The Geirangerfjord is one of the most scenic fjords in Norway and named after the town of Geiranger, nestled between impressive mountains in a fabulous valley dotted with waterfalls and remote villages.
With its ancient farms and breathtaking views, Geiranger is now one of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations: cruise ships cruise the fjord amidst stunning scenery, while hikers can enjoy hundreds of miles of trails in the surrounding mountains, lakes and pristine valleys, which make the Geirangerfjord a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What you will find in this guide to the Geirangerfjord:
- Geiranger: Things to Know Before You Go
- Best Things To Do in Geiranger
- Geirangerfjord: Best Things to Do and See
- Geirangerfjord’s Best Viewpoints
- Best Places to See in the Surroundings of the Geirangerfjord
- Visiting the Geirangerfjord in Winter: Things to Know
- Best Restaurants in Geiranger
- How to Get to Geiranger
Geiranger: Things to Know Before You Go
The Geirangerfjord owes its name to the town of Geiranger, a quiet village of just 250 people located right at the head of the fjord, at its innermost point, in the heart of Western Norway. Geiranger is undoubtedly the most scenic place in the Geirangerfjord, located at the mouth of a fabulous valley and surrounded by mountains over 1500 meters high. Its name derives from the steep slopes that surround the town, and means “field in a mountain side”.
This once very remote area was inhabited by farmers and fishermen. Even today, along the steep avalanche-threatened hillsides, it is possible to see old and lonely farms, such as Me-Åkernes, a deserted fjord farm dating back to the 16th century. Its interiors have been preserved by the locals as they were when vacated in 1958.
Today Geiranger and the sensational Geirangerfjord are one of Norway’s top attractions, rated as the best travel destination in Scandinavia by Lonely Planet. And although the beauty of Geiranger is no longer a secret and the place is becoming quite touristy, its beauty and atmosphere remain indescribable.
Geiranger itself doesn’t have many attractions, but it’s a great place to start exploring the area. Most of the Geirangerfjord cruises also arrive (and often depart) in Geiranger, and most guided tours depart from here, such as kayaking on the calm waters of the fjord.
Nearby you can see the old fishermen’s cottages and the beautiful wooden Geiranger Church, built in an octagonal design in 1842. In the heart of Geiranger are also the scenic Fossevandring and Storfossen waterfalls and the Norwegian Fjord Center (Norsk Fjordsenter Museum), the main visitor center of the fjord.
Geiranger boasts several good hotels and campsites, starting with the fabulous Hotel Union Geiranger Bad & Spa, which offers great rooms with stunning fjord views and a world-class spa, with indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools and saunas.
Just outside the town is the excellent Grande Fjord Hotel, which boasts comfortable rooms, outdoor hot tubs and an excellent restaurant with a view. Other good solutions are the Hotel Utsikten and the Havila Hotel Geiranger. Also very nice is Westerås Gard, a 16th century farmhouse, which offers good cottages and apartments and also boasts a good family-run restaurant.
The village is crossed by Norwegian County Road 63, a scenic road that from Åndalsnes crosses one of the most famous mountainous landscapes in Western Norway, the Trollstigen, and then reaches the Geirangerfjord (the road involves a ferry crossing between Sylte and Eidsdal).
It then skirts Lake Eidsvatnet and near the village of Møllsbygda descends the mountainside through a series of hairpin turns (called Ørnevegen or Eagle Road) to offer a wonderful view of the Geirangerfjord and then reach the village of Geiranger. The road meanders through the village and then ascends through a series of hairpin turns to Geiranger’s most famous viewpoints and to Dalsnibba mountain.
Continuing south you reach Djupvatnet, Kolbeinsvatnet and Langvatnet, a series of beautiful mountain lakes, until you reach National Route 15 which crosses the Breiddalen Valley. There are at least two curious facts about Geiranger that are worth knowing: the first is that despite Geiranger being a tiny town, its port is the third biggest cruise ship port in Norway. During the summer season, Geiranger receives around 180 ships and over 300,000 tourists. So if you want to stay in Geranger make sure you book well in advance.
