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When the sun starts to thaw the locals in Fjord Norway at some point in April, it’s as if nature itself is the cue for bringing Fjord Norway to life.

It’s easy to see their mood changing in step with the north-westerly wind abating and the temperature rising. It’s time then to tidy away umbrellas, rain clothes and boots, and head for the walking paths and forest trails in cheerful spirits.

The joy of bathing in the fjord

Whether you meet the locals in the cities, villages along the fjords or small communities along the coast, the people of Fjord Norway have an indomitable patriotic spirit. We’re talking about a sense of pride that makes them hospitable, generous and forthcoming, whether you’ve travelled from afar or are visiting from the neighbouring village.

If you would like to meet the locals at their best, visit in the months of April, May or June. This is when friendly hormones like serotonin reach their highest level, and bird song, sunshine and outdoor activities create an atmosphere of ‘springfulness’

You should also meet them in their favourite element – water. If a cool swim in a fjord on 1 May sounds a bit much, you should consider a floating sauna on the fjord. Along the Gandsfjord, between Sandnes and Stavanger, you'll find several floating saunas from Damp and BookSauna, offering a fantastic view of both the fjord and mountains.

Other good alternatives here are the SVAI Sauna in the middle of the Art Nouveau town Ålesund, Nausta floating sauna in Molde, the eight-man sauna Dampen in Fjærland or Heit Sørfjorden Sauna near Lofthus in Hardanger. These are the perfect places to meet locals who have awakened from their winter hibernation.

If you’ve never tried a sauna interspersed with icy dips in the fjord, we can also highly recommend it on health grounds – and not just physical health. The heat of the sauna and the cold water of the fjord are good for the heart and circulation, while the view of snow-clad mountain peaks above the tranquil fjord will give you a real sense of peace and harmony.

Enjoy a drink on the wharf

For more urban types, we recommend a visit to Ålesund or Stavanger during spring. You can soak up the atmosphere of the region and enjoy some of the best hotel and restaurant experiences Norway has to offer. You can sample fish and shellfish delicacies, and first-rate local produce from the agricultural areas Jæren and Sunnmøre.

If you find a sheltered sunny outdoor bar with a view of the sea to boot, you’re really close to being in the locals’ element. You can take a chance and nod in a friendly manner or even lift your glass to the people at the next table, and the only thing you risk is having to listen to a long list of fantastic things about Fjord Norway, where the mood is lifting after a long, wet autumn and winter and people are rediscovering the joy of life.

Viking chieftains and sardines

You can experience a bustling and unique urban atmosphere in Ålesund, whose identity is closely linked to its history as an international shipping town. Generations of Dutch and German trading families brought their culture and architecture to Ålesund. Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany thought so highly of the town that he paid for it to be rebuilt after the town fire of 1904 – in gaudy Art Nouveau style.

A statue of the emperor has been erected in Byparken park. A tall bronze statue of the local Viking chieftain Gange-Rolv, also known as Rollo, stands nearby. He founded the duchy of Normandy in France in the 10th century, and is also said to be the forefather of William the Conqueror of England.

If you're lucky enough to be in the Art Nouveau town on Midsummer Eve (23 June), you have the chance to go and see the bonfire at Slinningsodden. Locals build an enormous bonfire of pallets, which can tower some 40 metres.

If you head to Stavanger in spring, you’re almost guaranteed a snow-free and mild experience close to the sea and fjord, and you can enjoy exclusive culinary experiences and many great gems in the urban environment. Spectacular street art adorns many facades, which should definitely be seen on foot. The narrow streets of Old Stavanger, on the west side of the wharfs in Vågen, is another popular area for walks. You can visit small art and crafts shops or the Norwegian Canning Museum to see how the industry of smoking and packing of sardines and sprats developed Stavanger.

Festival spring

Once winter has released its grip, Fjord Norway hosts a wide variety of festivals. The biggest ‘festival’ of them all is naturally Constitution Day on 17 May, when Norwegians put on their traditional, colourful national costumes and walk in parades through the streets singing the national anthem and waving Norwegian flags.

Among the smallish festivals dotted across Western Norway, those who are interested in theatre can go to Brøvøllsfestivalen, which is held in Sykkylven at the end of June, or you can taste your way through the culinary Gladmatfestivalen in Stavanger in July, or the cider festival Hardanger Internasjonale Siderfest 5–8 May, or you can dance at big concerts organised by the Ålesund Live concept, which hosts many events during the year.

If rock & roll is your thing, you’re guaranteed a great weekend on 10–11 June in Hjørundfjord south of Ålesund, where Trandalrock is set to be staged for the fourth time. Earlier in spring, Karmøygeddon Metal Festival 2022 takes place on the first weekend of May, with festival goers from around the world coming to see acts like Emperor, Septic Flesh, Lucifer´s Child and Gravemachine.

The most active among us will be aware of Strynefestivalen, where snowboarders and skiers let their hair down at a final action-packed weekend at the start of June – before the extreme sports festival Ekstremsportveko in Voss kicks off at the end of the month.

If you’re more interested in jazz, Western Norway hosts numerous large, long-running festivals that attract acts and festival goers from home and abroad. Vossajazz will run 8-10 April featuring acts such as Tønes, Femi Kuti and the Trøen/Arnesen Quartet, while Maijazz in Stavanger will hold concerts from 7–18 May featuring acts such as Frode Alnæs, the Bill Frisell trio and Jon Balke.


Did you know that the sounds, smells and sights of spring produce serotonin in the brain. It creates a unique kind of happiness. We call it SPRINGFULNESS.

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