World travelers are flocking to the Scandinavian country of Norway for unique getaways in remote locations amid breathtaking natural beauty.
One of the best-kept secrets in Western Norway is the village of Solvorn located about 327 km northwest of Oslo. Here you’ll find the Sognefjord, Europe’s longest fjord that spans the countryside to meet Jotunheimen and the Jostedalsbreen Glacier.
A winter journey to the Solvorn area will let you take advantage of long nights in cozy cabins, dark starry skies, and maybe a glimpse of the northern lights. And you can head westward for winter sports a couple of hours away.
Or if the thought of a trip to Norway in winter gives you the shivers, you can experience the verdant landscape and water adventures on the Lusterfjord on long summer days. Norwegians are masters at outdoor adventures and take advantage of Allemannsretten, a law that gives them the right to roam over uncultivated land. You’ll also find charming countryside stops and one of the oldest stave churches in northwestern Europe.
Here is our suggested list of things to do in Solvorn, Norway.
Strolling through the streets of the village is a simple and relaxing way to experience Slovorn. The wooden houses are colorfully painted and give you a glimpse into the local life of a Norwegian village and its history. Its location on the western shore of the scenic Lustrafjord, the innermost part of the lengthy Sognefjorden provides a stunning backdrop and dramatic peaks loom in the distance.
The village has a long history as a trade center and bustled when the fjord was the main thoroughfare for the region’s transportation. It was also a courthouse site and served as the seat of the district magistrate for Inner Sogn.
A church has existed in the village since the Middle Ages and the first one mentioned in historical records dates back to the 14th century. It is actually one of the best places to park in town too. Take a left when you enter the first part of town. Otherwise you will end up driving right through the narrow streets of town and parking at the port.
Most people don’t think about beach getaways when traveling to Norway. But with the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea to the west, the Barents Sea to the north, and the Skager Strait to the south, the glacial fjord-carved coastline blesses the country with many beautiful beaches that surprisingly feature white sand and clear water for swimming.
If you visit Solvorn during the summer months, don’t miss taking a cool, refreshing dip at Solvorn Beach. Watch swimmers take a daring dive off the tower and try it yourself for a true adrenaline rush. We saw a few kids doing this on a cold, cloudy summer’s day. So, if you have warm enough blood, give it a shot.
Spend the day and have lunch at one of the cafes, take photos of the dramatic coastline, and rent a kayak or SUP for more fun on the water.
As I mentioned above, it’s free to park at Solvorn Church and you’ll also find parking spaces by the ferry quay and Walaker Hotel.
Dining at Kvitabui Matmaust og Galleri is a must-do while visiting Solvorn. The pop-up cafe and art gallery are located in a historic dock house amid rustic settings. Eat and drink indoors at the boathouse or outdoors with a view of the jetty and the lovely Lustrafjord. Both lunch and dinner are served.
The menu features delicious locally sourced and short-traveled food prepared by a talented chef, and the gallery showcases work by Vegard Byrkjeland Aasen, an award-winning action sports photographer, and other local artists.
The dishes are simple and feature foods sourced from the mountain and fjord landscapes such as venison, crayfish, and freshly-caught whiting. Dishes like venison stew with mashed potatoes, fresh veggies, and lingonberry jam or fish soup made with cod or salmon will delight the palette. Or try the famous Fjord platter featuring crayfish, shrimp, and crab.
The restaurant also has a wonderful selection of coffees from the Sognefjorden coffee roaster and luscious desserts. Unfortunately, it was closed when we dropped by, so we went to the cafe down the other end of town instead for some tasty treats!
Water sports on the Lustrafjord are a hit on summer visits to Solvorn. At Nesten Heimer Kafe and Kajakk you can rent water sports equipment and have some of the most divine cakes and coffee on the planet. We shared a lemon tart (pictured below) and I can whole-heartedly recommend it. The interior of the cafe is also decorated as you would expect of such an old building, complete with old sewing machine/table at the window. So, we sat there!