The second curious fact is that Geiranger is under constant threat from landslides from the adjacent mountain Åkerneset. According to experts there is a risk of a catastrophic landslide that could fall into the fjord and cause a tsunami capable of submerging and destroying Geiranger. The mountain is constantly monitored and some sirens have been installed to warn residents in the event of a landslide alert. This fact inspired the Norwegian disaster movie entitled The Wave (Bølgen), which was nominated for an Oscar in 2015.
Best Things To Do in Geiranger
Norwegian Fjord Center (Norsk Fjordsenter)
One of the main attractions of Geiranger is the Norwegian Fjord Center, located in a modern building that houses the visitor center and a museum dedicated to the fjords of Western Norway and the Geirangerfjord.
Here you can see some interactive exhibits on the geology of the fjord and how the natural landscape has changed over the centuries. You will learn more about the frequent (and sometimes catastrophic) landslides that have shaped the fjord and influenced the lives of the inhabitants of the villages located along the coast. Part of the exhibition is dedicated to the wildlife and vegetation of the region.
The exhibits (also in English) are engaging and also suitable for children. The Norwegian Fjord Center is open all year round and the opening hours are: from May to September from 10.00 to 18.00, and from October to April from 10.00 to 15.00. Tickets: NOK 130 (reduced NOK 70). Inside there is also a souvenir and craft shop.
In the heart of Geiranger there are beautiful waterfalls called Fossevandring. To see them, you can take the Waterfalls Walk, a walkway that starts from the center of the village and arrives at the Norwegian Fjord Center and the Hotel Union. The walkway passes very close to the falls and from here you can detour up the staircase (327 steps) which leads up to a viewpoint from where you will have a nice view of the village and the waterfall.
Geirangerfjord: Best Things to Do and See
The Geirangerfjord is one of the most famous fjords in Norway, and is located in the Sunnmøre region along the west coast of Norway. Indeed, the Geirangerfjord is a branch of a much larger fjord, called Storfjord, which reaches the open sea near Ålesund.
With its typical s-shape, the Geirangerfjord extends from the tiny village of Hellesylt to Geiranger, for a total of about 20 km. Along the slopes of the mountains that surround it you will be able to see several spectacular waterfalls, picturesque villages and imposing cliffs overlooking the emerald waters: a breathtaking landscape that has earned it recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In recent years its incredible beauty has been attracting more and more tourists, and in the summer the fjord is teeming with cruise ships, but the Geirangerfjord still knows how to surprise and you just need to get away from the most beaten paths (such as the cruise port) to discover its most authentic soul and the best views.
Geirangerfjord’s most popular attractions are its waterfalls and jaw-dropping viewpoints, but the surrounding area is filled with beautiful hiking trails and rural villages to discover. So, let’s find out what are the best things to do and see in Geirangerfjord!
Seven Sisters Waterfall
The Seven Sisters Waterfalls (De Syv Søstrene) are one of the main attractions of the Geirangerfjord and one of the highest waterfalls in Norway. It is located along the northern shore of the fjord and is made up of 7 smaller waterfalls, the largest being 250 meters high. To see the waterfall you should join a fjord cruise or one of the boat tours that depart from Geiranger. The best time to see it is from late spring to late summer, when the melting snow allows you to admire the waterfall at its best.
Just in front of the Seven Sisters Waterfalls is the bottle-shaped Friaren (the Suitor) waterfall. According to a popular legend, the Seven Sisters Waterfalls represent seven damsels who came down from the mountain dancing, while on the other side there was a suitor. He the latter tried to conquer them in every way but, after having repeatedly failed, he ended up alcoholic. This is why the waterfall is shaped like a bottle.
The area around the Seven Sisters Waterfalls is one of the most scenic in the Geirangerfjord. Just a few kilometers further there are several other waterfalls, such as Bringefossen and Gjerdefossen.
