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Directorate for Cultural Heritage

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The West Norwegian Fjords

The West Norwegian Fjords embraces some of the longest, deepest, narrowest and most beautiful fjords in the world. Their scenery and cultural heritage have spellbound visitors down the ages. In 2005 the west Norwegian fjords were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Styvi farm, The West Norwegian Fjords. Photo: Trond Taugbøl / Directorate for Cultural Heritage

The World Heritage Area

The World Heritage Area comprises two sub-areas, Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord. Together with their surroundings, the entire area covers 1227 km2, 107 km2 of which are sea. The two fjords are situated 120 km from each other and they are separated by the Jostedal glacier.

The World Heritage Site possesses a unique combination of glacial landforms at the same time as each area is characterised by its own outstanding beauty.

Human activity and tourism

Despite the wild scenery and the steep, almost inaccessible fjord landscape with its high risk of rock falls and avalanches, people have left many traces of their presence down the centuries. The extent of human activity here has varied with the size of the population, power factores and markets. The traces left today are merely slight imprints on the grand scale of the fjord landscape.

Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord have been goals for tourists for 150 years and may be looked upon as national icons for the tourist industry. The first tourist ship sailed into Geirangerfjord as early as 1869.


Fjords are common along the coasts of Norway, Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, British Columbia, Chile, Antarctica and New Zealand. Their typical configuration is a long, narrow, deep and steep-sided inlet, wich is fequentely branched and sinuous, or in part remarkably straight, wherer firstly the fluvial drainage and subsequentely the glaciers have followed major fracture zones.

The West Norwegian Fjords at State of the Environment »

The West Norwegian Fjords at UNESCO »

Folder: The West Norwegian Fjords