When autumn comes, the green colors of summer fade into many spectacular hues of red and gold, before winter covers the landscape in blue and white. The weather changes constantly, affecting the light, color and mood of the wild landscape.
A landscape that inspired myths and legends
A fjord is a valley carved out by the glaciers during the Ice Age, which later filled up with water when the ice masses melted. Soon after, people started to settle in the area, where the soil was fertile, and game was plentiful. The Sognefjord is known as «The King of the Fjords», the deepest, biggest and longest of all the Norwegian fjords. The main fjord branches out into a myriad of smaller valleys with many villages and farms, while some are wild and home to trolls only ... Before we could name natural wonders and explain weather phenomena, the still, dark waters of the winter fjord and raging storms at sea made people wonder what lurked beneath the surface. Norse legends tell of Midgardsormen, a sea serpent that was so giant that it was able to surround the earth. The Sognefjord would be the perfect hiding place for such a beast; the fjord is 1303 meters at its deepest, mirroring the height of the mountain peaks in the area.
Adventures on and around the fjord
Fjord life in the winter may seem quiet and peaceful, but there are plenty of activities and adventures that bring you out and about in nature, and even some to get your adrenaline pumping. Skiing in Sogndal, guided hikes, kayaking, snowshoeing with breathtaking views or a Fjord Safari by RIB-boat on the UNESCO World Heritage fjord are some of your options. For a slower pace, opt for a guided cultural walk in Balestrand or Flåm. In Flåm the walk is scheduled for after nightfall, exploring the village with headlights while hearing local stories from your guide.
Visiting the Sognefjord area can also be a meditative experience. The days are short in winter, and when darkness falls you rely on your other senses to experience fjord life. Sitting around a bonfire in Njardarheimr Viking Valley in Gudvangen takes you a thousand years back in time. Here, food is prepared over the fire, the rich aroma of tar and smoke fills the air, and thuds from an axe or arrow hitting its mark can be heard in between the chatter. Last, but not least, many local restaurants are known for using seasonal flavors and traditional recipes. The mild climate is ideal for fruit farming, and fruit farms are a common sight along the banks of the Sognefjord. The Cider House in Balestrand is a family-run establishment that specialize in juices, ciders and other treats, and tours with cider tasting can be arranged for groups in the winter. After a full day of activities, a Viking plank at Ægir BrewPub in Flåm is just what you need – local dishes paired with beers in a perfect balance.
Getting here and about
Even though the villages in the Sognefjord lie far from cities and busy highways, getting here is surprisingly easy. Norway in a Nutshell from Fjord Tours is an all-year package ticket that combines the train from Bergen or Oslo with a fjord cruise on the Nærøyfjord, a bus journey from Voss to Gudvangen, and the magnificent Flåm Railway. The Sognefjord in a nutshell winter roundtrip follows the coast and fjord route from Bergen to Sogndal with an express boat journey on the “King of the fjords”, with an overnight stay in the village before linking up with the Flåm Railway and finally the Bergen Railway. Through the online booking system, you can add on overnight stays, activities and guided tours.