Norway's Fjord Majesty
The March 2004 edition of National Geographic Traveler rated 115 travel destinations worldwide. In Europe, the Norwegian Fjords won the highest scoring. Scoring was based on how development pressures, environmental problems, civil strife, cultural erosion, and mass tourism have challenged the integrity of the world's great destinations.
These photos from recent Rick Steves adventures highlight the many delights of Norway's fjords. Whether you're hopping on a tour bus or armed with a guidebook to enjoy this are of the world on your own, it's our hope that a trip of a lifetime awaits you in 2004.
Many travelers find the natural wonders of Norway's fjord country a high point of their entire trip. Staggering fjords slice deep into the mountainous west coast of Norway.
Winding the small roads of Norway's west coast, you'll come upon breathtaking vistas like this — of Aurlandsfjord above Flam.
While the terrain is extremely rugged, trains, buses, and ferries are synchronized. If a remote town is serviced by two trains and two boats every day, you can bet they are scheduled to meet conveniently.
Missing a ferry crossing can mess up your travel day. Call ahead to make reservations for even the smallest fjord crossings. Phone reservations are free and easy.
The most scenic of all fjord rides takes you up the Sognefjord.
Tourists (wishing they packed bibs to catch the drools) scurry across the top decks, marveling at the scenic wonder of Norway.
Unredal, a tiny community only recently accessible by car, was long (and happily) stranded on a fjord near Aurland and Flam. The town boasts Norway's best goat cheese and smallest church.
Fjord life revolves around the ferries. Here, two boats connect briefly mid-fjord to trade bags of mail as they make their daily deliveries.
Tiny farmsteads stranded on remote bits of arable fjord-side land get ferry service only on request. If people or mail needs to be picked up, they raise a flag and the ferry stops.
Perched high above the fjords, farms (nicknamed ladder farms) enjoy just enough good land.
Even massive cruise ships are dwarfed by the towering mountains that add drama to the peaceful fjords.
Sonja Groset, one of our many fine ETBD tour guides, keeps our tour groups thrilled with Norway.
Our tour buses know just where to stop to give the group a fun, scenic chance to get out and smell the trolls.
Fjord country allows a Norwegian (Rick) to introduce the wonders of his family's "old country" to his Irish wife (Anne).