Visiting the Sognefjord in the Winter

Update: This post has been updated and refurbished for Winter 2017, and I hope it is of help! Originally published February 2016.

Flåm, Aurland, Undredal, Gudvangen. There are several places of interest along the Sognefjord for tourists wanting to see the beautiful and dramatic landscape of the fjords. Peak season for the area is in the summer months, but an increasing amount of people are booking their trips for the colder months of the year. After all, this is the land that inspired Disney’s Frozen!

On first glance you are likely to feel like there is nothing to do here in the Winter. Apart from the stunning nature, all covered in snow, the villages seem extremely quiet. To most people, though, the main upside to visiting in the Winter is exactly that – the serenity. But what exactly is there to do? First things first.

Visiting the fjords in the Winter

Where to stay

As mentioned above, there are several villages along the fjord. Gudvangen, at the end of the Nærøyfjord (UNESCO World Heritage Site) boasts of a ‘Fjordtell‘ by the docks. Flåm has several places to choose from, and Aurland is where you’ll find my favourite. Lots of great options, in other words!

Flåm is the busiest village, all though in the Winter you won’t notice as much. There you will find the historic Fretheim HotelFlåmsbrygga Hotel and Flåm Marina & Apartments.

In Aurland you’ll find my all time favourite, the hotel I’ve already dedicated a post to: Vangsgaarden. Check out my post on the hotel & restaurant here!

Sognefjord in the Winter

What to do

At first glance there doesn’t seem to be a lot to do in the area in the Winter, which is why you need to get some research out of the way first! Most of the activities on and around the fjord run during the Winter too, only on a smaller scale. If you miss a departure, that’s likely to be it – so know your schedule in advance!

The famous Flåm Railway, which has been the main attraction in the area for years, has 4 daily return departures in the Winter. The train journey is one of the most beautiful in the world, and is a must for visitors to the fjords. Many people arrive to the area by train, and the Flåm Railway will then be the last leg of your journey to get here. I advise you to be aware of this before booking a return ticket on the train while you are here, it isn’t necessary to travel on the Railway more than once.

Now let’s get to the reason you are here – the fjords! The majestic fjords of Western Norway are a must for anyone’s bucket list, and there is only one way to see them properly: by boat.  In the summer there are plenty of departures to choose from, but in the Winter there aren’t that many options. Once a day you can start the round trip by bus to Gudvangen, and then jump on a ferry going back to Flåm. The tour will take you through the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord, giving you great photo ops along the way. Check this website for tickets.

Update: Starting January 1st 2017 there will be 2 daily boat departures on the fjords! Don’t miss the brand new vessel ‘Vision of the Fjords’, recently awarded ‘Ship of the Year’, which glides silently past the villages along the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. Currently, the ship is docked for some routine refurbishments, but it will hopefully be back and running in the new year. Not to be missed!

Another way to see the fjord up close is by going on a FjordSafari! These boat tours start and end in Flåm, and are very popular. Make sure you book early, and I promise you won’t forget zooming through the fjords in a RIB boat with only 11 other travellers. The driver of the boat also doubles as your guide, and you will get as close to nature as possible with this tour!

Side note: you could always consider renting a kayak too, but dress warm – check out my post about it here!

Starting February 1st there are some other fun additions to the activities in the area, that both require you to get your feet moving! The company behind the FjordSafari offer a daily Snowshoe Hike, where you will get to experience the Norwegian Winter like never before! There is also a daily Evening Walk from the local brewery, which includes a Viking-inspired menu in the brewery restaurant after. Depending on your fitness level and interests, one of these tours should be a perfect match!

Some of the local museums are open year round, however with limited hours. The Flåm Railway museum has free entry, and is open for a few hours every day. It is well worth a visit, especially after you’ve gone on the Flåm Railway itself. You’ll learn about the railway’s history, and can shop some souvenirs while you’re at it!

The Flåm Bakeri opened in the Summer of 2016 and is open every day. Here you will find hot coffee and baked goods to warm you on cold Winter days. Make sure to try the cinnamon rolls.

Also, don’t miss out on a visit to the Stegastein Viewpoint! It is possible to drive there yourself, or book a spot on the daily tour from both Flåm and Aurland.

Aurland, Sognefjord in the Winter

Getting around

The public transport between the villages is limited in the Winter, but this website is where you will find travel routes and options on public transport. Don’t be surprised if you see both buses and ferries come up as options.

There are also local taxi companies available at your service. Aurland Taxi can be reached on +47 901 30 808, and Gudvangen taxi on +47 954 19 419.

You may also rent a car upon arrival in Norway. Just make sure you can handle driving on the icy, winding Norwegian roads.

 

Local tips

Start your days early! Most tours depart before midday, which is why many tourists find themselves disappointed after sleeping in. The only tours departing in the afternoon are the walking tours (starting February) and the 15:00 fjordcruise from Flåm, while most of the others depart around 11am.

Ask the locals about the roads! Many roads, for example the one to Stegastein Viewpoint, are not the most comfortable to drive. Ask around before venturing on a road you may not be ready for. As mentioned above, it’s better to be comfortably seated on an audioguided bus tour than to brace the windy roads yourself.

Do your research! Visiting the Norwegian fjords in the Winter can be a hassle if you are expecting all activities to be available to you at all times. All tours are running on a smaller scale, but if you come prepared – you’ll find that there are plenty of options.

I shouldn’t have to say it, but dress well! It’s as cold as it looks.

