Ålesund is a quaint town on the western coast of Norway that was once a bustling fishing port and is situated across several islands. The town is located near the top of all the fjords with the Sunnmøre Mountains nearby. It is known for its Art Nouveau architectural style due to its rebuilding after a massive fire in 1904 that left it in ruins. You can access the fjords by car from Ålesund, including the beautiful Geirangerfjord, which we visited on a day trip. (We recommend renting a car in Ålesund, as there are some attractions that require driving to and the street parking is easy). It's calming to walk around the quiet marina and enjoy dinner at one of the seaside restaurants.
Top Things to do in Ålesund
Alnes Fyr (Lighthouse)
Drive out to the Godøya island to visit this cute lighthouse. It was established in 1852 to help guide fishing boats into the harbor on the island of Alnes, and is still in use today. The red and white horizontal colored bands, red lantern and white balcony add to this lighthouse’s quintessential look.
Tips: Stop at the island of Giske on a nice day, and pull over right next to the bridge. Here you can find large families of ducks and beautifully green colored water along the small beaches.
Aksla Viewpoint (Fjellstua)
A beautiful viewpoint overlooking Ålesund and the surrounding islands. This viewpoint can be accessed by foot, climbing 400+ steps, or by car (about 10-15 minutes from the city center). There is also a cafe located on the top, where you can enjoy a snack or a beer with a view.
Tips: Try to time your visit right so that the sun is in the best position for photos. The colors of the buildings will be more vibrant and the sea and mountains more dramatic.
This small town church was built in 1909 and is located on the island of Aspøya, near the center of Ålesund. The interior reflects traditional Scandinavian design - white walls with exposed wood, low hanging chandeliers and light fittings, and an ornately painted altar.
Take a day trip to Geirangerfjord
Alesund is a great home base for a day trip to Geirangerfjord. There are paid tours, but we decided to rent a car and cruise through the beautiful Norwegian landscape. The round trip is roughly 6-8 hours depending on how much time you spend in Geiranger.
You can read about our day trip to Geirangerfjord in more detail here.
The Fisheries Museum & Aalesunds Museum
The Fisheries Museum takes a close look at the history of the fisheries in Ålesund and the process of making one of their main exports, klipfish (dried and salted cod). The Aalesunds Museum documents the town’s historical and significant events, such as the great fire (and development of the art nouveau town thereafter) and the German occupation of Ålesund.
Tips: Tips: You can purchase a 2-in-1 ticket for both museums (at either museum).
Take a walk around the marina, where you can observe the various boats (fishing and leisure) and visit the small lighthouse at the end of the pier. We enjoyed walking around in the evenings after dinner around this area.
Places to Eat and Drink in Ålesund
We stumbled upon LYST one night for dinner and were so happy we did. The restaurant has had a recent makeover and has a new and homey ambiance. The food was really tasty; we tried the teriyaki chicken noodle dish and the entrecôte sandwich.
This restaurant is located in Old Town Ålesund right on the water. We had a lovely table at the window, overlooking the harbor. The food was also very good. They have everything from authentic Norwegian dishes like bacalao (klipfish) to wood fired pizzas.
Dirty Nelly’s Irish Pub
Stop into this Irish pub for a local Norwegian beer (or a Guinness) before dinner. It is located in Old Town, near the harbor.
Milk Bar & Lounge
Another great spot to enjoy some cocktails and appetizers along the harbor.
Where to Stay in Ålesund
This hotel is situated slightly above the rest of the town center, so most of the rooms offer a nice view from the floor to ceiling windows. The bed was comfortable and the breakfast was the largest selection we’ve seen at a hotel. The comfort to cost ratio is good, and the location is about a 5 minute walk from the water.