UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE IN WESTERN NORWAY

On July 14th 2005, the Western Norwegian Fjords represented by the Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord were included in Unesco’s World Heritage list.

The landscape, considered to be among the most scenically outstanding fjord areas on the planet, was inscribed in the list due to it’s unique natural quality and beauty. Norway has a total of 8 areas in Unesco’s World Heritage List.

The UNESCO Protected Western Norwegian Fjords

FJORDS NORWAY - The Geirangerfjord and Seven Sisters Waterfall seen from the trail up towards Skageflå
The Geirangerfjord and Seven Sisters Waterfall seen from the trail up towards Skageflå

Unesco’s World Heritage Committee explains the enrollment of the West Norwegian Fjords i.a. by the classic, well developed fjords considered to be type locality (geologi) for the worlds fjord landscape. The area is believed to be among the most beautiful and scenic fjord landscapes in the world.

The depth varies between 10 and 500 meters and the surrounding mountains are up to more than 1400 meters high. The 204 kilometer long Sognefjord, which the Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord is a part of, is actually more than 1300 meter deep at the deepest.

FJORDS NORWAY - Bakka by the Nærøyfjord
The idyllic fjord village of Bakka by the Nærøyfjord.

Large parts of the two World Heritage fjords are roadless. The beautiful and untouched nature gives an extra dimension when you are there to experience all that the areas have to offer, whether you are in the fjords, in the valley sides or on the mountains that surround the fjords.

Numerous wild and beautiful waterfalls and rivers characterize the landscape, crossing the rugged mountains and deciduous and coniferous forests on their way down to the fjords.

Beautiful villages with a sustained cultivated landscape with remainders of old farms and mountain pastures and unique cultural monuments gives a extra dimension to the dramatic natural landscape. A heritage with a importance so high that we are obliged to look after this treasure for the future generations.

The Geirangerfjord at Sunnmøre

Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord is part of our common world heritage. This is the view from the Flydalsjuvet viewpoint.
Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord is part of our common world heritage. This is the view from the Flydalsjuvet viewpoint.

The Geirangerfjord is like a fairytale. It is unique and exceptionally beautiful. And the fjord is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

You should take a fjord cruise or join a fjord safari. The ferry between Geiranger and Hellesylt is a great way to see the Geirangerfjord and the spectacular nature with its many waterfalls and steep mountains. You will see the waterfalls The Seven Sisters, The Suitor and The Bridal Veil from the fjord.

The Fosseråsa trail goes from the center of Geiranger via the Norwegian Fjord Centre and up to Vesterås which is a great starting point for mountain hikes in Geiranger. The Fosseråsa trail ends at Storseterfossen Waterfall.

Visit the Flydalsjuvet, Ørnesvingen and Dalsnibba viewpoints and see the iconic views of Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord. Combine a boat trip on the fjord with a hike up to Skageflå, one of the many abandoned mountain farms above the Geirangerfjord.

Take a Road Trip from Geiranger via Trollstigen to the Atlantic Road. On this tour, you will experience two National Tourist Routes and one “construction of the twentieth century” in Norway. Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord is located in the southwestern part of the county of Møre og Romsdal, north in Western Norway.

The Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord in Sogn

The UNESCO protection does not protect for the storm that is on its way out the Nærøyfjord.
The UNESCO protection does not protect for the storm that is on its way out the Nærøyfjord.

Flåm, Aurland and Gudvangen are perfect starting points for experiences in and around the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord, two of the world’s most beautiful and dramatic fjords. On 14 July 2005, the Nærøyfjord together with the Geirangerfjord became part of our common UNESCO’s world heritage. Read more about the fjord landscape in the Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord area in the official website about the World Heritage Fjord Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord.

From Flåm you can take part in a fjord safari or a fjord cruise on the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. You can take this fjord cruise as a round trip (both ways) or one way combined with bus between Flåm and Gudvangen. See the great view from Stegastein viewpoint, 650 meters above Aurland. Taste the local goat’s cheese in Undredal or in Skjerdal, two villages by the Aurlandsfjord.

Flåm Railway is the train journey from mountain to fjord, perhaps the most beautiful railway in the world. You can combine this train journey with cycling along Rallarvegen which goes from the high mountains via Flåmsdalen Valley to Flåm. Aurlandsdalen Valley is one of Norway’s most popular hikes. The lower part of Aurlandsdalen, which is also the most popular, starts from Østerbø and ends at Vassbygdi in Aurland.

