The Sognefjord in Western Norway is the longest navigable fjord in the world and has been nicknamed “The King of the Fjords”.
Fjord is a Norwegian word which per definition is a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley. The Sognefjord is over 200 kilometers (127 miles) long, 1,308 meters (4291 feet) deep, and is surrounded by snow-capped cliffs, cascading waterfalls, emerald green lakes, fertile farmland and brightly painted houses.
The “Land of the Fjords” should be on every nature enthusiast’s bucket list. Norway’s fjords differ to those in other parts of the world. Due to the warming Gulf Stream, they offer a milder climate, making their waters the perfect ice-free home for fish, seals and porpoises.
King of the Fjords – in Norway
Norway has more than 1,000 fjords, the most of any country in the world. The Sognefjord holds an impressive location. It runs through many municipalities, including Solund, Hyllestad, Balestrand, Aurland and Luster.
The Sognefjord begins in the Atlantic Ocean in western Norway and winds its way inland past small, idyllic villages, fruit farms and popular hiking trails.
The Sognefjord highlights
The beautiful Gudvangen is a Unesco World Heritage site at the base of Nærøyfjord, one of the narrowest fjords in Europe and a mere branch of the spectacular Sognefjord. It measures 20 km (13 mi) in length, is only 620 feet wide at its narrowest point and is surrounded by mountains reaching 1160 meters (3805 feet). Nærøyfjord was an inspiration for the 2013 Disney movie “Frozen”.
The trip down Nærøyfjord is one of the most dramatic fjord trips in Europe. A sightseeing boat service runs between Gudvangen-Flåm and Aurland all year round. There is also a car ferry between Gudvangen-Kaupanger and Laerdal.
Another branch of Sognefjord is Aurlandsfjord, 29 kilometer (18 miles) long. Along the Aurlandsfjord we have the villages Undredal, Aurland and Flåm. The Aurlandsfjord continues 18 kilometer inwards to Flåm where it ends.
Experience the Flåm Railway, built in 1924 and first opened for steam trains in 1940 and for electric locomotives in 1944. It’s an incredible train journey from the mountain station at Myrdal on the Bergen Railway and all the way down to Flåm station on the Aurland Fjord.
Solvorn is home of Urnes Stave Church, the oldest in Norway, another UNESCO World Heritage Site and the country’s oldest hotel.
The tranquil village of Skjolden, with a population of only 200, is one of the smallest ports in the world visited by large cruise ships. It is nestled between Norways highest mountain range, Jotunheimen National Park, and two spectacular glaciers, the Nigards Glacier and the Jostedal Glacier. The park is a one-hour bus ride – through hairpin bends and steep, winding roads – from Skjolden.
The power of nature
The major attraction of the Sognefjord area is of course the power of its nature and all that is connected to it. You can experience it by ship, train, bus or car. The innermost half of the Sognefjord is located in southern Norway near the unofficial border between east and west.
In the olden days, the fjord itself was virtually the only thoroughfare for those wanting to come here, but modern roads have now made it easier to access the area from all corners of the country. These days if you choose the shortest routes to the fjords, you could be there within a 2-3 hour drive from Bergen, 4-5 hours from Oslo and 5-6 hours from Trondheim.
King of the Fjords – in Norway, compiled by Tor Kjolberg