As I’m sure you know by now, I grew up in beautiful Aurland, Norway. Located in the western fjords, at the end of the famous Sognefjord, the village is only a short drive from Flåm. Flåm is a very popular destination for travellers to Norway, and so Aurland is naturally becoming quite well-known too. A lot of travellers to the area come to see the fjords, travel on the Flåm Railway, and explore the Stegastein Viewpoint. The Aurland fjord is an arm of the Sognefjord, and you’ll find several picturesque villages along it, Flåm and Aurland included. If you are visiting Flåm, and have an extra day to spare, I strongly recommend heading to Aurland to explore some of the experiences there. Or, if you want to visit the fjords, but stay a little further from busy Flåm, Aurland is just a 10-minute drive away!
In this post, I want to share some of my favourite activities and experiences in Aurland, Norway. All of them are a part of the SAKTE Alliance, which is a collection of local businesses and experiences along the fjords, all operating sustainably. The word “Sakte” is Norwegian and means Slow, and their values are rooted in the slow food philosophy, the UNESCO Heritage Listed area they are located in, and the idea of promoting and running a sustainable tourism industry. Together with Nærøyfjorden World Heritage Park, the foundation that coordinates activities and goals for the World Heritage area, I was invited to visit some of the SAKTE businesses and share my experience!
If you are planning a visit to the fjords, I recommend that you visit the businesses in this guide. You’ll be able to have unique experiences by the fjords, and will leave the area knowing that you have supported a sustainable business! There’s also a boutique hotel on the list, for anyone looking for accommodation in Aurland. All the businesses help and support each other, and contribute to a positive and interlinked experience by the fjords. So without any further ado, here is my guide to fun and sustainable activities in Aurland, Norway!
6 unique & sustainable experiences in Aurland, Norway
All 6 businesses listed below can be found in the centre of Aurland (just a 10-minute drive or short boat ride from Flåm), or within a short distance of the centre. Together, they make for a perfect day by the fjords, and you’ll have more than enough time to visit them all in a day.
One thing that should definitely be on your list when visiting Aurland is a trip to the Stegastein viewing platform (for some epic fjord views)!
I have written and published a complete eBook/travel guide to Aurland, Flåm and the surrounding area! Find it here!
#1 The Aurland Shoe Factory & Museum
Did you know that the original penny loafer originated in my village? Probably not, but it’s true!
The Aurland shoe, also called Aurlandsskoen in Norwegian, has been made by the fjords for over 100 years. British salmon fishers visiting the area liked the look of the shoe, and so its journey started. Soon, the Aurland shoe was found all over the world, and new versions were being made and copied. They even say James Dean and Michael Jackson had a pair!
I’m sure you’ve heard the nickname “weejuns” for loafers? Well, it derived from the shoe’s nickname as “Norwegians”, and so perhaps it makes more sense to you now.
In the center of Aurland, right by the fjord, you’ll find the last remaining factory making the shoes. There used to be several in the village, but the one that is left is now the only working shoe factory in Norway. During your trip to Aurland you can visit the factory and see how the shoes are made, and take them home at outlet prices!
The company, named Aurlands, now make more than shoes, and you can find stylish belts, bags, purses and other leather products amongst their selections. You can visit their website here, and I hope you find the time to visit them in Aurland, Norway, where they originated!
#2 Merete Rein Glassblowing Studio
A few years ago, back in 2012, a local woman opened a glass blowing hut in the centre of Aurland village. She spent hours and hours honing her work, educating herself and travelling to Sweden to get certified, and followed her passion to open her “Glasshytte”, meaning Glass Hut.
Merete creates stunning artworks made of glass, as well as practical art such as vases. Businesses in the area have started taking in some of her unique products, and her glass art can even be found at a gallery in Venice, Italy! As you can see from the fish below, she uses beautiful colours and has an incredible eye for detail.
Her opening hours are found on her website, but she is open most days except Sundays in the high season. A visit to Merete Rein Glass is highly recommended during your trip to Aurland, Norway, and you will likely leave with a few unique pieces to decorate your home with. We have 2 of the fish at home ourselves!
Head this way to see a gallery of some of her amazing art, and make sure to leave some room in your suitcase!
#3 Gardsbutikken: The Farm Shop
Did you know that Aurland, Norway is home to the only organic agricultural school in the country? Students come from all over Norway (and some from abroad) to learn the tricks of this sustainable trade, and on property you can find Gardsbutikken, meaning “The Farm Shop”.
