The Fjords of Norway
Maybe it’s because of our residual Viking DNA, but there’s something about Norway’s fjords that really appeals to us Irish. Just say the word ‘fjord’ and we think of towering mountains, flat, dark waters and lush landscapes. For once, reality doesn’t disappoint. The fjords of Norway are even more beautiful than you can imagine, regardless of the time of year you visit.
In Winter their beauty is stark and striking. In Spring many of them burst with blossom trees along the banks of the water. In Summer they shimmer and sparkle as the melt water from winter snows cascades down their steep walls.
The following information about the fjords is taken from the official VisitNorway.com website. We couldn’t have explained it any better ourselves.
There are more than a thousand fjords in Norway, all along the coast. But most of the iconic ones – those you may have seen on the postcards, like the Nærøyfjord, the Sognefjord, the Lysefjord the Geirangerfjord – are located on the west coast.
The fjords resemble still blue lakes, but consist of saltwater – they are prolonged arms of the seas, often reaching deep inland with majestic cliffs towering above on both sides. Dancing down the almost vertical mountainsides are beautiful, sometimes massive waterfalls from the glaciers high above you.
Even though the fjords are often intertwined and you can sail from one fjord on to another or back into the sea, visiting the fjords can make you feel like you are in a secluded universe.
However, the key to understanding why the fjords are perhaps the most important symbol of Norway – and among its most popular attractions – lies in what they represent.
More than anything the fjords and the surrounding areas evoke images of a Norway of the past: A time when people lived as farmers in impossibly steep and rocky surroundings (in certain places they still do). A time when you could harvest from the blossoming fruit trees, and a sheep’s head was considered a delicacy (it still is).
If the landscapes may seem untamed and wild, the fjord areas are nevertheless easy to explore both on your own and through guided tours. There are small villages spread throughout, and trails for both glacier walks and mountain hikes are plentiful.
Five facts about the fjords
- UNESCO has included the fjords of Western Norway, exemplified by the Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord, on its prestigious World Heritage List.
- The fjords are often described as “nature’s own work of art”, formed when the glaciers retreated and sea water flooded the U-shaped valleys.
- Gudvangen and Geiranger, the two innermost villages of the Nærøyfjord and the Geirangerfjord, are among the most popular cruise ship ports in Scandinavia.
- Thanks to the warming Gulf Stream and air currents caused by the Coriolis effect, the Norwegian fjords enjoy a mild climate and remain virtually ice-free. Seals, porpoises and different fish swim in the fjords, while eagles and other birds soar in the skies above.
- The fjords are often very deep, and the Sognefjord is the deepest as it drops 1,308 metres below sea level. Because the fjords are so deep, they permit navigation by large ships, allowing you to experience their beauty at close range.
In 2006, National Geographic put together a panel of experts to rank and reward the most popular World Heritage sites. The Norwegian fjords emerged as winners, above competitors such as Galapagos, the pyramids of Egypt, Grand Canyon, Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu.
If you would like to visit the Norwegian fjords, either on a fjord cruise or an independent, self-guided tour, contact Project Travel on 01 – 210 8391. We offer a wide range of holidays in Norway’s fjord region and are happy to tailor-make the ideal package for you.
Image credit: Pal Bugge, Innovation Norway