Fjordkysten & Nordfjord, just north of Bergen, is where Fjord Norway still hangs onto its roots. This region is where mountains and glaciers scratch the sky and locals are counted in the tens of thousands—in other words, the perfect place to get off the beaten path.

Just two hours north of Bergen, you'll find a piece of authentic Norway to call your own. The little-visited Fjord Coast, or Fjordkysten, offers photogenic coastline and fishing villages, not to mention thousands of islands, fjords, and beaches. Here you'll also find Nordfjord, home to Jostedalsbreen National Park and the largest glacier in mainland Europe. 

As Norway climbs the to-see lists of travelers everywhere, areas you've never heard of with names you can't pronounce are steadily gaining tourist traffic. Even in the Fjordkysten & Nordfjord region, you'll encounter a few crowds in the summer months—though many fewer than in more popular regions. Here, you're best off renting a car and taking to the land yourself. That way, you'll have the ultimate freedom to experience even the underbelly of this magical region.

Fjordkysten

Briksdal glacier, Jostedalsbreen National Park
Briksdal glacier, Jostedalsbreen National Park

The gamut of things to do in the Fjordkysten region is wild, so let's start with the wildest of them all: Vikings.

If you're into history, check out the petroglyph fields at Vingen in Bremanger and Ausevika in Flora — they're the largest in Norway. Nope, Vikings did not use the alphabet like we do today. Nearby Millstone Park in Hyllestad is the largest stone quarry from the Viking Age, and while that may not sound too important, keep in mind that stone was essentially Viking gold. It was used for everything from weapons to grinding flour. At the modern-day museum, you can try your hand at grinding flour or carving out soapstone, just like the Vikings did.

If you have the time, take a ferry out to Utvær, a small island that marks the westernmost point in Norway. Here you'll see traces on the rocks where Vikings cut their swords before journeying off westward. Otherwise, check out Florø, the most westerly city in the county. It has awesome views over the cliff-strewn waters, and for a quick boat ride, you can visit the Island of Kinn, home to the fabled Kinnakyrkja (the Kinn Church), dating back to the 1100s. It's one of the oldest in the country. 

And then there are the adventures. Though it's definitely more well-known, know that Jostedalsbreen, Europe's largest mainland glacier, sits at the beginnings of the Nordfjord, deep in Fjordkysten territory.  Hornindalsvatnet, Europe's deepest lake (1,686 ft), isn't too far away, either. Both of these offer epic opportunities for adventure — in terms of glacial views though, note that many consider Briksdalsbreen to be even more stunning. 

You can hike around the aforementioned Island of Kinn, and that's just one of many. Check out the sea cliff hikes up BlegjaStore Batalden, or Alden — all will get you fantastic panoramic views of the rocky waters below. For something a bit tamer, many of the roads in and around Hyllestad are nice for walking, and there's not much traffic. 

And we haven't even talked about the water yet! The area is great for kayaking and diving, too. Gulen Dive Resort will set you up and do all the hard work for you, but you can also dive around Flora and Bremanger. A handful of WWII shipwrecks dot these waters, so keep an eye out (or just ask around). As for kayaking, check out the "Venice of the North," aka the islands of Solund, Bulandet, and Værlandet. There are plenty of outfitters in the area to get you set up with the right gear here, too. 

Nordfjord

Utvik on the Nordfjord
Utvik on the Nordfjord

Kalvag sits on the main entrance to the sixth-largest fjord in Norway, the Nordfjord — which essentially means its surrounded by islands, water, and hills on all sides. In fact, it's on an island itself, technically, though connected to the mainland by Route 616. Set up shop here, and you'll be at the literal portal to Nordfjord adventures (and have unparalleled views of sunrise and sunset). 

The town had its heyday back in the 19th century, when its harbor served as a key hub for fishing boats. You'll still get a taste of old-school Norwegian "fishing village" life walking among the traditional fishing huts, but nowadays that taste includes kayaking, hiking, crabbing, art galleries, and touring an active herring factory. Knutholmen — constructed out of old waterfront buildings — is technically a hotel, but there you'll find an awesome sea-to-table restaurant, and the staff can help you organize any excursions into the area.

30 minutes north of Kalvag is one of the area's best beaches: Grotle. If you go in the summertime, odds are the colors it takes on will be more Caribbean than Norwegian. White sand, turquoise waters, the works. West of Grotle is Hornelen, the highest sea cliff in all of Europe. If there isn't snow on top, definitely put it on your list of hikes! Though wait a bit, and it'll be easier: a via ferrata (path with steps and cables) is currently being built.

A bit further north you'll find Måløy, home to the Kråkenes Lighthouse. Odds are it'll be the most beautiful lighthouse you've ever seen. It juts out from the northwestern tip of the island of Vågsøy, and the waves are huge. Sometimes they even lap onto the roof!

From here, head to Loen, where you can take the Skylift up to Mt. Hoven, over 3,300 feet in the air. There's a restaurant and observation platform at the top, but if you're more about nature, there's access to hiking trails in summer and snowshoe/cross-country ski trails in winter. If you're really hankering for some adrenaline, there's a via ferrata up the mountain, photo op upgraded with a suspension bridge. For more summer ideas, check out this article—and here are some ideas for winter.

And in case you're wondering, ferries run all throughout these areas, and frequently. That being said, not so frequently that you shouldn't time your schedule according to theirs. Do so, and you'll save yourself a lot of waiting around and get far more done on your trip.