Norway is full of amazing places to visit - you surely know that! But have you heard of Ålesund yet? Many people think that it's the best place to visit in Norway, and while I'm still dying to go, I know someone who has already been there: Ben!
After taking over my blog to tell you all about Christmas in Norway, Benjamin Steele is now back to tell you why you need to visit Norway's Art Noveau town - and what you should see and do while you're there!
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Out on narrow spit of land in the North Sea you’ll find Ålesund, one of Norway’s prettiest and most unique towns. One of the things that makes the town so special is its wealth of Art Nouveau architecture.
The centre of Ålesund was rebuilt almost entirely in this beautiful style, after a devastating fire in 1904 destroyed most of its original wooden houses. With its peaked roofs and decorated windows, the place now resembles something out of a fairytale!
But there’s more to see here than just architecture – Ålesund is also regional centre, with exciting museums, great shopping and a range of trendy cafes and restaurants. In this article, you’ll find some of the best things to see and do when visiting this charming town.
Take in the sights from Mount Aksla
Mount Aksla offers some of the best views of Ålesund, and is within easy reach of the town centre. It may be more of a large hill than a mountain, but climbing the 418 steps to the top is not for the faint‑hearted!
Once you reach the peak, though, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning panorama of the town and the surrounding Sunnmøre Alps. From here you’ll be able to appreciate Ålesund’s unique location, stretched over a number of islands that form the shape of a fish hook.
And if you’re feeling peckish after the climb, I’d suggest a pitstop at Mount Aksla’s wonderful Fjellstua café.
Enjoy some locally-caught seafood
Ålesund lies at the mouth of the famous Geirangerfjord, in the clear waters of the North Sea. Unsurprisingly, it’s a superb spot for fishing.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can venture out into the fjords and try to land your own supper. Or, if you’re like me and prefer the easier life, you could simply visit one of the town’s restaurants for some delicious, locally‑caught seafood.
Choose Maki for an upmarket dining experience, with an emphasis on fresh fish and crustaceans from the Sunnmøre and Runde coastlines. And visit the XL Diner to try a plate of bacalao, a hearty fish stew that is one of Norway’s specialties.
The best place to find out more about the Ålesund’s enchanting architecture is at the town’s Art Nouveau Centre. Here you’ll find beautiful treasures from the turn of the century. There’s also an interactive exhibition telling the story of the 1904 fire and the massive rebuilding effort that followed.
Even better, the museum is located in the Ålesund’s old Swan pharmacy. This charismatic building dates back to 1907, and many of the historic details of the place have been kept alive.
The museum is next to the town’s KUBE museum of modern art, which is also well‑worth a visit, and you should be able to buy a single ticket that covers entry into both attractions.
Atlantic Sea Park
If you’re a family with children in tow, or just someone who is fascinated by nature, you’ll want to head to the Atlantic Sea Park. Just a short bus ride away from the centre of Ålesund, this aquarium showcases some of the amazing wildlife that you can find on Norway’s coastlines.
There’s a wide range of exhibits here – from small pools housing crabs and anemones, to outdoor lakes that are home to seals and sea otters. All the animals are presented in their natural North Sea habitats, part of the centre’s mission to educate the public about the local environment.
These are just some of the attractions that you’ll find in Ålesund. From hip cafes and trendy boutiques in the centre of town, to hiking trips in the neighbouring fjords and mountains, there’s an incredible amount to discover here.
I hope you enjoy your visit as much as I did!
More information about Ålesund
Have you been to Ålesund and would like to add any places to the list?
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