8 Fun Things to Do in Ålesund Norway and Nearby

Things to do in Alesund Norway: Aksla Viewpoint

Ålesund is a city of about 50,000 people located in Western Norway. There are plenty of fun things to do in Ålesund whether you are an Art Nouveau architecture buff, enjoy hiking, or if you simply like to see and photograph awe-inspiring scenery. Read on for a list of things to do in Ålesund itself and day trips to iconic places like Geirangerfjord.

Getting to Ålesund

We flew into Bergen, explored the city for about a week and then hired a car for a Norwegian road trip. It takes about 7.5 hours to drive directly from Bergen to Ålesund so we decided to break up the trip with a night in Skei (about the halfway point). Alternatively, you could fly into Ålesund from Oslo, Amsterdam, or Copenhagen. 

Getting Around Ålesund

Ålesund is a bit hilly. There are buses, but we chose to access Ålesund tourist attractions on foot or by car. If you're driving, be aware that parking in Ålesund is tricky. Street parking is either metered or requires a residential zone permit. We ended up at Aksla Parkering which is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Cameras check your license plate number on the way into the garage. Pay at the machine or online on your way out.

Things to do in Ålesund at a Glance

Art Nouveau architecture in Alesund Norway
Wondering if visiting Ålesund is worth the effort on your trip to Norway? Are there enough things to do in Ålesund to keep you occupied for a few days? Before we dive into the detail, let's orient ourselves with a quick summary of things to do in Ålesund at a glance. 
  1. Visit the Jugenstil Museum
  2. Take an Art Nouveau photo walk
  3. Climb to Aksla Viewpoint
  4. Meet cool sea animals at Atlanterhavsparken
  5. Hike to Tueneset Torpedo Battery
  6. Drive to Alnes Lighthouse
  7. Admire Ålesund views with chocolates and wine
  8. Take a Geiranger Fjord cruise

Things to do in Ålesund in Detail

Now that we have established an overview of what Ålesund has to offer, let's explore all the things to do Ålesund in more depth.
Things to do in Alesund: Visit the Art Nouveau Museum

1. Visit the Jugenstil Museum in Ålesund

Art Nouveau is known as Jugendstil in Norway. We visited the Jugendstil Museum and KUBE Art Museum in Ålesund on a combined ticket for 90 NOK per person (about $10 USD at the time of writing). Ride the time machine to explore a multimedia exhibit about the fire that destroyed the city in January 1904 in the middle of a hurricane. The Jugendstil Museum is housed in an Art Nouveau pharmacy built after the fire that destroyed Ålesund. The city was completely rebuilt (in brick) in Art Nouveau style with distinctive Norwegian dragon flourishes. Explore a variety of exhibits highlighting aspects of the period. We learned at the Jugendstil Art Nouveau Center that Ålesund tore down a historic Art Nouveau villa in the 1970s to build the beast that is Ålesund town hall. Such a shame that an elegant and historic building was lost to history.

View of Alesund featuring the new city hall which replaced an Art Nouveau mansion

2. Take an Art Nouveau Photo Walk

Green Art Nouveau door with floral trim in Alesund Norway
After learning about Art Nouveau architecture, take a self-guided photo walking tour to explore Ålesund's Art Nouveau buildings in context. My regular readers know that I'm a huge fan of distinctive doors (in fact, my Instagram is full of Dublin doors). I have to say that the doors of Ålesund were fabulous! One door in particular featured an owl motif which made it extra special. We also discovered the elegant door of the local Masonic Lodge.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Interested in exploring other cities in Europe with Art Nouveau flair? Why not spend 3 days in Riga Latvia or Ljubljana Slovenia?

3. Climb to Aksla Viewpoint

One of the top things to do in Ålesund on a sunny day is climb to Aksla viewpoint. We woke up to bright vibrant sunshine that called for a change in plans. We were going to climb to Aksla Viewpoint in the afternoon but the shining sun and light in an advantageous direction meant we did a morning walk instead. We're so glad that we did. We were rewarded for our efforts with amazing views! It's easy to understand why Ålesund is often rated the most beautiful city in Norway. It takes about 15 minutes to climb 416 steps from a town park at the edge of Ålesund to Aksla Viewpoint.

Things to do in Alesund: Climb 416 steps to Aksla ViewpointThings to do in Alesund: views from Aksla Viewpoint

There is a cafe at the Aksla Viewpoint. Supposedly, you can only get onto the terrace as a paying customer or if you pay a fee. The gate was open when we arrived and we walked right in. The cafe itself doesn't open until noon but we were able to access the terrace. I'm not sure if the rumored fee to enter is seasonal or only applies when cafe is open.

Pause to take a breather on the benches dotted along the staircase on your way up to enjoy the view from different altitudes.

4. Meet Cool Sea Animals at Atlanterhavsparken

Another top rated thing to do in Ålesund is to visit the Atlantic Sea-Park (Atlanterhavsparken; 215 NOK pp, ~25 USD). This unique aquarium is home to lots of local fish and crustaceans including a tank of cod! Atlanterhavsparken features a beautiful outdoor area with otters, penguins, and seals. The otters in particular were very excited to see us. I think they thought it was feeding time!

Things to do in Alesund: Otter at Atlanterhavsparken

5. Hike to Tueneset Torpedo Battery

Hike from the parking lot of the Atlantic Sea Park to Tueneset Torpedo Battery. This easy walk takes about 10 minutes. On a nice day, the sea views are glorious! There is a bench overlooking the sea so you could consider bringing a picnic and enjoying your lunch with a view.

Things to do in Alesund: Hike to Tueneset Torpedo Battery

6. Drive to Alnes Lighthouse

It takes about 30 min to drive from Ålesund Sentrum to Alnes Fyr (lighthouse). The drive takes you across four islands through a series of tunnels and over a bridge to get there. Beware if you lack nerves of steel! The last tunnel is  ~1.5 km long and is only one lane wide. You need to yield to oncoming traffic when you are driving toward the lighthouse. Fortunately, there are pull off spots every few hundred meters so the single-lane tunnel is not as harrowing as we originally anticipated. Alnes Fyr is a popular spot to watch the sunset. We visited in the afternoon and after exploring the grounds of the lighthouse and sea views, we stopping into the associated community center where we got to see a local photo exhibit. The community center has a toilet you can use before the return drive to Ålesund Sentrum.
Things to do in Alesund: Drive to Alnes Fyr Lighthouse

7. Admire the Views with Chocolates and Wine

Norway is a country known for scenic views and Ålesund is no exception. Try to find an Airbnb with a view. From the hills of Ålesund, you can admire Ålesund Harbor and the Borgundfjorden. The scenery is especially beautiful at sunrise and sunset. If you can find accommodation with a balcony like we did, you can enjoy the view while sampling some Geiranger chocolates with a glass of wine. Most of the flavors were subtle but the blue cheese chocolate packed a punch. There was no mistaking that taste! If wine isn't your thing, a good alternative is a bottle of Hardanger cider after an exciting day out in and around Ålesund.

Artesanal chocolates from Geiranger Sjokolade FjordnærFjord views from Alesund Norway

What to Eat in Ålesund

You may be wondering what to eat in Ålesund and where to eat it. Read on for a few of our finds from the trip.

Walderhaug Bakery and Confectionery

We stumbled upon Walderhaug Bakery and Confectionery which dates back to the 1890s. We enjoyed a soft cream-filled cake affectionately known as a turtle, a boozy marzipan log, and a pastry filled with chocolate cream that looked like a boat. All of it was so good. We enjoyed our treat on a bench overlooking the harbor. There was a huge yacht called the Ragnar parked nearby. A quick search suggests that this 'super-yacht' is valued at over $85 million dollars. 

Turtle cake at Walderhaug Bakery and Confectionery in Alesund

Molo Brew

We grabbed lunch at Molo Brew near the cruise terminal in Ålesund. A spicy burger and onion rings hit the spot. There was a huge selection of Molo beers on tap so we shared seven 200 ml pours. My favorite Molo Brew was Bamboozled by Berries, a sour beer that tastes like chocolate covered blackberries.

Where to eat in Alesund: Molo Brew

Raccoon Coffee

We earned a visit to Raccoon Coffee in Ålesund after the hike to Aksla viewpoint. We enjoyed a lovely double-shot cappuccino with a savory pesto and cheese horn and artisanal chocolates in intense mango and passion fruit flavors. Sit outside to enjoy the view of the pedestrianized streets of Ålesund Sentrum shopping district.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Interested in exploring other places in the Nordics? You should consider:

Stop at the Supermarket and Make Your Own Meals

Of course, Norway has a well-deserved reputation for being expensive so we relied on supermarkets to buy meals to cook at home. Fresh Norwegian salmon with vegetables or potatoes was a favorite during our trip. There are many grocery chains to choose from in Ålesund including Bunnpris, Kiwi, Eurospar, and REMA 1000.

8. The Ultimate Day Trip from Ålesund to Geiranger Fjord

Things to do near Alesund: Geirangerfjord cruise
One of the best things that you can do in Ålesund is fjordsightseeing. Take a day trip to Geiranger Fjord, one of the highest rated and most iconic destinations in Norway. I hope my experience helps you plan the perfect day out on the Norwegian fjords.

From Ålesund to Hellesylt by Car

Our day trip to Geiranger Fjord started out inauspiciously with a "near miss". We booked a Geirangerfjord cruise that was scheduled to depart from Hellesylt at 9:30 am on a Sunday. The 2 hour drive from Ålesund to Hellsylt involved a ferry crossing. Fortunately, I had the foresight to check the schedule the night before and learned that the Magerholm-Sykkylven ferry only runs once an hour early on Sunday mornings. If we had missed the 7:30 am ferry, we wouldn't have gotten to Hellesylt in time for our Geiranger Fjord cruise! Crisis averted, we got up early and departed with plenty of time to make the 7:30 am Magerholm-Sykkylven ferry and continued on our way.

