The Lusterfjord - inland towards the Jotunheimen Mountains
The landscape around the Lusterfjord is very picturesque, and many great artists have been inspired by the unique beauty of its scenery. The Lusterfjord is the innermost arm of the Sognefjord, which, from Skjolden at the head of the fjord to Solund at the coast, is all of 204 km long. This picturesque fjord arm is surrounded by the glaciers and high mountains of the Jotunheimen National Park and the Jostedalsbreen National Park, and most of the year the Lusterfjord is a beautiful bright green colour because of the meltwater from the glaciers that flows into the fjord. Along both shores of the fjord there are villages and lush cultural landscapes where fruits and berries are grown on small, idyllic farms. In the old days, travelling on the fjord was the main way of getting around, and boats sailed between Skjolden and Bergen several times a week. From all over the Gudbrandsdalen valley a steady stream of travellers made their way across the Sognefjell mountains to the coastal villages of Sogn and all the way down to Bergen. Now, there are roads along both sides of the fjord, and there is a ferry connection between Urnes and Solvorn. More about the Lusterfjord: The southern shore – the Romantic Road The narrow road along the southern shore of the Lusterfjord is called the Romantic Road because it winds its way through small, idyllic villages set in a beautiful, scenic landscape. This area has a fascinating history, and you can visit unique tourist attractions several places along the fjord. The most famous tourist attraction is Norway's oldest stave church, the Urnes Stave Church, which is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. During the first half of the 19th century many of Norway's best known painters were frequent visitors to the area, staying at the Munthehuset ("the Munthe Villa") in Kroken to work and find inspiration in the unique natural surroundings. The villa has now been renovated and is open to visitors by appointment. Norway's leading jam and juice producing company, Lerum, originally started production at Sørheim, where it built a small factory in 1909, but as the business expanded it had to move to Sogndal, partly because ice on the fjord made transportation difficult during the winter months. Today, the small factory at Sørheim known as Safthuset ("the Juice House") is a museum open to groups on request. Between Sørheim and Kroken you will find the majestic Feigumfossen waterfall, which has a free fall of 218 metres and is among Norway's highest waterfalls. The walk up to the fall only takes about 30 minutes. The northern shore – the National Tourist Route On the northern shore of the Lusterfjord lies the small, idyllic village of Solvorn, with many well-preserved buildings and an old historic hotel called the Walaker Hotel, where you can visit the special art gallery called Galleri Walaker 300. Gaupne is the administrative centre of the Luster area from which it is only a short drive up to the Nigardsbreen glacier, where you can join a guided glacier walk on the blue ice. Gaupne Old Church, which was built in 1647 and contains parts of an older stave church, is open to visitors during the summer season. The National Tourist Route over the Sognefjell mountains to Lom starts in Gaupne and runs alongside the Lusterfjord to Skjolden. In the village of Luster there is a distinctive stone church built around 1200, called Dale Church. The architecture is Gothic and the church contains frescoes dating from the 15th century. The National Tourist Route and the Romantic Road meet in the beautiful village of Skjolden, at the head of the Lusterfjord. The Fjordstova centre has a climbing wall, swimming pool, library, arts and crafts shop, changing exhibitions and a cafeteria with a fabulous view of the fjord. The world-famous Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein lived and worked in Skjolden for periods in the early 1900s and wrote some of his most important works in the village. In a letter to a friend in 1936 he wrote the following about Skjolden: "I can't imagine that I could have worked anywhere as I do here. It's the quiet and, perhaps, the wonderful scenery; I mean, its quiet seriousness".