We got a new name
Visit Flåm has become Norway’s best.
Visit Flåm has become Norway’s best.
Calm down, breathe out. When you’re aboard the Fjord Cruise Nærøyfjord, you can sit back and enjoy the view of this fjord with World Heritage status, the lovely little villages and the spectacular nature. Or else you can hop off along the route and explore the area at close quarters. The relevant shuttle bus will take you back to your starting point, whether you start in Gudvangen or Flåm.
The Nærøyfjord is one of those fjords you really have to take a boat to see properly. The fact that it’s so untouched is actually one of the main reasons as to why this fjord is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The narrow fjord, surrounded by high, steep mountains, looks almost exactly the same as it did 50 or 100 years ago. When aboard the modern electric boat, you have panoramic views whether you’re sitting inside or out on deck. You’ll sail past the small communities of Bakka, Tufte, Styvi and Dyrdal along the Nærøyfjord. You can disembark at the last two of these in order to explore the nature and cultural history at close quarters.
On a 2-hour Fjord Cruise Nærøyfjord, you won’t just see one fjord. You’ll also get to see the beautiful Aurlandsfjord, which is part of the World Heritage-listed West Norwegian Fjords. On your way to or from Flåm, there are great views across to Stigen gård clinging on to a mountain ledge, the picturesque Undredal the provided inspiration for Disney’s Arendelle in the Frozen films, and Aurlandsvangen, the municipal centre in Aurland. If you book the Nærøyfjord tour, a shuttle bus will take you back to your starting point, whether you boarded in Gudvangen or Flåm.
There’s absolutely no noise from cars or machinery at the Nærøyfjord. Nature reigns supreme here, so what could be better than enjoying that nature from a silent electric boat? The Future of the Fjords was the first boat of her kind when she arrived in 2018. A fully electric, carbon fibre boat designed to allow passengers to enjoy nature to the fullest. She glides soundlessly through the fjord, and in winter the only thing you can hear is the thin sheet of ice breaking. The elegant Scandinavian interior and floor-to-ceiling windows also allow passengers to focus their attention on the landscape outside.
A beautiful waterfall plunges down the steep mountainsides along both the Nærøyfjord and the Aurlandsfjord. This is particularly beautiful when the snow is melting in May and June, because waterfalls of all sizes then start to appear no matter where you look. The most spectacular of these waterfalls is Sagfossen, at the outermost point of the Nærøyfjord, with a total drop of 575 metres. If you’re standing out on deck, you can feel the droplets of water on your face when the boat carefully draws alongside the waterfall.
Clear signs of the old farming culture can be seen here from the fjord. Unlike in most other places, farming here was never industrialised in the same way. The farms and homesteads that used to be worked by hand remain the same as they ever were, and the same is true for the outlying land. You can’t help but think of the farmers who once sat here, who laboured tirelessly to farm beneath the incredibly steep mountainsides with their landslides and avalanches. No road was ever built here, either.
It’s precisely this combination of rough, dramatic landscape, cultural history and untouched farmland that’s put this fjord on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The first place you come to on your way into Nærøydalen has been inhabited since the Middle Ages, and there are written sources to indicate that people here survived the Black Death. This used to be a lively community with both a school and an infirmary, but now there’s only one man living here. Both the buildings and the cultural landscape are maintained on account of the district’s World Heritage status, and in summer sheep are transported by boat from other places along the fjord so that they can graze.
If you get off the boat at Dyrdal, you can walk up the gravel track towards the Drægo farm and then on to the Hjølmo farm, 5 km from the fjord. There are lots of options if you’d like to carry on walking – the Vassete farm is a few kilometres further on into the mountain. You can also go all the way to the top of Breiskrednosi, for some fantastic views down into the fjord. This was the old transport route between Dyrdal and Jordalen and on to Stalheim. You can book a guided paddle and hiking trip from Dyrdal to Bleiklindi on the old Postal Road, in combination with the boat trip from Flåm.
If you hop off the fjord cruise at the old mail farm of Styvi, on the opposite side of the fjord from Dyrdal, you can enjoy a historic walk. This is where you’ll find parts of the Royal Mailroad, which was used in winter from the mid-17th century to transport the mail to Styvi when the ice on the fjord was potentially hazardous. From there, the farmers got in their boat and rowed on to Lærdalsøyri to drop off the mail. Steamboats took over the mail route in 1858, and now the road is an easy hiking trail, about 5km one way from Styvi to Bleiklindi, across the fjord at Bakka. You have to go back the same way and jump back on the boat to either Flåm or Gudvangen.
Objects have been found indicating links between the Sognefjord and Ireland during the Viking era. A number of places in Sogn are named after Norse gods, and some people reckon the Nærøyfjord itself is named after Njord, the god of seafaring. The remains of Viking graves can be seen at Holmo near Bakka, and there’s a living Viking village in Gudvangen, the place of the gods. Combine a fjord cruise a visit to the authentic village of Njardarheimr. This is a place where you can see and learn all about life a thousand years ago – and, not least, talk to people who live like Vikings.
Half the fjord cruise covers the Aurlandsfjord to or from Flåm, which is right at the end. There are panoramic views of this beautiful fjords as well from the deck of the boat, or through the windows that extend from floor to ceiling in the lounges.
You’ll sail past Stigen gård. You really wouldn’t believe anybody could live there, but these days it’s a bed & breakfast sleeping 14. Make sure you’ve got your camera out when you arrive at Undredal, with the dramatic Undredalen Valley behind it. There are charming wooden buildings in this little fjord community, along with Norway’s smallest stave church – and a few goats. Goats cheese has put Undredal on the map, even though it had no road until 1988. If you’re eating at the Fretheim Hotel, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to taste the cheese – even with dessert.
The boat can call at both Undredal and Aurlandsvangen. Aurlandsvangen is the biggest urban district in the municipality and boasts Aurlandskoen, the only shoe factory in Norway, the Stegastein viewing platform 650 metres above the fjord and the recently opened Hotel Aurlandsfjord.
There’s every chance of you seeing animals on land or in the water when you’re aboard your fjord cruise. Seeing killer whales playing in the fjord is really funny. You might also see porpoises as they leap above the surface of the water. That said, you’re most likely to see seals warming themselves on the rocks in the Nærøyfjord. The local mountain climbers – also known as goats – can be seen hunting for grass and leaves on steep mountainsides and rocky crags in spring, summer and autumn. Did you know, the municipal coat of arms of Aurland also has a goat on it?