Ocean Cruising in Ålesund, Norway
The coastal town of Ålesund is the commercial capital of the Møre og Romsdal district. But more important, it is noted for its characteristic Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) buildings, which some claim make Ålesund one of the most beautiful towns in Norway. This Art Nouveau style emerged when the town was completely rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1904 destroyed nearly 800 buildings and left 10,000 residents homeless. It is said that the fire started by a tipped oil lamp. Rebuilding was carried out with the help of many young, foreign architects who added their own flourishes to the architectural blend of German Jugendstil and Viking roots. Today, narrow streets are crammed with buildings topped with turrets, spires and gables that bear decorations of dragonheads and curlicues. As one of the few remaining Art Nouveau towns in the world, in 1998 Ålesund was awarded the coveted Houens National Memorial Prize for the preservation of its unique architecture.
Why cruise Ålesund
Ålesund is the gateway to the iconic fjords of northern Norway and is considered a must-see destination on a Norway cruise of the fjords. Often listed as one of the most beautiful cities in Norway, the town features stunning Art Nouveau architecture and a vibrant mix of art galleries, shops, cafés and restaurants, the latter of which serve the region’s acclaimed fresh seafood.
What to see and do in Ålesund
After you’ve spent some time wandering around the harbour where the majority of the town’s Art Nouveau buildings are situated, pay a visit to Jugendstilsenteret (the Art Nouveau Centre), which houses period furniture and objects, as well as temporary exhibitions that provide an insight into the town’s architecture.
The building in which this museum is housed is worth a visit in itself. The charming old warehouse dating back to 1864 was one of the few to escape the town’s great fire in 1904, which raged through Ålesund and destroyed most of the city centre, having burnt down 850 houses. Inside, the exhibits portray the historical development of fisheries and detail Ålesund’s production of dried cod and other types of fish products.
For unparalleled views of the town centre, the surrounding archipelago and fjords, head up Mount Aksla. The fit among you can walk the 418 steps up to Fjellstua from the town park, or you can go by car or take the city train. Fjellstua, situated at the top of the mountain, features an outdoor restaurant, café and a viewing platform.
A bus ride away from Ålesund’s town centre, this open-air museum comprises an interesting collection of 55 old and distinct buildings. The museum also houses one of the largest boat collections in Norway, which includes replicas of Viking ships.
If you wish to venture further afield, there’s plenty to see and do outside of the town centre of Ålesund and many cruise lines offer trips to these as part of their excursion programme. For families, the Atlantic Ocean Marine Park, which is a bus ride away and is considered one of the best aquariums in Scandinavia, is a great shout. Alternatively, if you really want to go off-the-beaten-track, the likes of Princess Cruises and Carnival offer excursions to the famous Trollveggen (Troll Wall) – a massive cliff boasting the tallest vertical rock face in Europe – as well as the islands of Giske and Godøy.
Need to know
Getting around in Ålesund
Ålesund’s cruise terminal is located minutes from the harbour. The town’s main attractions can all be reached on foot, but you can take a car or take the city train. There’s also a hop-on hop-off bus and local buses available. Cruise lines typically offer shore excursions to the outlying attractions.
When to go to Ålesund
The best time to visit is during the summer months. May and June are typically the driest months in Ålesund. The town also features on northern lights cruise itineraries in the winter.
Ålesund uses the Norwegian krone. The majority of places should accept credit and debit cards, but it’s worth taking cash with you too.
If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don't need a visa to enter Norway unless you're planning to stay longer than three months.
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