Off the beaten track, but still a fjord for the royals
At 21 miles in length, the Hjørundfjord is one of the longest fjords in Norway, cutting deep into the lush alpine Sunnmøre Alps. Even though the popular and widely visited mountains here are considered a national treasure, the fjord itself is a bit of a secret and omitted from other cruise-line routes.
This means you will travel past steep rock walls, green meadows, isolated mountain farms offering a window to the past, and small rural communities that have fought their way through many avalanches and landslides without the extensive traffic from other cruise lines. The only things you’ll be lining up for are the wondrous things to experience here.
The beauty of the Hjørundfjord
On northbound sailings (September - November), you will begin in the coastal city of Ålesund - a community renowned for its distinctive Art Nouveau-inspired designs and architecture. From there, your journey will take you a little further inland to the mouth of the spectacular Hjørundfjord. This flowing waterway cuts a path through the towering peaks found throughout the region, though their close proximity to the sea makes them quite unique even in Norway. The three most popular mountains - Slogen, Skårasalen and Kolåstind - offer tourists a massive selection of hiking trails that allow them to gaze out over some of the most impressive vistas on the planet.
Legendary British mountain climber William Cecil Slingsby visited the area back in 1884 and described his view from the top of Mount Slogen in his journal as "the proudest in Europe," adding "nowhere else will you find such a view." The untamed and robust natural beauty of Sunnmørsalpene is truly a sight to behold, which is why Slingsby returned more than 40 times to repeat what he considered to be Europe's greatest ascent. With peaks that reach altitudes of up to 5,575 feet above sea level, stunning mountain scenery, suspended glaciers and the Hjørundfjord flowing beneath, this picturesque perch stands out as one of the more beautiful locales during your autumn cruise vacations.
When you reach the inner parts of the fjord you are closing in on the path of European royals. A short bus trip from Urke in the Norangsdalen, one of the wildest and narrowest valleys of the country, is the town of Øye and the charming Hotel Union Øye. This historic residence of the Belle Époque(Beautiful Era) hosted Europe’s finest since its construction in 1891. Notable guests have included Queen Wilhelmina of Holland, King Oscar II of Sweden, and the German Emperor Wilhelm II.
Hiking in Hjørundfjord
While Slogen, Skårasalen and Kolåstind are widely regarded as the most popular peaks in the region, there are a few others that offer different experiences for various types of travelers. Families often prefer the tamer ascent up the slopes of Jønshorn, Randers Topp and Mohns Topp, which rise to heights of 4,655 feet, 4,640 feet and 4,696 feet respectively. However, you don't even need to make it to the peak to enjoy these incredible views. While these mountains may not climb into the clear blue skies as high as their neighbors, they still provide some phenomenal vistas of the Hjørundfjord and surrounding region.
Your Hurtigruten adventure will also take you through some of the mountainside communities situated around this tranquil waterway. Learn about the local customs of native peoples and share in some of the delicious cuisine only available here in the mountains. So, leave your modern conveniences and electronic gadgets at home and experience the untamed serenity and natural splendor that can only be found here at the Hjørundfjord!