You know that picture of those cute colorful houses right by the water, covered in snow, surrounded by nature, that is nothing short of amazing? The ones where you think to yourself, one day, one day I will find out where that is and go there. That’s what being in Ålesund is like. Actually there is a very good chance that is Ålesund you are thinking of.
On par to rival Bergen, on a small scale, Ålesund sees less tourist and is a little farther north than it’s more famous sister city. It might take a little longer to get to, but that just means will be you will be that much closer to some of the other spectacular sights in Norway.
The largest city in it’s county, Ålesund is built on a row of islands extending into the Atlantic. With just 40,000 inhabitants, you will find the old city center compact and easy to walk around. Known for it’s art and architecture, the main appeal of this city is it’s location. Right smack dab in the middle of what was voted the best preserved UNESCO Heritage site and the top place in the world by National Geographic Travelers magazine.
Glaciers surrounding you. Rugged terrain and craggily mountains slopping down into beautiful valleys. Reflections of the mountains in the crystal clear waters around the islands. Fjords galore. You have made it. Welcome to Ålesund.
I have yet to be there, but the sole reason I want to go is just to be there. To me, it is about the atmosphere, the feeling of just being there, the raw beauty of it all. I think the place speaks for itself for those who are in tune to it’s song.
Highlights in and around Ålesund
- Breathtaking panoramas from any point in the city
- Proximity to Geirangerfjord (the king of all fjords)
- Aksla Hill- 418 steps up to the Kniven viewpoint on top is a climb but you’re rewarded with the best viewpoint of the city, mountains and surrounding islands
- Fjellstua- Another breathtaking viewpoint of the local fjords and mountains
- Atlantic Ocean Park – (Atlanterhavsparken aquarium)- Holds a 4 million liter main fish tank, touch pools, crab fishing, beautiful surroundings and old WWII bunkers are just some of the sights here. Fun for the whole family and great when traveling with kids!
Where is it located
- Strolling around and relaxing
- Quiet city life
- Hiking and glacier walks
- Art scene and galleries
- Small town feel
- Ferry trips on the fjords
What to combine it with
- Island hopping- Cruise between Valderøy, Vigra, Giske, and Godoy. You’ll find coastal walks, sandy beaches, beautiful lighthouses, and 200 year old caves (skjonghellaren caves).
- The Atlantic Road driving experience- One of the world’s best road trips. This 8km road connects 17 islands and you might even get the opportunity to drive through the waves.
- The Flam Railway– A 20 km long journey, through 20 tunnels, on the steepest railway without a cable or rack wheels. Voted one of the most beautiful train rides in the world.
- Norway in a Nutshell trips
- Geirangerfjord- Voted the most beautiful fjord in the world. You will be in the best location to access this fjord trip. The Hurtigruten ferry runs daily trips in the summer to Geiranger and returns the next day, making transport very easy. Elsewise, you can take a bus to Hellesylt, a nearby town, and a fjord cruise to Geiranger.
- Jostedalsbreen National Park – Visit the park and the largest glacier on mainland Europe. The Jostedalsbreen Ice Cap extends unbroken for more than 60 kilometres. Covering an area of 487 km2, it comprises about 2/5 of the national park. Beautiful surroundings for exploration and glacier walks.
- Moldejazz- The biggest jazz festival in Norway with over 100,000 people and over 100 concerts. Many of which are free. ( moldejazz.no)
(Opening photo: Andy Beal, Flickr.com)
Would you visit Ålesund? Let us know what you think!