Chasing Illusions in Gudvangen

Google Gudvangen. ‘Has she gone crazy?’ you might interject. ‘Here I pop by her post and she asks me to google the name?!’ Humour me for two seconds.

Atop the wikipedia page (you do not have to click further) dedicated to the small Viking village in Norway, you find yourself staring at an image of marvellously lofty peaks. The main peak in it has been squished and stretched up to look like a model lengthening her svelte body. Then you notice later, much later, that the topmost peak seems to show you the middle finger.

Somebody’s idea of awful humour.

The day we reached Els’ cottage in Norheimsund we drove straight up into the county of Sogn og Fjordane. Gullible us inched closer and closer yet the peak did not materialise. Something was terribly wrong. The GPS informed us that we were there.

If you can look high and low for a peak, we did the job alright.

Then there we were in the middle of a valley that looked like it had been scooped out of the surrounding steep mountains, parts of which carried patches of fresh snow. A row of waterfalls gushed down in slender threads of white from the mountains, at the foot of which stood a handful of white and red cottages and a harbour.

Welcome to Gudvangen. Not least like the photo we had seen. The jaws dropped once in disappointment – I cannot lie about that – but then it did drop once again in recognition of the tranquil beauty towering above us.

Dwarfed by the mountains, I stood there and wondered about what the Vikings must have felt when they arrived in this scenic spot on Nærøyfjord and transformed it into their market place. Did their seafaring nature make them glad that they had chanced upon this sublime Norwegian landscape? Or were they intimidated by the mountains that stood guard around the valley like antiquated sentinels. Who knows, but they did not survive the 12th-century onslaught of black plague. People returned to Gudvangen only when hundreds of years had passed by.

Some of these Viking graves are to be found nearby. Hiking paths lead you into other pretty villages but it was too late for us to start on a hike. We never got the chance to do any hike (Trolltunga or Gudvangen) given the rains holding sway over the next few days that we spent in Hordaland. We did however bask in the shadow of those mountains as we popped into Gudvangen Fjordtell, a hotel that makes you think you are entering a Viking home, its roofs charmingly sheathed in grass. Inside the hotel’s cafe, I bought a wrap, the price of which was pure extortion. Then in Norway, you are holding onto your purses in vain if you decide to venture into any eatery.

An astonishingly expensive wrap in our bellies and mixed feelings of satisfaction and dissatisfaction (strange bedfellows) mingling in our minds, we left Gudvangen, the village whose name translated, reads, ‘God’s fields by the water’.

The Weathered Viking of Gudvangen
Roads that take you into Gudvangen, flanked by dramatic mountains.
Cottages in the village


One of the highest waterfalls in Norway is this, Kjelfossen.


Gudvangen Fjordtell
Ferry dock where cruise ships roll in from time to time


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Hamlets that pop up after you have left Gudvangen behind

Where to Stay: If you want to do hikes in the area, it would be a good idea to stay in Gudvangen. You have all of two choices: Pitch up a tent or mobile home at Gudvangen Camping. Prices range between NOK 500 to NOK 800 per night. Or  put up at the Viking-inspired hotel called Gudvangen Fjordtell.

What to do:

The Magic White Caves of Gudvangen

Take a ferry trip between Gudvangen and Flåm

Hike the mountainous paths for views over the fjord. From a tiny village called Bakka, which is about 5 km from Gudvangen, take the path to the steep mountain of Rimstigen. It is a steep hike which takes two hours one way.

P.S.: The misleading wikipedia photo that I talk about right at the beginning is that of Lofoten Islands, the dramatic archipelago in Norway, and for added misery beat this, it is a photoshopped version of it.


  • Len Kagami

    Gudvangen is small but its beauty is breath-taking. When i was there, there was a Viking-theme village with people in leather/fur and they sold bow, items made of wood etc. You can also rent a Viking boat (with a dragon head) to sail in Naeroyfjord. Kind of cool! 🙂

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Absolutely cool. You must have got to attend the Viking festival, eh? They are apparently planning to set up a permanent village with the Viking theme. We did not rent a Viking boat (sounds darned exciting, bringing scenes from the TV show, The Vikings to mind) because sadly enough we had a long drive ahead back to our cottage.We were so beat!

      • Len Kagami

        I must praise your husband’s driving skill 🙂 The street to/from Gudvangen is so steep and with so many narrow turns. I visited the village only briefly while waiting for my ferry to Flam. But I was able to see the sailing Viking boat. It was small though, not like the gigantic Viking ships in the museum in Oslo 🙂

        • Dippy-Dotty Girl

          I have not been to Oslo but I can imagine the size of the ships just by shutting my eyes. Those Vikings never did things by halves, did they? Adi is a fantastic driver, thanks. But you know what was worse than the sharp turns? The effing long tunnels. The beauty of Flam too! It all is a beautiful dream, isn’t it, Norway that is? I would go back in a heartbeat.