The Flåm Valley is a beautiful adventure. The valley between Myrdal (866.8 masl) and Flåm by the Aurlandsfjord is 18 kilometer long. The valley is narrow and the mountains are steep, and there are waterfalls and rivers wherever you turn around. Flåm Valley is a great place for hiking and biking. Flåm Zipline sends you off at over 100 kilometers per hour, you are just hanging in a thin steel wire high above the valley.

By the Nærøyfjord, we have the small villages of Gudvangen, Bakka, Styvi and Dyrdal. Styvi is the only place without permanent inhabitants during the winter, and is together with Dyrdal without road connection. Gudvangen is one of two ports where the iconic ferry trip along the inner part of the Sognefjord departs and arrives. Visit the Viking village Njardarheimr in Gudvangen and experience the history and culture of the Viking Age.

The Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord are both part of the 204 kilometer long Sognefjord which is located in the northern part of the county of Vestland, in the middle of Western Norway.

Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Western Norway

There are also two other World Heritage Sites in Western Norway;
Bryggen (The Hanseatic Wharf) in Bergen and Urnes Stave Church at Ornes by the Lustrafjord.

Bryggen (The Hanseatic Wharf) in Bergen

Some of the beautiful wooden houses at Bryggen in Bergen.
Some of the beautiful wooden houses at Bryggen in Bergen.

Bryggen in Bergen has since 1979 been on UNESCO´s list over World Cultural Heritage Sites.

Bryggen is a series of wooden houses along Bergen Harbour, originating from the Hanseatic (German) activities in Bergen from around year 1350 AD.

There has been several fires during the years, and the oldest remaining building is reckoned to be from around year 1702 AD. The buildings were taken over by the Norwegians in year 1754 AD.

If you visit Bergen, you should take the Fløibanen Funicular to Mt Fløyen. Both Fløibanen and Fløyen are great experiences, with the best view over Bergen City, Vågen Harbour and Byfjorden (the City Fjord).

At the innermost part of Vågen, the Bergen Harbour, you find the famous Fish Market where you can buy all sorts of fish, shellfish and local products from the fishermen and farmers in the Bergen area.

Both the Fløibanen and Fisketorget are within a short walking distance from Bryggen.

Urnes Stave Church

Urnes Stave Church at Ornes by the Lustrafjord.
The UNESCO Protected Urnes Stave Church at Ornes by the Lustrafjord.

Urnes Stave Church is the oldest of a total of 28 remaining Stave Churches in Norway. Nine of the stave churches are located in Western Norway.

Urnes Stave Church was built around 1130 AD, and is idyllically located at Urnes by the Lustrafjord in Luster. The Lustrafjord is a branch of the 204 kilometer long Sognefjord.

The latest datings shows that the oldest timber used in the church was cut in the year 1070 AD, while timber from younger parts was cut in the years between 1129–1130 AD. The exterior wood carvings make Urnes Stave Church special and unique. Parts of the woodcarving work are also reflected in the Municipal Coats of Arms in Luster Municipality.

A nice way to explore Urnes Stave Church and the beautiful surroundings is to drive to Solvorn and cross the Lustrafjord by ferry to Ornes. From the ferry quay, there is only a short walk uphill to the church.

During summer you can join a guided “tour” outside and inside the church. At Urnes Gard near by, there is also a small café where you can buy short travelled and local made refreshments. They produces fruit and berries, as well as juice and jam. There is also the option of overnight accommodation at Urnes Gard.

UNESCO World Heritage in the Fjords – Useful Links

Fjords.com – The UNESCO-Protected Geirangerfjord
Fjords.com – The UNESCO-Protected Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord
Stiftelsen Bryggen – The UNESCO-Protected Bryggen in Bergen
Fjords.com – The UNESCO-Protected Urnes Stave Church

 

HOTELS - LINKS - FAQ

Here you will find an overview of recommended HOTELS in addition to SPA & BATH HOTELS and OTHER ACCOMMODATION PLACES in Western Norway. The combination of beautiful nature, activities that you can do in all four seasons and a stay at a great accommodation is unique. A stay in one of these places will do you good, both for body and mind.

There are ten restaurants that have awarded Michelin stars and Michelin awards in Western Norway. Eight of the Michelin restaurants are in Stavanger and two in Bergen. Here you will find FJORDS MICHELIN, where you will also find a list of recommended hotels in Western Norway, recommended by Michelin.

USEFUL LINKS is a list of websites with great information on Norway and the Fjords. FAQ is an overview of articles that answer the most common questions you have when planning to visit the fjords in Western Norway.

Map Overview – UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Western Norway