Sognefjord – “King of Fjords”, this is how they called the largest fjord in Norway, its length is 204 km, and depth – 1308 m. Here and there are impregnable rocks, and in the mild climate of secluded bays grow walnuts and apricots.
Roads are paved only on the northern shore of Sogne-fjord. However, you can take a ferry to any of the smallest villages in the arms of the fjord. There are also car ferries on many routes.
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What to see in Sogn Fjord
Sogne Fjord originates among numerous skerries west of Rysjedalsvika. Soon the landscape changes: the steep mountains on either side of the fjord become higher and higher. Lavik is the center in the west of Sogne-fjord with the picturesque manor of Amtmann Alvären (1760) . And 15 km away at the Breivik farmstead is the deepest point of the fjord (1308 m) .
The Hoyanger Tunnel (7.5 km) on the R 55 takes us to the Balestrand Resort, popular with Germans and Englishmen since the late 19th century. Among the most famous guests of the town is Kaiser Wilhelm II, who stayed in the magnificent Kvikne’s Hotel.
The Hopperstad Stake
To see the beautiful starkark in Hopperstad you must take the ferry from Vangsnes to Dragsvik to get across the fjord. The west entrance of the church (1130) has a carved portal with the image of a dragon. The arch, roof ridge and apse were reconstructed after the one at Borgunn.
We highly recommend a detour to Fjerlands Fjord – north of Balestrandn (pleasure boat to Mundal) . Fjerlandsfjord (26 km) is one of the branches of Sogne Fjord. To the north of the idyllic place of Fjerland (where, by the way, a very interesting Glacier Museum is open) are the Suphellebre and Boyabre glaciers, both of them are tongues of the Jostedalsbre glacier.
Along the winding north shore, the R 55 leads through the horticultural region to Leikanger and Hermansverk . Just imagine: In May there is still snow in the mountains, and some 80,000 fruit trees are blooming down on the coast. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, even walnuts, apricots and peaches mature in the short summer.
Stavka in Urnes
Twelve kilometers north of Sogndal you can turn to Svolvorn. The Walaker Hotel (1690) has its own art gallery – in a former barn building (1863) . From the pier below the hotel there are small ships leaving every hour (some cars are also taken on board) to Urnes, where the 11th-century staat built on the promontory on the east shore of the elongated Lustre Fjord (45 km) is worth a visit. Ascend (20 minutes) and you see the oldest of the surviving stakes in Norway, the world cultural heritage of UNESCO. The carving of the northern portal (1060) is particularly interesting, depicting a battle of lions, dragons and snakes woven together, the ‘Uriès style’ pattern is equally splendid. Inside the church the columns with their Romanesque cube capitals, decorated with ornamentation, are curious (opening hours: May-Sept. 10.30-17.30).
Stavkira in Kaupanger
10 km southeast of Sogndal on the shore of the fjord lies Kaupanger, a major trading center in the Middle Ages. Tourists are attracted here by the starka (about 1185). It has been rebuilt several times, but has retained its original appearance. Under the church were found fragments of two former religious buildings, the oldest dates back to about 1000 (opening hours: June-Sept. Aug. 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.).
If you want to see another stakes, you can go to Laerdal (R 5, then E 16). At the entrance to the valley you’ll be greeted by the sleepy little town of Laedalsoyri, with lots of state-protected 17th-century wooden houses at its center. Further the road goes through picturesque gorge Svartegjel, laid in rocks by river Lerdal (by the way, it is extremely rich in salmon) .
Wild Salmon Center
The Norwegian Wild Salmon Center on the Lerdal River is the largest aquarium in the country. Here you can learn all about salmon: about their habitat and migration, and watch films and exhibitions about this valuable commercial fish. Through huge portholes, visitors can watch salmon and sea trout in their natural habitat. A special room shows some of the techniques of salmon fishing (e.g. lap fishing) (opening times: June-Aug. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; September 11 a.m.-5 p.m.) .
