Norway's Sognefjord is a treasure trove of picturesque landscapes and enchanting villages, each offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. You could easily spend a week slow traveling through the Sognefjord, thanks to its copious charming towns and hamlets. Plus the scenery is out of this world! 

I have been to a number of beautiful places in Scandinavia and the Nordics, such as Sweden, Iceland and Finland, but the Norwegian fjords have been the most impressive. 

Embarking on a journey through these 11 cute small towns in Norway's Sognefjord is a dream come true for those seeking a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical intrigue. Whether you're captivated by the charming architecture of Balestrand, the Viking history of Gudvangen, or the outdoor adventures in Skjolden, each town on this Norway itinerary promises a unique and unforgettable experience.

11 Charming Villages to Visit in Norway’s Sognefjord 

Ornes

A small village with a big historical footprint, Ornes is famous for the Urnes Stave Church, a masterpiece of medieval wooden architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The church, adorned with intricate carvings, transports visitors to a bygone era. There are daily guided tours (in English & Norwegian) to learn more about the unique structure. Ornes also has an abundance of small family-run orchards with delicious local apples. Grab a bag from one of the side of the road stands around town! 

Balestrand

Nestled on the northern shore of the Sognefjord, Balestrand boasts a captivating combination of fjord views and charming architecture. This idyllic town is home to the impressive Kviknes Hotel, a historic landmark with a fascinating collection of art and antiques. It is one of the largest hotels in the area, so Balestrand can be a great jumping off point for exploring the region. There are great ferry connections too! Take a stroll along the shoreline promenade. Visit the St. Olaf's Church, a distinctive wooden structure designed to look like a stave church, but is actually from the 19th century.

Luster

Luster is a serene village surrounded by lush greenery and pristine waters. Immerse yourself in the town's rural tranquility or use it as a launch point for visiting Jostedalsbreen National Park, home to mainland Europe's largest glacier. We took a day trip out to Styggevatnet lake, where we then did a glacier hike on Austdalsvatnet. It was incredible, because we were the only people on the glacier. 

On you drive back into town, stop by the Breheimsenteret Visitor Center. Shaped like a Viking helmet, the architecture is pretty cool. But you’re really stopping for the view of the Nigardsbreen icefall glacier. This snaking glacier winds through the valley in a beautiful and distinct shape. Warm up from a day facing the natural elements at the Luster Fjord sauna

Skjolden

Tucked away at the very end of one of Sognefjord’s branching arms, Skjolden is a small village surrounded by snow-capped peaks and cascading waterfalls. The backdrop to the village is truly breathtaking, especially when you approach from the water. Several stylish homes dangle over the aquamarine water, making for an impressive arrival. Take a scenic drive to the Jotunheimen National Park, an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. These are some of the highest mountains in Norway, so there are incredible hiking trails in summer and ski opportunities in winter. 

Lærdalsøyri

Laerdal is a charming town with well-preserved wooden houses lining its streets. Stroll through its historic center and visit the Laerdal Old Town, where you can step back in time and experience life as it was in the 18th century. It is also a great town for accessing Borgund Stave Church, one of the most impressive stave churches in Norway. This is a must-visit location in the Sognefjord, dating back to the 1200s. 

On the ride to Borgund, opt to take the Old King’s Road. Historically, the Kongevegen (King’s Road) was the most important thoroughfare in the region, and considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous pathways. You’ll see the stone bridges and hiking trails that were used until 1824 when new construction methods were used. It is actually a really picturesque drive with waterfalls and old growth forests! If you’re into hiking, you can actually hike the entire 100 km king’s road walk.

Flam

If there is one town in the Sognefjord that you’ve already heard of, it is probably Flam. This is the largest port in the area with lots of cruise ship traffic. It is also well-connected to Norway's big cities via train and highway, so it is a common place to start your journey in the Sognefjord. I highly recommend trying the floating saunas in Flam, which were my favorite in the Sognefjord. Cool down after the sauna with a beer from Ægir Microbrewery, which brews just outside of town. 

It is also well-known for the Flam Railway, one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. You can buy a roundtrip ticket for a scenic train ride, or you can opt for a more adventurous package – a train, zipline and bike combination! You take the train to the end, and then ride the longest zipline in Scandinavia. Then you’ll hop on a mountain bike, and cycle your way back to Flam. The ride is about 15km through absolutely gorgeous surroundings. Go behind-the-scenes of my experience on the Flam Railway on my Instagram stories

Undredal

Undredal is a tiny village with a proud history and culture. Known for its charming, colorful houses, its claim to fame is being one of the smallest villages in Norway. It is even rumored to have inspired the town depicted in Frozen, Arendelle. Take a short walk up the hill to Undredal Stave Church. This is the smallest stave church in Norway, dating back to the 12th century. 

Famous for its goat cheese, you can sample the local cheeses at the restaurant by the dock. It’s basically the only restaurant in town, so you can’t miss it. Norway is famous for the soft ‘brown cheese’ and Undredal also makes an award-winning 16 month aged goat cheese. My favorite was the 2 month aged goat cheese. 

Aurland

Aurland is a gem on the Sognefjord known for its breathtaking vistas. Hike to the Stegastein Viewpoint for panoramic views of the fjord. You can also hire a taxi to drive you up there. This unique observation platform extends out from the mountain giving you the feeling that you are hanging over the fjord. 

Aurland is also home to Aurlands Shoe Company, inventor of the world’s first Penny Loafer shoe in 1926. All production of Aurland's products still happens at the shoe factory in town. You can take a tour of the factory and even design a custom fitted Penny Loafer. 

Vikoyri

Often shortened just to Vik, Vikoyri is a large town about half-way through the Sognefjord. It feels well-lived in by locals, with lots of beautifully cared for homes. I enjoyed a simple walk through town to the Hopperstad Stave Church, which dates back to the 12th century. There are also several nice gift shops and boutiques in town. 

Gudvangen

Ranked as one of the most beautiful fjords in Norway, Gudvangen is breathtaking. This was my favorite scenery we saw in the Sognefjord. There is a narrow section in the middle that will blow your mind, especially on a sunny day. Spontaneous waterfalls pop up in the summer as the snow melts, shooting directly off the side of the cliffs. At the end of the fjord, you’ll find a very small town. Visit the Viking Valley to experience life during Viking times. We had an absolute blast watching blacksmithing demonstrations, throwing axes and learning about the history of vikings in Norway.    

Fjaerland 

Sometimes called “Norway’s Book Town”, Fjaerland is a quaint village with a deep love for books. Secondhand books specifically! It was named the eighth book town in the world in 1996, and the first located in Scandinavia. Used books are sold on an honor system in old cow sheds, pigpens, tiny houses, at the ferry quay and in the Hotel Mundal. Many are in English too!

I would also recommend a visit to the Norwegian Glacier Museum. Located on the outskirts of town, the compact yet engaging museum will teach you all about the region's geological history. Take a bus to the viewpoint of the nearby Jostedalsbreen Glacier for a scenic lunch. End your day with picturesque floating sauna in the heart of town.

Do you have thoughts or questions about visiting Sognefjord in Norway? Tell me in the comments!

Share this story

Comments Expand -
Add your thoughts today

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *