Staying in the Sognefjord
When planning a trip to Norway, you'll likely want to spend some time on the western coast, which has an intricate maze of more than 1,000 fjords creating a dramatic landscape of steep, lush mountains, tumbling waterfalls, and calm seawater. The Sognefjord, nicknamed the "king of the fjords," is the longest and deepest fjord stretching 127 miles (204 km). Because of its expansive size and accessibility from Bergen and Oslo, it's also the most visited fjord in the country.
There are many villages and towns to choose from, and in this article, we feature historic hotels in eight places so you can select the best fit. Aurland and Flåm are located on the southern side via a branch called the Aurlandsfjord, with access to hiking, cycling, kayaking, and fishing. Meanwhile, Balestrand, Hafslo, Fjærland, Leikanger, Sogndal, and Solvorn are on the northern side with access to the 12th-century Urnes Stave Church and Norwegian Glacier Museum, at the edge of Jostedal Glacier (the largest glacier in mainland Europe). Check out the top experiences in Norway's fjord region for more ideas.
It doesn't get more historic than staying at the Walaker Hotel. Located in Solvorn, with a population of about 200 residents, the seasonal hotel has been inherited from generation to generation by the Nitter family, making it the oldest family-run hotel in Norway with more than 370 years of history. Guests stay in one of three buildings on the property, and each room has its own look with different furnishings and decor that may include antiques, clapboard walls, and claw-foot tubs. All rooms offer views of the mountains, fjord, or garden.
Considering it's the only restaurant in town, you will want to make reservations for the nightly four-course dinners with optional wine pairings, which begin at 7:30 pm, focusing on local ingredients like seafood, cheese, and produce. Guests also dine on complimentary breakfast buffets in the morning and enjoy afternoon coffee and tea. As for activities, there's a flat nature trail that wraps around the fjord, passing various swimming spots and viewpoints (bring your camera). Other amenities include an art gallery, a seated garden, and free use of kayaks and bicycles. Learn more
With 190 rooms, Kviknes Hotel is one of the Sognefjord region's largest and most famous hotels. It has been family-owned since 1877, and the historic wing is the highlight, with an impressive first floor decorated with original art and antiques from the owner's private collection. On the above levels, there are 30 rooms with old-world decor and patterned wallpapers—and many come with seated balconies facing the fjord. The hotel also has a less-attractive annex with more contemporary rooms, but they're not as special as the historic rooms in the original wing.
No matter what wing you stay in, every guest has access to a grand dining room serving international buffets and multicourse menus, along with a well-stocked wine list with more than 300 labels (keep an eye out for regular tastings in the cellar). A nautical-themed bistro provides casual lunch and dinner options, or there's room service (a rarity in the fjords). The hotel is a short stroll to Balestrand's passenger ferry terminal with express service to Bergen, as well as art galleries and fjord tours in the Fjærlandsfjord, a narrow branch of the Sognefjord. Learn more
Færland Fjordstove Hotel
You'll taste the history at Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel the moment you arrive at the classic white clapboard property from 1937, which overlooks a stunning view of the Fjaerlandsfjord. There are 14 minimalistic-chic rooms spread out over the top two floors (no elevator), and each is slightly different. Most have original details painted white along with pops of color from local textiles and vintage books (a nod to Fjærland's many bookstores). Keep in mind that rooms do not have TVs, coffee makers, or minibars, as guests are encouraged to get out and enjoy the surroundings.
Like the rest of the property, the spacious lounge and restaurant received a slow makeover in recent years and boasts a chic Nordic design with wood and leather furnishings, jute rugs, and textiles with different patterns and materials. The main room has enormous windows for views that lead to an outdoor patio with tables that are next to the waterfront. The fjord-side setting offers swimming and fishing, while the front desk can provide kayak and bike rentals or organize hiking and glacier excursions. Fun fact: the Queen of Norway stayed here in 2022. Learn more
Framed by a white picket fence in Flåm village, Fretheim Hotel has a long history dating to the 1800s when English lords came to the area for salmon fishing. Today, it's still the largest hotel in the area, and you can find photography, paintings, and antiques scattered around the common spaces. There are even rumors of a female ghost named Marthe Fretheim, a cousin who managed the hotel after the hotel owner's wife passed away. The friendly spirit is said to continue watching over daily operations, and you can see her portrait in the historic wing.
With 122 rooms, guests can choose between various categories—including the aforementioned historic wing, carefully restored to offer charming rooms with unique details, traditional furnishings, and no TVs. Meanwhile, the modern wing has more contemporary decor, including TVs, and many rooms have balconies and terraces with fjord views. Suites have more space, as well as bathrobes and slippers.
