City Guide Ålesund. The Travel Guide for your trip to Norway.
Are you done with the bustling streets of the metropolitan and are looking for some peace and calm? If you are interested in exploring some of the most silent, untouched, and beautiful places around, Norway is what you should go for. Gorgeous land with spectacular views and wonders of nature, you would be awestruck at every step of your journey. Speaking of Norway, there is one port town that will let you in for even more beauty and serenity.
Ålesund is a small town among the silent hills of Norway. It is an offbeat travel destination, which not many people know about. With a population of just 66,000, Ålesund makes for a perfect getaway. This town is closely related to many art movements, especially Art Nouveau. With beautiful architecture and climates, you are bound to fall in love with Ålesund this year.
Read below to get a detailed insight into Ålesund and the kind of vacation it will offer you.
Table of contents
Location: In the county provincie Møre og Romsdal, in Western Norway
Established: Before 1100
Population: 67,114 (2022)
Time zone: UTC+01:00 (CET), in the summer UTC+02:00 (CEST)
According to a legend, Gangerolf, who was one of the founders of Normandy, hailed towards the now called Ålesund. To date, three statues of Rolle exist in Ålesund. In the initial days, this town has a population of only 482, which eventually increased.
On 23rd January of 1904, during the initial hours of the day, Ålesund witnessed a terrible fire on its streets, raging towards people and burning lives. The fire was not dealt with for more than sixteen hours, which led to the burning of 850 buses. The fire burnt away houses and left more than ten thousand Norwegians on the street with no roof over their heads.
Even though the fire was hazardous and threatening, only one casualty took place. Despite the considerable damage, the town was brought back to life within three years only. From 1904 to 1907, the people of Ålesund worked day and night to get back their livelihood and were successful eventually.
As the town needed a definite redo, engineers, architects, and craftsmen from all over the world were traveling towards the city in search of new work and to make a mark in history. These unemployed men and women were highly talented and were internationally recommended for the project.
Now that you look at the city, you would find beauty beyond words. Ålesund doesn’t bring you the stereotypical beauty but beauty in the true sense. You will not find buildings decorated with glass and steel. It has nature surrounding it and buildings that don’t take you away from the real beauty.
The buildings that you will find in this Norwegian town are ornamented with turrets, towers, and other imaginative and creative forms of decoration. The façade has colorful elements that attract you in one glance.
No element seems too extra or over the top. It mixes up with the entire scene of the city quite well. When you take a walk in the Ålesund streets, one should take good notice of the many small details about the architecture of this town.
The art movement of ‘nouveau’ has been captured quite beautifully in this town. The historical landmarks that were once burnt in the fire of 1904 have been restored with full effect. Some buildings still have traces of the terrible incident and have been kept that way.
This reminds the people of the town of their determination and the hardships they faced together. Most of these buildings have also been converted into modern cafes and restaurants that attract many tourists in today’s time. The main theme of these cafes is to remind or make people relive the time when a fire has almost engulfed an entire town.
The town of Ålesund sits on a group of islands and has been placed with absolute delicacy. These islands are different in shape as well as sizes. In turn, they provide the town an interesting topography, which is different from most of the cities you see.
The town is very popular for sunsets and sunrises. Especially during summer evenings, you can enjoy a spectacular scenario from any high area and live the best moments of your life.
There are various interesting and fun things to do, which may take a fair amount of your time. So, the best way to decide what all things you should is to figure out how much you have in Ålesund.
Some visit here on the way from some other town or city and have only an hour or two. This time allows you to hardly take a walk in the popular streets and then be off to the journey. However, if you have a stay of at least a few days, you would be able to see the Ålesund without much struggle.
Take a walk in Ålesund
The central area of the town has the most tourists and attractions. There is a waterfront in the central portion where you can see the unique architecture of the town and all the characteristics that set it apart from others.
If you are on a time crunch, you can simply come here directly and take a walk around. You might come across many tours and offers being announced on your way; however, indulging with them might waste your time even more. Reaching the waterfront directly will provide you the best scenes, and you will also get an idea of what the town is all about.
Visit a museum
Apart from the beautiful architecture and art movements of Ålesund, you will find beautiful museums and churches here as well. The Norwegian Center of Art Nouveau Architecture, Jugendstilsenteret is a famous museum that provides you deep insights into the art and architecture history of this town.
Sunnmore Museum is another popular museum among the tourists which will introduce you to the traditions of Ålesund and the cultural heritage it possesses. The artifacts in these museums also showcase how strong the natives of the town are and their efforts to bring back the town to life. One walk through any of the main museums of the town will give you a detailed idea as to why the town looks the way it does.
Apart from its architecture, there are many intricate details about the town’s past that you will find interesting and worth looking at. The museum not just covers the fire incident but the time before and after that has also been covered quite properly.
You will come across a plethora of photos, letters, papers, paintings, and notes left behind by the people of the town that may also help you unearth the various secrets of the town. The time when the Second World War took place was also an essential part of the town’s history.
Despite so many benefits of the museums, the town’s aquarium attracts more people from all over the world. It has aquariums that consist of penguins and other animals that you would love to play right in front of you.
This also allows you to take your kids along with you on fun trips like these where you could enjoy and let your kids have fun at the same time.
Hiking also makes up for another interesting thing to do in Ålesund. The way the town has been built makes it a perfect trail for trekking in the mornings and the evenings. As has been mentioned above, Ålesund is especially known for its popular sunsets and sunrises.
Therefore, if you want to truly enjoy these two phases of the day, get your backpack ready and head off on a trek. Mount Aksla is a small mountain of Ålesund itself that can be trekked at any time of the day provided you have the right supplies with you.
This mountain can take you to the summit of the town and let you have one of the gorgeous views of your life. The spot provides such a beautiful scene that it has now become the most popular tourist attraction point and the most photographed one too.
However, you should keep in mind that the way to the top of the mountain is to climb more than 400 steps. These steps are not very hard to climb but can take a physical toll on you if you are not fit enough.
It is highly advised to take proper measures before you set off on this journey. The steps are improved regularly so that even people with less fitness can also climb up and witness beauty at its peak.
If you don’t feel like walking to these hilltops, you can also take your car and drive to whichever places you find interesting. However, make sure to check the timings before you head out as you may traffic tourist buses and other private local vehicles too.
You can also find a cultural trail on an island known as Vladeroy, which is a very popular choice among tourists and locals as well. If all you seek is a beautiful view, you can also give Storhornet Godoya Island. A hiker who is keen on beautiful views will have a good time here.
Trying the cuisine of Ålesund
Nothing excites you more than the idea of having a new type of food to eat, which is different from what they usually have in their hometowns. As Ålesund comes under the coastal places of the country, you are in for tasting some great seafood which not just looks nice but also tastes yummy as well.
Ålesund has fish as a very major part of its locally served cuisine, the cord fish known as ‘Klippfisk’. This fish is a bit dry in taste and is saltier than the ones we usually task. However, even though it has a different taste, it will suit your taste buds quite nicely.
You can find several exciting cafes and bars here that serve you the local delicacies. ‘Bro’ is one of the most popular cafés that most tourists visit to experience the nightlife. They are hygienic, and their food is yummy.
Apotekergata is another excellent choice if you want to have an authentic Norwegian dinner. As they keep prices reasonable and food fresh and tasty, you and your family will have a great time here.
There are various local markets in the town that will provide you a variety of fish to choose from in case you don’t like the local cord fish. Another important food of this town is a unique Norwegian pancake that you don’t find at many places, even within Norway.
This pancake is known as svele and is widely served on ferries while you travel from one island to another. However, make sure to check the ingredients of all the delicacies properly before you give gorge on them.
Ålesund is a small town, and getting here from one place to another is quite easy. Getting to this town is usually done via cruise ships that you can board from any of the nearby towns or cities. If you drive from Trondheim, it will take you around four to six hours to travel.
If you choose to drive to Bergen from Oslo, you may have to give in your entire day in traveling only. You can enjoy beautiful scenarios while driving. This is one of the reasons why people prefer roads above cruises while traveling to Ålesund.
You can also take a flight to the town from either Oslo, Trondheim or Bergen. You can also take a flight from the capital as well. Once you land, the shuttle services that are pretty active throughout the day will help you complete the rest of the journey.