Stavka in Borgunna
The stavka at Borgunne, on the other side of the Lerdal valley, is one of the oldest and most beautiful in Norway. The ridges of the multi-storey roof are crowned with dragon heads. Skilful wood carvings adorn both the portals and the almost windowless interior space. The small church, black from the tar that impregnated the boards, was probably built in 1150. Painstakingly restored, it is today the only wooden church in Norway still intact from the early Middle Ages (apart from one window, cut in later). Only the 16th-century pulpit and the early 17th-century altar have survived from the original interior. Powerful columns carry the elaborate roof and separate the central nave from the side naves. The stavka in Borgunna is one of the main attractions in Norway, and you often have to stand in a long line at the entrance (Opening times: May-Sept. 10.00-17.00, June-Sept. 8.00-20.00) .
In 2005 you can discover a specialized tourist information center about the stakes in Norway.
On the way back from Borgunn you can drive to the extreme point of Aurlandsfjord through the longest tunnel in the world (24.5 km) between Lerdahl and Eurlann. The entrance to Aurlandsfjord, the southern arm of Sognefjord (aboard the ferry from Kaupanger or a pleasure boat), is unforgettable: standing almost vertical rocks, sometimes up to 1500 m high, stand alone out of the water.
South of Aurlandsvangen, at the southern end of Aurlanis Fjord at the outlet of the Flamdal valley, lies the tourist spot Flam. Here the Flam railroad, a branch of the Bergen railroad that leads to Myrdal east of Voss, ends. The Flom railway is widely known as one of the most fantastic railway routes (1920-1940) – it is the steepest railroad in the world with a standard gauge. Its length is 20 km, and the height difference is 864 m. To overcome such a difference in a short section, the road was laid in a spiral, passing through 22 tunnels. The trip from Flom to Myrdal lasts 50 minutes, the train goes slowly, stopping at the most beautiful places among high snow-covered mountains, violent waterfalls and green meadows. From mid-June to mid-September, the Floman railway trains leave every hour, and four times a day at other times (regardless of the season). Willing to ride on it is always plentiful.
The ferry from Kaupanger to Gudvangen (2 hours and 20 minutes) travels along the beautiful Nørrejfjord. If you are very lucky, you can even see seals. But even without the seals, the trip through Nærøyfjord, the narrowest in Norway (in some places up to 250 meters), is fabulous. At the end of the fjord stretches picturesque place Gudvangen (from Voss to Gudvangen and back by bus) .
Sogne Fjord (PHOTO) – the largest in Norway
What is Sognefjorden (Sognefjorden) in Norway famous for? The largest cities on the shores of the bay, interesting places and sights of Sognefjorden.
Norway is rich in scenic places: the famous Norwegian fjords are especially interesting. The sea bays that go far inland have bizarre shapes and stunning beauty and scale. Sogne Fjord, the largest fjord of Norway, is considered the second largest in the world. It can be called the crown of the country’s natural landscape.
Sognefjord: historical overview
The majestic Sogne Fjord is the largest sea bay within the Norwegian territory. Its length is about 204 kilometers and a depth of 1308 meters. It is located on the west coast of the country, near the ancient city of Bergen. Located in the heart of other Norwegian bays.
Sogne-fjord began its formation about 2.5 million years ago, during the era of the convergence of glaciers. Due to intensive erosion, a deep sea bay with high rocky shores was formed from the river system. Nearby still exists the largest glacier, Justedalsbreen.
– Heiberg Museum is located right outdoors between Sogne and Kaupanger. This exhibit tells the unique history of the area. Several farms and other buildings of past centuries are on display. As part of the tour you can taste freshly baked bread and locally brewed beer made according to traditional technology.
– Ancient Norwegian shrines are represented in the form of wooden churches Urnes, Burgundy and Hopperstad. These buildings are over a thousand years old. They are distinguished by interesting ancient architecture and a special mysterious atmosphere.
Wooden churches (Sogne-fjord, Norway) Carved interior of a church (Sogne-fjord, Norway)
– The beauty and majesty of falling water from a huge sheer cliff always makes a stunning impression. You can admire the waterfalls around Sognefjord. There are several huge water cascades, considered the largest in Norway.
