While the list of places I want to visit is always growing at an unfathomable rate, one place I've wanted to go for a long time is Scandinavia, and finally this July I got to check Norway, Sweden, and Denmark off that list!
After finishing up a semester abroad in Amsterdam I made a two week stop to our neighbors in the north for some hiking, sight-seeing, shopping, and visits with friends. Here are the highlights.
Starting in Norway, I took the train from Oslo north to Flåm, in the Sognefjord region, in the hopes of doing some summit hikes. It was a beautiful ride despite the rain and grey clouds, admittedly it was hard not to get a little discouraged by the bad weather but I'd been told it rains about 70% of the time in the fjords so my expectations were low. However, arriving in Flåm could not have been more breathtaking or majestic, it was completely beyond what I expected to find. It's a very small town right on the water, surrounded by mountains on all sides, forcing you to confront their majesty and the grandeur of mother nature.
The first two days were met with steep muddy trails. Luckily they lead to some pretty amazing views. There isn't a ton to do in Flåm, it's mostly a tourist center with a couple of campsites, hostels, and hotels. The one hike I did there was a short two hour return up to one of the many waterfalls in the area with a beautiful view that overlooked the town.
The next day I met up with my friend Regula from Switzerland and we took the ferry from Flåm to Gudvangen on our way to hike up Rimstigen. The ferry ride was beautiful, it takes about 2 and a half hours, stopping at many of the other small villages along the fjord. It's a wonderful way to experience the Sognefjord, especially if you're not there for a long time or don't have a car. If you're looking for something a little more active I recommend doing a kayak tour. I didn't have time to do one during my stay but we saw lots of people out on the water and it looked like a lot of fun.
Once arriving in Gudvangen it's about a 1 hour walk to the trailhead of Rimstigen. It's not a very well known hike, the trail is clearly marked by a large sign on the side of the road, yet we only came across two other hikers coming down the trail. It's very steep and a little more difficult to get to than some of the other hikes but it had to be my favorite hike of the whole trip!
The walk to get to the start of the trail runs parallel between the fjord and the main road and it's mostly flat and paved. It's an enjoyable easy walk with lots of turn offs for campsites and swim holes, which we took advantage of after the hike, so cold but felt amazing.
The view from the top was absolutely stunning! You can see the entire Naerøyfjord in both directions and get a good view of the glaciers and waterfalls as well. The water in the fjords is the most brilliant deep dark aqua and when the light catches it can turn to emerald green. The mountains rising out of the water the rocks and the vegetation surrounding us made we feel as if we were encroaching on some place purely prehistoric. Honestly one of the most magical places I've traveled to, I definitely recommend checking out this hike if you're ever near the area.
All in all it took us about 5 hours total. Once back in Gudvangen we took a comfy quick bus ride back to Flåm for a night of well deserved rest.