It's one of the most outstanding areas of natural beauty in a region with no shortage of them. But where are the best spots to really experience Geiranger's magic?
Geiranger is one of the most spectacular places in Norway, with a small village tucked into one of the country's deepest fjords, steep mountains all around, bustling waterfalls coming down the hills and idyllic farms with their grass-covered roofs. Geiranger looks as if it tumbled straight out of a fairytale.
This famous World Heritage-listed fjord is a fantastic attraction, and the charming village is a great starting point for hiking and exploring the dramatic nature that surrounds it.
For active nature lovers, the Geirangerfjord has plenty to offer, everything from hiking and biking to kayaking – or, of course, you can just sit back and take in the scenery. But most visitors make sure to see its watery greatness from a boat, a hike or a viewpoint.
Here are some of the best options for making the most of this incredible, unmissable destination.
Take in the vistas at Ørnesvingen viewpoint
Now that you’ve decided to visit this beautiful fjord, start by enjoying it from one of the best viewpoints. Ørnesvingen is a spot you can't miss, since it’s located on the steep approach into Geiranger. This lookout has its own waterfall and gives incredible views into the fjord. A good tip is also to follow a small trail behind the viewpoint which will take you to an off the beaten track where you can get a slightly more unique view. You’ll get away from the infrastructure and likely be more alone, allowing you to really take in the incredible surrounds.
Join a RIB boat tour
Next up you should take in the fjord from water level as this gives you a whole new perspective on the place. And still, the fjord also has several impressive waterfalls that can only be enjoyed from the water, so it's an absolute must.
Joining a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) tour is both a great idea for the sightseeing aspect and it’s also an adrenaline-filled experience that will undoubtedly give you butterflies in your stomach.
There will be stops during the trip and the RIB guide will tell you interesting facts and fascinating stories about the fjord, life and the people in and around Geiranger. With a bit of luck, you might even spot some porpoises, eagles and jumping makrill.
Go kayaking in the fjord
If you want a more active way of enjoying the waters, hire a kayak from one of the rental spots in the fjord and paddle your way out for an exploration. You can even park your kayak and hike to some of the abandoned farms that are perched atop the steep cliffs surrounding mountains.
And if you’re a good paddler you can go all the way to the most famous waterfalls of the fjord: The Seven Sisters and The Wooer. The two falls face one another across the fjord, and the suitor is said to be trying to woo the sisters opposite.
The other famous waterfall in the fjord is The Bridal Veil, thus named because it falls delicately over a rocky edge, and when it’s backlit by the sun it looks like a thin veil over the rocks, a truly beautiful sight. That’s a very far paddle, but you’ll be able to see it from the RIB tour if you don't make it by kayak.
A kayaking tour usually takes around 3-4 hours and it is suitable both for beginners and advanced paddlers since you can control how far you go. The waters in the fjord are usually quite flat and calm, since the fjord is protected by the surrounding mountains. Kayaking in Geiranger is truly an activity that shouldn’t be missed, a peaceful yet a fantastic workout.
Head out to hike Skågeflå
Apart from all the natural beauty in the surroundings, the Geirangerfjord is also known for a few abandoned farms situated high up on the steep cliff sides. These farms are historic and they tell the tales of a different time and way of life. The most famous, and the ones that are most commonly visited, are Skageflå and Knivsflå.
Skageflå sits on a cliff, 250 metres above the Geirangerfjord overlooking the waters. It may look impassable from below, but there’s actually a steep trail leading up from the fjord to the farm. The trail goes pretty much straight up, and it is quite rocky, muddy and steep. Be prepared to hike for around 45 minutes, but when you reach the farm, you'll know it was all well worth it: you’ll be welcomed by some of the most unique natural views one can experience. From the farm, you can not only take in vistas down to the fjord, but also across the fjord to the Seven Sisters waterfalls and Knivsflå mountain farm.
It’s interesting to wonder how people managed to live there, in such a remote place, built on the steep slopes of a mountain and ocean cliffs. But due to rich pastureland in the valleys above this was once one of the wealthiest farms in the region of Geiranger.
