There can’t be a trip to Norway without fjords, at least the first time. Europe’s northernmost country is replete with unusual natural nooks and crannies that seem to be drawn from the dreams of a science-fiction master or an animated film. Everyone believes that the best time to travel to the Norwegian Fjords is spring or summer, but after our recent trip to this corner of Scandinavia (which is our fifth trip to Norway) we have returned completely in love with its winter landscapes. Nature is even cruder and majestic, but there are almost no tourists to spoil your picture and the temperatures are not as harsh as you would expect for this time of year.
It’s been a while since we’ve enjoyed being in direct contact with nature and snow, seeing mountains reflected in mirror-like lakes or walking trails where streams murmur as they play until they flow near a glacial lagoon. These are just one of the few incentives to explore this Scandinavian destination, but so you don’t have a single doubt we’re going to give you 10 reasons to travel to the Norwegian Fjords in winter.
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What to do on a trip to the Norwegian Fjords in winter
We always tend to think that winter and cold do not allow us to fully enjoy a destination. However, this time of year has many advantages over other seasons. For example, there are far fewer tourists, the landscapes look completely different, and there are activities that can only be done when mercury is around 0 degrees Celsius. Here are some recommendations on what to do on a trip to the Norwegian Fjords in winter.
Bergen, the gateway to the Norwegian Fjords
There can be no trip to the Norwegian Fjords without visiting Bergen, whether in winter, summer or any time of the year. This city is located in a really privileged environment. From the viewpoints of Mount Fløyen you realise that this city could be the fruit of the imagination of Monet, Renoir, Sorolla or some master of colour who has played God by painting a canvas with the intense blue of the fjord water, the deep green of the valleys and the reds, yellows and blues of the iconic Bryggen district. Your soul will need little time to get caught up in such beauty, especially in winter, as there are almost no tourists and from time to time you may find a snowfall that gives a very peculiar look to Bergen.
Everything you can see and do in Bergen:
Sailing the Norwegian Fjords, an amazing experience
Don’t be afraid of this image because of the warmth we have in the picture, it’s more a precaution due to the speed of the zodiac than anything else. The current of the Gulf of Mexico tends to lower and much the temperatures of latitudes as northern as the Norwegian Fjords in winter and allow you to enjoy really moving walks among cliffs filled with waterfalls, snowy peaks or just go sailing. One of the experiences we liked the most was precisely sailing by speedboat from Bergen to enjoy the fantastic scenery in the small islands that surround the city. It was an amazing day, as well as enjoying the fjords or seabirds that are in the area, we stopped to make a picnic on one of the islets and cooked a stew of seafood and fish collected that same day in the area. If you want to experience such a cool excursion, you can check out the Bergen Fjord Adventures website.
Snow and winter sports in the heart of the Norwegian Fjords
Just a couple of hours from Bergen is the Hardanger Fjord. It may not be as well known as the Sojnefjord or fjord of Dreams but we assure you that the landscapes that can be seen in this area are really from another world. Also experiences, especially if you are passionate about winter sports and snow. At the heart of Hardanger Fjord is Myrkdalen Ski Resort, perfect for activities such as alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, beautiful snowshoeing, sledding down the same ski slopes or simply enjoying the overflowing nature that surrounds the area. There you can rent all the necessary equipment for the practice of these sports, even have instructors with infinite patience to give some lessons to ski denies like us. The snow is of a spectacular quality and also have accommodation with views (soon we will tell you in another post all the possibilities of Myrkdalen).
Accommodation and activities in Myrkdalen:
Kayaking in the Norwegian Fjords
As the Norwegians say there is no such thing as cold but inadequate clothing, although we promise you that when you’re rowing through Hardanger Fjord and you see the exciting scenery around you the last sensation that comes to mind is that of being icy. A very popular destination for kayaking in the Norwegian Fjords is the small town of Odda. The name of the village may not ring a bell, but in spring and summer it is very famous because the excursion to the famous language of the troll or Trolltunga departs from there. In winter it is difficult to do this route on foot, but the alternative of kayaking through the fjord is really delicious. You just have to look around to see that you are in a unique environment in the world. Both the language excursion and the kayak trips can be done with the people of Trolltunga Active. The rowing routes usually last about five hours but are adapted to the level of the group and there are many times that you simply let yourself go by the current to admire the scenery.
