Ålesund: picturesque entrance to the Geirangerfjord

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It’s like something out of a Nordic fairytale: The cosy town of Ålesund (often spelt Alesund in non-Scandinavian languages) is located at the entrance to the Geirangerfjord in the Norwegian region of Sunnmøre. The harbour town is known for its picturesque Art Nouveau style and its unique surroundings of fjord, mountains and islands, making it a particularly popular travel destination. Here you will find everything you need to know about travelling to Ålesund.

Ålesund in Norway: what does the city have to offer?

Art Nouveau architecture

Ålesund city stroll
Stroll through the beautiful alleyways of Ålesund

Where the fjord and mountains meet, lies Ålesund with its charming Art Nouveau houses. The urban area is divided into several islands. This unique combination of spectacular nature and unique architecture makes Ålesund the most beautiful city in Norway. Around 45 thousand people live here. Paradoxically, the town owes its current appearance to a devastating fire in 1904, which destroyed almost all the houses. These were almost all made of wood.

When Ålesund was rebuilt, a decision was made in favour of the prevailing “Art Noveau” or Art Nouveau style. Buildings were only allowed to be constructed from stone and almost the entire town was rebuilt in just seven years. You can find out more about this at the Art Nouveau Centre in Ålesund.

Art Nouveau is characterised by, among other things, decorative curved lines and large floral ornaments. It is an art historical epoch at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Ålesund harbour

Ålesund mountain panorama
Mountain panorama in the harbour of Ålesund

To this day, Ålesund is a harbour town whose most important industries are fishing and shipbuilding. The “Holmbua”, a restored warehouse, now houses the fishing museum, which explains everything about the fishing history of the region.

Nearby is the picturesque harbour of Ålesund, lined with colourful houses and dotted with sailing boats and small yachts. From the fishing harbour outside the town, klippfish (dried, salted cod) and stockfish are exported all over the world.

The name “Ålesund” first appeared in the context of Snorri Sturluson’s royal sagas.

Nature: Geirangerfjord and Sunnmøre Alps

In addition to so much culture, Ålesund also has plenty of nature to offer. It is almost difficult to choose from the many possible activities: Hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, skiing. The latter is possible in the mountains between February and June. The largest ski area is located on Mount Stranda and has a cable car.

Fjellstua viewpoint on Aksla
The “Fjellstua” viewpoint on Aksla

For an (easy) hike, there is the city mountain Aksla, from where you can look out over the sea, islands and the Sunnmøre Alps. To get there, you have to climb around 418 steps from the city park. The Fjellstua viewpoint there has a viewing platform and a cafeteria. Those looking for more adventure should head for the mountains a little further out.

Or you can go on a sea safari, where you can observe puffins, sea eagles and seals at close quarters. Last but not least, Ålesund is the perfect starting point for many holidaymakers to discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site Geirangerfjord: numerous fjord expeditions depart from here.

Ålesund: journey

The route to Ålesund by car is either via Copenhagen or Oslo. If you choose the route via Oslo, you take the ferry from Hirtshals in Denmark to Larvik in Norway. Unfortunately, there is no ferry connection that docks directly in Ålesund harbour.

Ålesund Lufthavn Vigra airport is around 20 minutes from the city centre. There are good connections to other Norwegian cities, as well as to Amsterdam and Copenhagen. The quickest way to reach Ålesund from British airports is with a stopover in Oslo.


Ålesund holiday flat

You won’t find holiday flats and holiday homes directly in Ålesund, but there are many in the Møre og Romsdal region. This includes the coastal towns of Ålesund, Molde and Kristiansund as well as numerous smaller towns by the sea.

If you choose a holiday home in the middle of the Norwegian countryside, we recommend either travelling with your own car or booking a hire car so that you can visit the cosy towns in the region flexibly.

Ålesund Camping

Camping is similar: in the More and Romsdal region there are numerous campsites in smaller towns, some of them right by the fjord. The nearest campsite from Ålesund is in Stordal (approx. 1 hour’s drive from Ålesund). In the town itself, however, you can use motorhome pitches – handy if you are travelling through and want to spend a day in Ålesund.

Ålesund Hotels

If you are looking for central accommodation in Ålesund, a hotel room is a good choice. Two particular highlights right in the city centre are Hotel Brosundet and Hotel 1904, both of which combine the traditional charm of Art Nouveau with modern interior design and cosy Nordic flair.

Those looking for something for a smaller budget will also find hostels or privately rented flats.

Cruise via Ålesund

cruise terminal in Ålesund
An AIDA ship anchors at Stornespiren, the cruise terminal in Ålesund.

Due to its location, Ålesund is visited by numerous cruise ships. The town is also a stopover for the Hurtigruten post ships on their way along the Norwegian coast up to the North Cape. They call at Ålesund both in summer and winter. You can usually spend a day in the town and, depending on your personal interests, take part in a guided tour of the town, go on a hike or book a guided kayak tour.

NCL, the Norwegian Cruise Line, also offers various cruises that take you to Ålesund (not to be confused with the container ship NCL Alesund).

Weather in Ålesund

Beautiful Ålesund has its highlights in both summer and winter. In winter it is relatively cold, but therefore perfect for winter sports. However, you should be aware that the sun sets quite early.

The highest temperatures are measured between June and September, but these are quite moderate due to the maritime climate. There is also the least rainfall during this time.

Even more Ålesund

It is no coincidence that many items of clothing are labelled with the model name Alesund, e.g. rucksacks, jackets and shoes. The Nordic beauty of the city dwells as an inspiration for designers.

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