Sognefjorden is a fjord in the county of Sogn og Fjordane in Norway. The district surrounding the fjord is known as Sogn. Sognefjorden is the longest fjord in Europe and the second longest in the world. Nærøyfjord, a World Heritage Site, is one of the fjords of Sognefjorden. Several of the few remaining stave churches, including UNESCO listed Urnes stave church, are found in Sognefjord district.

Map of Sognefjord and surroundings
Central section of Sognefjorden
Tufto hamlet at Nærøyfjorden


Sognefjorden is the longest fjord in Europe and the second longest in the world. The fjord stretches more than 200 km from the rugged islands on the North Sea to the central mountains, including the alpine Jotunheimen. With the many arms or branches the entire Sognefjord system has a coastline of at least 500 km, more than the French and Italian Rivieria combined.

It is also the second deepest fjord in the world, more than 1000 meters deep - if all water was removed the fjord would appear as a huge gorge some 2000 to 3000 meters deep. The fjord is actually 1300 meters at the deepest point, or 1500 meters to the bedrock because of some 200 meters thick sediments. The greatest depths are in the central parts of the fjord, at the mouth there is a relatively shallow threshold of some 150 meters. From the water surface to the high summits there is some 1500 to 2500 meters. About 5,400 km3 (or 5,400,000,000,000 m3) were removed to create this vast gorge. Sognefjord's scale can be compared to Arizona's Grand Canyon. The Sognefjord area is about the same width as New Zeland's Fiordlands. While there are large and deep fjords in Greenland and Antarctica, this is the only such great fjord with significant ordinary settlement and easily accessible by road or public transport. In fact, two of Norway's main roads, the E16 (Oslo-Bergen) and E39 (Bergen-Trondheim) runs along or across the fjord.

The main fjord is too deep and wide too to cross by conventional bridges. There are 3 main ferry crossings for each of the 3 main roads E39, road 13 and road 5. It is basically not possible to travel north-south direction except by ferry, although in summer it is possible to circumvent the fjord via a mountain road through Jotunheimen.

Sognefjorden is more than a single fjord, it is wide fjord system. Each branch (arm) of the Sognefjord is a great fjord on its own and with its own name, but is still regarded as part of the greater Sognefjord system. Even a single branch like Nærøyfjorden is longer than for instance Milford Sound in New Zealand. Steep mountains rise directly from the water leaving little space for roads and settlement, except in the deep valleys such as Lærdal valley and Flåm valley. These river valleys are surprisingly flat offering excellent ground for farming. This complex topography makes overland transport challenging but highly rewarding in terms of scenery and impressive engineering.

On the northern shore, Sognefjorden district includes Jostedalsbreen, mainland Europe's largest glacier. Numerous rivers transport "thick" (opaque) glacial melt-water to lakes and to the fjord, giving fjords and lakes a milky turquoise appearance, particularly in Luster area. Because of generous precipitation and altitude differences, the area is also home to significant hydro electric power plants as well as a couple of aluminum factories. These man-made objects are however dwarfed by the grand scale of the landscape.

The Sognefjord district covers some 11,000 square kilometers (about the size of Montenegro) with some 30,000 inhabitants.

The Sognefjord is crossed by the second largest stretch of a powerline in the world. Its span width is 4597 metres ! Do not expect tall pylon at the end of this stretch. They are not required, because of the topography.


Because the fjords runs from the ocean to the deep interior, both landscape and climate changes along. The outer section where mountains rise from the ocean, is one of the rainiest areas in Europe, but also one of the mildest areas in Norway. The easternmost or inner part of the fjord is one the driest areas in Western Norway. In particular Lærdal do not get much rain. The shores of the inner area enjoys relatively warm summers allowing extensive fruit and vegetable production.


Aurlandsdalen is gorge-like valley near Aurland, popular hiking Frode Inge Helland



Feigum waterfall at Luster fjord

Other destinations

Urnes Stave Church in Luster municipality


As in the rest of Norway, English is widely understood and spoken. Other European languages such as German and French may also be understood, although less common than English. Spoken language is generally Norwegian, signs are in Norwegian (and English in tourist hotspots). The local dialect, Sognamål (lit. Sogn language) is used to a great extent in Indre Sogn. It is one of the more distinct in Norway.

Get in

Ferry transport is necessary and adds to experience

There are a number of ways to get to the Sognefjord and surrounding area.

