Fairytales & Fjords
The south-west corner of Norway is quite simply off the charts in the natural beauty stakes. Mountain landscapes so beautiful they border on the absurd, crystal-clear streams opening up into deep blue fjords and thundering waterfalls. If New Zealand hadn't been available, Peter Jackson could easily have set Middle-Earth in Norway instead.
Start your tour in the historic city of Bergen with its bustling fish market and historic ‘Bryggen’ wharf. Delve into adrenaline sports in Voss before heading to Flam for serene fjord views and gravity-defying mountain railways. Grab your crampons and pickaxe to climb the Nigardsbreen Glacier before pausing in characterful fjord villages in the Loen Valley. Finally, take in the epic Geirangerfjord and Trollstigen switchbacks before landing in Ålesund to enjoy museums, aquariums and lighthouses. Get ready for superlative overtime!
- Flights: Flights from UK regional airports to Bergen (BGO), returning from Ålesund (AES)
- Transport: Car hire from airport pick-up to airport drop-off
- Accommodation: 8 nights in characterful cabins, cottages & hotels
- Meals: Breakfasts where stated
- Trip Pack: Key family-friendly information about the country you are visiting with recommended activity links, places to eat and fun facts.
- Walk along the historic Bryggen waterfront, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Delve into a rich seafaring history with Viking longships, fisheries museums and bustling wharves
- Embark on wild river adventures near the beautiful mountains of Voss
- Visit the small town of Flam famous for its fjords and world-famous Flåmsbanen railway
- Experience 1000-year-old ice on an invigorating glacier hike at Nigardsbreen
- Travel through Geirangerfjord passing characterful villages, abandoned farms and waterfalls
- Enjoy fabulous art-nouveau buildings and living museums in Ålesund
- When can we go? May to Sept
- What type of tour is it? Private self-drive tour
- Who is it suitable for? For active families hungry for outdoor adventure, for epic scenery lovers looking for magical mountains, deep fjords, endless lakes and glaciers and for devoted fans of the Disney film Frozen
- What is the minimum age? We would recommend a minimum age of 6 years to fully enjoy the range of activities available
We publish ‘guideline prices’ to give a reasonable estimate of what you might expect to pay per person based on a family of four (two adults, two children). To get an accurate price based on your estimated departure date and party size please contact us directly.
Guide Price: May to Sept - £985pp
Arrive in Bergen after your short flight from the UK. Norway’s second city is sandwiched between dramatic fjords and towering mountains. It is a picture-perfect medieval fishing town of clapboard houses, ancients wharves and steeple-roofed warehouses where cheerful ferry boats flit between inlets and cosy cafes provide welcome relief from the notoriously damp weather.
We would recommend spending the remainder of your day getting acquainted with the city. Take the Fløibanen funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen with its panoramic views. At the summit, follow the hiking trails or enter the magical Troll Forest with its moss-covered pines and hand-carved sculptures. Venture deeper into the woods to find the cliffside cabin designed by local architecture students with its rabbit hole-esque appearance. Back at ground level take a 5-minute stroll to the fish market where you can grab some of the freshest fish and chips you’ll likely ever eat!
Fun Facts: Until the mid-18th century, Bergen was a key trade centre for the mighty German Hanseatic League, trading fish and lamp oil to important cities across Europe.
Take the whole day to explore this beautiful city. The kids will be captivated by the colourful gingerbread houses of Bryggen, the historic nautical village on the wharf. Painted in earthy reds, mustards and greens, the buildings lean at angles, jostling for space with their neighbours. Once crammed with barrels of unsalted codfish, today, art galleries, craft shops and bistros have taken up residence.
Only a 15-minute walk from Bryggen is the not-to-be-missed Fisheries Museum with its excellent hands-on exhibitions designed especially for children. You can also rent a rowing boat to paddle around the harbour. Kids can also get hands-on with the interactive exhibits at the Science Centre where they can navigate a ship, drill for oil or forecast the weather. If the weather is good then we would highly recommend a visit to Nordes Park. Hop on a ferry, take a dip in the seawater pool, walk the plank or cool off in the fjord. Warm up afterwards in the cedar sauna. If the weather takes a turn for the worse then the aquarium is just next door!