One of the best hikes in the Geirangerfjord is to Skageflå, an abandoned farmhouse located 250 meters above the fjord, near the Seven Sisters Waterfalls. The hillside farms of Skageflå are among the oldest in the area and were inhabited until 1916, when a landslide destroyed the crops and forced the farmers who lived here to leave.
Over the years, locals have restored and refurbished Skageflå farms, which are located in one of the most beautiful areas of the Geirangerfjord, with stunning views of the Seven Sisters Waterfalls. The wooden farm houses are certainly an interesting cultural heritage, but the main reason people come here is the view.
To get there you can take one of the boat trips from Geiranger, the MS Geirangerfjord is one of the most popular options, for example. By boat you will arrive at the head of the hiking trail which takes you to Skageflå in about 1 hour. The trail is a bit steep, but it is also suitable for families. It can get quite busy in the summer.
Geirangerfjord’s Hiking Trails
The surroundings of Geiranger offer many hiking and cycling trails. In the tourist office in Geiranger you can find maps of the 18 main hiking trails, each of different length and difficulty.
The most famous hiking trail is surely the one that leads to the scenic farms on the fjord, there are boat trips that allow you to visit the famous Skageflå, the village of Homlong and the farm of Knivsflå. There is also a challenging 5-hour long trail from Geiranger to Skageflå. You can find the map of the Geirangerfjord and its trails here.
Fosseråsa is probably the most beautiful hiking trail around Geiranger, and is the first certified hiking trail in Norway. The route is divided into three parts. The first stage is 1km long (20 minutes) and starts from the town center of Geiranger, next to the Joker Geiranger. From here, head to the school and cross the bridge. Immediately on the left, take the uphill road that skirts the waterfall and from there continue up the steps leading to the Norwegian Fjord Center.
From Norwegian Fjord Center you can continue to the second part of the trail, 1.5 km long (45 minutes): from the wooden bridge towards Hotel Union, turn right and follow the signs for Vesterås. The trail is easy. From Vesterås you can continue towards the end of the trail: it’s another 1.5km (45 minutes) on a rocky trail, the route is well signposted. After the wooden huts turn left and follow the signs for Storsæterfossen.
Geirangerfjord’s Best Viewpoints
Just behind the village of Geiranger is the Flydalsjuvet Viewpoint (GPS: 62.09093, 7.22357) and the nearby Geiranger Rock Viewpoint. These are some of the most popular viewpoints of the Geirangerfjord, easily accessible from Geiranger by taking Route 63 for approximately 5km.
This viewpoint is well signposted, has a large car park and a path leading to a viewing platform from which you can take the most iconic photo of Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord.
Geiranger Skywalk – Dalsnibba
One of Geirangerfiord’s most stunning viewpoints is the Geiranger Skywalk, located 1500 meters above sea level on the top of Mount Dalsnibba. It is about 20 km from the village of Geiranger and can be easily reached in about 30 minutes by car. To get there you have to take Route 63 towards Mount Dalsnibba and then a road (in excellent condition) that leads up to the viewing platform. This last section is tolled and to be honest, it is a bit expensive: you will have to pay NOK 270 per car.
The views here are truly incredible, as is the scenic Route 63 that runs alongside stunning mountain landscapes and lakes. The road is open from May to October and from Geiranger there are also tour buses that take you to the Geiranger Skywalk Dalsnibba. The bus ride takes approximately 2 hours and also stops at the Flydalsjuvet viewpoint. Prices start at NOK 450 per person. More info on prices, tickets and opening hours here.
Going from Geiranger towards Eidsdal, Route 63 takes the name of Ørnevegen or Eagle Road: a winding stretch of road which, after skirting the Geirangefjord, rises to over 600 meters above sea level. The 11 hairpin bends of Ørnesvingen offer insane views of the Geirangerfjord, the town of Geiranger and the surrounding mountains.
At the top of the Ørnevegen (GPS: 62.12634, 7.16689) there is a famous lookout point, with an observation deck from where you can take nice pictures of the fjord: the view extends to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls. From here you can also see the wooden houses of the old deserted Knivsflå farm. The road is open all year round.
