Norway // Bergen and the western fjords //

The Sognefjord

Profoundly beautiful, the Sognefjord ( drills in from the coast for some 200km, its inner recesses splintering into half a dozen subsidiary fjords. Perhaps inevitably, none of the villages and small towns that dot the fjord quite lives up to the splendid setting, but Balestrand and Mundal, on the Fjærlandsfjord, come mighty close and are easily the best bases. Both are on the north side of the fjord which, given the lack of roads on the south side, is where you want (or pretty much have) to be – Flåm apart. Mundal is also near two southerly tentacles of the Jostedalsbreen glacier – Flatbreen and easy-to-reach Bøyabreen.

Highway 55 hugs the Sognefjord’s north bank for much of its length, but at Sogndal it slices northeast to clip along the lustrous Lustrafjord, which boasts a top-notch attraction in Urnes stave church, reached via a quick ferry ride from Solvorn. Further north, a side road leaves Highway 55 to clamber up from the Lustrafjord to the east side of the Jostedalsbreen glacier at the Nigardsbreen nodule, arguably the glacier’s finest vantage point. Thereafter Highway 55 – as the Sognefjellsveg – climbs steeply to run along the western side of the Jotunheimen mountains, an extraordinarily beautiful journey even by Norwegian standards and one which culminates with the road thumping down to Lom on the flatlands beside Highway 15.

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