Norway: naturally gorgeous

by Tina.Walsh

The southwestern corner of Norway is one of the country’s most beautiful areas, with stunning mountain scenery, magnificent fjords and pretty little towns and villages

What to see

The Geirangerfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famed for its pristine blue waters, magnificent waterfalls and lush green vegetation. Not for nothing is it called Norways’s most magnificent fjord.

It’s easy to see why the Trollstigen (or Troll Ladder) is one of Norway's most visited attractions. The road twists and turns through 11 hairpin bends as it climbs 900m above sea level. If you're a keen hiker, the old bridle path will provide you with a challenging walk and breath-taking views.

The Atlantic Road is claimed to be one of the world's most spectacular road journeys and it certainly lives up to the claim. The narrow road zigzags across 12 low bridges that jut out into the sea with sheer drops either side and looks more like a rollercoaster than a highway. Built over the unpredictable waters of the Hustadvika and its innumerable shipwrecks, the road links the windswept islands between Molde and Kristiansund in the western fjords. If the weather’s good, you might even spot whales and seals.

The Rauma railway runs between the towns of Andalsnes and Bjorli and takes in some of Norway's most stunning mountain scenery, stopping at attractions such as the 60m-high Kylling Bridge and the Trollveggen, which, at 1000m, is the tallest vertical overhanging rockface in Europe.

Ona is Norway's southernmost working fishing village and, with a population of just 40, and brightly-painted Norwegian cabins, is picture-postcard pretty. There's also a fantastic view from the top of the pillar-box red lighthouse.

Where to shop

Molde, known as the “town of jazz and roses” on account of its annual summer jazz festival and eponymous rose garden, is a pretty harbour town that's a great place to do some stress-free shopping. Head for the main shopping drag of Storgata, where you'll find shops selling everything from clothes to kitchenware to traditional Norwegian foodstuffs, as well as cafes, bars and restaurants.

Where to eat

Restaurant Seilet in the Rica Seilet Hotel in Molde, a chic glass structure in the shape of a sail, has great views of the Romsdal mountains and fjord and offers an a la carte menu and some wonderfully fresh fish dishes.

Where to stay

The Haholmen Havstuer is just 10 minutes by boat from the mainland, but feels like it's at the end of the earth. If you're looking for total rest and relaxation, this little fishing village is the place to come. The village's original wooden buildings, which date from the 17th century, have been turned into charming guest cabins and, as well as a cosy lounge and bar, you can enjoy a drink in the old bakery, which is lit with a roaring log fire in winter and is lined with seal and musk ox skins.

The Bjorligard Hotel in the ski resort of Bjorli is a typical Norwegian hideaway, with lush mountain scenery right on the doorstep, wood-fired hot tubs on the deck and, if your conscience can withstand it, reindeer on the menu. Skiing is possible from October to April, and from next winter, Bjorli will also get its own ice hotel, with a 130km cross country ski run and husky sledging on site.

How to get there

Scandinavian Airlines flies from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow to Molde, changing at either Bergen or Oslo.

DFDS Seaways runs ferries from Newcastle to Bergen and you can travel by boat from Bergen to Molde with Hurtigruten.

The Mightyfine Company can put together tailored packages.