Trekking to admire a frozen lake
In an environment as magical as the Norwegian Fjords, there are countless routes and paths to enjoy nature. In the Hardanger area is Folgefonna National Park, a maze of trails and glaciers that will give you fabulous experiences and unique images you can only see in winter. There is a very picturesque route, which is also very comfortable to do, near the village of Rosendal. The aim is to walk to the fantastic Bondhus Lake which is located right at the foot of the Bondhusbreen glacier, a branch of the vast Folgefonna glacier. The walk is easy, since it can be covered in two hours including the round trip. You have to be careful if the path is frozen to avoid slips, but between streams, forests and little bridges you will come across the magnificent lake Bondhus. The walk had been so pleasant, that the view of a completely frozen lake seemed overwhelming. Such experiences make it worthwhile to travel to the Norwegian Fjords in winter. You can encourage yourself to explore the area with the experts of Rosendal Event.
See one of the highest waterfalls in frozen Norway
Another place worth visiting on a trip to the Norwegian Fjords in winter is the small town of Eidfjord and its surroundings. Less than 20 minutes by car from this small village in the province of Hordaland is one of the highest and most famous waterfalls in Norway. Its name is Voringsfossen and it has a height of 187 meters. In winter it is usually frozen which attracts the best specialists in the world of ice climbing. The path to one of the best viewpoints is very close to the main road, where the detour is clearly indicated. Although we did not climb, there is another viewpoint that looks very good in the hotel Fossli that can be seen on a vertical ravine just above this giant waterfall.
Visit some charming villages just 2 hours from Bergen
We have already said that Bergen is usually the center of tourist attention of the Norwegian Fjords, but to only two hours of car we can find some really charming small towns and that in winter tend to be very solitary. Some of the ones we liked the most were Rosendal, where you can visit one of the few noble buildings in Norway, Eidfjord and its spectacular surroundings at the foot of the fjord, Utne and its small houses with grass roofs, or Odda located in one of the deepest arms of the Hardanger fjord.
Driving on secluded roads and dream landscapes
One of the greatest pleasures of travelling to the Norwegian Fjords during the winter is to travel on the roads while enjoying landscapes that look like those taken from a science fiction film. You have to have plenty of time for this trip or have a lot of willpower, because you want to stop at almost every step to take pictures or enjoy the views. The journey from Bergen to Hardanger is about two hours, but be prepared to see fjords, mirrored lakes, waterfalls flowing from mountains or snowy peaks. Simply spectacular.
Learn from local Norwegian culture
Not everything is going to be activities and landscapes on a trip to the Norwegian Fjords in winter. One of the reasons we travel is to learn from other realities and cultures. A good place to discover the past, history and way of life of this area of Norway is the Hardanger Folk Museum located in the beautiful village of Utne. This is an open-air museum in the style of the Norwegian People’s Museum of Oslo but overlooking the fjord. In a small area of land on a hill you can visit old houses where at different times of the year craftsmen and musicians work. In the main building you can see an exhibition with traditional objects and customs such as the bunad or traditional Norwegian costume.
Gastronomy kilometre 0 next to a chimney
And one of the best rewards you get after all the experiences you can do on a trip to the Norwegian Fjords in winter is to recharge your batteries by enjoying a local cuisine with local produce next to a fireplace. Norwegian cuisine has evolved a great deal in recent years and its main seal of quality is the local products and raw materials of the highest standard that can be obtained by cooks on nearby farms and livestock farms or at fish markets. In this area of Hardanger you can also enjoy handmade beers, jams, cheeses or fresh products cooked very simply, but with an unbeatable result. In each village you can try the typical soup of fish, meat or freshly made bread that accompanies any of the dishes. It is highly recommended to dine at the Colonialen 44 or at the Bare Vestland in Bergen or to stop for lunch at the EidfjordFjell & FjordCafé or the Sjel Og Gane in Eidfjord or at the Trolltunga Hotel in Odda.
We never travel without travel insurance
We never travel without travel insurance… and least of all when the little ones come. It is always advisable to be protected by what may happen and more in a destination where medical care is as expensive as in Norway. We recommend that you travel to the Norwegian Fjords with a policy that covers possible accidents, hospitalisations due to illness or setbacks at your destination that could lead to an extra cost in your travel budget (note that hospitalisation or medical care in Norway may peak). We use IATI Seguros travel insurance because it has above-average coverage and always offers a personalised and fast service. You can take out the IATI Seguros Travel Insurance here and just for being a reader of the Pachinko they directly apply you a 5% discount.
Have our 10 reasons for travelling to the Norwegian Fjords in winter convinced you? Would you like to visit one of the most spectacular nature destinations in the world? Tell us in the comments.