Hellesylt Geiranger Fjord Viewpoint
Another wonderful Geirangefjord’s viewpoint is located on the opposite side of the fjord from the town of Geiranger, near the town of Hellesylt, along Route 60. Getting there by car from Geiranger is quite complicated, as you should reach the town of Stranda and this it requires two ferry crossings and at least a couple of hours of driving.
But if you’re coming from Ålesund you might choose to make a detour to Hellesylt – the village is another popular departure point for fjord cruises, and there’s also a ferry that shuttles regularly between Geiranger and Hellesylt. The best view of the mouth of the Geirangefjord and the mountains is obtained from the viewpoint located along Route 60 (GPS: 62.12251, 6.91968).
Best Places to See in the Surroundings of the Geirangerfjord
About 50km north of Geiranger you can visit Gudbrandsjuvet, a narrow and scenic 25-meter-high canyon carved out by the Valldøla River. Here, strolling on comfortable walkways, you will be able to see a series of rock formations and rushing waterfalls. The Gudbrandsjuvet is located right along Route 63, so it could be a good stop for those on the scenic road to Åndalsnes, Isfjorden and Molde.
Geiranger Herdalen Protected Landscape
One of the best day trips from Geiranger is to the old village of Herdalen, located in a remote mountain valley about 40km from Geiranger. The area around Herdalen is now an important nature park, and is home to a historic farm surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape, with mountains, waterfalls, rivers and green meadows.
The farm’s traditional grass roofed houses date back several centuries: the farm, called Herdalssetra, has been in operation for over 300 years and is one of the most authentic and oldest goat farms in Norway. The farm produces and sells high quality goat cheeses, goat milk and other delicacies, such as goats milk caramel, made in the traditional manner.
The farm is only open in the summer. To get there you will need to follow Route 63 to Eidsdal, then take the Fv91 to the junction for Herdalen. From here a mountain road (in good condition) starts which crosses an idyllic landscape, skirts the Herdalsvatnet Lake and ends right next to the farm. The area also offers great opportunities for nature walks and fishing. The mountain road (about 10 km long), similar to how it is happening in other places in Norway, now requires the payment of a rather expensive toll (starting from 150 NOK).
Visiting the Geirangerfjord in Winter: Things to Know
The best time to visit the Geirangerfjord is undoubtedly in the summer. July and August are the most popular months and the area around Geiranger can be quite crowded with tourists. The months of September and June could be a valid compromise.
However, the Geirangerfjord is beautiful even in winter: the snow, clouds and mist create a mysterious, dramatic and surreal landscape. But if you want to visit Geiranger in winter you should consider that most tourist activities (including fjord cruises) may be closed. The same goes for some hotels and restaurants. In winter, Route 63 may be closed on the section from Langvatnet to Geiranger. However you can get to Geiranger by ferry from Hellesylt or Route 63 from Eidsdal, so you can enjoy a magical view of the Geirangerfjord and the surrounding snowy landscape.
Best Restaurants in Geiranger
Those looking for an authentic experience should try Westerås Restaurant, one of the oldest and most traditional restaurants in Geiranger. It is located 4 km from the town center, in the historic 16th century farm Westerås Gard, which also offers excellent accommodation in traditional cottages and apartments.
The restaurant is located in the old wooden barn and boasts a pleasant and relaxing mountain atmosphere. The family-run restaurant serves delicious local meat and fish specialties, as well as excellent local cheeses and desserts. Noteworthy is the terrace and the wonderful view over the fjord and the village of Geiranger. The farm is also home to several farm animals, such as goats, sheep and cows that graze freely.
Restaurant Fjorden by Hotel Union
One of the best restaurants in Geiranger is definitely the Restaurant Fjorden, located in the Hotel Union, with an amazing view over the Geirangerfjord. The restaurant serves excellent regional cuisine made with the freshest local ingredients. It usually offers a choice of 3 menus, each with 3 courses: starter, main course and dessert. Prices between 600 and 700 NOK. They also have a good selection of wines.
