Scandinavia boasts some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes in the world. The fjords of Norway, in particular, are landmarks with pristine natural beauty you won’t find anywhere else on Earth. From the west coast to the mountainous interior home to staggering snow-capped peaks, these glacier-carved fjords dot the landscape in the Scandinavian country.
Choosing just a handful that stand out from so many worthy candidates is no easy task, but we’ve whittled down the list to just five. Here are some of the most stunning fjords in Norway.
Geirangerfjord is one of two Norwegian fjords designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated about 70 miles southeast of the town of Ålesund, it’s arguably western Norway’s most remarkable fjord. The surrounding landscape is home to sparkling glaciers and icy lakes, but the fjord’s sheer rock walls, deep blue water, and forested slopes are what make this such a stunning place.
Numerous waterfalls stream down the steep sides of the fjord. One of the most impressive is a group of cascades known as the Seven Sisters, which gush 800 feet down mountainside and inspired wintery scenes in the Disney animated musical film Frozen (2013).
Although much smaller than its partner, Nærøyfjord also makes the UNESCO list — measuring just 820 feet wide at some sections. The calm water surrounding the fjord makes the area a popular place for kayaking, and from this lower vantage point the steep sides of the fjord appear even more imposing.
Another way to enjoy the scenery is by ferry. As the boat nears Nærøyfjord, it passes a historic farm called Stigen perched high on a hill. Disembark at Gudvangen, a village that offers a plethora of hiking trails. Visitors can also learn about the country’s Viking heritage at Njardarheimr, an interactive, open-air museum that recreates what life would have been like in the region over a thousand years ago.
Sognefjord is not only one of Norway’s most striking fjords, it’s also its longest and deepest, measuring around 125 miles from end to end and reaching a depth of more than 4,000 feet. Located in the county of Vestland, Sognefjord is a three-hour drive from the city of Bergen and features steep, gray cliffs — a dramatic contrast to the ultramarine water.
Tours to Sognefjord are often paired with a trip on the scenic Flåmsbana, a railway that winds its way through breathtaking mountains and past impressive waterfalls. Many of Sognefjord’s tributaries are equally dazzling and Norway’s oldest stave church, Urnes, is located on the promontory Lustrafjorden and dates to the 12th century.
At 110 miles long, Hardangerfjord is second in size only to Sognefjord. Located in southern Norway equidistant from the coastal cities of Bergen and Haugesund, the fjord is a hiker’s paradise — the launch point to what’s perhaps the country’s most famous landform, Trolltunga (”Troll’s Tongue”).
This iconic rock juts from a 2,300-foot-tall cliff above Ringedalsvatnet lake. Although most people come for the scenic overlook, Hardangerfjord itself is incredibly beautiful, whether explored on foot, by boat, or by car. Stay in the town of Odda to partake in a variety of sightseeing tours and outdoor activities, including venturing into nearby Hardangervidda National Park.
Lysefjord is best known for a rock formation called Preikestolen (“Pulpit Rock”). You may have seen it on the big screen: In Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), Tom Cruise was seen dangling from the rock, the top of which stands more than 1,900 feet above the fjord. You mighty recognize another famous landmark, too, known as Kjerag. This massive boulder seems to defy gravity — wedged high above the ground between two rock faces.
But they’re not the only impressive attractions in the area. The fjord is also home to the world’s longest staircase. Known as Flørli 4444, the flight has a whopping 4,444 steps. To visit all of these famous sites, stay in the pretty village of Lysebotn. Visitors can drive there in summer via a road with 27 hairpin bends. In winter, you’ll have to hop on the ferry — an hour-long journey from the city of Stavanger.