Our next stop on our Nordic Adventure was Stockholm, Sweden. We have been to Sweden a couple of times, but this was our first time visiting the capital city. Stockholm is the most populous city of the Nordic countries and the centre for cultural and economic centre of Sweden. We allocated two and a half days for Stockholm and if we had more time we would have loved to stay longer. The food, the shopping, the architecture and the sites, make it an amazing destination that you don’t want to leave.
Our first day in Stockholm was relatively lay back by my travelling standards. We experiences amazing Swedish pastries, had family fun at Skansen open air museum, did fika with our cousin, window shopped in the old town and finished the evening with a plate of Swedish meatballs.
While we were in Førde, we made one more stop at the Sunnfjord Museum. I wanted to dedicate a whole post to this museum, since I really enjoyed it much more then I expected to. This museum offer us a personalised experience, which really made me appreciate this history of this region and was a great ending to this road trip.
The Sunnfjord Museum is an open air museum and is one of the four regional museums in Sogn og Fjordane. It is presents the day-to-day life of the farming and tenant families of the traditional district of Sunnfjord in the mid 1800’s. The main feature of the museum is the cluster of 25 buildings which originate from different places in the Sunnfjord district. It is situated on the spectacular location at the end of the Movatnet, which gives it an authenticity to the landscape.
The museum consists of 32 antiquarian buildings, a herb garden, mountain farm and cultivated landscape. Three of the buildings are in their original location, and the rest are from other settlements in Sunnfjord. These buildings are great examples of the building techniques and traditions from the 16th to the 19th century. Many of the buildings can be visited inside and are furnished as they would have been back in their day. If you want to get a closer look at some of the objects you can see them on the Digital Museum.
The museum is opened all year round (opening hours) but they only offer daily guided tours during June to August. However, there are exhibitions, special events and educational programs offered a different time in the year. They also offer exhibitions and educational programs for kids. They encouraged visitors to make the most of their visit, by having a picnic on the grounds, or swiming and fishing in the lake. Also from the museum there several walking paths with information boards describing the natural and cultural history of the area.
After a little hiatus to finish the university semester, I can now continue sharing my last day in Norway on our road trip. So today is day three, we are at the furthermost point in our road trip from where we started in Bergen. Our destination is Førde, which is the most populated municipality in the county of Sogn og Fjordane. The township of Førde is located east if the end of the Førdefjorden and at the mouth of the river Jølstra.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to find in Førde, since it doesn’t seem as touristic as other towns, but there are a few great attractions that you can visit. There are the waterfalls of Huldefossen and Halbrendsfossen, the Førdehuset cultural centre, where you can find the Salmon sculpture, The National Tourist Road and the Sunnfjord Museum. We were quite time poor since we arrived quite late the evening before and only had the next morning to site see before driving back down to Bergen to catch our flight. However, we did get to see a couple of attractions and were happy that we included this stop in our trip.
Our last big stop on our 2nd day of our road trip was Balestrand. This was probably the one I was most excited about. We arrived it was quite late, so we did a little bit of wandering around. My daughter had also become very unruly, so we ended up spending a couple hours before retiring for the day at our apartment in Førde. I did really like Balestrand and happy we trekked this far to explore this small town.
The village of Balestrand is in the Balestrand municipality, in the Sogn og fjordane region. It is located on the northern shore of the Sognefjorden and the mouth of Esefjorden. This town has been a major tourist stop since the 1800s. It is also known as the Art village and has inspired many artists from England and Germany. These travellers have also influenced much of the architecture.
Some points of interest include Sognefjord Aquarium (Sognefjord Akvarium and Gallery Munken), Golden house Gallery (Det gylne hus), Kviknes Hotel (Private collection of art mainly from the national-romantic period), King Bele Statue and Balestrand Viking Barrows, St Olaf’s Angelican Church and the Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism (Norsk Reiselivsmuseum).
After stopping at Undredal we made our way to the town of Vikøyri. This stop wasn’t originally in the itinerary as we had intentions of crossing the fjord to Balestrand. However we were starving, so this was a convenient stop to make to have a break and try some Viking cheese.
First a bit about our major stop. Vikøyri is the central town for the municipality of Vik, in the Sogn og fjordane region. This old coastal settlement is situated midpoint on the Sognefjorden and the mouth of the Vikja river, which is the best salmon river in the region. Some of the points of interest include the Tine cheese factory (see below), the Hopperstad Stave Church, Hove Stone Church, old shore dweller site, Moahaugane Burial Mounds, the Kristianhus Båt- og Motormuseum.