As an aside: Norwegian cakes are unlike those you’ll find anywhere. One of the best-known and most-eaten is Bløtkake, a simple sponge cake that looks as good as it tastes. It’s horizontally sliced, filled with cream, and topped with icing. It’s a traditional recipe and every Norwegian grandmother has her own version of the recipe.
Kvæfjordkake is often called “the best cake in the world.” Some consider it to be the national cake of Norway. It’s an almond-packed sponge cake with meringue and vanilla cream. Eggs are the key ingredients. The crispy almond meringue is made from whites and the custard filling and sponge base are made with yolks.
Kvæfjordkake originated in Kvæfjord in northern Norway near Vesterålen and Lofoten. The area is known for agriculture and farming, especially strawberries, even though it’s mostly mountains and fjords.
If you can afford it, your “home away from home” in Solvorn is at the Walaker Hotell where the staff strives to make your visit relaxing and enjoyable. Guests have access to free parking, free Wi-Fi, newspapers, and outdoor furniture.
The Walaker Hotell goes an extra step to provide some enticing activities for their guests. Browse the Solvorn Fotogalleri for breathtaking photos of the area. In the evenings, their tour guide Ole Henrik will take you on a walk through the hotel’s art gallery and garden. Henrik will introduce you to the hotel’s history and the village and surrounding area.
Take a tour of Setålen, a Norwegian summer shieling in the fresh air of the pinewoods with picturesque views of Solvorn, Urnes, and the Lusterfjord. The walk begins at the hotel and ends in the garden with refreshments.
The Walaker also has connections to the local RIB-boat guides where you can take a trip on Europe’s longest fjord.
The small family-operated Eplet guesthouse is located near the Sognefjord and provides a basecamp for backpacking around the fjords. Backpackers, solo travelers, families, and couples from around the world have been guests at the Eplet. The private rooms are newly-renovated, sound-proof, and have fantastic views of the fjord.
The guesthouse offers a relaxing stay with a cozy living room, a library, and two well-equipped kitchens for guests to use. In the evenings, jazz music and the light from oil lamps provide the perfect ambiance.
Get a sample of the country life by collecting freshly-laid eggs and bottle-feeding the lambs. Guests can hike the mountains, go on bike rides, and go swimming in the fjord.
Eplet is also a small producer of fruit juices from fresh fruits pressed and bottled in the basement. You can stop in and buy fruit and fruit products like just-picked strawberries and other fruits.
Also, be on the lookout for wild berries growing along the roadside as you walk up towards the church. I went to town, so to speak, on the raspberries which were in season when we visited in mid-July.
You simply can’t leave Solvorn without a visit to the Urnes Stave Church across the idyllic Lustrafjord in Urnes. It’s Norway’s oldest and most elaborately decorated stave church. A stave church is a wooden church built in the Middle Ages. Three churches preceded the one today which dates all the way back to 1130.
The ferry ride over is part of the adventure. You’ll enjoy amazing scenery along the way. The small ferry can accommodate up to 10 cars. Another option is to rent a bike at the Eplet Bed & Apple. Explore places along the way and then take the bike aboard the ferry.
Once at the church, there are lots of points of interest to look for. Magnificently decorated sections from the third stave church have been incorporated along the northern wall. Figurines from the 12th century depict Jesus suffering on the cross with John and Mary as grieving witnesses. The altar baldachin is a ciborium alter from 1699. The staves are richly-decorated and form a framework for the central space.
Note that the Urnes Stave Church has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1979.
Here is the Urnes ferry timetable and prices, in case you need them:
Like anywhere else, hiking is the best way to experience the natural world and dramatic scenery of the Songe Fjord. Spend some time exploring the walking routes for scenic views of Norway’s villages, glaciers, pine forests, and cliffs. The scenic trails crisscross the Jotunheimen and Jostedalsbreen national parks.
Along the trails, you’ll see peaks that seem to rise from crystal clear waters, cascading waterfalls, and sweeping views of the fjord.
A hike to Molden will give you the most beautiful views of the area. It’s easy to reach via the forest paths and you don’t have to be an accomplished hiker to reach the summit. On the way, you’ll pass by an old alpine hut called Svarthiller for a good resting place and the first viewpoint of the fjord.
More on that in a forthcoming blog post!