Another excellent restaurant in Geiranger is Brasserie Posten, located right along the shore of the fjord, in the former post office building. It is a small family run restaurant, with only 35 seats inside and a few tables outside. It is a modern and welcoming place serving good Norwegian cuisine, fish soups and local fish and meat specialties. Reservations are recommended. The restaurant is only open from May to October.
How to Get to Geiranger
The best way to visit Geiranger and the area around the Geirangerfjord is with your own car. Therefore, most travelers rent a car in Ålesund, which is the closest city, and enjoy a nice road trip along the nearby fjords.
Many travelers visit the Geirangerfjord on a road trip to the Fjords of Southern Norway, renting a car in Bergen or Trondheim. You can find the best car rental deals on Rentalcars or Discovercars. It is advisable to book cars and accommodations well in advance.
Another popular way to visit the Geirangerfjord is with one of the various fjord cruises. Most Southern Norwegian Fjords Cruises depart from Bergen or Amsterdam (Netherlands), Southampton (UK), Copenhagen (Denmark) and other ports in Europe and the USA.
Getting to Geiranger by public transport is not that easy – you should get to Ålesund and take local buses from there, but this requires changing 3-4 buses and a couple of ferries. When traveling by bus you should check at the Bus Station for the most up-to-date timetables, because you may need to stay overnight in a place waiting for the next connection.
How to get to Geiranger from Oslo
There are no direct connections from Oslo to Geiranger. The best solution is to go from Oslo to Ålesund or Stryn or Åndalsnes.
- From Oslo to Ålesund: From Oslo Airport you can take a plane to Ålesund (approximately 1 hour).
- From Oslo to Stryn: from Oslo Bussterminal take the direct bus to Stryn (approximately 9 hours). From here you can take a local bus to Hellesylt, from where a ferry to Geiranger departs.
- From Oslo to Åndalsnes: From Oslo Central Station take the train to Lillehammer Stasjon where you will need to change for Åndalsnes Stasjon. It will take about 6 hours in total.
How to get to Geiranger from Ålesund
From Ålesund, 4 buses leave every day to Hellesylt (line 520 or 250, about 3 hours). Ferries leave from Hellesylt to Geiranger. The buses are operated by the companies Kringom and Trafikanten Møre og Romsda. Alternatively, you can take the bus to Sjøholt (line 100), then change buses and take the one to Linge (line 210) where you will take the ferry to Eidsdal and then continue to Geiranger (line 211).
How to get to Geiranger from Trondheim
From Trondheim take bus 905 to Sjøholt. From there you can take the bus to Linge (line 210) and then the ferry to Eidsdal. From Eidsdal you can take Bus 211 to Geiranger.
How to get to Geiranger from Bergen
In June, July and August the Hurtigruten Coastal Express from Bergen makes a scenic cruise in the Geirangerfjord. In the other months the ships stop in Ålesund and do not enter the fjord. To go from Bergen to Geiranger you can also take the bus to Kjøs Bru and from there the bus to Hellesylt.
How to get to Geiranger from Åndalsnes
From Åndalsnes you can take Bus 681 to Sjøholt. From there you can take Bus 210 to Linge, then the ferry to Eidsdal. From Eidsdal you can take Bus 211 to Geiranger.
Hellesylt to Geiranger ferries
From May to October there are 4 to 8 car ferries plying between Hellesylt and Geiranger. The scenic route is not only the fastest way to travel between the two villages, but it is also a beautiful fjord cruise that passes by major attractions, such as its famous waterfalls. Ticket prices start at NOK 335 (passengers) and NOK 670 (cars).
Ålesund to Geiranger ferries
From June 1st to September 1st there is a daily passenger ferry from Ålesund to Geiranger (3 hours). The ship stops 3 hours in Geiranger and then returns to Ålesund. This makes it a good option for a day fjord cruise from Ålesund to the Geirangerfjord. Prices start at NOK 825 (one way) and NOK 1410 (round trip). Some departures are occasionally scheduled even in winter. Info and timetables here.