Off the beaten track, discover a national treasure far from the rush of mass tourism.
The Norwegian fjords are world famous. And Hjørundfjord is perhaps the most idyllic and beautiful of them all. This 35-kilometer-long fjord is an arm of the larger Storfjord, just south of the city of Ålesund. It is deep and has a wide mouth but the further in you go, the narrower it gets.
On the eastern side the mountains plunge straight into the fjord and, although there is not much space for settlements here, a few tiny farms cling to the steep terrain. The mountains to the west also slope steeply, and here you'll find small villages connected by dramatic mountain roads.
A secret fjord
Even though the highly popular and visited mountains here are regarded as a national treasure, the fjord itself is something of a secret, left out of all other tourist routes.
This means you can travel past steep rock walls, green meadows, and isolated mountain farms, all offering a window into the past. You get an up-close view of small communities that have rebuilt themselves over and over again, after avalanches and landslides. All of this at your own pace, far from the rush of mass tourism.
While in Hjørundfjord, raise your eyes to the stunning Sunnmøre Alps, one of Norway's most famous mountain areas, and be completely enveloped by sea and mountains.
The pointed, jagged peaks have names reminiscent of European climbing history: Saksa, Kolåstind, Kvitegga, Slogen. They are so-called nunataks, meaning they are so high that they rose through the ice during the last ice age. Slogen is widely considered to be Norway’s most stunning mountain, with its pyramid-like summit rising steeply for 1,564 metres from Hjørundfjord below.
Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany visited this fjord and the famous Hotel Union Øye in the late 1800s. So did King Oscar II and Queen Willemina of Holland and many others from the European aristocracy. They were searching for a scenic and exciting destination, and that is exactly what they found in Hjørundfjord.
And then there were the climbers and hikers. The most famous of them all was the British mountaineer Charles W. Patchell, who was an annual guest at the Hotel Union Øye from 1923 to 1939. He was the first person to climb 15 of the routes around Hjørundfjorden. He even had a cabin built at the foot of Slogen, which today goes by the name "Patchellhytta" (the Patchell hut).
Today, Hotel Union Øye is part of “De Historiske” – historic hotels & restaurants – a unique membership organization containing many of Norway’s most charming hotels and restaurants. Here, history forms the setting for the guests' own overnight stay and gastronomic experience. The hotel is one of the stops on our "A Taste of Norway" excursion.