Autumn is one of my absolute favourite times of year (yes, I am that basic. Bring out the Uggs and Pumpkin Spice!), and whenever I get asked what’s a good time to travel to Norway, I recommend travelling in September-October (head this way for my complete month-by-month breakdown of when to visit Norway). Autumn in Norway (or, you know, fall in Norway) is absolutely beautiful, with stunning colours, crisp air and just an all-round “hygge” feeling that you can’t miss.
So, for those wanting to visit Norway in Autumn, I thought I would put together a little guide to where you should go, what you should do there and where to stay during your visit. I hope you find it helpful! Naturally, it includes my favourite fjord in Norway; the Aurlandsfjord.
If you want to visit Norway in autumn (or any other time of year), start by reading my guide to planning your Norway trip!
Where to go for Autumn in Norway
The answer to this one is quite obvious. Anyone visiting Norway should visit the Aurland and Flåm area, at the end of the Sognefjord in Western Norway. Aurland is less than a 3-hour drive from Bergen (here’s how to get there), and once you’re there you won’t want to leave. Aurland is not just the village where I grew up, it’s also a little haven by the fjord, cozy and beautiful, and the perfect place for visiting in Autumn.
The Sognefjord is Norway’s longest and deepest fjord (and the most dramatic, in my opinion). For anyone travelling to Norway, I always recommend visiting the area. One of the arms of the Sognefjord; Nærøyfjorden is one of Norway’s (two) World Heritage Listed fjords (the Geirangerfjord being the other). There are plenty of ways to see the fjords, and Aurland is the perfect base for a visit!
Side note: the view from Stegastein is absolutely breathtaking in the Autumn. If you want more information about this famous viewpoint, head this way!
What to do in Aurland, Norway in Autumn/Fall
As you can tell, I am quite proud of my little village. Not only because it is so beautiful, but also because there are so many great activities in the area, that you’ll be able to spend days on end without ever being bored.
Side note: my dad always told me that being bored builds character, so if you would rather spend your time staring out at the fjord, be my guest.
Below I have listed some of my favourite activities in the area, that you can’t miss during your Autumn trip to Aurland!
DID YOU KNOW? I have written and published an eBook/travel guide to Aurland, Flåm and the surrounding area! Find it here!
Stegastein is quite a famous structure now, and even the toilets have won awards for their unique look. This viewpoint edged on a mountain plateau 650 metres above sea level, can be found just 20 minutes from the centre of Aurland. Simply follow the road up towards the Aurlandsfjellet mountain (the road itself is actually one of Norway’s National Tourist Routes), and drive until you see the viewpoint. There is free parking available (on a first-come, first-serve basis). Alternatively, there are daily bus tours from both Flåm and Aurland you can join.
Merete Rein Glass Hut
I’ve mentioned Merete before, in my post listing some great and sustainable experiences to have by the fjord. It is with good reason that I mention her Glass Hut again, as this place is worth a visit during your trip to Aurland. The glass hut is no only where this local artist sells her work, but she also makes her pieces there. If you are lucky during your visit, you may see Merete working away at her trade through the glass installed in the shop. The Glass Hut is located right in the centre of Aurland, just a 2-minute walk from the next mention on the list; Duehuset.
Eat at Vangsgaarden Gastropub
Formerly known as Duehuset, now Vangsgaarden Gastropub, is the local pub, and in 2019 they re-opened their doors as a gastropub with all kinds of selections on the menu. They still keep history alive in the minor details found around the building (the baker’s oven you see in the bar below is the original front from when the building was the local bakery, for example), but have completely revamped the kitchen, menu and ingredients used.
Using fresh, local produce and meat, they have put together a menu of international dishes with a Norwegian twist, and their stone pizza oven alone will have those who love Italian falling for the fjords. So whether you are staying in Aurland or are travelling through the area, make sure you don’t miss Duehuset.
Find the pub in the centre of Aurland, right by the fjord.
The Aurland Shoe Factory
Another place you don’t want to miss whilst visiting Aurland. The Aurland Shoe Factory is actually the last remaining (and operating) shoe factory in Norway. Aurlands is the brand that still makes the original penny loafer; the Aurland Shoe. People all over the world will have seen a copy of this shoe, and in the US they were even nicknamed “Weejuns”, deriving from “Norwegians”. During your visit to Aurland, you can go see the factory where the shoes are still made, and even take a pair home (at outlet prices).
You know there are some great hikes by the fjords, and Aurland is a great starting point for many of them. I’ve included two of my favourites here, and you can ask pretty much any local to share theirs while you are visiting. Hiking in Norway in the Autumn lets you not only see the fjords from a different perspective but also experience the beautiful foilage in Norway a little closer than you would have otherwise. So don’t miss one of the many hikes in the area during your stay!
Where to stay: Vangsgaarden Gjestgiveri
Now for the most important part of the guide (in my opinion). When travelling outside the high season, accommodation becomes even more important than normal, considering it isn’t as busy as in the summer. Because of this, you are able to choose which place to stay is best for you, and not simply book whatever is available. My recommendation for where to stay in Aurland is one you’ll have guessed already; Vangsgaarden.
As you may know, I have grown up seeing guests enjoy their time at Vangsgaarden for years, through refurbishments, new interior and new rooms. This is one of the reasons I always recommend the hotel to anyone visiting Aurland, because I know guests always leave happy.
The rooms at Vangsgaarden have been refurbished, and so you can trust that you’ll be sleeping comfortably during your stay by the fjords. The rooms in the main building are spacious and equipped with tvs and lounge areas/seating groups. If you opt for one of the superior rooms, you will get an even bigger room with a view of the breathtaking fjord outside, so I definitely recommend it.
Alternatively, I recommend staying in one of their fisherman’s cabins, all located like pearls on a string as close to the fjord as you can get. Can you imagine waking up and looking out across the fjord to the majestic mountains on the other side? Well, you can at Vangsgaarden. Just look at the photo below (from their signature accommodation named “the View”, with good reason) and imagine waking up there?
Regardless of the room you choose, they have something for everyone at Vangsgaarden, with a restaurant to match. It is, in my opinion, the perfect place to stay to get that Scandinavian “hygge” feeling in the Autumn, and the friendly staff (and owners) will always greet you with a smile.
If you are visiting Norway in Autumn, make sure to wear the right sweater for it!
As you can imagine, this is the perfect place to wake up on an Autumn day, and a great base for your trip to the fjords. Make sure to read my full review of the hotel here, and to book it in advance if you can (even though it isn’t the high season, the hotel is still popular). The View, the cabins and the Superior rooms especially could book out, so head this way to book your stay before you go!
All photos are courtesy of Vangsgaarden.