Despite its longstanding history, the city of Bergen is driven by a youthful mentality with impressive street art dotting the urban landscape. Your family can take a guided walking tour to discover the walls and corners of the city adorned with paintings by the likes of Banksy. Colours to brighten the dullest of Norwegian days.
Fun Facts: Bergen claims to have the largest tree in Norway. It is a 100-year-old tree on the slopes of Mt Fløyen, at the Hestebergveien path.
Optional Activities: Edvard Grieg museum, fisheries museum, science centre, Bergen aquarium, street art tour
Today head to Norway’s adventure capital, Voss where you could try out one of the many thrilling activities on offer. We would recommend driving via Hardanger for spectacular fjord landscapes with a stop at the Skjervsfossen waterfall.
The small town of Voss is surrounded by valleys, forests, rivers and lakes making almost every action sport possible. Kayaking, zip lining, river boarding, canyoning, mountain biking and white-water rafting are just some of the activities you can enjoy. The crystal-clear waters of the region's rivers are hemmed by dramatic mountain scenery. There are breathtaking vistas from the summit of Lønahorgi and mist drenching waterfalls at Bordal Gorge.
After your day’s excursions head to Flåm which will be your base for the next two nights. At the head of Aurlandsfjorden, Flåm sits in a truly spectacular setting beside Sognefjord. Your camera button will be clicking like a castanet to capture the idyllic views.
Fun Facts: Voss water is just water from the municipal water supply in Iveland, Norway.
Optional Activities: Kayaking, zip lining, river boarding, canyoning, rafting, mountain biking
The main attraction in Flåm is the impressive mountain railway that creeps up the surrounding peaks and offers mind-boggling panoramas. The 12-mile spur line rises 2,800 breathtaking feet in 55 minutes to the village of Myrdal and is a precipitously steep, winding route passing deep ravines, gushing waterfalls (including one where elusive forest spirits pop up to lure passengers with a siren song) and gravity-defying mountain farms. We would recommend riding the line in both directions for the ultimate experience before checking out the Flam Railway Museum.
In the afternoon we would suggest taking a boat trip along the scenic Naeroyfjord, the narrowest fjord in the world. With its steep mountainsides, hanging valleys, wild waterfalls, snow-capped peaks and small hamlets, this fjord is perhaps the most outstanding beauty in Norway. Travelling from Flåm, you will sail through the idyllic Aurlandsfjord, passing the picturesque village of Undredal before continuing through the narrow Nærøyfjord. Both fjords are incidentally inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Enough said. More adventurous souls could join a 3-hour kayaking trip for the full immersion experience.
Spend your evening wandering around this idyllic little town. There are some fabulous hikes from the town centre passing churches, farms and waterfalls, all complete with sensational views (and all for free!).
Fun Facts: The historic Fretheim Hotel has been a part of Flam since the mid-1800s. Today the hotel features a 100-variety rose garden and is rumoured to have a friendly ghost.
Optional Activities: Flam railway, rib boat safari, sea kayaking
For cheese lovers, Aurland, a few miles north of Flåm, is famous for producing some of Norway's sweetest geitost (goats cheese). In fact, Aurland has as many goats as people. From here follow the national tourist route towards Lærdalsøyri stopping at the fabulous viewpoint along the way. Afterwards hop on a short ferry crossing and make a detour to the nearby intricate stave church.
Your base for the rest of the day will be the area of Sogndal where you will have the opportunity to take a guided glacier hike on the blue ice of Nigardsbreen (age 6+). You will be roped up and equipped with crampons and ice axes – eek! Expect to see deep blue crevasses and towering ice walls. Alternatively you could visit the award-winning Norwegian Glacier Museum where the kids can perform experiments on 1000-year-old ice. Back in Sogndal we would recommend a visit to the fabulous art gallery housed in a heritage dock house idyllically located beside the waters of the fjord.
Fun Facts: Norway is famous for producing brown cheese, or brunost as it is written in Norwegian. This is a tan-coloured ‘whey cheese' with a distinctive caramel flavour that can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Optional Activities: Solvorn art gallery, guided glacier hike, glacier museum
Continue your journey this morning along Lake Jølster and through the Loen Valley to Geiranger. Take your time and enjoy the spellbinding views as this is a contender for quite possibly ‘The Most Spectacular Drive in The World ‘. Picturesque villages along the way will beckon the visually overwhelmed to stop and recompose.
