Without a doubt the fjords in Bergen are one of the most attractive natural wonders of the world, and are easily accessible from this quaint town in southwest Norway. Just a 1 hour flight from Copenhaguen, Bergen is that picture perfect Scandinavian town you have seen in travel magazines and brochures: small two-story houses surround a bay and climb up the nearby hills while fishermen and elk skin traders make a living in the in harbor market every day.
This picturesque town has enough entertainment to keep you busy a morning or afternoon, but without a doubt the fjords in Bergen are what has put this place on a map. The most convenient way of visiting the fjords (per Wikipedia, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity) is by booking the sightseeing tour in the train station. There are several tour options available, some of the them include visiting glaciers as well, but it all comes to a price as Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. We chose to join the “Sognefjord in a nutshell” tour (1190 NOK= 150€ 205USD) because it is one of the least expensive yet includes most of the activities one would expect to participate in.
The 10 hour trip begins with a train ride that takes you to the outskirt os Bergen and drops you in Myrdal station where you’ll then hop on the antique train that travels along Flam railway. The Flam Railway is one of the steepest in the world, with a gradient of 1/18 on 80% of the line. The train itself is charming enough, yet it is the views of the mountains around you and the waterfalls that appear out of nowhere that really keep you in awe: perhaps one of the best is Kjosfossen waterfal, which drops 100 meters and supplies hydroelectric power for the railroad.
The railway finishes in Aurlandfjord, where you’ll hang around for about an hour while waiting for the boat that will take you between the fjords and providing some of the most interesting views of the trip. One of the things that kept me wondering were the houses you could see up in the mountains, with no apparent road to them, yet obviously inhabited. Would the owners really walk all the way up there every day after getting their groceris somewhere in the valley? What do they do when everything is covered in snow? In any case I was happy enough taking pictures despite the hazy day- I’m sure that when the sky isn’t covered by clouds the show displayed by nature is much better.
Once the boat trip is over you hop on a bus that takes you back to the main railway, stopping along the way atop a mountain with a beautifully located hotel offering fantastic views of the valley. The climb up the road is very steep indeed…I’m sure the views out the window will make you feel uneasy at some point! Once back on the final train you head back into Bergen, with some time left to enjoy the rest of the day and perhaps even eat something if you did not bring sandwiches or something else with you.
Travel Tips for Visiting the Fjords in Bergen
- The trip does seem to be extraordinarily expensive. We took the time to check individually the prices of every leg of the trip assuming it would be cheaper for sure- but it isn’t. Don’t waste your time and head straight to the train station, or book them online in the official Norway in a nutshell website.
- Bring some food with you. It will be cheaper than having to buy it at any of the cafe’s you’ll find along the way.
- Bring warm clothes. We were there the last week of September, and a sweater of raincoat would keep the cool air out and make the trip much more pleasant.
- Bring a camera.
- Start early in the morning. If the clouds are to clear up it will most certainly happen around noon: you want to be well on your way and not leaving the train station then.
- There are several hostels in Bergen. We stayed in the Bergen YMCA Youth Hostel and found it to be spotless, well located, and well managed.
The fjords in Bergen are certainly an attraction worth visiting if you ever have the chance and money, and are easier to visit than a hike to Preikestolen. Norway is perhaps the most expensive country I have visited (certainly more expensive than the US and probably more than Japan) yet it will delight any nature lover like myself. With enough time you might want to head to Nordkapp and other places in northen Norway, but here is my last piece of advice: if heading to Oslo right after visiting Bergen, do so buy bus despite the flight being sometimes just as cheap. The trip is 11 hours long, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views you’ll remember for a long time.
Have you visited the fjords in Bergen or elsewhere in Norway? Did you trek aling the cliffs and take great photos? How was the weather like when you were there? Share your thoughts below, and this post too if you liked it!