Question: Where do cliffs higher than earth’s tallest tower rise above water deeper than three skyscrapers stacked on top of each other?
Answer: Norway’s Sognefjord.
Try as mankind might, it can’t make anything as impressive as Mother Nature. Case in point: in the 120 years since the first skyscraper rose, man has tried again and again to outdo himself by building the tallest structure. The current record-holder (the Burj Khalifa in Dubai) tops out at a whopping 2,722 feet—a full 500 feet shorter than the highest cliffs of Norway’s Sognefjord.
Sognefjord is Norway’s biggest and best known. It earns that distinction not just because it soars to such heights but because it plunges even further—a deep dive of 4,291 feet (think three Empire State Buildings stacked atop each other). The superlatives keep going: at 127 miles long—the length of the state of New Jersey—it’s the longest in Norway, as well as the second longest on earth. Depending on where you cross it, the width can be up to 2.8 miles, so looking from shore to shore would be like looking across the entire width of Manhattan. With its massive scale and gorgeous good looks, it’s a natural treasure that no man-made wonder will ever outshine.
Sognefjord isn’t Norway’s only memorable fjord. Here are some of our favorites:
5 Favorite Fjords
- Smaller than Sogneford, the adjacent Nærøyfjord makes up for its size with its beauty; because it’s only 980-feet wide at some points, the unspoiled landscape seemingly envelops those who are boating through. The plunging coastline on either side makes for dramatic viewing and was said to inspire the land of Arandelle in Disney’s Frozen. It certainly inspired UNESCO, which named the fjord a World Heritage Site.
- Vestfjord doesn’t look like the way most Americans think a fjord should look. More truly a Norwegian sea, Vestfjord reflects its Arctic Circle setting by playing host to strong winds and heavy seas during the winter months. All year round, it’s known for sea life: in winter months, it’s a playground for orcas, and the rest of the year, it’s a cod haven. Cod fishermen here uphold an unbroken tradition stretching back all the way to the medieval era.
- Trondheimsfjord has competing claims to fame. In 1888, a mudslide triggered a tsunami that washed over Trondheim, demolishing three railway lines and killing one resident. It was the first of a series of fjord-based tsunamis which together inspired Bølgen (The Wave), Norway’s highest-grossing film last year. A more appealing aspect of the fjord’s history is the comparatively recent presence of giant squid (which have bodies roughly 16 feet in length with a full reach of up to 30-feet). Of only 600 ever documented anywhere on earth over the course of the last 300 years, four were found right in this fjord in just the past 50 years.
- Popular with Vikings, the rugged three-prong fjord Romsdalsfjorden was the fictional birthplace of the hero in Jack London’s Sea Wolf. While Molde is the biggest town on its shores, its heart is Veøya, a quiet island at the center of the fjord’s three branches. A market town during sailing season in the Viking era, Veøya boasted 500 residents in the Middle Ages. The island is still home to the Old Church that opened in A.D. 1200 As such a historic site, Veøya became the first legally protected land in the nation.
- Norse mythology tells the tales of how Saint Olav had to hide from his enemy in a fjord called Dramn (Hazy Waters). While the story might be a myth, the setting is not. Drammensfjorden, fed by the Drammenselva River, comes by its cloudy name fairly. The combination of ocean flows intersecting with the influx of freshwater from the river yields brackish water with multiple levels. Near the surface, the water is swimmable, relatively free of sea life, and most akin to a river or pond. But dive down and the salt concentration rises dramatically, as does the population of cod, flounder, and mackerel. And there’s even a third personality: coral reefs have been found around 60 feet down—a surprise discovery one might not expect within an hour of Oslo.
When you enjoy Grand Circle’s Norwegian Coastal Voyage & Lapland trip, fjords are just part of the stunning landscape you’ll uncover.