One of the most beautiful little villages I’ve ever seen, Geiranger is extremely small, with only around 200 to 250 residents calling it home year-round. And yet… it’s the 3rd most popular cruise ship port in the entire country of Norway, generally coming in behind Ålesund and Bergen. It’s located in the Sunnmøre region of Møre og Romsdal county, at the end of the picturesque Geirangerfjorden, considered by many to be the “most beautiful fjord in the world”. This fjord, of course, is home to the famous Seven Sisters Waterfall (Norwegian Fjords: Beautiful, Magical, Breathtaking.), which you will pass coming to and from Geiranger. Named “the best travel destination in Scandinavia” by the major Australian travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet, Geiranger is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.
It’s safe to say that tourism is by far Geiranger’s biggest industry. Around 140 to 180 cruise ships would visit during the four-month peak tourist season, although I’m positive that Covid must have had an impact on that. Pre-Covid, it was not uncommon for this small town of 200ish people to see 800,000 to 1 million visitors between May and September. So, if you want a sparser population of tourists during your visit, I’d highly recommend not coming between these months. Although, you may have to deal with some snow.
As mentioned, it sits at the very end of Geirangerfjorden, very isolated, and nestled deep into the mountains. The closest major city is Ålesund, which is approximately 2.5 hours away. From Oslo or Bergen it can take 8 to 9 hours, depending on the route you take. From Trondheim it’s 7 to 7.5 hours. These times are all approximate times by car. Also, if you come by car, you will have to cross on a ferry or two.
If car isn’t your jam, there are other ways to make it to Geiranger, either by bus, train, or boat. The bus runs daily and after a bunch of stops, you will arrive in Geiranger. If you travel by train, the closest railway station is in Åndalsnes, about 2 hours away. From there, you will have to hop on a bus to Geiranger. However, these buses only run during the summer months (June to August). If you want to come by boat, you can during the summer months (June 1st to August 31st), as the boat will only reach Ålesund during the rest of the year. You would then need to catch a bus to Geiranger.
We disembarked from the shuttle boats and began the walk into town. We first came upon several troll statues, before eventually finding ourselves inside an impressively large souvenir shop, which as expected, looked like a shrine to trolls. While Geiranger is small, it’s still a fully functioning town, complete with a school for grades K-10th, a nursing home, grocery store, bakery, brewery, chocolate factory and a large church that was built in 1842.
After browsing through the souvenir shop a.k.a. troll shrine, we leisurely strolled through the village, eventually finding ourselves at a waterfall near the base of a long stream that emptied out into the fjord. Called Fossevandring Geiranger in Norwegian, it translates to “Waterfall Geiranger” in English. There are thousands of waterfalls in Norway and luckily this place was no exception. We were able to enjoy the peacefulness of this rushing, deadly stream of water completely uninterrupted. It was beautiful, tranquil, and serene, while also powerful and, kind of, scary. There are trails that take you to the top of this waterfall, which offers a nice view of the fjord. It’s takes approximately one hour to complete, and while not that high up, it does offer a lovely viewpoint, nonetheless.
Sadly, due to Geiranger’s isolation and small size, there is not much to do here that isn’t nature related. Hiking, kayaking, boating, and camping are the main activities in the village and surrounding areas of the fjord. There is the Geiranger Church and Norsk Fjordsenter, which is a World Heritage center, complete with a historical exhibition, café, and souvenir shop.
Overall, I am so happy to have visited this wonderful, charming, beautiful, and serene little village in Norway. It’s a journey to get to, especially by car, but it’s well worth it. As mentioned, unlike the big cities of Bergen and Oslo, there is little to do here that doesn’t involve nature and particularly hiking or boating, but for nature lovers, it’s paradise. Norway as a country is firmly on my “revisit list”, and you best believe Geiranger will be on the itinerary!