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Hellesylt, Norway Port

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Hellesylt, Norway Port

With their stunning and timeless natural beauty, it’s not difficult to work out why Norwegian fjord cruises are so popular and because it’s firmly on the path which those visiting the awesome Geiranger fjord follow, Hellesylt is a popular destination for thousands of visitors to the region each year. The village of Hellesylt lies at the head of the Sunnylvsfjord, a branch of the Storfjord, which the more-well known Geirangerfjord branches off. Even the most casual glimpse of Norway’s coastline will tell you how much of common occurrence this is, as there are hundreds of fjords, branches and inlets to explore. Though Hellesylt is home to only around 260 people and its surrounding valleys are home to another 340, it has a much larger temporary population during the summer, as thousands of tourists pass through it or stay, using it as a base from which to explore the fabulous surrounding Fjordland.

Sightseeing in Hellesylt

Villagers living in Hellesylt are said to enjoy the highest standard of living in Norway and indeed, there’s plenty of places in which you can stay and experience the hospitality. If visiting by cruise ship, there’s no denying you’ll pass through Hellesylt to catch one of the regular ferries to the village of Geiranger to visit the fjord of the same name. Norway’s most breathtaking fjord, Geirangerfjord is also one of the country’s most popular and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its stunning scenery. Not just a huge expanse of water, it’s a place of soaring waterfalls and rugged mountains, and part of the wider Jostedalsbreen National Park. Indeed, the Jostedalsbreen is another natural wonder within reach of Hellesylt; none other than Europe’s largest glacier, which together with its smaller cousins, covers a staggering 310 square miles. Specifically, you’ll likely visit Briksdal Glacier when calling at Hellesylt, as this is one of the most visited arms of the Jostedalsbreen, which extends 4,000 feet down the valley of the same name.

Standing at 4,757 feet above sea level, it’s certainly hard not to miss Mt Dalsnibba and if you’re up to the climb, you’ll be rewarded with unparalleled views of the Geirangerfjord and Jostedalsbreen National Park. Staying on the subject of natural rock formations, Flydalsjuvet is another popular attraction which lies relatively close to Hellesylt. A huge overhanging rock, it opens onto the Geirangerfjord and is one of the country’s most-photographed natural wonders.

In Hellesylt itself, there’s really only one building you need to visit, Sunnylven Church, which of course takes its name from the fjord of the same name, as does the former municipality which this church was built to minister to. As far back as 1150, there has been a church in Hellesylt, though the current one dates to 1859 and can seat around 400 parishioners. Built from logs, its white-painted exterior is unmistakeable and the focal point of the village. The celebrated modernist Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen visited the church not long after its construction and it’s believed that it and the parish were the inspiration for his verse play, Brand.

Shopping in Hellesylt

Hellesylt is not known for its reputation as a shopping destination and there are only a few shops to peruse, which generally contain locally-crafted goods such as wooden statues and figurines. Many of these goods are available close to the cruise port terminal but for more everyday necessities, there are also a couple of supermarkets in the downtown area.

Eating out in Hellesylt

Hellesylt is a great place to sample some traditional Nordic cuisine and for those wishing to sample an authentic Viking meat-based dish, The Hotel Union is the place to go. Favourite local dishes include reindeer and dried cod soaked in lye, while potato whiskey is a favourite tipple.

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