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7 Different Day Cruises on the World’s Most Beautiful Fjords

In just a few hours, you can experience Norway's finest fjords close up. These are 7 day cruises you really don't want to miss.

A day cruise on the fjord should be on everyone’s bucket list, whether you are arriving by cruise ship, car, bike or on foot. There is a mouth-watering range of cruises to choose from, but no matter which option you choose, you will be guaranteed the experience of a lifetime as you pass through stunning scenery. Some cruises last from one to two hours, while others last a full day. We recommend that you choose your tour according to how much time you have available.

1. Lysefjord — Preikestolen and awe-inspiring views

1. Lysefjord — Preikestolen and awe-inspiring views

The mighty Lysefjord carves its way into the Norwegian mountain massive. It does not stop until it reaches Lysebotn, no less than 42 kilometres inland.

Lysefjord is located near the city of Stavanger on the southwest coast of Norway. The fjord is easy to reach if you want to spend a day enjoying the wild landscapes of Norway. In the summer, you can join a fjord cruise on Lysefjord and see the towering rock formations of Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock) and Kjerag from the water. They are an incredibly impressive sight, whatever the weather.

Preikestolen rises 604 metres above Lysefjord and is one of Norway's most frequently visited and photographed attractions. Every year, over 30,000 tourists visit the near-vertical cliffs which have an almost flat top measuring around 25 × 25 metres. Should you need any more incentive than that, the rock formations also form the backdrop to some breakneck scenes in the 2018 Tom Cruise movie “Mission; Impossible - Fallout".

Preikestolen is often listed as an unmissable experience. The mountain plateau has topped Lonely Planet’s list of the world's “Most Breathtaking Viewing Platforms”, not to mention CNN’s list of natural wonders. It’s no wonder they were dazzled by the majestic scenery of the area either.

The Kjerag mountain plateau and the Kjeragbolten formation towers 1100 metres above Lysefjord. The sheer mountain cliffs have made Kjerag a mecca for base jumpers from around the world.

Fjord cruises on Lysefjord take between two and four hours and run twice a day in summer. You can hop on and off in several places: Lauvvik, Forsand, Revså, Songesand, Flørli and Lysebotn. You will find more information on fjord cruises on Lysefjord here.

2. Nærøyfjord — Norway’s best fjord?

2. Nærøyfjord — Norway’s best fjord?

The village of Flåm is the starting point for countless activities in and around Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord, one of two Norwegian fjords to be found on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It shares this honour with Geirangerfjord and Bryggen in Bergen.

If you only have a few hours to spare, we recommend a fjord cruise on Nærøyfjord, which will give you the opportunity to experience this unique natural gem close up. The extremely narrow UNESCO-listed fjord is surrounded by towering mountains and tiny villages. Here and there, waterfalls cascade down the mountainside, leaving a lasting impression on even the most hardened globetrotting tourists. Nærøyfjord has been voted one of the wonders of the natural world by CNN, and National Geographic has previously given Nærøyfjord the title "The best unspoiled travel destination in the world”.

Fjord cruises on Nærøyfjord run all year round. The fjords are a beautiful sight at any time of year too. This is wonderful news for those looking to experience these destinations outside the peak tourist season. In spring, you can see cascading waterfalls of meltwater and pale green hillsides studded with flowering fruit trees. During the summer, the fjord is clad in green, with snow still lying on the surrounding mountain peaks. In autumn, you can enjoy clear, bright blue skies that mirror the water, and mountainsides in yellow and red hues. The winter brings snow-covered, tranquil landscapes, where you can hear a pin drop. Every season has its own special beauty, and these natural gems are a must-see at any time of year.

Fjord cruises on Nærøyfjord

For a cruise with more action which takes you even closer to the nature around Nærøyfjord, try a fjord safari by RIB-boat on the world heritage fjord. The tour stops at the idyllic village of Undredal, where you can taste the delicious local goat’s cheese.

