Home to mountain views and surrounded by water, Alesund, Norway is where the mountains meet the sea in Norway’s Western Fjord region. A popular jumping off point, or stop along the way for those exploring the fjords, Alesund makes for a great rest stop in a more developed setting than most of the fjords. Here you’ll find a great hiking scene, excellent local beer, and good restaurants, all within a short walk from the water. It’s the perfect place to see Norway’s more cultivated side while still avoiding huge cities.
Alesund might be the best representation of Norway as a whole. Locals actually inhabit the city and not only tourists. There is a hiking and adventure sport culture here that also pervades much of the country and it’s no surprise with the great hikes and trails from within the town. It’s nearly impossible to get lost here as all roads eventually lead down to the harbor area. And that’s the spot to be when the sun comes out.
Here’s how to make the most of a day in Alesund with some light hiking, exploring, and relaxation.
Start with a walking exploration of the harbor to get acquainted with the town. The island Alesund sits on is bisected by a small river and the harbor saddles this junction, surrounded by water on three sides. The old town is centered around the harbor and features historic wood and stone buildings that evoke feelings of Germany and other northern ports. Take a stroll along the water from the town center and soak in the sea breeze.
From the harbor, head up Mt. Aksla for incredible views of the city and surrounding water. This mountain juts up right from downtown and can be easily accessed from the park downtown up a series of steps carved from the rock. For a much longer, but more scenic hike, head around the back of the mountain by looping through town along the water. The trek up is just as steep, but this path will get you away from the hordes of tourists and grant more views over the city and mountains from a different vantage point. Eventually you’ll make it to the viewpoint over the town. Don’t miss out on the highest point slightly above the huge deck viewpoint, marked with a giant weathervane tower. From there you can see even more of the town. From here, it’s a shorter walk back down.
Skip the $30, yes $30 bottles of beer at the viewpoint cafe and head back to the harbor for drinks in the sun. T-Bar Restaurant offers a fantastic outdoor patio right on the water and main square for a perfect combination of people watching and views of the harbor. The beer selection isn’t vast, but the local big brew, Rignes has a decent pilsner that tastes even better in the sun. Don’t hesitate to lose track of time and just enjoy the day here.
For a more refined drink, head over the the newer port where the cruise ships dock and visit Molo Brew, a craft brewery relatively new to the area. The dozens of long tables outside might seem exorbitant but when the sun is out, they fill up. Inside are a few comfy couches and chairs that are more desirable. The bar also isn’t huge, but offers a large selection of both their own brews and several other Norwegian craft beers. For the local brew, try their black IPA, a hoppy but not palate-melting IPA with a nice balance of roasted malt flavors. For an excellent alternative less local, but still from Norway, try the Flam pale ale, an exceptionally balanced refresher perfect for the summer. It’s hard to go wrong with the great choices on tap here. Don’t miss out on the exceptional pub food here either like the crispy fries.
Alesund isn’t an enormous city, but it’s a mighty one. With a great mix of history, active adventures, food, and delicious beer. With only a few short hours, you can really experience the best Norway has to offer just in this compact town. For the more adventurous, you can even jump out to the fjords via boat or even rent a kayak, jetski, or for the truly insane, windsurfing board. Alesund offers Norway in a nutshell to the visitor and is well worth a visit.