It’s a spectacular place and one that comes with a regal endorsement: the King and Queen of Norway held their 25 year wedding anniversary at Skageflå with guests from all of the European royal houses.
Hike to Knivsflå
Knivsflå is another abandoned historic farm, located opposite Skageflå. Similarly, it can only be reached from the waters below. Following the steep trail up to the farm rewards you with incredible close up views of the Seven Sisters waterfall.
The Knivsflå farm is another unique place to visit and to get a real sense of how people used to live in this extreme place. The drop off the top of the cliff is so precarious that the farmers had to tie up their children when they were outside playing in order to stop them from falling over the edge.
The Knivsflå farm was abandoned in 1898 by the family that lived there, since there was a constant danger of falling rocks from the steep mountain cliffs behind.
Experience the breathtaking views at Flydalsjuvet
The steep mountains surrounding the fjord make for spectacular views, and Geiranger has many to choose from, but one of the best has got to be the Flydalsjuvet viewpoint.
This is the quintessential Norwegian fjord view and Flydalsjuvet is one of the most popular places to take travel photos in Norway. And understandably so, when you see the view with your own eyes.
Take a drive up to Dalsnibba
Drive up to Dalsibba mountain top for a journey that will lead you 1,500m above sea level. The road up to Dalsnibba is one of the most ambitious road-building projects ever seen in Norway and was finished in 1939. It has steep sections and sharp hairpin bends, so just the drive is an experience on its own.
When you finally make it up there, then you have reached Europe's highest fjord viewpoint that can be reached from a public road. There you will find a cafe and a skywalk, so you can take a stroll, enjoy a drink and breathe in the views from way up on high.
Where to eat?
In Geiranger you’ll find cute cafes, restaurants and bars, small-scale manufacturers of food and drink. Highlights include Geiranger Brewery (partly based in a boathouse), Café Olé and Hellesylt Boutique & Bar, whose quirky menu features licorice-flavoured meringues.
Vesterås Countryside Café is another spot well worth heading to, located in the hills of Geiranger. Many popular hikes start from here, so it’s the perfect place to grab lunch or drinks before or after a hike. The restaurant, which is situated in a building dating back to 1603, boasts panoramic views of Geiranger. They use a lot of locally sourced ingredients in their food, like goat cheese and salmon. You’ll also see goats and llamas roaming around the farm. After visiting the Vesterås farm, take the 2km trail to Vesteråsfjellet hike to get some beautiful views.
Back by the water, Geiranger Sjokolade is the world's first chocolate factory operated out of an old boathouse. They now produce delicious handmade chocolates where they used to store the boats, as well as hot chocolate, waffle sticks with melted chocolate and good coffee from experienced baristas. All of their chocolate is made from scratch, with no preservatives or additives. And if you’re interested in seeing how they make the chocolate, they welcome visitors to the boathouse basement to learn about the production and for some chocolate tasting.
Where to stay?
Geiranger is a small place with limited capacity, so it’s good to take that into account when planning a trip there and keep in mind that accommodation quickly sells out.
One way around this is to camp. If you’re a happy camper, Geiranger has some of the most stunning campsites you can think of, many of which also give you access to boat and kayak rentals.
Geiranger Camping lies at the centre of the tourist village of Geiranger, and is an excellent location if you want to be close to restaurants and bars and everything the place has to offer.
If you’re more interested in escaping the city life and going camping closer to nature, then Grande Camping is the place for you. The campsite is located at the waterfront with stunning views. It also gets direct sunlight for a few more hours then if you stay in the town, due to the steep mountains all around. The campsite is equipped with warm showers and all the facilities you'd expect.
If you want to get a more luxurious accommodation experience in Geiranger then look no further than Hotel Union. It’s a family-run hotel that is situated on a hill just above the centre of the village, with a fantastic view of the fjords and mountains. The hotel was built in 1891, in wood, inspired by the dragon style or Swiss style, but since then has been renovated multiple times.
The hotel has an incredible spa, swimming pools, a vintage car exhibition, a nightclub and two restaurants. The perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day in nature.