– You can take a train ride on the famous Flom Railway from the fjord itself to the peak of the mountain peaks. As part of such a trip will be a chance to admire the stunning scenery of wildlife. A variety of mountain slopes, gorges, waterfalls and rivers will open your eyes. The colorful mountain villages nestled right on the green hills of the mountains are also a sight to behold.
Flom railroad is the Norwegian “Orient Express”.
What to do in the Sogne Fjord area
When not touring, you can devote your time to no less fascinating activities. Thanks to the natural features of Sogne-fjord, you will have the opportunity to do:
- Fishing. The Wild Salmon Center, located in Lardal, offers tourists to get acquainted with the technology of traditional fishing. In a place located in the archipelago Solund there is an opportunity not only to fish from the shore of a mountain river, but also to hire a boat for this purpose.
- Horseback riding. Near Sogne-fjord is a horse-racing complex, where the mass of different options for horseback riding is offered.
- Rafting. Professionals and fans of rafting on the mountain rivers can take part in such entertainment. The surroundings of Voss have all conditions for rafting and other water sports.
Where to stay on the banks of Sogne-fjord
The area around Sognefjord is a sprawling notion in every sense. Its length along its perimeter is hundreds of kilometers. Therefore, to decide where to stay on these vast shores, you need to decide individually in each case. We want to share with you the rating of five hotels and campsites, which may come in handy when traveling by car in Norway.
* Most of the suggested options are located in the place Balestrand.
#1. Dragsvik Fjordhotel.
Dragsvik Fjordhotel (Sogne-fjord, Norway)
Three-star hotel on the outskirts of Balestrand and right on the shore of Sognefjord. Chic views, outdoor terraces and its own restaurant are its specialty. Nearby is the Dragsvik ferry crossing. Norwegian-style rooms are good-quality, everything is there. The breakfasts are hearty but may seem monotonous.
Where to stay in the Sogne Fjord area: BesteBakken
Boutique hotel in the village of Hafslo. Let’s face it, not a cheap option. It is more suitable not for transit travelers, but for those who are looking for a place to stay for one or two weeks. Near the ski elevator, in the summer you can do kayaking, fishing, rafting and enjoy the mountain panorama. The hotel has a spa.
#3. Vangsgaarden Gjestgiveri.
Sogne-fjord guest houses and campsites: Vangsgaarden Gjestgiveri
A complex of cottages on the shore of Aurland Fjord, one of the branches of Sogne-fjord. The cottages are new, the rooms have everything you need, even outdoor furniture, to enjoy the clean air and scenery. You can rent bikes, fishing rods; there’s a pub-restaurant. Free wi-fi is available throughout.
#4. Lærdal Ferie- og Fritidspark
Sogne-fjord campsites: Lærdal Ferie- og Fritidspark
The complex is located a hundred meters from the beach. This is the most budget option in our rating. For accommodation you can choose both apartments in the main building, and a separate house with a kitchenette and living room. Parking is available, wi-fi free, breakfast included. Bicycles, inflatable boats and canoes are available for rent.
#5. Kviknes Hotel
Kviknes Hotel (Sogne-fjord, Norway)
Four-star luxury hotel on the promenade Balestrand completes the rating. The building of XVIII century, beach area with sand and deck chairs. Terraces, restaurants, antique furniture, paintings – all this is suitable for a respectable holiday. Or for your honeymoon – the hotel is immersed in greenery, rose bushes and flower beds!
How to get to Sogne Fjord
Norway’s largest fjord is about 350 kilometers from Oslo. From there, there is a daily bus that goes to Lairdal. Travel time is about 6 hours. The second option – the railroad. In this case, you can go to Murdal, and then with change of plan to get to Flom (the end point of railroad Flom).
The shortest way is a flight from Oslo to Sogndal is only 50 minutes.
Bright Norwegian lodges on the banks of Sogne-fjord Popular excursion on Sogne-fjord is a boat cruise