  • chukkiskitchen

    Wow such a beautiful place. I followed your instructions when i googled the photo and actually looled at the middle finger haha. Lovely photos and beautifully described.

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Thank you Courtney 🙂 It was lovely though on hindsight it becomes even more special. Sometimes it takes a bit of stepping back from the moment to get the glory of it. I hope you do get the chance soon!

  • ragtimecyclist

    Excellent. And stunning pics.

    There’s every chance the Germans have a catch-all word for that strange feeling of simultaneous satisfaction/dissatisfaction. They have words like that. It will be long, and hard to pronounce, and surprisingly useful.

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Hahaha is that so? My German is quite limited beyond the quintessential ‘thanks’, ‘please’ and ‘sorry’. I doubt my powers of guttural speech to catch it in any case. And thanks for the funny comment apart from the compliment of course.

  • youmustbehighxo

    I LOVE THIS. Seriously, you’re one of my favourite bloggers – everything you write (bar the serious and sad topics) always makes me laugh at least once. You fell prey to the Wikipedia trap . . . it happens to us all (unfortunately). What a gorgeous place, though! xx

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Aw thanks Mia. That is something to perk up this Friday of fixing-the-apartment woes. It is just my thing to fall prey to ridiculously obvious things, isn’t it? (I mean I knew what Lofoten looked like since it has been on my list for some time now). Well we all come with our lot in life and mine is to be a goof *deep sigh

  • travelsidenotes

    I believe this country must be the ultimate treasure chest for photographers. Congrats – again – on your selection of pictures for this entertaining post, really stunning photography

  • iwannabealady

    I love to see the hamlets surrounded by rising towers of land. I imagine such a simple life, though I’m sure everyone has their struggles. Imagine being among the first to land there and having your choice of where to build your home. Ugh, take me with you!

  • Cindy's Travel Diaries

    Who needs Wikipedia and their Photoshopped pictures when we have your amazing pictures ? You’re really skilled 🙂

  • lexandneek

    Enjoyed catching up on your wonderful blogposts! (we just arrived home from a road trip). Norway is such a magical looking place and you took amazing photos. Beautiful!

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Were you away on a long one and where all did you drive to? Now I guess it is time for you both to put up your feet. I have missed you guys. Thank you for the lovely words as usual, Norway is nothing less than magic.

  • Lingyun

    Wow, gorgeous place and interesting history. Loved the humor thrown into this post. Too bad about the drizzly weather. About the painful wrap purchase, I felt the same way traveling Switzerland. My siblings (who I was traveling with at the time) and I tried to split a meal to cut costs, apparently splitting food is not something that’s done in Switzerland… everyone looked down their noses at us. Our grubby hiking clothes probably didn’t help either…

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      I hear you. My husband compared eating in Norway to that in Geneva (I have not been to Switzerland yet). Then we went to Luxembourg. It is fair to say that we now know where not to go crazy ordering up meals. The first time when we visited Norway, I ordered up a simple cappuccino and a plate of nachos at a cafe. The bill stated £25 (converted of course). My husband sat and finished the nachos even though he cannot stand eating them. So there you go. I do not envy you your Swiss experience. I think in such environments I either go completely quiet or I shake with laughter. Either extremes not recommended xx

  • Stewie Overseas

    This is such a picturesque village sitting among beautiful rock walls. I want to walk on the path next to the river. It is interesting to imagine what vikings would have been thinking when they were boating through.

  • Traveltellers

    Beautiful pictures and so aptly written! Something similar happened during our road trip to Kaza in Himachal. The pictures we saw of small villages on various blogs were beyond words but not one mentioned that the weather there would be extremely harsh and we would be eating tons of dust. Even then we would love to visit those charming, non touristy villages again someday, just with a little more precautions.

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      It is a bummer to be kind of waylaid in the virtual world but then the good thing is that we get to explore reality 😉 It is also important to show the real picture always. Thanks for the kind words…

  • thesmilingtoucan

    Those photos are so ridiculously beautiful! Simply breath-taking! You are indeed blessed to be able to visit such lovely places! 🙂

  • Fabulous-Fusions

    Breathtaking, amazing photos! This is really magical place. We are going on cruise ship to see Norwegian Fiords in July and hopefully we will be able to see similar beauty 🙂

  • Dina

    Dear Dippy, this is breathtakingly good!! Reading this at London airport I already feel refreshed and in the right mood heading home to Norway. Great post and superb shots!!
    Love, Dina ??

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