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Located on the western coastline of Norway, Alesund is an interesting coastal town built over several islands that jut out into the Norwegian Sea. With more than one colourful boardwalk, and famous for its Art Nouveau style of architecture, it’s a regular stop with cruise lines as they show off the best of Norwegian life and culture. Although it’s relatively far north, almost level with Iceland several hundred miles west, it enjoys a moderately mild climate that makes getting out into the fjords and surrounding mountain ranges both practical and enjoyable.
Although Alesund is a small town, it’s surprisingly packed with interesting things to do. Described as the Northern Venice, its unique history is immersed in tales of pirates and kings, battles and devastating fires. It’s a popular winter destination with plenty of exciting activities to interest travellers, but the summer season brings its own delights, with whale watching and dolphin trips to enjoy. When you arrive at the Port of Alesund, take a look at some of these interesting attractions to enjoy:
UNESCO took a look at its extensive list of World Heritage Sites and chose Geirangerfjord from among the many destinations as the best, thanks to its unique beauty and ecological importance. It’s the perfect location for a hike, either with a guide or solo, giving you the chance to stretch your legs on one of the most beautiful stretches of Norway’s coastline.
This little island sits off Norway’s west coast and is easy to get to by boat. It’s an unofficial bird sanctuary, visited by more than half a million migrating birds every year. It is home to a large Puffin colony, as well as a few human residents, and an interesting place for a day trip.
Also known as the Atlantic Sea Park, this enormous aquarium is home to an impressive number of marine creatures, from sharks to penguins and crabs. It houses several exhibits showing off life in inland waterways as well as the open sea, and with feeding demonstrations and touch pools, it’s a popular activity for families.
Alesund has a thriving retail market that’s unique to this coastal town. After it was devastated by fire in the early 1900’s, it was rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style of the times. Local artwork and antique pieces from that period often turn up for sale in Alesund and the best place to find these trinkets is the area of Kipervika, where boutiques and art galleries thrive.
A must-visit location is the Moa Shopping centre, an urban sprawl of modern independent shops ranging from clothing stores to electronic outlets. It doesn’t have the same aesthetic appeal as the cobbled streets of the old town centre, but if you’re here to shop then this is the place to do it. It’s the third largest shopping mall in Norway, despite Alesund’s remote location and home to entertainment complexes and cafes as well as retail outlets.
The restaurants of Alesund have plenty to boast about, showcasing some of the best fish dishes in the country. Locally caught seafood is a speciality, and many of the restaurants that sit close to the port of Alesund focus on seasonal menus featuring catch of the day. The Fjellstua Restaurant is a popular choice. It’s not in the town, but on top of the nearest mountain, enjoying views from 130m above sea level across Alesund and over the fjords. You can take a bus to the top of Mount Aksla, but if you’re feeling energetic you can take the stairs, all 418 of them.
If you want to try a local speciality when you leave your ship for a day of exploration in Alesund, try some of the Klipfish that can be found in any local café or restaurant. Klipfish is cod that’s been halved, dried and salted and Alesund is the biggest exporter of this delicacy in Norway.
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