Don't Miss in Geiranger
Geirangerfjord: The S-shaped Geirangerfjord was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Its high cliff sides and stunning waterfalls create a landscape so beautiful and surreal, you almost expect to see unicorns dipping their horns into the mountain waters. You will see much of the scenery -- including the famous Seven Sisters Waterfalls and their counterpart, The Suitor -- as you sail into and out of the port of Geiranger, but sightseeing cruises, RIB boat (rigid-inflatable boats, a la Zodiacs) and kayaking tours are also available. You can book them through your cruise line or independently at the tourist office (but visit early or book online, especially if there are several ships in port). Geiranger Church:
Norwegian Fjordcenter: The visitor center for the Geirangerfjord, the Fjordcenter is a small museum depicting the history and culture of life in the fjord region. Step aboard a rocking steam ship, peer into quayside and farm buildings, and dodge an avalanche in the interactive exhibit. (Open May to August daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Scenic Viewpoints: Cruise line and independent tours (including the City Sightseeing Geiranger bus) travel to the three scenic viewpoints overlooking the Geirangerfjord. Take the steep, hairpin Ornevegen (Eagle's Bend Road) to the Eagle's Bend viewpoint, or head the other way out of town to Flydalsjuvet or Dalsnibba (4,500 feet above sea level) for dramatic mountain and fjord views.
Hiking: Several good hikes leave from Geiranger. Take the main road to the trailhead located just beyond the Hotel Union (across from the Fjordcenter's bus parking) for a two-hour roundtrip hike to Westeras Farm. Tack on an extra half hour to go the Westerasfjellet viewpoint. Or, from the farm, set out for the Storseter Waterfall, which you can safely walk behind. It's about an hour from the farm to the waterfall. More-adventurous hikers, with plenty of time in port, can take water transportation to Skagehola then hike up to the Skagefla fjord farm with beautiful view of the Seven Sisters Waterfalls. Some cruise ships offer guided hikes, often with bus transportation to Westeras, or you can buy a hiking map at the tourist office.
Geiranger's octagonal wooden church, dating from 1842, is worth a visit for its scenic charm as much as its interior. It's situated up a hill, surrounded by neat rows of gravestones and colorful flowers, with views directly over the fjord. Inside, it's quite small, with wood carvings based on the designs of Per Vigeland (nephew of Gustav Vigeland, of Oslo sculpture park fame).
: It's a pretty pricy 15 minutes, but if you want a bird's-eye view of the Geirangerfjord, plus the mountains, lakes, farms and waterfalls in the area (with some views not available by any other tour type), you can book a helicopter flightseeing tour at the tourist office.
Ever fished in a fjord? During the peak of the summer season, you can book a fishing tour through the tourist office. As you sail on a 53-foot wooden cutter boat, you will hear about the history of the community, then try your hand at fishing (all equipment provided). If you're lucky enough to catch something delicious, your guides will barbecue it onboard.
Herdalssetra Mountain Summer Farm:
Located 30 minutes from Geiranger, this mountain farm has been in operation for 300 years. Visit old and new farm buildings, taste traditionally made goat cheese, make friends with the various farm animals (goats, cows, sheep and horses) and sample local foods at the on-site cafe. It's best to take a ship's tour there, as a cab ride will be rather expensive.