By boat - Arguably the most enjoyable way is via a boat from nearby towns. The most convenient would be one of the high speed catamaran services operated several times each day from Bergen. Hurtigruten calls at Florø (near the mouth of Sognefjord) and Bergen.

By air - The nearest airports are located in Sogndal (IATA: SOG) and Førde(IATA: FDE), although the nearest international airport is located in Bergen (IATA: BGO). The eastern section of Sognefjord is about 260 km from Oslo airport Gardermoen, the same distance as from Bergen airport.

By rail - Reaching the town of Flåm, sitting at the end of a fjord that branches off the Sognefjord, is possible via an incredibly steep railway line. Flåmsbana, the Flåm railway line, connects to the Bergen line (Oslo-Bergen) at Myrdal. This is the only railway in the county. Alternative railway stations are at Voss and Gol, connections to Sognefjord by bus or car.

By coach - Many of the towns situated along the fjord are also accessible by up to several daily coach services. Long distance coach services connect Sogndal with Lillehammer, Lom, Oslo and Bergen. The outer Sognefjord area is connected by long-distance coaches to Ålesund, Trondheim and Bergen.

By car

Because of modest population and infrequent public transport, a self drive may be the easiest and most flexible way to get a distant corner of Sognefjord. The main road Oslo-Bergen (E16) runs through the area, as does the main road Bergen-Trondheim (E39). Except for the E16, travel in this area usually involves ferries, those are not separate means of transport but an integral part of the road network.

Get around

Coastal landscape in Solund district, mouth of Sognefjord

There are several local bus lines as well as long-distance coach lines. Companies named Fjord1 and Sogn og Fjordane Public Transport Authorityare major operators. There are local high-speed boat services and ferry services. Keep in mind that some routes may have a limited schedule.

Car rental firms are located in Sogndal (three major ones including Avis, Hertz and Europcar), Flåm and Årdalstangen, as well as in Førde which is not located on the Sognefjord.

By boat - The Flåm-Balestrand service is very scenic. Other services is the combined ship sailing between villages on the southern side of the fjord between Ortnevik and Vik, one can also cross the fjord from Ortnevik to Måren and Nordeide. High-speed catamarans (express passenger boats) can also be used within Sognefjord - to cross the main fjord (north-south) or to travel east-west.

By ferry - The Sognefjord is crossed at several points by car ferries with frequent departures. These ferries are not a separate means of transport, but a continuation of main roads E39, road 13 and road 5.

By tourist boat/ferry - There are several summer-only tourist routes, including Fjord1 operated Bergen to Flåm catamaran, the ferries from Flåm and Lærdal to Gudvangen, as well as other trips on the Fjærlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord.

By bus - The larger settlements are served by local buses to rural areas, and long-distance coaches and local buses connect the settlements. The schedules may be very limited, with routes often only operating a couple of times a day, and even a couple of times a week for some sparsely populated areas. Roads E39, E16 and 5 pass through the area, and express buses north-south and east-west run along these roads.


Gulen assembly thousand year monument at Eivindvik


Iconic Nærøydalen seen from Stalheim hotel

Through exhibitions, an outdoor museum and a traditional farm with live animals, Sogn Folk Museum / The Heiberg Collections at Kaupanger shows you how life is lived along the Sognefjord.

In the Sognefjord Aquarium in Balestrand you can visit the maritime activity center, where you can observe more than one hundred different species of fish from the Sognefjord.


In Indre Sogn, the climate is suitable for growing fruits and berries, and alongside Hardanger, it is one of the major areas of fruit production in Norway. A local company named Lerum, located in Kaupanger near Sogndal, makes jam and other fruit and berry products. The entire county has a strong culinary tradition.


The tap water is safe to drink, and may be of very good quality. Olden is a bottled water brand from the Jostedalsbreen glacier. There is a brewery in Flåm, called Ægir. Depending on the season, they brew up to eight different types of beer and ale.

Stay safe

The county is one of the safest in Norway. Keep a safe distance from glaciers. Never hike on glaciers without a guide and proper equipment. Be careful around waterfalls. The fjord itself is extremely deep and very cold most of the year.

Go next

Routes through Sognefjorden

Bergen Voss  W  E  Valdres Oslo
Bergen Lindås  S  N  Førde Ålesund
Lærdal Fodnes (ferry)  S  N  Sogndal Førde
Stavanger Voss  S  N  Balestrand Førde

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