This is a very popular shop amongst locals, and visitors to the area are of course more than welcome too. They sell beautiful flowers and plants they have grown themselves, but also fresh vegetables from the school, herbs and other local products. One example is cheese from Skjerdal Stølsysteri (read more about it below).
If you are visiting the area, you’ll find the shop just a short walk from the centre of Aurland; Aurlandsvangen. For anyone camping or travelling on a budget, it’s especially perfect, as they offer all of their goods container-free. This way, you can bring your own bags or containers (they also offer them if needed), and buy just what you need for your trip (or just that one meal). This makes them very environment-friendly and is one of the reasons why they are on this list of sustainable activities near Flåm.
On their website here you can find information about their opening hours. They, too, are open every day except Sunday.
#4 Marianne Bakeri
When you are visiting the area, you’ll notice that all the locals are flocking together to meet in the same place for lunch; Marianne Bakeri. The local bakery and café is a staple on Aurlandsvangen (aka the centre of the village), and is the first thing you’ll notice when driving to Aurland from Flåm.
Here, Marianne bakes bread and pastries fresh every day, using local products (often from the Farm shop mentioned above!). Her filled focaccia (pictured) is to die for, and her iced coffee is a favourite of many. Whether you are stopping by for a snack, or want a proper meal, you’ll find it at Marianne’s. And you can trust that you are supporting a great local business.
Every day there is a different soup prepared, and all I can say is that if the tomato soup is available, go for it. This is a great place to grab lunch before continuing on your fjord adventures! Another thing worth mentioning is that Marianne actually sells other local products in the café, so if you want to take something home you have loads of options.
If you like the Marianne Bakeri Facebook page you’ll be able to stay up to date with any news, changes or opening hours.
#5 Skjerdal Stølsysteri & Kafe
Another incredible and unique adventure to have along the fjords is to visit Skjerdal Stølsysteri. A “Støl” is usually the farm where farmers will bring their animals for the summer season, and they are usually located quite high up in the mountains. But the støl at Skjerdal Stølsysteri and Kafe is quite accessible with just a 30-minute hike. In the photo on the right below you can see the farm itself in the middle of the photo, seemingly at the base of the mountain.
In the photo on the left, you can see the goats on their way back home from grassing by the fjord. And that should give you a pretty good idea of what awaits you at Skjerdal Stølsysteri!
At Leim, they make cheese from goat’s milk, and after the short hike to the farm you’ll be able to sit down, enjoy the stunning views of the Aurlandsfjord, and have a waffle with goat’s cheese. This experience is only available from the 1st of July to the 30th of August, which makes it truly unique! If you are a group of more than 5, it is recommended to let them know using the contact form on the website. Do tell them you heard about them on Lisa’s blog!
Alternatively, you can join a guided tour starting with a FjordSafari adventure on a RIB boat, ending with a visit to Skjerdal Stølsysteri and the fun goats. Get more information and book this here!
#6 292 Aurland
Now that we’ve got all the activities in Aurland and along the Aurlandsfjord sorted, it’s time to figure out where to stay. There is a hotel in Aurland that is truly special, with only 10 rooms, each uniquely decorated. This luxury boutique hotel will take your breath away with its surroundings, and make you never want to leave with its hospitality (and jacuzzi).
As mentioned, each room is decorated individually, and every single one is as unique as the next. With details such as sari fabrics in the curtains, what can you expect?
You can get a preview of each room on their website here, and see the unique names such as the Sherpa Room and the Grandma Suite (pictured below on the right).
If it’s important to you that your Aurland hotel is sustainable, look no further. 292 Aurland take great pride in using local products in every way they can, and you’ll quickly find that they serve fresh bread from Marianne Bakeri at breakfast (bought fresh every day), buy their flowers from the Farm Shop (as well as their vegetables), and that they serve local cheese with the bread. This is part of what makes 292 Aurland, and the SAKTE Alliance, so amazing.
Another way they help the environment is to require 2 night stays at a minimum. This is not only great because it lowers the amount of water and products used to clean the room, but it also encourages sustainability as people travel slower. And slow travel is what they are all about. By spending some extra time you lower your shoulders, and the impact you have on your surroundings.
Naturally, with only 10 rooms, 292 Aurland is very busy, so make sure to book in advance by contacting them.
So there you have some of the most unique and sustainable experiences in Aurland, Norway. As you know, I love sharing tips and guides to the area where I grew up, and I had a lot of fun writing this post! A huge thank you to Nærøyfjorden World Heritage Park and the Sakte Alliance for inviting me to visit all the businesses. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below, and I hope you have fun planning your trip to Norway!