It's a mystery to me why the Hjørundfjord remains relatively unknown by international visitors.
The lesser-known Hjørundfjord is entirely encircled by the Sunnmøre Alps mountain range, clearly visible from Ålesund. Its forested sides and mountainous backdrop create a distinct, wilder, yet just as beautiful experience as its more famous sister to the east.
Easy to visit as a day-trip by car or boat from Ålesund or in combination with a longer road trip itinerary that includes the Geirangerfjord, this fjord is a worthy addition to any journey around Norway.
How to get to the Hjørundfjord
European Royals have toured the region since the 19th-century, leading to its nickname the Royal Fjord Route, which has been (of course!) embraced by the tourism authorities. To follow in their footsteps, follow the E136 out of Ålesund and turn south on to the E39 (signed Stavanger).
Cross the Storfjord on the Solavågen-Festøya car ferry and continue to Ørsta, where you can stock up on groceries at a handy supermarket. Before you move on, save some time for a quick stroll around the scenic harbourside path.
Leave Ørsta on the eastbound Fv655 and you will reach the shore of the Hjørundfjord at Sæbø. The 53-mile drive from Ålesund to Sæbø should take no more than 2.5 hours.
A number of ferries depart from Sæbø onto the Hjørundfjord but by far the most popular is the crossing to Lekneset. The road then continues on through the lush Norangsdalen valley to Hellesylt and the Geirangerfjord.
Even without a car, visiting the Hjørundfjord from Ålesund is easy thanks to the 4-5hr Sightseeing Cruise (high season only) that includes a light 2-course lunch at the historic Hotel Union Øye. Find out more information and book your ticket at the Tourist Information Office in Ålesund.
Kayaking and hiking are the most popular activities in and around the Hjørundfjord. On the hike to Mount Saska you can see to the end of the Hjørundfjord in one direction and the coastal town of Ålesund in the other.
The panoramic view across the Sunnmøre Alps makes this hike one of the most popular in the country, let alone the fjord region. It's a steep climb and a moderate level of fitness is required. For a more tranquil experience, take to the water in a rented kayak from one of the providers in Øye, Sæbø or Bjørke.
Where to stay
Sæbø – Just moments from the Sæbø-Lekneset ferry crossing, Hjørundfjord Camping must be a contender for the most picturesque campsite in all of Norway. Go from the comfort of your cabin to kayaking in one of Norway’s best fjords in mere seconds.
The basic cabins sleep four and are great value for money, while there's plenty of room for tents, camper vans and motorhomes too. Search for accommodation in Sæbo.
Bjørke – The tiny village of Bjørke at the extreme southern end of the Hjørundfjord is the idyllic location for the Indiefjord (indiefjord.com) music festival. Inspired by the Britpop movement of the 1990s, Indiefjord brings together fans of the genre every July to dance, bounce, and camp on the shoreline. The festival is deliberately kept small to keep the intimate vibe and not overload the delicate local environment. Search for accommodation in Bjørke.
Øye – The historic Hotel Union Øye (pictured above) is the best hotel near the Hjørundfjord. Each of the 25 rooms are individually decorated with modern touches despite the 19th-century aesthetic.
A stay at the Union is an all-inclusive experience that includes a lavish three-course meal followed by coffee served in the grand lounge, where European Royals and the wealthy have relaxed for decades gone. Search for accommodation in Øye.
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