Our second cruise in Europe took us to the Norwegian fjords, a trip I had always wanted to take but wasn't sure how we'd ever afford. Travel in Norway isn't exactly cheap but we pulled off this trip for much less than you might think – and I'll be sharing exactly how soon! Our fjord cruise took us to four different ports in the country; the first was the lovely city of Ålesund. The little bit of research I did for this told me this city was probably going to be my favorite. Bergen ended up being at the top of my list with Ålesund ranking second. If you get the chance to visit, here's why you should!
I'll start with the most important thing – the food.
Where to Eat in Ålesund, Norway
We didn't have a lot of time to grab food, having opted to stay on the ship a little bit longer due to rain and not having the right outdoor gear. But, we did pop into this amazing cafe that had some of the best cake I have had and hot cocoa in mugs the size of a soup bowl! They also serve food but the cake was plenty to hold me over! Nomaden is the name of this little gem and it's not a far walk from the Ålesund cruise port.
Cafe Lespunktet and Anno are two other cafe/restaurants that came highly recommended. We popped around and looked at the menus – there were several things that looked great if we only had more space in our stomach! Cod fishing is HUGE in Ålesund so don't be surprised if there's a lot of fish on the menu.
If you want to grab some drinks and snacks for your cruise (or just in general) we found two grocery stores just a short walk from the main downtown area. While each of the cruise ports had a market nearby we found the shops here were the most affordable as they catered to the locals vs ship traffic. Norway is expensive – save money where you can!
What to do in Ålesund
There were several water activities like RIB boat rides offered at our stop here but it was pouring rain the morning our ship came in and the drizzle didn't let up all day. Coupled with the chilly weather that still plagues Norway in early May we weren't too keen on getting even more wet. The good news is we had a great time without having planned anything!
The first thing you'll notice is that all of Ålesund has a cohesive look. That's not an accident. In 1904 nearly the entire town burned down in a massive fire. It was rebuilt not long after and all in the Art Nouveau style that still exists today. Many historians state the fire was a good thing, as previously the city was crowded and facilities lacking; the reconstruction made the city a better place.
Take a walk in the historic center
There are few towns as picture friendly as Ålesund! Around every corner is something waiting to have its picture taken. Beautiful buildings, charming doorways, and hearts on almost every window or door. I could just imagine what it would look like lit up on a winter night.
Visit the harbor
The harbor is part of the general downtown area. Take a stroll on the waterfront to see boats coming in and out. There were a few small charter boats that could be rented to take rides or go fishing out on the water. I'm guessing when the weather is a little nicer later in the season there are more of these and it would make a good option.
Climb Mount Aksla
This is a viewpoint that looks out on the archipelago and gives a great panoramic view. From the town park you can walk the 400+ steps up Mount Aksla to the top or you can take the city train up. There's a restaurant, cafe and viewing platform on top.
Take a boat trip to Runde Island
Runde Island is also known as the bird island. There are some permanent human residents but from February to August it's nesting ground for over half a million seabirds including 100,000+ pairs of puffins!
Stop by the Tourist Information Center
We just happened by the tourist info center and popped in to see what they had on offer – and to ask about great restaurants. They were very helpful and had tons of tours and other activities that I hadn't found online. This is also the point where the hop on – hop off bus departs from.
Find Free WIFI in Alesund
Guess who didn't want to pay $1.99 a minute for internet access on the cruise ship? That meant that at each port stop we spent some time hunting down WIFI – we've still got a business to run! Here's a few spots we found in Alesund;
- Alesund Storsenter – downtown (just be prepared for lots of people here using it)
- Alesund Library
- Alesund Tourist Office
- Burger King
These are just a few that we happened to stumble across but there certainly are many more.
Book Your Own Shore Excursion
If you prefer to have your time accounted for and join a tour, here are two good options. These are considerably less expensive than the ship shore excursions were.
|Alesund Shore Excursion: City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Tour – $29.42While in port in Ålesund, see the entire Norwegian city all at once on this convenient City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off tour. Visit the Sunnmøre Museum, the Art Nouveau Center, Ålesund Church and more while learning about the sights from the onboard commentary, available in multiple languages. Enjoy stunning views of the surrounding ocean, fjords and the Sunnmøre Alps from Fjellstua, and hop off at any of the 10 stops around the city to sightsee on your own by foot. Because your ticket is valid for 24 hours from the time of first use, you have time to explore this breathtaking seaside city at your own pace.|
|Alesund Shore Excursion: From Fjords to Trolls – $155.16A full day of amazing and breathtakingly beautiful sceneries is guaranteed. You will depart from Ålesund by bus and soon travel along the magnificent Storfjord. Enjoy the green fields in Valldal where the most delicious strawberries grow. Walk over the bridge at Gudbrandsjuvet, a beautiful gorge where the clearest water falls down 20-25 meters into a ravine. Experience the adventurous Troll Road (Trollstigen) and enjoy the amazing view over the valley of Istradal from the top. Last but definitely not least, a visit to the impressive Troll Wall (Trollveggen).|
We really loved Alesund. It's a quaint and beautiful little town. I could easily imagine renting a house on the water and spending the summer months here.