Førde really has it all: a beautiful fjord, magnificent mountains, endless hiking opportunities, beautiful historic buildings and contemporary art. But: almost no tourists. Discover this hidden gem in the Western fjords, before the crowds get here.
Førde is a town in the fjord region of Western Norway, and lies roughly in between Bergen and Ålesund. With mountains, fjords, lakes and forests in walking distance from the centre, this is a perfect base for exploring the Norwegian nature. There are not so many tourists around, so you’ll have the magnificent landscapes mostly for yourself!
Top 5 activities in Førde
1. Awe-struck by the waterfall
Førde is a place that is blessed by nature. It has all of the things that make Norway so special, situated in close range from the centre of town. One of the most majestic sights is the Huldefossen waterfall. With a heigth of more than 90 metres, it is sure to make you awe-struck. Also the area around is beautiful, and is perfect for short hikes. There are no cafés or tourist shops around, so take your own picknick with you.
2. Swimming in the lake
There are several freshwater lakes around Førde, but Bekkjevatnet is the easiest one to get to. It is a wonderfully secluded and silent place, and lies hidden in between three mountains. The lake is by Norwegian standards relatively undeep, so the temperature of the water gets really pleasant during the summer months. To get here you can hike, drive or hitch-hike – it’s about 4 km from the centre. The best place to take a dip is at the so-called Hunderasta, at the south-eastern end of the lake.
3. Historic heritage
To get an impression of idyllic Norwegian life as it was in the past, head to the Sunnfjord Museum. This is an open-air museum, where historic farms and houses are being preserved for the future. During the summer, there are several cultural events, daily guided tours, and even a boat rental. Also on quiet days it’s lovely to walk around and discover the houses on your own. Be aware: there are sheep and goats roaming the area. Here are some lovely places to have a picknick or to swim in the lake. The museum lies 8km from the centre, so you might want to take a bus or hitch-hike here.
4. Climb the mountain and watch the sunset
One of the absolute highlights of a visit to Førde, is to climb the Hafstadfjellet mountain. This mountain is 706 meters high, and lies right next to the city centre. At the top, there are no trees, and sheep will welcome you. If you climb Hafstadfjellet on a nice summer evening, as we did, you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view, and a spectacular sunset. We recommend you start the hike at Bruland. From there, it’s 4km to the telephone mast on the top. From the top, you can walk down the other way, towards the city centre. Both ways, you follow a broad track that’s easy to follow, but that’s quite steep.
5. Modern art in the town centre
Førde is one of the larger town in this part of Norway, and has a growing and surprisingly modern town centre. There are cafés and restaurants, and a beautiful art museum in an interesting modern building: the Sogn og Fjordane Kunstmuseum.
How to get to Førde:
The reason why there are not so many tourists around, is probably that Førde is a bit remote, and not as good connected to the big cities as more touristic places are. The easiest way to get here, is to take a direct bus from Bergen (4 hours) or Oslo (9 hours). Alternatively, you can take a ferry from Bergen to Sogndal, and the bus from Sogndal to Førde. You can also take a direct plane from Oslo or Bergen, but mind that these will be more expensive, and worse for the climate.
Our hostel in Førde is opened during the summer months, from June to August. Book your stay here.
We would like to thank Øystein, the host of HI Førde, for his great hospitality during our trip.
Text: Robin Van de Walle
Pictures: Robin Van de Walle, Yousra Makanse, Renato Albernaz de Carvalho