How is the water of the Sognefjord

Everything you should know about the Norwegian fjords

In the land of the Vikings

The word “fjord” comes from Old Norse and means “a place that is used for translating and crossing.” This is also logical, because when people originally settled in Norway after the last Ice Age, travel was on that Water is the only way to get from place to place. There are relics from the Bronze and Viking Ages around many fjords.

The fjords along the west coast of Norway were largely ice-free due to the warm water that flowed into the fjords from the Gulf Stream. This made it possible to drive on it all year round. The mild climate also made agriculture possible, there were abundant fish stocks along the coast and excellent opportunities to move goods to and from settlements in the fjords and along the Norwegian coast. The hunting opportunities were also good with elk and game in the forests and with reindeer in the mountains.

So it's probably not surprising that the Vikings liked the western fjords so much. Nor did you have to travel very far when it was time to embark on another Viking voyage of discovery.

Relics of the Vikings

The Viking Age lasted from 800 to 1066. In this relatively short time, the Vikings managed to leave their mark not only in Norwegian culture, but also in Europe. They are probably best known for wars and looting, as featured in the television series "The Vikings," but the Vikings were also engaged in trading.

Thanks to their highly efficient ships and a large dose of courage, not to mention their adventurous spirit, the Vikings actually made it to Byzantium (today's Istanbul in Turkey) and traded with the Caliphate of Baghdad.

Many of them also settled in France, Scotland and Ireland. Others emigrated to Iceland, and Leiv Eiriksson founded a settlement on a previously unknown continent when he discovered America around the year 1000.

The Vikings brought not only riches and slaves to Norway, but also Christianity. After Norway's conversion to Christianity, which began around the year 1000, a number of beautiful and intricately constructed wooden stave churches were built. Some of them still stand, and three stave churches are along the Sognefjord: Urnes, Kaupanger and Hopperstad.

The most famous of these is Urnes Stave Church, located on Ornes Farm on the banks of the Lustrafjord.

Travel back in time to the time of the Vikings

Evidence of trade and settlements can be found along the fjords. Place names such as Kaupanger, Solvorn and Gudvangen, which come from the Old Norse language, show that the Vikings had their roots here.

If you want to experience what life was like as a Viking for a few hours, a whole day or even longer, this is your chance. Viking festivals, Viking days and Viking markets take place in many towns and villages across Norway.

In Njardarheimr in Gudvangen, deep in the Nærøyfjord, you will find a Viking village where you can experience for yourself what Viking life was like.

Here you can read more about the Viking village in Gudvangen and how to get there.