On the water, you will get close to the wildlife too. You can often see eagles and seals, and perhaps even harbour porpoise too.

If your preference is for a more tranquil cruise on Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord, you can enjoy nature, culture and wildlife from custom-built sightseeing vessels which glide quietly through the fjords. Vision of the Fjords is a hybrid vessel which carries tourists between Flåm in Aurlandsfjord and Gudvangen at the head of Nærøyfjord. The vessel’s electric motor is used on the route, minimising both emissions and noise.

You can also travel just like the locals, on local boats and ferries. Either way, you’ll get as close to the fjord as is possible without getting your feet wet.

The Flåm Railway, hiking and the Vikings

If you’re feeling energetic, there are plenty of things to do on land too. You could for example take a trip on the famous Flåm Railway, which winds its way up steep mountainsides, past cascading waterfalls, right up to the picturesque Myrdal Station on the mountain plateau.

If you enjoy hiking and cycling, then there’s no doubt you’ve come to the right place either. Hire a bike and try the famous Rallar Road cycle way, or set out on a long or short hike through the forests and mountains surrounding the fjords. You can also hire an electric car and tour the area, including the stunning Stegastein viewpoint, where you can enjoy extensive views across snow-capped mountains and Aurlandsfjord far below.

If you are curious about Viking culture, you can visit the Viking Village in Gudvangen, taste Viking food and experience life as a Viking for a few hours.

3. Fjærlandsfjord — Close to mighty glaciers

3. Fjærlandsfjord — Close to mighty glaciers

We have the glaciers to thank for the stunning Norwegian landscape, as they were responsible for carving out the beautiful fjords. If you go on a fjord cruise on Fjærlandsfjord, you’ll be able to see the largest glacier in mainland Europe: Jostedalsbreen.

On the cruise from the artists’ villages of Balestrand and Hella on the shores of Sognefjord to Fjærland at the head of the fjord, you will pass many delightful villages located in the lee beneath the towering mountains. Fjærlandsfjord’s sparkling emerald colour is caused by the meltwater which flows into the fjord from the surrounding glaciers. The tour will also take you to the Norwegian Glacier Museum.

If you have a little more time to spare, you can also go on a  full-day cruise on Fjærlandsfjord. This tour offers you both a wonderful excursion on the water and a fascinating stop at the Norwegian Glacier Museum. You can also get close up to the glaciers on this tour.

A shuttle bus will take you up the valley of Fjærlandsdalen, right up to the Bøyabreen and Supphellebreen glaciers. These are glacier arms that extend out from the mighty Jostedalsbreen glacier. Afterwards, you can catch the bus back to Fjærland and take a boat trip on Fjærlandsfjord back to Balestrand and Hella near Sognefjord.

If you are based in Underdal, Flåm or Aurland, for example, you can take the Flåm Express to Leikanger and Balestrand. The trip from Aurlandsfjord across Sognefjord is an experience in itself. You will get a little more into the bargain if you combine the trip with a half-day or full-day cruise on Fjærlandsfjord. 

4. Hjørundfjord — From the town of Ålesund to the wild alps in one short hop

4. Hjørundfjord — From the town of Ålesund to the wild alps in one short hop

A cruise on Hjørundfjord is ideal for both connoisseurs seeking out the real Norway and those who like to be active.

Hop on the boat in the coastal town of Ålesund, regarded by many as Norway's most beautiful town. From here, the fjord cruise heads for Hjørundfjord. The fjord cleaves the Sunnmøre Alps into two, and extends all the way up to the little village of Øye.

On the tour, you can hop off in Trandal and visit Christian Gaard Bygdetun, a charming tavern that serves dishes made from game, fish, berries and other local ingredients. You can also spend the night here.