When I last left you we began our day in lovely Aurlandsvagen and next made our way to Undredal. We weren’t sure about making a detour to this small town as we had heard mix things. I guess if you are doing a river cruise you will see a nice view of the town. However, since we didn’t do a cruise we thought we may as well visit Undredal since it was only 20 mins from Otternes Bygdetun in Aurland.
Undredal is a tiny village within the municipality of Aurland and is situated on the Aurlandsfjorden. It previously was only able to be accessed by boat, but today it can be reached by the highway network. It has very small population of about 100 people and 500 goats. Why so many goats? Well Undredal is famous for it’s a brown goats cheese and goat sausage. It is still made in the traditional way and important for the towns economy.
We arrived to Undredal still quite early in the morning, so nothing was open except for a small store. Some points of interest that were closed were the tourist centre, the Undredal stavkyrkje (smallest Stave church in Northern Europe) and Undredal Tredreieri (Wood turners).
Unfortunately for us there wasn’t much to do, except enjoy the beautiful view of the fjord. It was still worth stopping just for that. I recommend stopping by this town later in the day if I want to visit some of the points of interest or get a bite to eat. From what we saw there are no coffee or pastry shops, so I’m not sure where people have breakfast, who are staying in the accommodations. The only cafe/restaurant we found was Eldhuset, it opens daily, but not until 11am.
You can visit the local farms producing the goats cheese, but it was the wrong time of year for our visit. You can actually pre-organise with the farmers to visit them and at the very least spend time with their goats. I discovered this the evening before so it was a bit late book in and we still had quite a big day ahead of us.
We ended our first day and began our second day of our road trip in the stunning location. Aurlandsvangen is a district within Aurland and sits on the Aurlandsfjorden, which is a branches from the King fjord, Sognefjorden. It is only a short distance by car from Flåm, Undredal and Nærøyfjord (Gudvangen). This was the perfect place to stay over night, since it had cheaper for accommodation, had amazing views (unobstructed by cruise ships) and it was very nice and quiet.
During our stay we made the most our our amazing view of the Aurlandsfjorden, explore the centre of Aurlandsvangen and made a trip to the abandoned village of Otternes Bygdetun.
I’ve been a little sick this last week, so I hadn’t had a chance until today to take you to our next destination on our first day of our road trip. Flåm is tiny village located in the valley Flåmsdalen, in the area of Aurland. It is a popular tourist destination and it’s main attraction is the scenic Flåmsbana Railway, which travels between Flåm and Myrdal. Although this train ride is highly recommend we decided to skip it, since we had done that Bergensbanen line a few days before. Instead we spent a couple of hours having a look around before settling for the night in Aurlandsvangen.
Last I left you we had just seen some amazing Norwegian Waterfalls on the way to Gudvangen. Why were we headed to this small village in Aurland, Sogn og Fjordane? To visit the Viking Village of course!
The Viking Village is nestled between the Kjelfossen (one of the tallest waterfalls in Norway, 755 metres) and the spectacular Nærøyfjord. During the Viking period, Gudvangen was an important place for trade and it’s name translates to a ‘place of the gods’. So this is a fitting location to step back in time and experience the Viking way of life.
Before we visited the Viking Village, we took some photos on the Nærøyfjord. It is the most majestic fjord. The water is so clear and catches the shades of green from the mountains that dominate the landscape.
Today I will bring you along on our road trip in Norway. If you have been following along you know that last we were last in Bergen. We only had three days to fit in as many stops as we could and make it back to Bergen to fly out. Most guides from Bergen recommend driving out to Flåm and driving same direction back. I thought it would be better to do a round trip, so that we would see more. I couldn’t find a guide that recommend a round route, so we kinda made our own and booked our accommodations to correspond with our stops.
The map below shows the general direction with some of the major stops. This route is totally doable in 3 days, even with a screaming toddler in the car. Some of these stretches are a bit long, which is because the mountainous terrain and the fjords that take longer to navigate. Many of the water crossings require a river ferry, which can take time and do require a fee. However this gave us unforgettable scenic views and made the drive definitely more interesting as the landscape was constantly changing. FIY, we paid about $80 AUD in toll for these 3 days and there aren’t many signs for speed limits, despite the speeding camera.
The second half our of time in Bergen was spent visiting some of the sites outside of the city centre. By the time we eventually received our hire car it was the afternoon, but it was just as well, as it would have taken longer to get to the first two designations on foot or by public transport. So the highlights of our afternoon in Bergen include the Old Bergen Museum, Fantoft Stave Church, Fløyen and a delicious dinner at Pingvinen. We did return to Bergen a few days later before flying out so I included the lunch we had from a great little Norwegian burger joint, Søstrene Hagelin at the end of this post.