Fjords, giants and trolls
Many visitors and travel experts alike consider the magnificent Geirangerfjord, with its spectacular waterfalls and stunning views, the most beautiful of them all. It is best seen during the summer, when a ferry sails the length of the fjord from Hellesylt.
But the county of Møre og Romsdal offers even more. Its extraordinary range of attractions includes a coastline polished by the sea, where idyllic island communities proliferate; picturesque small cities and towns; wild mountains, deep green valleys... and all in addition to the fabulous fjords.
Offshore, there are myriads of islands, islets and skerries, some with slopes of naked rock. Elsewhere you will find wide marshes, or mountains rising steeply from the sea or the beaches; fjords cut deeply into the coastline, where peaceful scenery is broken by a more dramatic landscape, and where mountain walls can rise up to a thousand metres above the fjord. Further inland, the valleys take over where the fjords end, stretching all the way into Jotunheimen ("Home of Giants"), the Dovre Mountains and Trollheimen ("Home of Trolls").
Near the Romsdalfjord, in the alpine Romsdal valley, Trollveggen (“the Troll’s Wall”), an overhanging rock formation and at 1100 metres the highest of its kind in Europe, attracts expert climbers as well as sightseers from all over the world. The area also features the breathtakingly steep road known as, the “Troll’s Ladder”.
Abounding in fish
The sea off Møre og Romsdal is one of Norway’s most important marine areas with its ideal combination of shoals, currents, fjords and sounds... perfect conditions for fishing. The area also supports the largest community of common seals on the Norwegian coast; porpoises, sperm and killer whale are occasional visitors. Inland, lakes and rivers (including some of Norway’s best-known salmon rivers) abound in fish.
On the coast nearby, the city of Ålesund is renowned for its clusters of buildings in a unique hybrid style of Art Nouveau, Jugendstil and turn-of-the-century Norwegian vernacular, the result of reconstruction after a devastating fire in 1904.
Ålesund city centre is work of art in itself and the source of fascinating insights into the creative Art Nouveau period through an exciting combination of modern multi-media programmes, authentic interiors, an activity room and collections of Art Nouveau design. In an international context, the Art Nouveau Centre in Ålesund is part of an active European network for Jugendstil/ Art Nouveau, the Reseau Art Nouveau Network, together with the likes of Glasgow, Helsinki, Brussels, Riga, Varese, Nancy, Budapest, Ljubljana and Barcelona.
To the north, Molde hosts an annual international jazz festival; Kristiansund, an 18th-century fishing port straddling three islands in the mouth of the fjord, counters with a week-long opera festival each year, and Ålesund is known for choral singing, brass and symphonic music. In general, Møre og Romsdal is a very musical county: it even has its own professional musical agency, Møremusikarane (the Møre musicians), set up in 1990 by the county council.
The county boasts three stave churches. One of the smallest and simplest, dating from the 15th century, is on the picturesque island of Grip, 14 km offshore of Kristiansund; of the others, Rødven is handy for visitors to Molde, and Kvernes is on the island of Averøya, off the Atlantic Ocean Road (Atlanterhavsveien).
Motoring in Møre og Romsdal is a charming way to sample its manifold charms: winding your way over bridges and embankments, from islet to island to islet again; the vegetation varying from lush to sparse, the vistas from precipitous to endless. Of the innumerable islands dotted the length of the coast, look out for Smøla, Giske and Herøy, Frei and Haram, Midsund and Sandøy, each with its unique appeal.