Ina Cristine HelljesenAuthor
15 fantastic facts about the fjords in Norway
You already know that the fjords in Norway should be on your bucket list. But besides the fact that they look amazing in photos and you can’t wait to explore them firsthand… how much do you really know about them?
The Norwegian fjords are one of nature’s most spectacular creations. Their long, serpentine shores traverse picturesque landscapes, while their calm waters welcome travellers all year long.
Here are 15 fantastic facts about the fjords that will get you even more excited to visit:
There are more than 1,000 of them in the country
Actually, fjords can be found in other countries as well — but only in Norway will you encounter so many! With literally more than a thousand fjords zig-zagging along its coasts, Norway is the number one fjord country in the world.
Several of them are UNESCO World Heritage sites
For a place to be designated as World Heritage it needs to have an “outstanding universal value to humanity”. UNESCO protects these areas, so that the future generations can also appreciate and enjoy them.
So it makes sense that something as beautiful as Norway’s fjords would be on that list!
Credit: Benjamin Hjort | Fjord Norway
They are living museums
Fjords are a result of the end of the Ice Age. They were created thousands of years ago when glaciers started melting and the valley floor became exposed, ultimately being filled with water.
Because of that, there have been many archaeological discoveries in the fjords’ soil: from ashes of ancient campfires to flint arrowheads.
Plus, in many of the surrounding areas you can find Bronze Age carvings and century-old trackways. Who would have thought visiting a museum would be so cool?
You’ll find no ice here
Despite being children of the Ice Age, fjords are surprisingly ice-free most of the time. Their uniquely mild climate is due to the warming Gulf Stream, which means you can encounter sea life (and go fishing) in them all year long.
They hold the secret to local flavours
That unique climate we just mentioned? It means more produce grows around the fjords. From fragrant apples (that make amazing apple cider) to sweet berries, and from edible flowers to fresh seafood and dairy products, the fjords have it all.
Here you’ll discover all the flavours that give Norway’s cuisine its unique character.
Credit: Sverre Hjornevik | Fjord Norway
They’ll take you on a journey to the past
It’s not just the soil that’s rich in history. Along the shores of Norway’s beautiful fjords you’ll encounter picturesque little towns and medieval churches that will make you feel you’ve stepped back into simpler, slower times. Take this time to explore. The modern, hectic world can wait until you’re back.
They’ll help you understand Vikings better
One of the reasons Vikings got so good at conquering their neighbours to the South, was their ships. Long before there were that many roads, boats and ships were all people had to count on to travel from village to village. And because most fjords are so narrow, the ships had to be narrow as well — which gave the Vikings the advantage later, when they decided to raid European rivers and straits.
In fact Sognefjord was an important trading route during Viking times, connecting the villages of Sogn and Bergen.
Credit: Ruben Soltvedt | Fjord Norway
There’s a King and a Queen among them
Speaking of Sognefjord: although all of Norway’s fjords are beautiful, two of them are so spectacular they have royal titles! Norway’s longest fjord at 205 kilometers (127 miles), Sognefjord is considered the King of Fjords. It’s located in Sogn og Fjordane, otherwise known as “fjord county”.
As for the Queen, that would be Hardangerfjord. It’s the country’s second largest fjord (and the third longest in the world) running from the Atlantic Ocean to the Hardangervidda plateau.
Credit: Jonny Akselsen
They have been proven strategic in battle
Even the smaller fjords have fascinating history. Take Trollfjord, for example: the Lofoten fjord was a battleground back in 1890, among traditional fishermen and those who used the (then new) steam-driven boats. This battle was an important one for locals — so much so that it inspired one of the country’s most recognisable paintings, by Gunnar Berg.
Credit: Kjell Ove Storvik | Museum Nord | Destination Lofoten
You’ll find unique rock formations near them
The land itself tends to be more interesting around Norway fjords, sculpting itself into unique rock formations that will wow you (and make for some great Instagram moments). Near Lysefjord for example, you can find formations like Kjeragbolten: a giant boulder wedged in a mountain crevasse 1,110-meters high (3640 ft).
Then there’s Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock): a steep cliff which rises 604 meters (1981ft.) above the surface of the fjord, ending up in a flat, 25 by 25 m area ( 82 by 82 ft.) that’s ideal for taking in the heights and panoramic photos.
They can take you to the top of the world
Even where there are no natural formations available, man-made ingenuity will help you get a bird’s eye view. Near Aurlandsfjord for instance, a train that looks like it jumped out of a ‘40s movie set (the famous Flamsbana) can take you from fjord to mountain level in one hour — stopping for pictures along the way.
And if you’d rather use your own two feet, in the village of Flørli near Lysefjord, you’ll find the world’s longest wooden stairway: 4,444 stairs going up the mountain, in what used to be a water pipeline made circa WW1. As if Norway’s fjords are not dramatic enough, they’re also offering dramatic ways to explore them!
They could help bring electricity to the world
Again in Lysefjord, a very interesting phenomenon is taking place. Because the fjord is located among towering mountain peaks (up to 1,000 m high), the area is ideal for hydroelectric power generation — aka harvesting the energy of the water in motion to create electricity.
This makes Lysefjord one of the very few fjords in the world that can literally help light up the world!
Credit: Paul Edmundson | Fjord Norge
They can help you chase waterfalls
Another wondrous surprise the areas around Norway fjords hold? Waterfalls. You’ll find several breathtaking waterfalls near fjords, but if you have to prioritise, do visit Tvindefossen, a 110-meters (360ft) cascading waterfall just outside Voss in Sognefjord, and Vøringsfossen in Hardangerfjord, with a free fall of 182 meters (597 ft).
They can be your playground
In case it hasn’t been clear so far: Norwegian nature rocks — and Norwegian nature near the fjords rocks even more. And the absolutely best thing about all this, is that when you’re on the fjords you can access 100% of this amazing nature.
From fishing, swimming or enjoying a fjord cruise, to hiking the mountains and exploring the waterfalls and the lush valleys, the fjords are your playground. And if you want even more, there are some great National Parks nearby, like the Folgefonna National Park near Hardangerfjord.
They’re closer than you think
Perhaps after reading all these facts you’re picturing the fjords as these mythical, inaccessible places… but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Some of the prettiest Norwegian fjords are only a short drive from Bergen and Stavanger, two of the country’s biggest cities. Are you excited about visiting yet?