The Fjord Pilgrim route, or “Kystpilegrimsleia” is the Norwegian tongue twisting name for the most exciting tourism development project in Norway in recent years. Based on cultural heritage and coastal culture along the 2000-kilometer-long coastline it sets the stage for a modern fairytale. The route starts in the south of Fjord Norway and leads the way to Trondheim, following in the footsteps and paddle strokes of pilgrims on their journey to the shrines of St. Sunniva in Selje and St. Olav in Trondheim many centuries ago.
The Fjord Pilgrim route takes you along the most varied and dramatic landscapes of Norway where people have made their home for millennia. From the flat and wind-ravaged south you get to experience how the landscape change with rising steep cliffs, deep fjords, rich archipelagos and spectacular, breathtaking color-play. The travel planner en-tur.no helps you plan your journey.
The next and final leg of the Fjord Pilgrim route continues from Kristiansund to Trondheim.
First leg: The Fjord Pilgrim route from Stavanger to Bergen.
The untouched Fjord Coast between Bergen and Kristiansund is where small communities spread out across archipelagos and fjord banks, connected by bridges, tunnels and boat traffic. You can explore this coastal paradise all year round and add a cruise with the Hurtigruten coastal steamer to Måløy, Florø or Ålesund if you wish. In the summer you can also visit the emerald-green islands of Kinn and Selja, where ancient monastery ruins lie surrounded by mystery and sagas. This roundtrip suggestions shows you the transport routes between the principal towns, but there are plenty hidden gems worth adding an extra day.
Bergen – Måløy, 4 h 30 min (express boat)
Bergen is best explored on foot, starting with a stroll through the narrow alleyways of Bryggen. The colorful facades have been a landmark in Bergen for centuries, with the oldest foundations stemming from the time when the Hanseatic League of merchants dominated the stock fish trade and erected the characteristic houses. The nearby church of St. Mary and the former king´s hall Håkonshallen are some of the oldest buildings in Bergen, dating back to the Middle Ages. If you fancy a short hike, buy a one-way ticket to the Fløibanen funicular and walk back the winding gravel road to town after taking in the amazing view from Mt. Fløyen.
From the terminal next to the bustling Fish Market the express boat departs for Måløy. This boat route has been vital to the small coastal communities and fjord villages for many years, and on weekdays from mid-June to mid-August you can join a unique tour combining the express boat with the local post boat on its route between the island communities of Solund, Værlandet and Bulandet. The archipelagos consist of more than a thousand islands and skerries, and with any luck you may spot sea eagle, seals or porpoises. A slow-travel alternative is to take Hurtigruten to Måløy, Florø or Ålesund. The coastal steamer transport route has carried goods, passengers and post from Bergen and northwards along the long-stretched coast to Northern Norway for 125 years and is today a popular attraction.
After a long day at sea you disembark in the small harbor town of Måløy. Alternatively, you can take the express boat to Smørhamn and take the corresponding local bus to the fishing village Kalvåg. The idyllic bay shelters fishing boats and houses and is today a popular place to stay in a charming cabin or hotel and try your luck with a fishing rod and rented boat.
If you choose Florø as your destination, do take a trip with the local boat to the small island communities of Svanøy and Kinn. A mere kilometer´s walk from the quay at Kinn will take you to the medieval church, and it is possible to hike around the entire island in beautiful terrain. The church is set to undergo a major restoration project from 2018, scheduled to finish in 2021.
Måløy – Ålesund, 4 h 30 min (bus)
When the summer sun brings out the emerald green hues in the meadows around Måløy, do take the time for a ride with the local bus to the small village of Selje. Selje boasts its very own village beach with white sand and turquoise waters, although the temperatures are brisker than its southern counterparts. The ruins of Selja monastery on a small island nearby dates back to the 12th century, and the legend of St. Sunniva still inspires local traditions. A yearly festival is held honoring the myths surrounding the martyr, who is also the patron saint of Bergen.
From Måløy the local bus brings you to the terminal at Nordfjordeid, where the express bus stops on its way to Ålesund.
Ålesund – Molde, 2 h (bus)
Ålesund is the town that will take you by surprise. On a walk through the center you will notice the many ornaments, spires and turrets in the Art Noveau style that was at its height in the early 1900s. The entire town center was destroyed in a great fire in 1904, and luckily for the townspeople, help and up-and-coming architects were sent from all over the world to help with the rebuilding of Ålesund. The result was a top modern, skillfully built town center constructed in one consistent style. The Jugendstilsenteret museum tells you the whole story, and a guided city walk is highly recommended. To add a workout to your walk, climb the 418 steps up to the viewpoint at Mt. Aksla. If you choose to stay a couple of days in Ålesund, cruises to the famous Geirangerfjord depart in the summer, spring and fall months, and in the winter the Sunmøre Alps nearby are a mecca for skiers.
From Ålesund the express bus takes two hours to Molde, where you can spend the night with a view of fjords and mountains. A one-hour hike takes you to the Varden viewpoint, where 222 partially snow-clad mountain peaks can be seen across the fjord. Do visit the Romsdalen folk museum with its outdoor buildings and the impressive museum building Krona, “The Crown”, a homage to the craggy mountains of Romsdalen.
Molde – Atlanterhavsveien – Kristiansund, 2 h (bus)
Several daily bus departures connect Molde with the little fishing village of Bud, where the coastal culture museum and Ergan fort offer an insight into life in the tough environment by Atlantic Ocean, and the impact of war in these small communities.
You can also go straight by bus to the Atlantic Road, one of the highlights on this journey. The masterfully constructed road was completed in 1989 and was named Norwegian Construction of the Century in 2005. A total of eight bridges connect Averøy island with the mainland, surrounded by a myriad of smaller islands. From a bird´s eye view, the road takes the shape of a giant sea serpent of old Norse myths, twisting and rising from the sea. If the peaceful surroundings tempt you to stay an extra night, you can spend the night in an authentic fisherman´s cabin and add experiences like sea eagle safari, biking or fishing trips.
The day ends in Kristiansund, where you should treat yourself to a meal of the local specialty klipfish. The salted codfish dried on rocks is the base of many traditional recipes, served in modern varieties but in keeping with the old cooking style. Before you continue your journey, do make time for what may just be the world´s shortest island hopping! The faithful passenger ferry route Sundbåten has transported passengers between the four islands that make up Kristiansund town center for over 140 years. In the summer you can visit the now-abandoned island community Grip, which was once Norway´s smallest municipality and is now a popular place to visit for its stave church and beautiful scenery, with the ocean as its closest neighbor and patron.
The local tourist offices can give you good and useful information.