If you move on from Trandal, you will arrive in Urke. This delightful little village in the heart of the Sunnmøre Alps faces the sun with stunning views whichever way you look. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas here, and you can also stay in the small cabins at Urke Camping. This is an excellent starting point for hikes in the stunning Sunnmøre Alps, including the famous mountain Slogen, whose summit is 1564 metres above sea level.

The last call before returning to Ålesund is Øye. Here, you will find one of Norway's most famous historic hotels. The luxurious Hotel Union Eye opened in 1891 and has been frequented by many famous adventurers and royalty over the years. Authors such as Karen Blixen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Knut Hamsun have also sought tranquillity and inspiration here.

Sunnmøre is one of the world's best areas for summit hikes, and you can reach several of them from Øye. Or perhaps you’d like to hire a kayak and take a trip on the water at your leisure?

5. Geirangerfjord – part of UNESCO’s World Heritage

5. Geirangerfjord – part of UNESCO’s World Heritage

It’s not without good reason that Geirangerfjord is one of the most popular destinations in Norway. When meltwater from the glaciers flows into this iconic fjord, it turns the otherwise deep-blue Geirangerfjord an emerald green colour.

Like Nærøyfjord, you will also find Geirangerfjord on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. This is due not only to the fjord itself, but also the pure and unspoiled landscape that surrounds it.

The flanks of the mountains can be up to 1,400 metres high, and the fjord is 500 metres deep at its deepest. Water from lakes and glacier meltwater leads to many wonderful waterfalls, which cascade down the mountainsides. The best known are the waterfalls of the Seven Sisters, the Suitor and the Bridal Veil, which you will see at close quarters if you go on a  cruise on Geirangerfjord.

On the boat trip from Geiranger to Hellesylt, you are likely to see a lot of exciting wildlife too. You might get to see both seal and harbour porpoise, or even one of the many toothed whales which live along the Norwegian coast. And if you lift your gaze, you will be able to see some of the old farms which cling to the mountainsides. King Harald and Queen Sonja celebrated their silver wedding anniversary at one of these farms, Skageflå, together with royal guests from across Europe.

If you want to see Geirangerfjord from up high, there are several stunning viewpoints offering breathtaking views. These include the Geiranger Skywalk at Dalsnibba and Flydalsjuvet.

6. Sognefjord — Queen of the Norwegian fjords

6. Sognefjord — Queen of the Norwegian fjords

Sognefjord is the largest of all the fjords in Norway. With its many arms, it spreads out across a large area of Western Norway.

If you take a fjord cruise from Gudvangen on Nærøyfjord via Aurlandsfjord to Sognefjord, you will travel through areas which are featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, with their unspoiled nature, delightful villages and imposing mountains on all sides.

You can travel like the locals on the classic little car ferries. The last stop before the journey home is the old market village of Kaupanger. The place name is Old Norse in origin, and the village has been the site of trading ever since the Viking Age. And probably long before the Vikings came too.

The fjords of Western Norway, including Sognefjord, were popular with the Vikings. The mild climate and plentiful supply of food, along with sheltered harbours from where they could set out on Viking expeditions, made the area a popular place for the Vikings. From Kaupanger, you can drive to the other fjord arms that extend out from Sognefjord.

During the summer season, you can take the Flåm Express - an express boat which sails between Flåm and Balestrand, stopping at Aurland, Undredal and Leikanger.

7. Oslofjord — The island paradise of the capital

7. Oslofjord — The island paradise of the capital

There are many summer gems in Oslofjord. The sea, the countless islands and the rocky bluffs and beaches are especially popular amongst the locals who are lucky enough to live along the coast.

In summer/winter, you can join a cruise on Oslofjord from the pier by the spectacular Opera House, designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta.

On the way out of the fjord, you will travel past small islands, landmarks and historical places such as Oscarsborg in Drøbaksundet.

The vessel Legacy of The Fjords is the sister ship to the award-winning Future of the Fjords, an environmentally friendly all-electric vessel with large panoramic windows, which enable you to enjoy a quiet cruise indoors in the winter cold.