Off the beaten track, discover a national treasure far from the rush of mass tourism.
The Norwegian fjords are world famous. And Hjørundfjord is perhaps the most idyllic and beautiful of them all. This 35-kilometre long fjord is an arm of the larger Storfjord, just south of the city Ålesund. It has a wide mouth but the further in you go, the narrower it gets. And it is deep. On the eastern side the mountains plunge straight into the fjord and, although there is not much space for settlements here, a few tiny farms cling to the steep terrain.
The mountains to the west also slope steeply, and here you'll find small villages connected by dramatic mountain roads. If you find yourself in the Hjørundfjord, raise your eyes to the stunning Sunnmøre Alps, one of Norway's most famous mountain areas, and be completely enveloped by sea and mountains.
Even though the highly popular and visited mountains here are regarded as a national treasure, the fjord is something of a secret, left out of all other tourist routes.
This means you can travel past steep rock walls, green meadows, and isolated mountain farms, all offering a window into the past. You get an up-close view of small communities that have rebuilt themselves over and over again, after avalanches and landslides. All of this at your own pace, far from the rush of mass tourism.
Famous visitors and wild valleys
The pointed, jagged peaks have names reminiscent of European climbing history: Saksa. Kolåstind. Kvitegga. Slogen. They are so-called nunataks, meaning they are so high that they rose through the ice during the last ice age.
Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany visited this fjord and the famous Hotel Union Øye in the late 1800s. So did King Oscar II and Queen Willemina of Holland and many others from the European aristocracy. They were searching for a scenic and exciting destination, and that is exactly what they found in Hjørundfjord.
And then there were the climbers and hikers, those who came here to experience the alpine landscape. The most famous of them all was the British mountaineer Charles W. Patchell, who was an annual guest at the Hotel Union Øye from 1923 to 1939. He was the first person to climb 15 of the routes around Hjørundfjorden. He even had a cabin built at the foot of the mountain Slogen, which today goes by the name "Patchellhytta" (the Patchell hut).
Travel with Hurtigruten in autumn
Not many cruise ships sail into the majestic Hjørundfjord, but Hurtigruten sails here every year from September 1st to October 30th.
Now it is your turn. You can stand on deck of a Hurtigruten ship and just feast your senses on the breathtaking scenery the lush hillsides, the snowy peaks, the green-blue sea. And you may wonder: How deep is the water under me? How high are the mountains above me? Why did nature turn out like this, right here?
Join the excursions
Today, Hotel Union Øye is part of “De Historiske” – historic hotels & restaurants – a unique membership organization containing many of Norway’s most charming hotels and restaurants. Here history forms the setting for the guests' own overnight stay and gastronomic experience. Union Hotel is one of the stops on Hurtigruten’s "A Taste of Norway" excursion.