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These snug and rustic slices of small-town life, where the pace runs just a little bit slower, are the best spots to authentically sample the culture, traditions — and sometimes quirks — of the “Vestlendingen,” as locals are known. Descended from Vikings, fjord villagers are a hardy, industrious and self-sufficient lot. Living in isolated fjord hamlets and island fishing villages, or on small mountain farms perched high above the fjords, they’ve long had to fend for themselves — winter, spring, summer and fall, across the centuries.

Things have gotten considerably easier, but fjord villagers still might strike you as a bit shy or reserved — maybe even a little hard-edged. But they’re actually warm and welcoming. Get to know them, and you’re a friend for life. You might even be invited for a chat, a cup of fresh-brewed coffee and a plate of traditional “sveler,” “lefse” or “vafler” (That’s pancakes, potato flatbread and waffles to you).

Local food

That’s just a small taste of village life in Fjord Norway, thoroughly modern yet still powered by nature. Where children of boatbuilders and fishermen ride ferries to schools so small that classes still mix ages and grade levels, as in days of yore. And where organic juices and jams, artisanal cheeses and meats are proudly crafted on family  farms that still hew to time-honoured practice — while at the forefront of innovation. “Locally sourced” and “farm to table” aren’t  just catchphrases here; they’re a longstanding way of life. Have a taste at spots like Svinvik Gård restaurant, a centuries-old farmstead on the Todalsfjord that’s traded milk production for world-class culinary innovation optimizing local ingredients.

Fjord villages

Fjord Norway’s villages may have a lot in common but if you’ve seen one, you have definitely not seen them all. Each oozing with unique charms, attractions and traditions, thanks to centuries of steadfast self-sufficiency. Head to Kaupanger, for instance, to hike with Sognefjord Guiding from idyllic farm to idyllic farm, ending at Furehaug to visit a highly skilled artisan who sews Norway’s beautiful “bunad” folk costumes by hand.

In quirky Fjærland, Norway’s "book town" on the Sognefjord, you can browse 2.5 miles of bookshelves for secondhand screeds in once-abandoned buildings like stables, banks, grocery stores and ferry waiting rooms. Also, nearby lie charming Hyllestad and Sørbøvåg — popular for the cozy cabins where visitors spend lazy summer days indulging in relaxing fjord life.

The little village of Trandal, outside of Ålesund, by the Hjørundfjord, may have only 16 permanent residents and no shops or road access but it attracts thousands of music fans by boat to its blues and country festivals — not to mention restaurant Christian Gaard — each summer. At the inner part of the Hjørundfjord, in the village of Øye, the historical Hotel Union Øye has invited guests to savor the good life and the tranquility in magnificent surroundings since 1891. Further south in Fjord Norway, in Fjæra, hugging the innermost end of the Åkrafjord, set out from the Eljarvik Gård farm for a mountainside hike to Langfoss waterfall, with grazing sheep and goats for company.

Go coastal

Explore coastal culture at Skudeneshavn, a fishing village on the island of Karmøy, where the charming white wooden houses are a testament to a prosperous herring trade. Or travel the Norwegian Scenic Route Ryfylke to the Salmon Studio at aptly named Sand. There, peer through underwater windows at salmon leaping through the spectacular local waterfall.

Traverse the fjord village landscape, hopping from hamlet to town, on the breathtaking Norwegian Scenic Routes stitching Fjord Norway together by car. Or really go native and travel like the locals: Take to the waves like the Vikings old, boarding the boats and ferries that connect our myriad ports by sea. For a slower trek through time and territory, ride a Fjord horse — one of the world’s oldest breeds — through the stunning Nordfjord landscape, home to Nordfjord Folk Museum. The open-air museum boasts 44 preserved houses dating back 400 years, many decorated the way they were of old.

Fjord Norway’s fjord villages. Adventure, nature and hospitality live here.

Fjord secrets

The secret’s out, Fjord Norway is more than you expected. Yes, we’re home to mind-blowing fjord landscapes. But we’re so much more! You are welcome to explore farther and further. Delve deeper across Fjord Norway to unearth countless hidden gems — attractions and experiences that amaze and delight in sight and sound, taste and touch.

Find out more

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