Enjoy the luxury of quiet in in Ålesund
If you have a head for heights, you can take a helicopter sightseeing tour of the dizzying peaks around Ålesund. Even seasoned pilots don’t tire of the views.
“I’m spoiled by the nature here,” says Gunnar Iversen, a pilot with tour operator Nordhelikopter. “I love these mountains – to me, they’re far more impressive than anywhere else.”
You come so close to the mountains, you’ll feel as though you can reach out and grab a fistful of snow. It’s rugged and remote nature, but even here you can see tracks left by adventurous heliskiers.
In contrast to the rugged coastal landscape, the town of Ålesund is distinguished by an unexpected concentration of Art Nouveau architecture. It’s the legacy of a fire in 1904 that claimed 850 houses. Most were rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style, an architectural fashion of the time.
Fishing is an important industry here. Ålesund is one of Norway’s most important ports for the export of clipfish – dried, salted cod – which is evident from the cluster of ships moored at the city center quayside. Most of Ålesund’s restaurants serve this delicacy. The unpretentious XL Diner (Skaregata 18, xldiner.no) has numerous salt cod dishes on the menu. And if you are in Ålesund between August 26 and 29, check out the Norwegian salt cod championships and witness the crowning of the salt cod chef of the year.
But Ålesund also has a food culture that moves with the times. A good example is the recently opened organic restaurant Søstrene Fryd on Kongens gate. It’s run, as the name suggests, by sisters – Wenche Smoor Fjørtoft and Turid Smoor.
“Our dream was to create and serve good organic, gluten-free food to people in Ålesund,” Smoor Fjørtoft says. “Many people have allergies or gluten intolerance, and we also wanted to create food that everyone can eat.”
The beer comes from Grim & Gryt Organic Brewery on the nearby island of Hareidlandet.
If you’re looking for luxury, take a tip from Bill Gates: head to the Storfjord Hotel at Glomset, a 30-minute drive from Ålesund. Arriving at this picturesque location is like stepping into a Norwegian folk tale. You might find yourself looking for wood nymphs between the timber buildings.
Despite its rustic charm, the hotel has all the modern conveniences you could wish for – including a helipad. But perhaps the greatest luxury is the peace and quiet.
“Our guests are attracted by what we who live here consider to be totally everyday activities,” says hotel director Ruth Måseide Sunde. “Picking blueberries, fishing or just wandering the countryside.”
Storfjord Hotel opened in 2006 and has 23 bedrooms and 3 conference rooms. The hotel can arrange activities such as boat trips, kayaking, fishing, helicopter sightseeing, and food safaris with or without guide.
Text: Inga Ragnhild Holst