The Nordfjord region, located in western Norway, should be on every traveller’s radar. To say that it is home to an exceptionally pristine landscape would be an understatement. Nordfjord is a strange melting pot of Viking legends, incredible glaciers begging to be explored, some of the best hikes in the world, a few thrilling rides, the friendliest horses imaginable and the tallest sea cliff in all of Europe. It is not a combination that you will find elsewhere.
Here are some of the remarkable things you should experience in the area.
Let your stomach sway on the cliff of Hornelen
At 2,821 feet above sea level, the Hornelen Cliff is the tallest of its kind in Europe. Even if you’ve never heard the name before, you’ve probably seen pictures of Hornelen on social media. These clifftop views make for some pretty captivating pictures!
If you want to experience it up close and personal and get some great footage, a steep hike that takes around 4 hours is waiting for you. There are several routes to choose from, including Berleneset (from the southwest; a longer but easier route) and Hunskar (from the northwest, with a lake along the way making a good stopping point for a picnic. -nique). Each route has its own advantages and disadvantages, but there is no denying that it is a physically demanding hike.
However, some “visitors” have found an easier way to get to the top. Rumor has it that the witches congregate in Hornelen, using the top of the cliff as a resting point before they fly up, up and away! And before you stop on an interesting rock, be sure to watch it twice. If the legends are to be believed, maybe it is just a petrified troll that you are looking at. It’s definitely a place that demands double takes.
Enjoy a shortcut to the sky
If a strenuous hike to Hornelen isn’t your cup of tea, there is a more accessible way to take in some of the breathtaking views of Nordfjord. The Loen Skylift, which happens to be the steepest cable car in the world, will take you up to almost 3,300 feet to the top of Mount Hoven in just a few minutes. A return ticket costs around $ 65.
At the top, visitors are greeted with panoramic views, but there is also plenty to see and explore. A short walk brings you to the start of two massive ziplines above the Tungejolet Gorge. There are also year-round hiking opportunities, cross-country ski and snowshoe routes in winter, and links to the Via Ferrata climbing route (if you’re really daring!). You will even find a gourmet restaurant, Hoven. Make sure to try the local cod, accompanied by sautéed potatoes, spinach and Romesco sauce.
Walk around the largest glacier in Europe
Norway is exactly where you want to be if glacier exploration is on your bucket list, and Jostedalsbreen should be at the very top. At around 188 square miles, it is the largest glacier in continental Europe and covers more than half of Jostedalsbreen National Park.
With over 50 branches starting from the main glacier and stretching across the Nordfjord, visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to exploring. Whether you are up for a serious physical challenge like climbing ice cliffs or more interested in family activities like nature walks or bird watching, there is a glacier-based activity for you. you.
One branch, Nigardsbreen Glacier, is extremely family-friendly, and kids as young as five can participate in sightseeing programs that will bring them closer to the blue ice of the glacier. Another popular branch to explore is the Briksdalsbreen Glacier, as it includes waterfalls and hikes that are a few miles long (although you can certainly go much further if you wish!). Note that almost all glacier activity requires a guide, both for guest safety and to protect the delicate glacier ecosystem.
Dive into a legendary lake
Nordfjord is truly a region of superlatives – upper, the biggest, and the biggest are appropriate descriptors for just about everything in the region. You can add the deepest to this list as well. Plunging almost 1,700 feet below sea level, Hornindalsvatnet is the deepest lake in Europe. A combination of salt water and glacial deposits, it is popular for fishing, kayaking, and all kinds of water sports.
Even if you are just exploring on the shore, you might want to be on the alert. According to local legend, an elusive sea monster lives in the lake! In 2012, three local fishermen saw a Loch Ness-like creature at Hornindalsvatnet. While their reports cannot be officially corroborated, they do have Viking folklore on their side. Stories of mysterious aquatic creatures have existed here for centuries.
Marvel at Viking Might
If the history of the Vikings piques your interest, Nordfjord will captivate you. This area was once the perfect place for anyone who was in the Viking War. While life in the Nordfjord is decidedly peaceful these days, you can get a glimpse of the region’s combative past by watching a replica of the Myklebust.
the Myklebust was a Viking warship almost 100 feet long – the longest of all the ships whose remains have been found in Norway. While the original ship was burnt in a burial mound, its size was determined by the number of nails left behind. Carpenters, historians and archaeologists were part of the team that helped rebuild it. You can experience the finished product and the whole story at Sagastad, a learning center with interactive exhibits dedicated to the Viking Age.
Meditate on medieval history
Even today, a visit to the 12th century Selja monastery requires a bit of pilgrimage. Built on Selja Island by Benedictine monks, the monastery is a 15-minute boat ride from Selje harbor.
Guides will guide you through the corridors and stairwells of the monastery to a sacred cave, and finally a well with healing waters. It is much more than a well-preserved historic site. The Selja Monastery is one of the oldest religious sites in Norway and honors the life and heritage of Saint Sunniva. Although it was closed during the Reformation, it was never desecrated, and therefore weddings and baptisms still take place here.
Cuddle with a true Nordfjord legend
No matter how nice the locals are, in the Nordfjord it’s the horses that will capture your heart and make you want to never leave again. The endangered Norwegian Fjord horse has been worshiped here for centuries. It is one of the oldest breeds in the world – with a lineage dating back at least 4,000 years – and one of three breeds that originated in Norway. The Vikings appreciated them for their strength and loyalty. Farmers appreciated them for their calm and constant character. And now, when it comes to hikes, you couldn’t ask for a friendlier companion. The Norwegian Fjord horse is so intelligent and gentle that it is even used in therapeutic programs. Just be forewarned – they’re so beautiful, with their brown-colored coats and black back stripes (and, in some cases, zebra stripes!), That they’ll steal the show in all of your photos!
If you are keen on horseback riding, you can learn more about the heritage and breeding of the Norwegian Fjord horse at the Norwegian Fjord Horse Center. The center also offers guided walks.