually behind the waterfall, quite spectacular. Or you walk from the same farm to Løsta, a very exposed sightseeing spot about 500m above the fjord, with a marvellous view over both the fjord and the Ørnevegen serpentines.
Flydalsjuvet photo spot
We even found the place that pops up on Geiranger's webpage although it is now behind a fence: You know, the picture where a person sits on the edge of a rock over the abyss, overlooking the fjord?!
It is near the first parking area: leave the toilets behind you, step over the "fence", walk a bit down and then to the right; easy to spot: there is a little path because so many people have been there.
Bjorstadnakken - A hike in the heat
The next day we drove to Fjørå a bit North, for a hike to the Bjorstadnakken. We reached the peak after a couple of hours quite exhausted because of the heat (really!). The trail was not well marked while it meandered between little cottages and sheep herds, but that was no problem though as our target was the highest peak which was hard to miss in such brilliant weather. Finally reaching it, we enjoyed a wonderful 360 degree view including parts of the Norddalsfjord, which is a parallel to the Geirangerfjord. And, unlike in the area around Geiranger, we had the whole hike, peak and views just for ourselves.
The abandoned farms
What - besides the scenery - caught our attention was the history of the abandoned farms, you see from the fjord high up in the mountains, and the families who lived there.
You wonder how they survived up there the whole year round. Eventually life got too hard and rockfalls too dangerous, so all farms are abandoned now. The last family left 1916.
Now, you can hike to all of them, but be careful, the trails are very very steep and can be extremely slippery.
The hike to Skageflå
The hike to Skageflå from the fjord does not take very long, max. 40 min if you are not totally unfit, but it is nothing for people afraid of heights or very small children.
Arriving at the farm you have a fantastic view over the fjord towards the 7 sisters waterfall. In summer the farmhouses are often open for public, so you can have a look into some of them, peaking into the hard live at the beginning of the last century.
Silver wedding at Skageflå
Fun fact: the abondoned farm Skageflå became an even more popular destination when the royal couple of Norway celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary here, back in 1993. How Norwegian is that?
Wanna join the party? Click here.
The Legend of the waterfalls and their names
There are several legends about the famous Geiranger waterfalls: One is that the seven sisters dance playfully down the mountain. Meanwhile the suitor flirts with them from afar.
Another says that the seven sisters from a distance look like the hair of seven women; while the Suitor, that has the shape of a bottle, has become an alcoholic, because he is still waiting for an answer to his proposal to the seven sisters...
More to discover
And there is even more to do if you want to: Enjoying a blury vision of the fjord while rushing uncomfortably over the fjord in speed boats, buying some "made in Geiranger" chocolate souvenirs or watching old-as-the-hills cruise ship people "rushing" around, doing hecticly all of the above activities during their 3-hour stop at Geiranger...
The Valldal area: Gudbrandsjuvet
Leaving the Geirangerfjord via the Ørnevegen to the North, travelling by car, ferry and car again, we headed to another, though completely different landmark: the Gudbrandsjuvet.
Another little architectural marvel build around and above a wild river and waterfall. Best to be admired in spring and early summer when all the melting water makes it a quite noisy experience - or a very comfy one when you choose to enjoy it from behind thick glass walls of the cafe, having waffles and coffee.
Guess what we did :-)
Just a few kilometers outside Valldal, you find the juvet landscape hotel, frequently covered both in travel and architecture magazines.
This hotel is something unique: various wooden boxes (=the rooms) in the middle of the nature, next to a river and partly overlooking it. Being in these rooms is like being outside in the nature, but with the comfort of puristic luxury, if that makes sense:
One whole side of the rooms consists of nothing but glass, so nothing obstructs the view to the nature. You can even see ants going up and down the next tree, so close and intimately it is build into the landscape. The rest of the room is just a table, some comfy chairs and a bed.
Breakfast and dinner is enjoyed jointly by all guests at a long table in the main farm house, often joined by Knut, the owner, who patiently answers the same questions probably all guests have.
Driving further ahead the valley, you come to the spectacular Trollstigen: a steep, narrow road that zig-zags down the mountainside (11 hairpin turns), direction North. The way itself and the view are supposed to be spectaclular, in case you are lucky with the weather. When we were there the first time, it was so foggy (as it often is) that we hardly could see the car ahead of us... So we had to return another time.
This time, we were lucky! And it was clearly worth coming here again, the view is just stunning: A long and increasing narrow valley ends here, the road leads up the mountain in endless turns, passing various waterfalls. And all that you can enjoy from two sighseeing points, one of which juts out, giving you a view straight down a couple of hundred meters.
A must see, again. If you unlucky with the weather, come again!
450 km / 6-7 hrs by car (and ferry) from Oslo
The view from various exposed spots
Hike to abandoned farms
Fishing, kayaking, watching cruise ships
Trollstigen (closed in winter)
Gudbrandsdal and water fall
Overnight stay we can recommend
geirangerfjorden.net (close to Geiranger)
The hiking possibilities are great and not all trips take that long but come view fantastic views
Get a kayak, paddle to the starting points for the hikes to the abandoned farms and hike up (at dry weather only)
geiranger.no - a great page
Click on the map for opening the right clipping in google maps in a new window