Mountain hike to Hovden with views of Olden

8 Fun Facts About Nordfjord, Western Norway

Western Norway’s Nordfjord is home to the country’s 6-largest fjord, the Nordfjorden. It is also very much home to adventure.

Between the coast and the glaciers, outdoor activities await to challenge new and experienced adventure seekers. You’ll find a land of extremes, from the deepest lake to the highest cliff, yet Nordfjord remains grounded and welcoming. 

Here are 8 fun facts to inspire your trip

There’s No Faster Route Between Sea and Sky

Loen Skylift gondola with snow-capped mountains and fjord in the background
Photo: Bård Basberg | Loen Skylift

In just 5 minutes, the Loen Skylift transports visitors 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) from sea to sky. It has the distinction of being the world’s steepest aerial ropeway but there is much more to experience beyond the stunning views. 

Disembarking passengers are met with hiking and skiing paths, connections to the Via Ferrata climbing route, and even a fine dining restaurant.

Nordfjord Is Home To Europe’s Highest Sea Cliff

Hikers on the summit of Hornelen
Photo: Sverre Hjørnevik | Fjord Norway

A stomach-churning 860 meters (2821 ft) from the sea, the Hornelen sea cliff is the highest in Europe. A steep, 4-hour hike brings visitors to the top, where peeking over the edge is entirely optional. 

However, the views of the coast aren’t the only thing to keep an eye out for. Legend has it that witches gather here, using the sea cliff as their resting point before flying away!

Continental Europe’s Largest Glacier Is Here

Hikers climbing down from Nigardsbreen
Photo: Sverre Hjørnevik | Fjord Norway

In a country famous for glaciers, Nordfjord’s Jostedalsbreen is in a league of its own. It’s continental Europe’s largest glacier, covering 487 square kilometers (188 sq mi). More than 20 arms reach out from the main glacier and spread throughout Nordfjord. 

One in particular, Nigardsbreen, is easily accessible and hosts family-friendly tours.

You Can Ski Year-Round

Cross-country skiers on top of the mountain Hoven in Nordfjord
Photo: Bård Basberg | Loen Skylift

Nordfjord is a 4-season destination and some visitors experience them all in one day. Mediterranean-esque summers feature sunny, white-sand beaches and turquoise waters but the year-round ski hills are just a short drive away. 

The Stryn Summer Ski Centre, situated 1,065 metres (3,600 ft) above sea level, is open even in the warmest months. People in Nordfjord like to say that there’s no shorter distance between snow and surf.

Viking Prowess Remains

Sagastad Viking museum in Nordfjord
Photo: Ruben Soltvedt | Fjord Norway

Nordfjord was once an epicenter of Viking power and has the warships to prove it. In particular, the Myklebust called the area its home. This once-mighty vessel was an estimated 30 meters (98 ft) long, making it the largest of all Viking ships whose remains have been found in Norway. 

A carefully redesigned replica of the Myklebust takes center stage at the Sagastad knowledge center.

You’ll Find The Cutest “Tour Guides”

A Norwegian fjord horse in Nordfjord
Photo: Ruben Soltvedt | Fjord Norway

To the Vikings, they were a mighty war mount. For generations of Nordfjord farmers, the Norwegian Fjord Horse was a loyal, dependable farmhand. And for travelers, this ancient breed may just be the cutest tour guide imaginable. 

The Fjord Horse’s calm, friendly disposition makes it the ideal companion for a trail ride. Passionate equestrians will love the Norwegian Fjord Horse Centre, which offers guided rides.

Nordfjord Is Home To Europe’s Deepest Lake

Hornindalsvatnet lake in Nordfjord
Photo: Sergey Vovk

At 514 meters (1,686 ft) below sea level, Nordfjord’s Hornindalsvatnet has the distinction of being Europe’s deepest lake. Though primarily fed by a saltwater source, the melted snow from the glacier deposits itself into the lake as well, which results in a salty bottom layer while the top is far less briny. It’s an ideal spot for kayaking, fishing, and even exploring a local legend.

… And Possibly Europe’s Most Elusive Sea Monster, Too

In 2012, three local fishermen saw Lake Hornindalsvatnet’s elusive sea serpent… or did they? While it’s possible they observed a large eel and not Norway’s version of the Loch Ness Monster, they’ve got Viking folklore on their side. 

Who knows what really lies in Hornindalsvatnet’s depths? Perhaps you need to visit and investigate for yourself.