In Association with: Austria National Tourist Office

Far away - and yet close to home - in the beauty of the Norwegian fjords

 

Sometimes, the planet's greatest wonders are far closer to home than you think. Did you know, for example, that one of the world's most glorious areas of craggy mountains, stately glaciers and steep-sided canyons lies not in the Himalayas or the Andes – but just two hours from Britain amid the dramatic scenery and lovely fjords of western Norway?

The pretty port city of Bergen – with the many-coloured merchants' houses of Bryggen wharf standing as a key landmark – is the gateway to this realm of geographic wonder.

And while many hundreds of fjords – serene, water-filled grooves, carved by the incremental movement of glaciers in the Ice Age – wend their way into this rugged stretch of coast, there are two in particular that should be on everybody's travel to-do list.

Tucked just south of Bergen, the Hardangerfjord is a 111-mile-long miracle, where tall cliffs frame calm currents, and boats are dwarfed by their surroundings as they venture in.

In appearance, the Hardangerfjord looks remote and majestic. Yet it is easily accessible from the city.

The flexible 'Nutshell' tours organised by Fjord Tours (fjordtours.com) are a range of single and multi-day trips which allow visitors to absorb the scenery – snow-capped mountains, sparkling blue waters – at a leisurely pace. They can also point their cameras at the raw spectacle of Vøringfossen – a lively display of splash and crash, where several waterfalls converge to drop 182 metres.

There is every chance that you will want to stay longer to admire the area in more detail. Perhaps by hiking to the top of the Trolltunga cliff, an incredible piece of rock which juts out at 700 metres in the air. Or you can take to the surface of the Folgefonna glacier – which is so cold that you can ski on it during summer.

North of Bergen, meanwhile, the Sognefjord is an undoubted global icon. Cutting east into the Jotunheimen mountains for 127 miles, this is Norway's longest and deepest fjord. Its beauty is encapsulated by the Naerøyfjord, a sub-fjord within, so photogenic that it is recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site – one of Europe's truly unmissable locations.

Again, the Sognefjord can be explored – via a choice of day-trips or longer tours – from Bergen (through Fjord Tours).

And again, the Sognefjord rewards extended inspection. Why not take a walk across the icy contours of the Nigardsbreen – a side-arm of the incredible Jostedalsbreen glacier? Or you could head to the bottom of the same giant, and paddle out by kayak on Styggevatnet – the glacial lake which forms at the foot of Jostedalsbreen. Then there is the timeless charm of the Flåm Railway (Flåmsbana) – a fine feat of engineering which climbs from the fjordside village of Flåm (on the Aurlandsfjord), curling past waterfalls and cliffs to the mountain top-station at Myrdal. Grab a window seat – and prepare to be enthralled.

Cosy accommodation is provided in villages such as Balestrand and Voss. The latter has long been a key dot on tourist maps, renowned as an ideal base for activity breaks. From here, you can indulge in a spot of hiking, rafting or climbing, while also noting that local life fits seamlessly into the picture – fruit trees swaying softly in the wind, sheep grazing.

So how can you go about this? Simple. British Airways (ba.com) flies to Bergen from London Heathrow, while Norwegian (norwegian.com) and easyJet (until the end of May; easyjet.com) serve the city from London Gatwick – with each of these flights taking just under two hours.

This magnificent region of endless geological grandeur is practically on your doorstep.

For more information, see visitnorway.com

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent