The Top 3 Things To Do in Ålesund
Ålesund is known for its Art Nouveau style architecture, the surrounding Sunnmøre Alps mountain range, and a stunning fjord landscape.
There are plenty of activities here that will appeal to everyone’s taste. You can take a tour to the puffins on Runde Island, visit the Aquarium, go fishing in the summer, skiing in the winter, or take the ferry north through the stunning Geirangerfjord.
These are all great options if you’ve got a few days to spend in this scenic part of Norway, but if you're like me and only have one day you will want to spend your time wisely and effectively.
I visited this unique town this summer during the Voyage of the Vikings cruise, and with only one day I tried to make the most out of my time here. If you’ve got a day to spend in Ålesund, here’s my list of top three things to see (without feeling rushed!):
1. Walk up to the FJELLSTUA VIEWPOINT
This viewpoint at the top of Mount Aksla provides a panoramic view onto Ålesund, the archipelago, and surrounding mountains. Isn’t it incredible?
The trail up to the top is paved and well maintained. There are handrails and every twenty steps or so you’ll find benches to rest so even the laziest of hikers can take their time during the ascent.
If you’re strapped for time or don’t want to walk the 418 steps, you can also drive to the top by car or take the city train.
On the way up I found myself turning around every few steps because the view kept getting better and better so I would really recommend taking the walk.
After soaking in the view for a few minutes relatively undisturbed, a tour bus arrived and unloaded a huge swarm of tourists. My cue to leave!
Instead of walking back to town the same way I had come I found a different route that followed along the ridge of Mount Aksla for approximately ten minutes before descending down to the city level. All in all, this took about 20 minutes total and was an easy walk.
There are plenty of signs and maps at the top of Mount Aksla so you can easily plan your route. The path I took down had some great views onto the mountains around Ålesund and it was much quieter than the popular 418 steps.
Whichever way you decide to reach the Fjellstua Viewpoint know that it is a stop in Ålesund that should not be missed!
2. Discover Ålesund’s Art Nouveau HISTORY
In 1904 the majority of Ålesund, at the time comprised of wooden structures, was destroyed in a fire. Shortly after, over 50 architects from all over the country were brought in to design a new city. It was decided that the town would be re-built in the popular style of the time, Art Nouveau, or Jugendstil, which utilized stronger materials like brick and mortar.
Examples of the Art Nouveau era can be found all over Ålesund since the majority of buildings constructed between 1904 and 1907 are more or less in tact today. Ornate balconies and spires adorn buildings; decorative archways and doors are a common sight.
To learn more about the history of Ålesund you can venture into the old pharmacy, Svaneapoteket or “Swan Pharmacy”, which has been converted into a three storey interactive museum and Ålesund’s Art Nouveau Center. Queen Sonja of Norway opened the Art Nouveau Center in 2003.
3. Have your cake and eat it too
If there’s one last thing you do in Ålesund make it this: try a piece of traditional Norwegian cake, Kvæfjordkake, also nicknamed “The World’s Best Cake”.
Trust me, it does not disappoint.
I sampled this delicacy comprised of sponge cake, meringue, almonds, and vanilla at a cozy café called Nomaden Espresso Bar (Apotekergata 10), which is only a 3-minute walk away from the Art Nouveau Center.
Tip: Don’t miss the cool Antiques store that is right beside Nomaden Espresso Bar!
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