View of Geirangerfjord

Keep your eyes peeled for the scenic viewpoint between two tunnels at the intersection of Geirangerfjord and Sunnylvsfjorden less than 15 minutes from Hellesylt Norway. It was rainy for most of the two hour drive from Ålesund, but the fog started to lift when we arrived and we were treated to jaw-dropping views.

Mill at Hellesylt waterfall on Geirangerfjord in Norway Hellesylt Bro. departure point of Geirangerfjord Cruise

Drive over one lane Hellesylt Bro bridge. Park in the adjacent parking lot serving a nearby shop and behold the raging waterfall! There was not a soul to be found in Hellesylt on a Sunday at 9 am in September! I loved the tiny mill positioned at the side of the waterfall.

Cruise Geirangerfjord

Seven Sisters Waterfall on a Geirangerfjord Cruise

We were advised to prebook the 1 hour fjord cruise from Hellesylt to Geiranger (about 100 USD for a car and 2 people). The 9:30 am trip on a Sunday in September only had two cars onboard and a max of 10 passengers. Later ferries were a bit more crowded but nothing like you'd might expect during peak season in July and August.

Wispy clouds over Geirangerfjord

The scenery along Geirangerfjord is absolutely stunning! We saw so many waterfalls (including the famous Seven Sisters) and moody clouds when we visited. We even spotted a scary face that seemed to be hewn into the rocks.

Face in the rocks on Geirangerfjord

We also learned about abandoned farms clinging to the steep mountains that line Geirangerfjord. It was a difficult life to farm under these conditions. The Norwegian government maintains the buildings as a piece of living history. You can hike to some of the farms if you've got the interest and stamina.

Climb Storfossen

We arrived in Geiranger and parked along the Geirangerfjord in a well-marked parking lot near the camping ground. Then we embarked on the spectacular waterfall walk. Feel the mist from the raging waterfall as you ascend the steps for some amazing views. I really enjoyed photographing the sod roofs in Geiranger Norway with a waterfall backdrop.

Waterfall hike in Geiranger NorwaySod roofs in Geiranger Norway

Visit Norsk Fjordsenter

After completing the waterfall hike in Geiranger, sit for a spell on rocking chairs and then head into the Norsk Fjordsenter, a celebration of this UNESCO World Heritage site and region for 130 NOK per person (about $15 USD at the time of writing). Learn about the history of the region including tough farming conditions, avalanches, landslides, wildlife and more.

Things to do near Alesund: Norsk Fjordsenter in Geiranger

Explore Geiranger Town

Don't miss Geiranger Sjokolade Fjordnær and the local bakery next door. We bought some chocolates boasting local flavors like lingonberry and gin, strawberry, and cloudberry. A cinnamon roll was the perfect treat to enjoy on a bench by the fjord. The bakery also sells jam so we grabbed a jar of Norwegian plum. We concluded our visit to Geiranger town with a makeshift picnic with a view, eating a meal sourced from the Joker supermarket.

Picnic area overlooking GeirangerfjordView of Geirangerfjord from Ørnesvingen

Take in the View from Ørnesvingen

The weather was starting to turn with mist forming over Ørnesvingen (aka Eagle's Road) just outside of Geiranger. This is the only road out of Geiranger open in the winter. With the steep climbs and hairpins, it must be terrifying at that time of year! There is a small parking lot and an amazing viewpoint at the top of Ørnesvingen. Make sure to pull over and check it out.

Ferry from Eidsdal to Linge

The return trip from Geiranger Town to Ålesund involves another ferry connecting Eidsdal to Linge. Make sure to get out of your car and admire the views. I recommend packing a warm layer and some gloves since it can get quite cold on the ferry crossings in September.

Old Stordal Church

We pulled over on a whim at Rosekyrkja (Old Stordal Church). The church is open in summer for folks who want to admire the 18th century decoration. Rosekyrkja was closed when we visited at 4 pm on a Sunday in mid September. Never fear! You can hold your smartphone camera against the window to catch a glimpse inside!

Things to do near Alesund: Visit Rosekyrkja

Summing up our Trip to Ålesund

I hope you've enjoyed this post highlighting things to do in and around Ålesund. The Art Nouveau architecture really gives Ålesund a delightful atmosphere. The proximity to some of the most iconic places in Norway like Geirangerfjord is another reason to add Ålesund as a stop on your West Norway road trip. 

Next up, we'll continue our Norwegian road trip and discover some fun things to do in Trondheim.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 8 Fun Things to Do in Ålesund Norway and Nearby
8 Fun Things to Do in Ålesund Norway and Nearby
Discover things to do in Alesund Norway. Explore Ålesund day trips including taking an iconic Geirangerfjord cruise.
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