Following a few days in Åndalsnes, I hopped on a bus for the short journey to Ålesund. After time in the sleepy little village (which I’m certain doesn’t even have a pub), Ålesund felt like a metropolis in comparison: bars, restaurants, lots of people. A cruise ship docked one day and it was busy.
I did spent a bit of time in the town. The scenery around the area is lovely in parts, but I was keen to stray a little further out.
The weather was great, it was pleasantly warm, Ålesund was mobbed with daytrippers from the docked cruise ship, so I hopped on a bus and went wandering. The tourist information setup there was useful in that rather than selling day trips and guided tours, they sold me a ticket which was valid on buses and ferries in the area, and gave me a timetable of routes. So the day ahead was pretty much my own.
I went south, taking a bus, a ferry then another bus to Stranda. The scenery on the way was fantastic (including a near-perfect reflection of mountains on the water at one point), and I got off the bus a couple of miles outside of the village to walk the rest of the way. From Stranda, there’s an option of a bit of a walk around the coast to see a different view of the fjord, or to take it easy in the village. I had plenty of time and did a bit of both.
Onwards from Stranda, there’s a short ferry across the water and then another bus along the coast road back to Ålesund. It was a lovely day out – great scenery, great weather, perfectly relaxing. And the following day I ended up doing part of it again…
One of the most scenic fjords in Norway is at Geiranger. It has waterfalls, dramatic views from high up, and it’s easy to get to from Ålesund. Retracing some of the route from the previous day, I was on the bus/ferry/bus combo from the town, heading south via Stranda but staying put this time until Hellesylt. It was fairly quiet, maybe due to being a bit off season, but I get the impression this is a place which is designed to cater for big crowds at certain times. There was a couple of dozen people milling around, some wandering a bit to see what the views were like from a bit higher up, but all waiting for the same thing.
The boat to Geiranger provides some incredible views. Like other fjord boat trips, it meanders along fairly slowly, there’s a bit of commentary along the way. This area was once used by farmers to keep goats. Keeping livestock on near-inaccessible cliff-tops may seem like a crazy idea, but if the people who keeps tabs on these things can’t easily access the land to count the animals and carry out an audit, that seemed to be beneficial to the farmers. Or so the story goes. There looks to be a lot of great hiking around this area for a future visit.
After a lovely couple of hours in Geiranger, a beer or two in the sun, and a stop off at Ørnesvingen for the amazing view, it was another bus/ferry/bus combo to get back to Ålesund, this time via Eidsdal. It was another entirely relaxed trip – none of the busy tour groups that can so easily swamp a day trip like this.
Ålesund in the evening is a pleasant place. It has plenty of options to eat out and have a drink, and there are a few spots to catch a sunset. One evening provided a spectacular sunset, the kind which goes on and on, albeit one accompanied by a cacophony of excited seagulls for most of the time, eroding any hope of a bit of peace and quiet.
In and around the town there’s plenty to do to keep busy for a few days. The view from Byrampen is up enough stairs to feel a bit of burn for those needing the exercise, and provides a cracking lookout over the town. Ålesund is perched on a long, thin stretch of land and it makes for an awesome view from high up – well worth the effort. And a bit further away, over the bridge, is Hessa, which has a decent walk up to the peak, again with a fantastic view over Ålesund.
It’s hard to think of a stand out from this trip. Ålesund was lovely – I liked the town, the scenery nearby was awesome, the weather was spot on, and it was a few days of being as switched off as I needed to be. Like anywhere in Norway, it’s an expensive place to visit – not quite breaking the £10 per pint barrier I had in Bergen (it’s strange how easy measuring expense in ‘pints’ is…) but an evening meal and a drink each night could have quickly added up. Being Norway, the scenery makes this worth it. In the wider area, Åndalsnes offers more in terms of scenery, and I probably enjoyed it more given it was such a peaceful little place with better hiking nearby. But, with Ålesund and the scenery nearby, you could never be disappointed with something like this…