Per usual, my outfit choices during this time period were quite embarrassing. But, also super comfortable! 💁🏻♀️
Of the four Norwegian cities/villages we visited, Hellesylt was hands down my favorite 🙌🏼. With a population of 258 as of 2018, it’s only slightly larger than Geiranger (Geiranger, Norway: Trolls and Mountains.). However, there are around 590 people, total, when you count the residents living in the surrounding nearby mountain areas. Even though it’s tiny, I really enjoyed the way this little village was set up, and we had much more time to wander about. If you have more time here, you can do things like hiking or rent a kayak and glide through the fjords.
Located in Møre og Romsdal County, it sits at the head of Sunnylvsfjorden, which is a branch of Storfjorden. The more famous Geirangerfjorden is also in Storfjorden and branches off nearby. An unfortunate thing: Hellesylt is under constant threat from the nearby mountain Åkerneset, which is slowly eroding into Sunnylvsfjord. If a large break were to happen, it would cause a massive tsunami that would destroy most of downtown Hellesylt. Hopefully this never happens. 🤞🏼
Hellesylt was truly breathtakingly gorgeous, and I couldn’t believe that people get to live here year-round! The village looks straight out of a fairytale, complete with princes and princesses, singing birds, talking deer, and evil stepmothers. However, even Disney couldn’t have crafted a more perfect magical looking setting. There was a small bridge that looked like it came from a Hollywood movie set, a waterfall, and cottages sprinkled throughout. Sitting deep within the Geirangerfjorden, it’s completely surrounded by mountains, which adds tremendously to the whimsical, fairytale vibe.
Fun note: For fans of the t.v. show Vikings, the fictional city of Kattegat uses Hellesylt as a backdrop. Although the series was shot in Iceland, they digitally inserted Hellesylt into the background.
After entering a couple of shops, we made our way over to the base of Hellesyltfossen or the “Hellesylt waterfall”. It was a small(ish), but impressive waterfall that runs straight through the center of the village. It sits 65.5 feet (20m) high and is fed by melted snow and ice from two rivers: Langedalselva and Tverela. The waterfall runs between two centuries old bridges: the bottom bridge is the above-mentioned fairytale bridge called Hellesylt Bridge (built in 1902), and the upper bridge is Høge Bridge (built in 1907). It’s much less fairytale-like.
After visiting the base, we hiked to the top using a paved but steep path that was right next to it. It’s rather steep, but I easily did it in flip-flops. I strongly suggest it, as it offers a terrific view of the village of Hellesylt, plus a great view of the Sunnylvsfjorden as a whole. It also brings you to the top where Sunnylven Church is.
The earliest records of a church in Hellesylt dates to 1432, which was probably a wooden stave church, around .6 miles from the present-day site of Sunnylven Church. After a large avalanche in 1727 destroyed the original church, the residents decided to rebuild it at its present-day location. This new church was consecrated in 1730. That church was eventually tore down around 1858, with the newest and final version built in 1858, making the present-day Sunnylven Church 162 years old. Its denomination is the Church of Norway, it can hold 400 people, and it’s made entirely of wood.
We were able to enter the church for free and marvel at the 162-year-old architecture. I found it to be rather small and was perplexed at how 400 people could comfortably fit inside of it. We were also able to wander about the small cemetery that is attached out front. Inside, there was a book at the entrance with hundreds of pages of names and countries from past visitors and naturally we left our mark in it. So, somewhere in Hellesylt, Norway is a book with our names in it!
Overall, if you ever get the chance to visit this charming little Norwegian village, I strongly suggest it. I know if I ever get the chance, you best believe that I will return and hopefully stay 2 to 3 days. Norway as a whole is a wonderful and beautiful country, and Hellesylt is no exception to the rule. It’s charming, surreal, and a nature-lover’s dream destination. It still amazes me that people get to call it home. 🙌🏼