The Travelettes guide to Ålesund, Norway
Imagine colorful and ornamented Art Nouvou bulidings framed by a postcard scenery of mountains and fjords. My hometown, Ålesund, has been voted the most beautiful town in Norway, and not without reason. Its beauty is widely recognized (I’m not just saying this because I’m from there), even The Times are big fans. Located on the Norwegian west coast, it’s just a short ride with the Coastal Steamer away from the unique UNESCO heritage listed Geirangerfjord. Here is a guide to what you should do when visiting Ålesund:
I already told you about my annual hiking trips in the Norwegian mountains, but the good thing about Ålesund is that you have several hiking and walking paths in walking (or bus) distance from the city center. Just like Rio de Janeiro, Ålesund has its very own Sugar Hill (Sukkertoppen). From this mountain you have a fantastic view over the town and the surrounding islands. Variably you could take the 418 steps up to the town’s very own viewpoint Fjellstua. In both cases you will be rewarded with a stunning panorama.
Ask for the Ålesund walking guide leaflet at the tourist information to make sure you don’t miss out on the most important sights in town. The whole city had burned down in 1904, and was reconstructed in an Art Nouveau style during the following couple of years. Some of the most spectacular buildings are located around the area Brosundet (pictured above), in Kongens Gate (pedestrian street), Brunholmen and Kirkegata. You can walk from one end to the other in less than 20 minutes, but be careful with your heels as these streets are cobbled.
2. Eat and drink
My favorites for a snack or lunch in Ålesund is the small restaurant Lyst on Kongens gate (the fishsoup is a must!), or Let’s eat deli (Kiperviktorget) for tasty sandwiches and salads. If you’re visiting the town’s Art Nouveau Centre and the art museum KUBE, the attached café has delicious cake and coffee. Tante Bruun (inside Ålesund Storsenter) is another good alternative. Despite it’s relatively uncharming host location the tasty food and cozy interiors makes the surroundings easy to forget. Lyspunktet is another popular location in Ålesund serving light dishes, coffee and cake – and I’m utterly fascinated by their lamp (see photo below).
Photo: Café Lyspunktet
I’m a caffein addict, and quite picky with my coffee so in Ålesund I prefer to get my coffee fill at Chocolatte (Løvenvoldgt. 5 / Ålesund Storsenter) or at Invit (Apotekergt. 9), a coffee bar with an attached interior design boutique and a floating backyard during the summer.
For fine dining, try Sjøbua, located in an old wharf-side warehouse with top class seafood. XL Diner is a restaurant specialized in dried and salted codfish (also known as Bacalhau/Bacalao) with a fab view. Maki seafood restaurant is connected to Hotel Brosundet, and has a seafood menu that changes every 4th week.
Ålesund is most likely the town in Norway with the most shops in relation to its population, with a huge shopping centre area called Moa (10 km from the town centre), and with a couple of shopping centres located in the center of the town. If the weather istn’t that great those might be a good option to head to. Personally, I prefer not to spend too much time inside shopping centres, so here are a few of my favorites worth checking out:
Photos: Ingrids glassverksted
Ingrids glassverksted (Moloveien 15, Brunholmen) is a glassblowing studio and store with a charming location. Fretex (Kipervikgt. 11) is the name of the Norwegian Salvation Army’s second hand / vintage stores in Norway, make sure you stop by their store in Ålesund. I have found some pretty good treasures here. For typical Norwegian design and handicraft, make a stop at Husfliden (Parkgata 1). The jewellery design of the Norwegian artist Bjørg was love at first sight when I first laid eyes on it last time I was home. You can find her jewellery at the Klondyke store in Ålesund Storsenter.
Photos: Hotel Brosundet
If you’re not on a tight budget, I would recommend to spend a couple of nights at Hotel Brosundet, an old Art Nouvou warehouse turned into a boutique hotel. You can even opt for a night in room 47, your very own lighthouse hotel room. The hotels in the town generally hold a good standard, and you can check for prices and book your stay through Visit Ålesund-Geiranger. For budget travellers check out Ålesund Vandrerhjem or ask for other available options at the tourist information.
If you’re looking for activities, ranging from sea rafting, helicopter rides to fishing trips, check out what 62 Nord has to offer!
If you’re not convinced that this town is worth a visit yet, you will be after watching this video:
She loves cities with imperfect facades, photography, traveling by bike, vintage hunting, and everything that comes with cheese. Follow her visual diary at anchoredpaperplane.com.