When not in the rooms, relax in the fireplace lounges or seated garden, though most guests are out and about enjoying outdoor activities during the day. The hotel is just steps from the famous Flåm Railway and fjord cruises along the Aurlandsfjord, a branch of the Sognefjord. For meals other than the complimentary buffet breakfast, there is an a la carte restaurant with views serving local Norwegian fare, optional multicourse menus, and a full bar. Learn more
Leikanger Fjord Hotel
The 55-room Leikanger Fjord Hotel sits on the northern shore of the Sognefjord with a memorable view. A local family bought the property in 1920 during a time when the only mode of transportation was by steamship through the fjord. Since then, three generations of the same family have run the hotel through decades of change, including the addition of roads and electricity, as well as historical events. The hotel was even a base during World War II for an intelligence organization working on behalf of the Allies.
Today, it's a year-round hotel, perhaps best experienced in summer when guests can use the private beachfront and dock for sunbathing, swimming, and kayaking. For cooler months, there's a fire pit, sauna, and hot tub. Rooms are getting a slight face-lift from new owners, with new bedding and Rituals bath products. Many rooms have large windows and fjord views—and the deluxe category adds private seated balconies.
Drinks and meals are served in the cozy a la carte restaurant and bar (ask for a seat near the fireplace), focusing on local produce (berries, peaches, apricots, and walnuts) and seafood from the surrounding waters. A simple buffet breakfast is offered every morning for free, and there are popular Sunday lunch buffets that draw locals. Bike rentals are available, and a small spa offers a handful of treatments, including massages and nail services. Learn more
Hofslund Fjord Hotel
Over a century old, Hofslund Fjord Hotel stands out for its prime location on the northern side of the Sognefjord. The hotel has roots as a trading post and coaching station until it was bought in 1912 by a local businessman who added its white Swiss-style exterior. Over the last century, it has undergone more changes and additions yet is still run by a descendant (a niece and her husband) of the original family.
During warmer months, guests take advantage of the manicured lawn and garden with an outdoor pool facing the sea. Rooms are unique with a mix of traditional and contemporary furnishings but what they do have in common are flat-screen TVs, work desks, and armchairs. A higher category of standard rooms offers seated balconies facing the fjord.
Breakfast is served daily in the dining room with more fjord views, free of charge. Later in the day, guests can order a drink at the bar operated by the front desk staff and relax in wicker furnishings. Keep in mind that lunch and dinner are not served unless arranged for a tour group. Luckily, the location is within walking distance or a short drive to Sogndal's restaurants (including three options at Quality Hotel Sogndal), as well as conveniences like basic shopping and EV chargers. Learn more
The seasonal, family-owned Vangsgaarden Gjestgiveri hotel once hosted British salmon anglers in the 19th century. Today, 22 rooms come in a few different categories and historic buildings right next to each other in the heart of Aurland, steps from a bakery, shoemaker, and glassblower. The main hotel offers single, double, and superior rooms with various configurations that blend contemporary decor with antiques. For more space, there are apartment options, including a row of modern fisherman's cabins with balconies facing the fjord, equipped with kitchenettes, living rooms, and two bedrooms.
A light, elegant breakfast spread is offered each morning in the charming Aabelheim House for hotel guests (but not those staying in the units with kitchenettes). For other meals, dine at the hotel's gastropub with indoor and outdoor seating serving locally-sourced meat and seafood, as well as housemade pizzas. Guests can take a dip in the fjord by using a hidden beach next to the cabins, while a larger beach is a short walk away. Or, relax with a book in the private garden surrounded by flowering plants. Learn more
For a standard option, the Eikum Hotel is like stepping into another era. This 100-plus-year-old hotel has been owned and operated since 1919, when it only had two beds to offer to its first English guests. Today, there are 59 rooms with simple, traditional decor that may include clapboard walls, carpeting, and locally woven textiles from previous family members who ran the place. Breakfast is included, and the spacious restaurant prepares a two-course dinner each evening during the summer months with a local pudding specialty for dessert.
The vibe is quiet during the day when most guests are out and about exploring. However, don't be surprised on Saturdays to find a traditional Norwegian wedding taking place, complete with colorful costumes and a vintage bus. Guests are an hour's drive from the Jostedal Glacier (for activities and tours), the Sognefjellet National Tourist Road, the Breheimsenterent Glacier Center, and the Norwegian Glacier Museum. During warmer months, staff can readily recommend hiking and biking trails in the area and can arrange fishing permits for Lake Hafslo, steps from the hotel. Learn more