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Mountainside along the Sognefjord

Credit: Visit Sognefjord

Freelance writer Kenneth Kiesnoski

Kenneth Kiesnoski

Author
3 mins read

9 facts about the Sognefjord

Longest, deepest, largest — it’s hard to exaggerate when talking about the Sognefjord. Everything’s superlative when it comes to what many regard as Norway’s most impressive fjord. Here are 9 fun facts about this king among waterways. So, it...

...is known as the King of the Fjords

Sognefjord isn’t nicknamed “King of the Fjords” for nothing. Stretching for 205 km (127 mi) inland and plunging up to 1,308 m (4,291 ft) below sea level, it is Norway’s longest and deepest fjord. It also has at least a dozen major branches, including the Fjærlandsfjord, the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage List site since 2005.

...has UNESCO listed fjord branches

The stunningly narrow Nærøyfjord, just 500 m (1,600 ft) wide in spots, shares its UNESCO status with the Geirgangerfjord, 120 km (75 mi) to the north, as part of a “West Norwegian Fjords” listing. UNESCO says the 2 fjords are “exceptional in scale and grandeur in a country of spectacular fjords” and are the least affected by human activity. 

Nærøyfjord also inspired the kingdom of Arendelle in Disney’s “Frozen” movies. See it all for yourself on a fjord safari by kayak or boat.

...is home to Norway’s tallest free-falling waterfall 

Sightseeing fun hits record heights at the 275 m (902 ft) high Vettissfossen waterfall, the tallest free-falling waterfall in Norway. You can find this famous cascade in Utladalen valley, which is also home to several other impressive waterfalls. 

Once you’re in Utladalen, you’re at the doorstep of Jotunheimen National Park, one of the country’s most popular hiking destinations. 

...is close to Europe’s largest glacier

Seeing green? Don’t rub your eyes. The emerald color of the innermost arms of the Sognefjord is said to be due to melting runoff from nearby glaciers and snowcaps. 

The largest glacier in Europe, Jostedalsbreen, is within easy reach for guided hikes and walks. Kick off your icy trek with stops at glacier info centres in Jostedalen and Fjærland.

...houses Norway’s official book town along its shores

Fjærland is not only a gateway to the glacier. It’s also a mecca for any self-respecting bookworm. The tiny village — population 280 or so — has been the official Norwegian Book Town since 1995. 

Some 2.5 miles of bookshelves stocked with secondhand volumes fill a variety of historical buildings, from stables and shops to banks and a post office. A must see — and read!

...also boasts several other attractive fjord villages

Charming and intriguing villages like Fjærland dot the shores of Sognefjord and its branches. Tiny and quiet Balestrand is home to a host of art galleries as well as the landmark Kviknes Hotel, a wooden grande dame run by the same family since 1877. 

Eco-conscious Lærdal, meanwhile, is one of four “Sustainable Destinations'' in Norway, and also home to Gamle Lærdalsøyri, a collection of 161 legally protected historical wooden buildings.

...can pride itself with being a gateway to several stave churches

5 of the oldest of Norway’s 28 surviving stave churches, all dating back to the 12th century, can be found in the Sognefjord region. Visit the most ancient of these distinctive and intricately carved wooden sanctuaries, built in 1130, in the village of Urnes, on the Lustrafjord.

...takes you straight to the world famous Flåm 

All aboard for fun on the Aurlandsfjord! You can catch the Flåmsbana railway between the mountain station at Myrdal and the tiny fjord port of Flåm far below for one of the most beautiful, steep and thrilling train rides in the world. An hour of mountains, waterfalls, tunnels and more on a 5.5-degree incline along 20.2 km (12.5 mi) of track.

...is crisscrossed by multiple National Tourist Routes

The Sognefjord region is crisscrossed by some of Norway’s finest National Tourist Routes for motorists. 

The Aurlandsfjellet route, known as the “Snow Road'' due to the snow found en route even in summer, features the spectacularly designed Stegastein viewing platform. 

Other National Tourist Route musts include Route 55 across Sognefjellet, which includes the highest mountain pass in Europe, and the waterfall-lined Gaularfjellet route.