Sitting across a small stretch of islands along the coastline of the Møre og Romsdal county in Western Norway, Ålesund is a unique coastal town. It’s delicately styled art nouveau buildings contrast perfectly with the wild and rugged Norwegian coast that it perches upon.
The town is narrow, so you’ll have views out into the fjords from almost every street you wander through. Ålesund is often considered a gateway to the fjords, with great ferry and road links that wind between valleys, through mountains and along incredibly impressive fjord landscapes.
CURRENCY | Norwegian Krone
TIME NEEDED | 1-3 days (depending how many local hikes you’d like to do, as Ålesund itself is quite small)
SEASONS & WEATHER | Cold in winter (expect ice/snow), mild in spring and autumn, warm in summer. Rain and clouds can be common! Visit anytime, but summer should guarantee better weather.
LANGUAGES | Norwegian, but English is widely spoken
HOW TO SAY HELLO | Hallo
HOW TO SAY THANK YOU | Takk
TRANSPORT | Walking, bus (Fram or Nettbuss)
NEAREST AIRPORT | Ålesund Airport (AES)
NEAREST BUS STATION | Ålesund rutebilstasjon (next to the ferry/cruise terminal)
You’re likely to encounter cruise ships often in Norway, from here in Ålesund, to Bergen and Geiranger. The water within the fjords is deep, making so much of the Western coastline of Norway easily accessible by boat, and not so much by land.
THINGS TO VISIT, PLACES TO SEE
Admire the Art Nouveau buildings | The muted, pastel colours of the buildings in the town centre are beautifully picturesque. Spend time wandering along the harbour and along the cobbled streets. It’s also possible to explore the harbour by hiring kayaks too which is great for offering up a different perspective!
The high number of art nouveau buildings came about after the city found itself needing to rebuild after a devastating fire. Young architects at the time were heavily influenced by the well established and popular art nouveau movement. To learn more about this period in Ålesund a visit to the Jugendstilsenteret og KUBE (The Art Nouveau Museum) is a great way to spend an hour or two.
Head to the famous Mount Aksla viewpoints | Ålesund, like the famous Lofoten islands, features beautiful Norwegian architecture scattered across small islands. There are a few viewpoints to view the town within the central city park, with Fjellstua home to a small cafe and Kniven being a bit more of a climb!
The viewpoints out across the the town are breathtaking. Even on a grey, rainy day, the spread of colourful art nouveau buildings across these sprawling islands really is a unique sight. Heading here for sunrise or sunset is highly recommended!
Learn About the Local History of Ålesund | The Sunnmøre Museum (a short bus journey from the centre) consists of open air and indoor exhibits which explore the cultural history of the Sunnmøre district of Norway. Ålesund Museum tells the story of events that have shaped the town today, from the great fire to the war, and as fishing is big business in town, the Fisheries Museum is a great way to explore the link Ålesund has to this industry.
Visit the local wildlife | From seals to adorable puffins, the coastline around Ålesund has plenty to offer. Observe the animals in their natural habitat and enjoy the experience of heading out to sea with a guided wildlife tour.
Ålesund Church & Storhaugen Park | A quaint stone church is located a couple of minutes away from a small city park. The park has a small stone viewpoint that boasts beautiful views across the rooftops of the city.
Get Hiking! | Ålesund is a perfect base for hiking, whether you’re after something short or a full day hike.
Short Hikes | The Tueneset and Sukkertoppen trails are located on Hessa (an island that forms part of Ålesund). Both trails give views out across the surrounding islands and ocean. Both are walkable from the town centre and can be completed in a few hours.
Long Hikes | For those wanting more dramatic scenery and more of a challenge, you can venture into the Sunnmøre Alps on a daytrip from Ålesund. It is possible to catch a ferry from Ålesund which stops at Trandal, Sæbø, Urke and Øye. Each has a selection of trails that offer incredible views across the fjord, however trail safety depends on your ability and the season. From Urke try Saksa and Urkeegga, and from the village of Sæbø there is a demanding but rewarding trail to the peak of Skårasalen.
Cruise to the Geirangerfjord | If your trip to Norway doesn’t schedule in a stop over in Geiranger, then a cruise from Ålesund is the perfect way to still experience these incredible fjords. (A full day round trip from Ålesund costs 1,225 NOK).
PLACES TO EAT IN ÅLESUND
For Coffees | Racoon Coffee AS (££-£££) great food options too! Draape Kaffehus (££) perfect to stop at after walking down from the viewpoint.
Walderhaug Bakery and Confectionery | ££ | A great option for breakfast, with plenty of pastries (look for the colourful Grovkake’s!) and good coffee too! (Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free friendly).
Evergreen | ££ | For a quick, ‘street food’ style option Evergreen serves up delicious European and Mexican inspired dishes.
Tante Bruun Café | ££ | A really cosy cafe that makes a great lunch option, with good vegan options!
Molo Brew AS | ££ | Located near to the bus station, Molo Brew is a restaurant come brewery, with a great selection of beers and burgers, they offer a great vegan option too.
XL Diner | ££££ | One of the top-rated restaurants in Ålesund, and the perfect place to try a seafood delicacy from the Northwest of Norway known as ‘Bacalao’ (dried and salted cod).
PLACES TO STAY IN ÅLESUND
BUDGET | £
Aalesund Hybel / Dorm | I previously stayed at the Ålesund Youth Hostel however it is now sadly closed. This hostel however provides a great budget option for those looking to keep costs down!
Volsdalen Camping | Small cosy cabins, with a kitchenette too so you can cook to keep costs down! The site is located a 35 minute walk from the centre however a bus comes by every 20 minutes (plus parking is available).
Airbnb | There are also some great and affordable options to browse on Airbnb too! Ålesund is on the pricey side, particularly for Norway, so most of the budget options will be private rooms instead of entire apartments or homes.
MID-RANGE | ££
Hotel Noreg | Minimalist but stylish rooms, the hotel is located right in the centre of town and close to the bus drop off points that arrive from the airport. The hotel also has a pool and a good breakfast provided!
First Hotel Atlantica | A lovely mid-range option with breakfast included. It’s located right in the heart of Ålesund and is even perched above a really nice coffee shop!
LUXURY/SPECIAL OCCASION | £££
Hotel 1904 | A beautiful hotel with a warm and stylish Scandinavian interior. Set along a cobbled street that leads straight down to the harbour, or up to the Aklsa viewpoints.