We arrived in the early hours of an Autumn morning to the gorgeous waterfront town of Ålesund, Norway. Immediately my eyes lit up like a child on Christmas morning, as I examined the Art Nouveau architecture from afar and began mentally planning the order of business for the day. Here is your complete guide to Ålesund, one of Norway’s most underrated cities.
Introducing Ålesund, Norway!
Ålesund (pronounced a-le-sund) is surrounded by water, which unsurprisingly results in the town being a major fishing harbour. The city centre has a very unique Art Nouveau style, following a fire that passed through in the first years of the 20th century and resulted in the entire town being rebuilt to the then-current architectural style. This unique mix of intriguing architecture and the dramatic landscape surrounded by water, this town has quickly become a traveller’s favourite for those visiting and touring Norway.
Things to Do in Ålesund
Although a small-ish sized town, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy for a full day exploring Ålesund. Begin with the incredible city views at first light or the end of the day for colourful skies, followed by street meandering, trinket shopping and should you have more time – a day excursion nearby.
Climb the 418 Steps to Fjellstua Viewpoint
If a picture tells a thousand words… then I’m sure you’re already convinced this is one of the best city views you could ever encounter! For sure my favourite part of visiting this town was to take a walk up the 418 steps that lead to Fjellstua viewing platform. The walk is entirely free and begins in the city centre itself, accessible from the town park (Byparken).
Visit the Art Nouveau Centre
As the 1904 fire destroyed nearly the entire city centre, Ålesund, as we know it today, is a modern architectural dream: full of Art Nouveau at every turn. The centre of town displays many beautiful colourful buildings in this architectural style and is well worth a visit for walking and admiring alone. There are daily walking tours for those looking to learn a little more about the city centre, the fire and the subsequent Art Nouveau re-birth of the city.
Walk Around the Harbour
As the town is fairly compact, it won’t be too long before you stumble upon the gorgeous harbour of Ålesund. Here you can walk around the water’s edge and admire the seaside culture and, if you’re lucky, lap up the summer sunshine! The Alesund Museums is also a great choice to escape the bad weather if you don’t happen to arrive in the city on an often rare day of sunshine!
Day Trips from Ålesund
Alnes Lighthouse – picturesque lighthouse a short drive away.
Sukkertoppen – “sugar top” hike.
Runde – bird island.