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Welcome to the West Norwegian Fjords

This World Heritage site features the longest, deepest, narrowest and most beautiful fjords on Earth.

Photo: A winter’s evening by the Tafjord by Vegard Lødøen Photo: View from Bakkenosi by Finn Loftesnes

The West Norwegian Fjords – a World Heritage site

The West Norwegian Fjords are among the most dramatic and spectacular landscapes in existence. The World Heritage site incorporates two separate areas: Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord. Both offer a wide range of scenic experiences.

Photo 1: Hiking to Kallskaret nature reserve by Merete Løvoll Rønneberg
Photo 2: Kayaking on the Nærøyfjord by Øyvind Heen

Experience the World Heritage of Geirangerfjord

The mighty fjord landscape of alpine mountains, wild waterfalls and picturesque villages have captivated visitors for more than 150 years. But your fondest memories may well be of the smaller things  – walking barefoot in a meadow, trying your luck with a fishing rod in a mountain lake, tasting the local raspberries, or climbing up to a mountain farm at the edge of the cliff?

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Photo 1: From Herdalssætra farmstead in Norddal by Kristoffer Nærø Ytterland
Photo 2: Skiing on Geitfonnegga summit by Martin Kristoffersen

Experience the World Heritage of Nærøyfjord

The Nærøyfjord area greets you with beautiful villages nestling between sheer mountainsides. People here know the value of their local history, and they invite visitors to join in with activities that appeal to all the senses: boating on the fjord, cheese tasting, picnicking at mountain farmsteads with no road access. This brings you closer to the qualities that merited the area’s World Heritage status.

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Photo 1: View of Undredal by Snædis Laufey Bjørnadottir
Photo 2: Scenic experiences for everyone by Gry Mørk

Sister Park Agreement with Glacier Bay

Unesco strives to strengthen collaboration between World Heritage sites. Partnership working provides better insight and appreciation of the diversity of natural and cultural heritage sites – and helps to preserve these values for future generations. In 2019, West Norwegian Fjords signed a sister park agreement with Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.

Photo 1: Steven Schaller
Photo 2: Merete Løvoll Rønneberg

The road to World Heritage status

Some buildings, monuments and areas have a value to humanity that makes them irreplaceable. The world community has a shared responsibility to look after these places so that future generations will also be able to experience and enjoy them. But how do sites come to be inscribed on the World Heritage List?

Photo 1: Blomberg, high above the Geirangerfjord  by Per Eide
Photo 2: Plateau near the Nærøyfjord by Finn Loftesnes

Who makes decisions about the World Heritage?

Who make decisions about the World Heritage? What are the obligations that come with World Heritage status, and who monitors them? In truth, the obligations fall to many people. Good management of the World Heritage requires good team work.

Photo 1: Wolverine by Nils Olav Talgøy
Photo 2: Encounter with the forces of nature by Gry Mørk

Safe access to the countryside

Western Norway is beautiful, but outdoor recreation comes with hazards. Plan ahead and choose a walk that suits your level of experience. Bring all the equipment you might need.

If you are with a group, choose your route to suit the person with the least experience. Remember that the weather can change at a moment’s notice. The difference in temperature is considerable between sheltered fjordside villages and alpine mountains.

If you enjoy skiing and want to experience the summits, you must be familiar with wintry conditions at high altitudes. Avalanches can transport rocks and debris much further down the hill than the snow. This can be dangerous even for those walking on slopes where the snow has cleared.

Be respectful of cultural remains and environs

Fjordside farms, seasonal farmsteads, stone walls and other traces of how people used to live are important cultural remains. Take no liberties, and show respect for reminders of the past. Leave things be. Show consideration and leave as little trace as possible. The next visitors will also want to enjoy their experience. Most cultural remains are privately owned, and we should be respectful visitors.

The right of access comes with obligations

Norway’s right of access to the countryside means we can enjoy the outdoors and harvest from the fruits of nature. This right is unique to Norway, but it comes with obligations: show consideration, never disturb animals or birds, and do not cause harm to vegetation, soils or landscape formations. Note the difference between cultivated and uncultivated land, and that some areas restrict access during the breeding and nesting season to protect wildlife. Permission must be sought for organised outings from the management council for the protected area.

The West Norwegian Fjords are Norway’s only World Heritage site inscribed on grounds of its natural qualities. These values are unique and must be preserved for future generations.

Help us look after the World Heritage

As a visitor to the World Heritage site you are a guest in a fragile natural environment. Here is a list of your rights and responsibilities under the right of access to the countryside.

You can roam freely around the countryside on uncultivated land, on foot and on skis. You can ride a bicycle or a horse, and go kayaking, rowing or sailing. It is your responsibility to tidy up after yourself and leave as little trace as possible. Much of the litter that people leave behind can cause great harm to grazing livestock and wildlife.

You can camp or picnic on uncultivated land, but only if you are at least 150 metres from a house or cottage. However, unless you are in an alpine area, you cannot camp on the same site for more than two consecutive nights without the landowner’s permission. If you want to pitch a tent or enjoy a picnic on cultivated land, you will need the landowner’s permission.

You can forage freely and pick berries and mushrooms, flowers, herbs and roots as long as you stay in outlying uncultivated fields and show due care and consideration at all times. Never pull up the root when you pick flowers. You can pick and eat wild nuts on site, but you cannot harvest them for later use.

You can fish for free in the fjord, from a boat or from land. You can only fish for your own consumption, and only by rod or reel. If you want to go fishing in rivers and lakes, you will need to buy a permit from the local landowner. Nonetheless, children under 16 years of age can fish for free between 1 January and 20 August unless they are fishing for salmon, trout or Arctic char.

You can light a campfire, but there is a general ban on lighting fires in outlying uncultivated fields between 15 April and 15 September. Nevertheless, common sense prevails: if you are skiing, or if there has been heavy rain, or if you are near water in a place where the fire risk is clearly minimal, you can still light a fire. You must satisfy yourself that it is safe to light a fire, and never leave the site until you are confident that you have completely extinguished the fire and tidied up after yourself.

Dogs are welcome, but must be kept on a lead at all times between 1 April and 31 October – to protect grazing livestock. Dogs must be kept under control at all times and must never be allowed to disturb birds, wildlife or livestock.

Close all gates behind you. Gates are important for keeping livestock in the right place. If gates are left open, livestock can enter cultivated fields and wreak havoc, or they can venture into areas where they may come to harm.