Photo courtesy of Samuel Taipale/ visitnorway.com
Arguably the most famous fjord in Norway, the Geirangerfjord is known for its emerald forests, slender waterfalls, and picturesque hamlets. To get up close and personal, take the car ferry that runs between the villages of Geiranger and Hellesylt, or head to the lookout points on the mountain roads nearby. Geirangerfjord was made even more famous around the world thanks to the 2015 disaster movie Bølgen (The Wave). We won't spoil the ending, but you've been warned.
By David Nikel, AFAR Local Expert
Considered the crown jewel of all fjords, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a winding strip of deep water between high cliffs that were formed by the glaciers. It offers breathtaking scenery with impressive waterfalls. One of the most photographed is the "Seven Sisters," a multitiered waterfall which legend says is named after seven women who were unsuccessfully courted. This also explains why the waterfall on the opposite side of the fjord is called "The Suitor."
By Dawn Reiss
When your ship cruises up the Geirangerfjord, make sure you’re on deck to see the show. The water laps the edge of green farmland and forests that extend right to the foot of massive walls of rock rising impossibly high. Waterfalls look like great white cracks in the stone—until you hear the voluminous froth crash and splash into the deep, dark waters.
A guided kayaking excursion is a great way to get a bit of exercise while getting up close to the fjord’s waterfalls, including the dramatic Seven Sisters which have an average fall of about 250 meters. Hear the roar and feel the spray as the rivers of vertical water splash down into the fjord: Kayaking here is something you’ll never forget.
Despite the precipitous cliffs that line the Geirangerfjord, a few small farms cling to the land. Some have been here since the Middle Ages, but the harsh conditions have left most abandoned today. However, a few farms have survived as tourist attractions, to be reached by intrepid hikers willing to keep an eye out for rock slides. A handful of farms are still in operation, their buildings topped with traditional turf roofs—the Norwegian version of insulation. If you look carefully, you may spot a goat or two roaming the mountain pastures.
Your eyes may be glued to the steep rock walls, tumbling waterfalls and rustic farms as your ship passes along the Geirangerfjord. But don't forget to cast your gaze downward as well. The deep, cold water in this narrow passage is a favored home for porpoises and seals, who can often be spotted fishing near the shoreline. The smaller your ship, the closer you’ll be to the water for an intimate look.