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Viking-inspired Art Nouveau architecture, fjord cruises, nesting seabirds, and fresh seafood, all in the pretty fishing town of Ålesund.

An Art Nouveau fantasyland of spires, towers, turrets, and ornamental dragons straight from Norse legends, Ålesund is packed onto four islands and a narrow peninsula off Norway’s west coast. This is where the mountains and fjords meet the ocean, according to the town’s motto, and you can see the steep mountains rising up straight from the dark-blue waters that surround the small fishing town.

Ålesund is home to the country’s largest cod-fishing fleet and overflows with excellent seafood eateries. It’s also an excellent base for exploring the nearby fjords. But the primary reason for visiting is to revel in the town’s playful, romantic architecture — built after a 1904 fire that destroyed most of the wooden buildings here. In the aftermath, Kaiser Wilhelm II immediately ordered the town be rebuilt in stone — the result is widely regarded as the best, most coherent example of Norwegian Art Nouveau (known as Jugendstil).

Things to see and do in Ålesund

Cycling tour of Jugendstil

The rebuild that made Ålesund so distinctive happened at the height of the Art Nouveau movement. It also coincided with Norway’s push for independence from Sweden, which fostered a renewed interest in Norse and Viking history. The result was the distinctly Norse-inspired version of Art Nouveau known as Jugendstil, which features decorative elements drawn from a romantically reimagined Viking past.

If you’d like to explore this singular architecture, we can arrange for a guided cycling tour of the town with an expert. See some of the most elegant façades and hear about the town’s history as you pedal sedately through the streets.

Outdoor adventures

The city bills itself as ‘where the mountains meet the sea’ and indeed, the area around the city is a rugged playground for outdoor adventures. We can arrange for you to go hiking in the Sunmøre Alps, kayaking along the involuted coast, or walking up to massive blue-white glaciers.

It’s also a great base for scenic drives, including the oft-photographed Trollstigen, or The Troll’s Ladder road. Narrow and knucklebiting, this series of hairpin switchbacks up a steep slope is not for the faint-hearted, but the views at the top are entirely worth it. We’ll arrange an experienced driver, so you can try to relax as you soak in the scenery, or you can drive the road yourself.

Nearby: seabirds and Geirangerfjord

Ålesund is a convenient base for exploring the fjords and islands along Norway’s western coast. For example, you can visit Runde, a squat island that’s an important bird-nesting site. More than 500,000 birds visit this tiny stub of land — you can take a private tour from Ålesund to the island and walk along the rugged coast, spotting storm petrels, auks, kittiwakes, gannets, and fulmars, as well as comically charming puffins.

You’re also close to Geirangerfjord, arguably the most photogenic fjord in the country and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We can arrange for you to take a boat trip along the fjord to soak up the scenery.

Best time to visit Ålesund

We suggest visiting Ålesund between May and September. Typically, the weather starts to improve in May and is at its best through the summer months until the end of September, making this an ideal time for outdoor activities. If you want to see nesting puffins, plan your trip between April and August.

Festivals, events and seasonal reasons to visit

August: The Norwegian Food Festival gives you a chance to sample traditional and cutting-edge cuisine from the country’s top chefs.

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who's been there
Audley Travel specialist Aislyn

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Ålesund by contacting one of our Norway specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring Ålesund

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Ålesund, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Ålesund

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    Places near Ålesund

    Accommodation choices for Ålesund

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Ålesund. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Ålesund

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Ålesund, and which use the best local guides.

    • Runde Bird Island
      Puffins on Runde Bird Island

      Runde Bird Island

      Runde Bird Island

      Runde Island is one of the most important avian nesting sites in Norway. Spend the day on a private tour exploring the island’s rugged coast and admiring its abundant birdlife, which can include more than 100,000 nesting puffins.

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    • Atlantic Ocean Road
      Atlantic Ocean Road

      Atlantic Ocean Road

      Atlantic Ocean Road

      Drink in Norway’s seascapes and explore at your own pace with this privately guided day tour of the Atlantic Ocean Road, an architectural feat and a visually striking drive. You’ll also stop for lunch at a traditional oceanfront seafood restaurant.

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    • Art Nouveau e-bike tour

      Art Nouveau e-bike tour

      Art Nouveau e-bike tour

      This cycle tour gives you a chance to learn more about Ålesund and its distinctly Norwegian twist on Art Nouveau. Pedal through the streets on an e-bike with a local guide and discover the history and beauty of its architecture.

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