Hellesylt, Norway: A Whimsical Fairytale.

Per usual, my outfit choices during this time period were… embarrassing. 🤦🏻‍♀️ But also 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. 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 the Stranda Municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, it sits at the head of the 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!

Because, really, it was breathtakingly gorgeous, and I couldn’t believe that people get to live here year-round. Hellesylt looks straight from a fairytale, complete with princes and princesses, singing birds, talking deer, and evil stepmothers. Even Disney couldn’t have crafted a more perfect fantastical setting. There was even a small bridge that looked like it was from a Hollywood movie set. Sitting in the Geirangerfjorden, it’s completely encased in mountains, which obviously adds tremendously to the magical, 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.


Hellesyltfossen

We entered a couple of shops (one with a whole stuffed reindeer outside of it), before making our way over to the base of Hellesyltfossen or the “Hellesylt waterfall”. It was another small, but impressive, waterfall that runs right through the center of the village. Its impossible to miss or ignore, as the village appears to center and spread around it.

After visiting the base, we decided to hike to the top, using a paved but steep path right next to it. It wasn’t necessarily a “walk in the park”, 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 waterfall is between two, centuries old bridges, which is cool on its own. The bottom bridge is Hellesylt Bridge (built in 1902) and which looks like it’s from a fairytale, and the upper bridge is Høge Bridge (built in 1907). Quit the powerful waterfall, it sits 65.5 feet (20m) high and is fed by melted snow and ice from two rivers: Langedalselva and Tverela.


Sunnylven

Church

We continued, eventually finding ourselves at Sunnylven Church. The earliest records of a church in Hellesylt dates to 1432, which was probably a wooden stave church (a medieval wooden Christian church building), 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 being built in 1858 and consecrated the following year, in 1859. The present-day Sunnylven Church is 162 years old. Its denomination is the Church of Norway, it can hold 400 people, and is 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 and out front, gazing at century-old graves. 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. Somewhere in Hellesylt, Norway is a book with our names in it!


Overall, if I ever get the chance to revisit Norway, you best believe that this quaint and charming fairytale village is one of the places I will return to and hopefully stay for a 2 to 3 days. Norway is a wonderful and fantastic country, and Hellesylt is no exception. It’s charming, gorgeous, and a nature-lover’s dream destination. It is still surreal to me, especially when I look back at the pictures, that people get to call this place home. Oh, and they also have camping!

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