Why You Can’t Go To Norway Without Stopping in Alesund

Have you heard of the city of Ålesund before?  The small fishing town on the western side of Norway.  Unless you’ve visited or know a lot about Norway, chances are you haven’t.  It’s not a large city like Oslo or Bergen and doesn’t get the tourist hype of cities like Trondheim or Stavanger.  But it’s a city you really must visit when you travel to Norway.  Keep reading and you’ll find out all this gem of a town has to offer.

I first flew to Ålesund from Bergen.  It’s about a 45 minute flight, but if you are going by car it is about an 8 hour drive.   There aren’t any trains that get all the way to Ålesund so if you want to use public transportation you’ll need to take the bus or a ferry.  I picked up a car when I went to Ålesund because it made it easier to get to where I wanted.   If you don’t want a car, some buses and ferries do operate around the area, but they are sometimes limited in service.  So I highly recommend renting a car.

Ålesund itself is a great city and requires at least a day or two to explore.  It is not a very large Alesund buildings and boatscity so you can walk to most of the main part of the city pretty easily, including the Aksla viewpoint.  And it is definitely worth it to walk along the harbor and grab a bit to eat or stop in one of the local shops.   I had some amazing fish at a restaurant while I sat outside and admired the harbor.

If you want to go hiking near the city and get some incredible views of the Ålesund and the surrounding landscape, you will want to take the short hike up Sukkertoppen.  The trailhead can be a little tricky to find as it is set within a neighborhood between homes.  But once you find it, the trail is well marked up to the top.  This up and back hike takes 1.5 – 2 hours to get to the top and back.  And if you’re there on a clear day you’ll be blessed with an incredible panoramic view.

Ålesund is the gateway to some of the most incredible and unique experiences in all of Norway.  The Geirangerfjord is considered the most majestic in all of Norway.  So much soGeirangerfjord from Dalsnibba Viewpoint that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  One of only two fjords in Norway with that designation. From Ålesund it is a 2 hour drive or a 4 hour ferry ride to the town of Geiranger, which makes it possible to do as a day trip, especially if you take a car.  If you do have a car you must take the short drive up to the Dalsnibba view point for a birds eye view of the fjord.

Another day trip from Ålesund to take if you have a car is to the Atlantic Ocean Road.  Considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world, the Atlantic road is again about a 2 hour drive from Ålesund, making it an easy day trip.  Along this route you’ll feel the power of the sea up close.  There are multiple stop along the route to take in the surroundings, go fishing and enjoy watching the birds and seals that live there.

If unique roadways are your thing then there’s another roadway near Ålesund you must visit, Trollstigen.  This roadway is near the town of Andalsnes, about 1.5 hours from Ålesund, so another easy day trip.  This incredible road takes you up the side of a mountain with 11 hairpin turns, each with its own name, all with a waterfall cascading beside the road.  If you’ve seen videos from Norway of a road that looks like it drives right into the waterfall, it is likely from Trollstigen.

On your way to, or back from, Trollstigen from Ålesund, you will want to make a stop in Andalsnes.  You’ll have a couple of options here to get to the top of the Romsdalseggen ridge.  You can hike up to the Rampstrekken lookout from Andalsnes, you could take the gondola, which goes up just a little higher than Rampstrekken, and you could stop for a bit to eat at the restaurant.

If you really wanted to make an adventure of your day, you could hike the entire Romsdalseggen ridge from end to end.  That is what I did.  You can read all about my journey here.  But know you’ll likely have to get up very early to catch the bus to get to the trial head.  If you have the time, this hike is well worth it.

The final day trip I’d recommend from Ålesund is to Loen.  The drive here is a little over 2 hours.  Like Andalsnes, Loen has a gondola that will take you to the top of the mountain ridge.  Or if you’re up for more of a challenge you could take the Via Ferrata up, which is what I did and you can read more about here. Then if you don’t want to take the gondola down you have the option of ziplining.

Loen also has kayak tours and rentals to get you out on the water of the fjords.  This is one of View of the Loen Via Ferrata suspension bridgethe better areas to do this as there aren’t large cruise ships or tourist boats like on some of the more popular fjords like the Geirangerfjord or Naeroyfjord.  If you are looking for something a little cooler you can see the Bodalsbreen Glacier.  The glacier is located just a short drive beyond Loen.  There are hiking paths near the glacier where you’ll get some fantastic views of the surrounding lake and mountains.

With so much to do in and around Ålesund, you will want to spend about a week of your Norway trip here to ensure you experience everything.  If you prefer to stay in one spot and not unpack your bags, Ålesund is where you’ll want to stay.  It’s the largest city in the area so you’ll have more options for lodging.  However, if you do get a car you can also spend a night or two in one of the other cities in the area.  Whatever you decide to do, make sure to put Ålesund on your Norway itinerary.




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