Along the way we would recommend stopping at The Norwegian Booktown with its amazing collection of second-hand books, Loen Skylift with its fabulous view down the Nordfjord and the Summer Ski Centre with its unique opportunity to ski in the height of summer. For families with older children the Via Ferrata Loen is a once in a lifetime experience.
You will eventually descend upon Geirangerfjord, which is the big one; the world-famous, UNESCO-listed fjord that every visitor to Norway simply has to tick off their bucket list. It is a fairytale landscape and exceptionally beautiful. The road from the south squeezes through the mountains before squirming down the zigzags, passing two celebrated vantage points along the way. Spend the night in Geiranger.
Fun Facts: The name Via Ferrata comes from Italy, where they built an "iron road" in the mountains during the first world war. The essence of a modern via ferrata is a steel cable which runs along the route periodically fixed to the rock.
Optional Activities: Norwegian Booktown, Loen skylift, skiing
Geiranger village is precipitously balanced on the steepest of hillsides. Its scattering of houses are interspersed with hairline waterfalls, whilst miniature ferries and cruise ships bob about on its turquoise waters. It is quaint and charming.
You will have the opportunity this morning to take a cruise on the snake-like Geirangerfjord. The trip between Geiranger and Hellesylt takes in the Seven Sisters, Suitor and Bridal Veil waterfalls all surrounded by glass-like waters and stunning fjord views. For the ultimate taste of peace and tranquillity, you could take a guided kayaking trip along the fjord instead. Back in the village you could grab some lunch, visit the boathouse chocolate shop or climb the 327 steps to the waterfall.
This afternoon it is time to make your way towards Ålesund. If you enjoy twists and turns and stunning vistas, you will love this journey via ‘Eagles Road’ and the ‘Troll’s Ladder’. Along the way witness beautiful mountain scenery with wild rivers and tumbling waterfalls. If you want an adrenaline kick, you could try rafting the Valldøla River or canyoning at Gudbrandsjuvet. We would also recommend stopping to sample some strawberries from the local farms.
After passing the high mountains continue to the captivating town of Ålesund. This town was almost completely rebuilt after a great fire in 1904 and is therefore very different from any other Norwegian towns with its Art Nouveau architecture. The myriad of turrets, spires and beautiful ornamentation give the town its distinctive character. You will spend your final two nights here.
Fun Facts: The Geirangerfjord has a depth of approximately 260 metres whilst the highest mountain along the fjord is approximately 1,700 metres.
Optional Activities: Guided kayaking tour, white-water rafting, canyoning
Ålesund had been called the “most beautiful city in Norway”. Like a mini-Prague, it lies on a series of islands, surrounded by the snow-covered Sunnmore Alps. There are a host of family-friendly activities to keep the kids entertained during your time here.
We would recommend starting your day with a self-guided walk around the city’s art nouveau buildings before picking up the hop-on/hop-off bus to take you to the fabulous Sunnmore Open Air Museum. Set in the midst of beautifully lush parkland on the edge of the fjords, a charming collection of wooden huts show how fishermen lived throughout the ages. Don’t miss the family-friendly farm with sheep, goats and rabbits. Head back into town for lunch before climbing Mount Aksla for panoramic views of the city. Be warned the 418 steps to the top may also test your lung capacity.
In the afternoon visit the award-winning Atlanterhavsparken, one of Scandinavia's best aquariums showcasing an extraordinary array of predominately local fish and fauna. Enjoy feeding time at the giant seawater tank, then head outside to see the penguins and seals. If you prefer a final dose of Norwegian fresh air you could take a hike on the small island of Godøy, a few kilometres west of Ålesund. This is also home to the picturesque Alnes Lighthouse which houses a cafe that serves delicious waffles and an art gallery.
In the evening you could sample bacalao at one of several superb fish restaurants in the city.
Fun Facts: In 2015, Disney Cruise Line partnered up exclusively with Ålesund tourism to offer guests a “Frozen” experience in the city – guests could join Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff for a special festival.
Optional Activities: Hop on/hop off bus, Sunnmore open-air museum, aquarium
In the morning head to Ålesund Airport to drop off your hire car and catch your flight back to the UK.
Wandering Tribe has travelled to all of the destinations that we feature and we like nothing better than talking about them. If you would like further information about these tours or a tailor-made quote then please contact us on 07392 742333. Alternatively you can fill in the contact form and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.