 

My final tip is to plan for downtime. There is such a special serenity to the fjords in the Winter, and it is difficult to explain. Come here in the Winter months to relax, unwind, and just avoid the crowds. Visiting Norway in the Winter is a completely different experience to visiting in the Summer. The fjords and mountains are just as beautiful, but you avoid the struggle of thousands of tourists trying to get on the same boat, no one will be in the way of your photos, and the locals are probably a little nicer. In the Winter we are reminded of how much we miss the tourists, so take advantage of that!


 

If you’re heading to Norway and want more posts like this one, check out all my articles on visiting the fjords here!

Have you visited Norway? Did you go in the Winter or the Summer?


// Post contains some Booking.com affiliate links.

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  • THIS IS SO COOL! All caps most definitely necessary 😛 Mentally planning my next trip as I type this out! Great post xo, Ingrid

    • THANK YOU, INGRID (All caps necessary there too)! It’s so beautiful by the fjords, most definitely worth a visit both in the Winter and Summer! 🙂

  • I’m not a winter person at all, but norway looks SOOO beautiful in the winter. like beautiful enough that i could forget how much i hate winter for a little bit 🙂

    • I hear ya! The cold is horrible, but when you’re wrapped in a blanket in front of the fire looking out at the snow – I really enjoy it, haha 🙂

  • This post is fantastic!! Makes me think a winter getaway to Norway would be perfect for some relaxing around the busy holidays. The photos are gorgeous and it looks so serene! Awesome post. 🙂

    • Wow, thank you so much for saying that, Alexandra! 🙂 Norway is beautiful both in the Summer and Winter, but it is so important not to underestimate the off-season – it’s the perfect getaway from the crowds! Thanks again! 🙂

  • I’d love to do this! I’ve been to Oslo 🙂 #travel tuesday

    • Awesome, Oslo is a great city! 🙂 Make sure to visit the fjords next time, Tanja 🙂

  • Ahhh there’s definitely so much of Southern Norway left I need to explore!! Flåm seems amazing!!

    • There sure is, but I must admit I’d love to travel more in the North too! Tromsø seems amazing too, can’t wait to visit one day! 🙂 Thanks for commenting, Van!

  • Great photos and tips! I am impressed by that waterfall rolling amount snowy cliffs.

    • Thank you! It’s really beautiful in the Winter, the waterfalls are always stunning 🙂

  • Andrea On Vacation

    It is so gorgeous there. I would love to see the fjords in the winter. Offseason with less people can be the time to go too for better deals and no crowds!

    • It’s so quiet and serene in the Winter – and the deals are definitely better! Thanks for commenting, Andrea! 🙂

  • STUNNING!! This is definitely something I would like to see, it is just beautiful 🙂 Thanks for showing us!

    • I’m so glad you think so, Marcella! Thank you! 🙂

  • HandLuggageOnly

    What an amazing post! Literally you’ve just made us pencil in our winter travel for 2106! 🙂

    We have to visit again! 🙂

    Lloyd & Yaya xx

    • Aw, thanks so much for saying that, guys! 🙂 Let me know if you are headed my way – I’ll have to show you around! 🙂

      • HandLuggageOnly

        Definitely! You’ll regret saying that – we will drag you everywhere! Haha! 🙂

        x

        • Haha, maybe I’ll be dragging YOU everywhere! There’s loads to see 🙂

  • I have never been to Norway but it looks so beautiful! Your photography is fantastic, I love the one of the view from Flam Marina and Apartments. Thanks for sharing! (:

    • It really is, both in the summer and the Winter! 🙂 Thank you, and thanks for commenthing! 🙂

  • Your photos are beautiful.. I love the mountain shots 🙂

    • Thank you! They are absolutely stunning, it doesn’t take a professional to get them right – trust me 🙂

  • This looks amazing! I definitely want to go here. Pinning this 🙂

    • Thank you! It really is beautiful, and should be on everyones bucket list! 🙂

  • This is so magical, like narnia. I must book a trip next winter. Where is next for you?

    • It truly is beautiful! 🙂 My next trip goes to Copenhagen, Denmark! Can’t wait to explore the city! How about you? 🙂

      • It really looks it. I’ve heard great things about Copenhagen too – hope you enjoy it. I’m going to India in a few weeks and then have a few wild and nature inspired UK breaks booked after that. 🙂

        • Copenhagen is great, I haven’t been in years, so I can’t wait to re-discover it! 🙂 I’m so jealous of you, India has always been on my bucket list! Hope you love it as much as I’m sure you will 🙂 And you can never go wrong with a bit of British 😉

          • I hope you have an amazing time. Look forward to reading about new places that have cropped up since last time!
            Thank you – I really hope it’s as amazing as I imagine too. Haha too true – so much beauty on my own doorstep. Looking forward to spring/ summer and getting outdoors a lot more again.

          • Thank you so much, Samm! 🙂 Same, can’t wait for warmer weather!

  • Erin Mars

    Hi there, I’m going to be travelling from Oslo to Bergen using the NiN transport and want to stay in a town along the way in late December. Which would you recommend out of Voss, Aurland and Undredal for the night? Which has the best views from the town and will be worth staying in do you think? Many thanks

    • Hi Erin! Thanks for your comment and question 🙂 Out of the three I definitely prefer Aurland! A hotel that has great views is Vangsgaarden, which I’ve written about in another blog post (read it here: http://www.lisaldn.com/love-this-hotel-vangsgaarden/ )
      Let me know if you have any other questions, Erin!