No place in all of Norway holds the enchantment of the fjord country, the single most intriguing region in all of the Scandinavia countries. National Geographic did us one better, citing the Norwegian fjords as "the world's best travel destination."
Gouged by glaciers, studded with deep valleys, characterized by rolling fells and rugged mountain plateaus, the fjord country is a land of farmlands, blossoming orchards, small villages, cascading waterfalls, and Scandinavia's most convoluted geography. It's a place to slow down and take your time. Just getting from point to point is a bit of an endeavor -- but, oh, those views along the way.
Norwegian fjords are narrow arms of the sea, snaking their way inland. It took 3 million years to form the furrows and fissures that give western Norway its distinctive look. At some points the fjords become so narrow that a boat can hardly pass between the mountainsides.
Fjords have been of enormous significance to Norwegians through the ages. They served as lifelines to those who settled in the harsh mountain landscape. Instead of building roads to each house and village, they used the easily accessible and navigable fjords. Thus, inland and coastal regions were linked together as the fjords enabled commodities to be transported to the old trading stations. Imagine how centuries ago people used to row across their neighborhood fjord to visit church on Sunday mornings.
Bergen is the best departure point for trips to the fjords: To the south lies the famous Hardangerfjord and to the north the Sognefjord, cutting 178km (110 miles) inland.
Voss, about 1 1/2 hours from Bergen, is a famous ski resort that is also well situated between both the Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord.
We start in the towns around the Hardangerfjord -- Lofthus, Kinsarvik, Eidfjord, and Ulvik -- make a detour to Voss, and then move north to the towns around the Sognefjord, including Balestrand and Flåm.