Picturesque port town Alesund is a must-see destination on any Norway cruise. The town’s gorgeous art nouveau architecture was rebuilt after a tragic fire in 1904, and ever since, Alesund has captivated visitors with its beauty, being voted one of Norway’s most beautiful cities. The town has a vibrant fishing community, plus the locals are passionate about good food and drink. It’s not Norway’s biggest city, but it has a lot of charm, particularly the colorfully painted homes and neighborhoods around the harbor. Seven islands comprise Alesund, and they’re cleverly connected by an elaborate set of underwater tunnels.
When you get hungry after an afternoon’s worth of walking, the region’s fresh seafood, specifically cod, is a must-try on the local menus. Explore the Sunnmøre Museum while you’re stopped on an Alesund fjord cruise and see replicas of ancient Viking vessels and trading ships. Head to the red-and-white Alnes Lighthouse which feels comforting even from far away. Alesund is a popular stopover on the way to one of Norway’s most famous, stunning fjords, Geirangerfjord.
The open-air Sunnmøre Museum is home to one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of preserved boats and historic homes, as well as replicas of intimidating Viking ships. There are both indoor and outdoor exhibits meant to evoke and memorialize daily life for Norwegian citizens. With over 50 acres to explore, you’ll want to leave as much time as possible to stroll among all this history.
For the best views of Alesund, head to Aksla Viewpoint. It’s also an active hike, 418 steps to be exact, from Alesund’s town park to the top. If you don’t want to hike, you can take the city train or a taxi to the summit. Once you reach the top, you’ll be in a prime spot for photographs and breathtaking views. Enjoy the cafe and restaurant in Aksla, too.
As one of the biggest saltwater aquariums in all of Europe, Atlantic Sea Park is massive and deserves a leisurely afternoon stroll through the tanks and habitats. Check out the seal park, where a small population of harbor seals live peacefully.
Molja is another quaint Norwegian lighthouse, which has been a guide for passing boats for over 150 years. Today, there’s just one hotel room in the lighthouse where travelers can stay, so it has quickly become one of Alesund’s quirkiest sights. Even if you won’t have time to see the inside, stand at the foot of the lighthouse and take in the vast sea before you.
Rebuilding most of the city in this eye-catching, colorful architectural style ensured that Alesund would be one of Norway’s most beautiful cities. Stroll along the historic buildings and homes that embody the Art Nouveau tradition best. The Art Nouveau Museum is a great spot to learn more about the history of this movement.
Not far from Alesund is the fishing village of Alnes. The lookout from the top of the 72-foot tall lighthouse seems to stretch on forever, plus the area is home to copious outdoor adventures like hiking and walking along the shore front. It’s a beautiful and relaxing place for an afternoon picnic or a glamorous photo shoot.
The Geirangerfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is regarded as one of the most beautiful fjords in all of Norway. Dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and challenging hiking and kayaking await visitors here, which is a perfect excursion from your Alesund fjord cruise. It’s about a two-hour drive from Alesund, so plan accordingly.
Address: Skaregata 1B, 6002 Ålesund, Norway
XL Diner prides itself on modernizing classic Norwegian dishes. The signature item here is bacalao, the region’s dried, salted cod, in a variety of styles. One dish is even called “the city’s best fish soup”. Sirloins and other filling fish mains are popular menu items. Top off your meal with the creme brulee, which features fresh fruit of the day.
Address: Apotekergata 9B, 6004 Ålesund, Norway
Located in what was once a pharmacy, the Apotekeren Café is a go-to spot for coffee and pastries no matter what time of day it is. There’s a relaxing terrace where you can chow down on a slice of their famous chocolate cake or carrot cake while you sip a hot cappuccino.
Lyst Cafe & Bar
Address: Kongens Gate 12, Alesund 6002, Norway
Lyst has a romantic vibe and even backyard seating when the weather’s nice, making it a great date night option. This is the place to go for comfort food, from baked potatoes with all the fixings to cheesy nachos. There are also sandwiches, pastas, and traditional Norwegian soups. For dessert, try a decadent Belgian waffle topped with both ice cream and whipped cream.
Zuuma Sushi & Grill
Address: Kongens Gate 13, Alesund 6002, Norway
When you want to branch out from Norwegian and Scandinavian eats, check out Zuuma Sushi & Grill, which offers sushi, Asian-inspired dishes, and a view of the harbor. It’s a mid-priced option with a relaxed atmosphere. The classics are all here: California rolls, shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, and more. There are also vegetarian sushi options available.
People have been living in this part of what we now know as Norway for almost ten thousand years. Fishing has always been central to the community and the economy of Alesund. In the 15th century, the Black Death decimated part of the population. After a devastating fire in 1904, the majority of Alesund was burned to the ground. The city quickly rebuilt itself in its now-signature Art Nouveau style. In many ways, Alesund is a city that keeps rebuilding after tragedy strikes. Today, it’s enjoying a renaissance of sorts, where more and more visitors are discovering its proximity to incredible fjords and other Norwegian towns ripe for exploration. Plus, the coziness and small-town vibe makes visitors feel right at home.
The Alesund cruise port is conveniently located just minutes from downtown, making it an easy walk to the main sights for tourists, including the Art Nouveau Centre. There’s a visitor information desk with helpful brochures and information on the top attractions on the island. Excursions beyond Alesund should be carefully planned, because most of these take a full day.
Once you get into the city center on your Alesund fjord cruise, many attractions are a short 15- to 20-minute walk away. When cruises come through town, there are frequently operating hop-on/hop-off buses to take you to various tourist sights around town. Local taxi operators are available but can be expensive because there are limited taxis available during high volume periods. The local bus system is extensive and how many who live in Alesund get around. There’s a bus station not far from the cruise terminal, which is an easy way to get started in navigating to the center of the city.
Because you’re geographically very close to the downtown area when you arrive on your Alesund cruise, it’s easy to snuff out the city’s best shopping. The cobblestoned Kongens Gate Street offers a variety of vintage and antique shopping, plus hand-blown glass goods for sale. You’ll quickly feel at home shopping alongside locals for souvenirs and thrifted treasures to bring back with you. When you need a break, pop into one of the local bakeries or cafes for a treat and a coffee.
The official currency of Norway is the krone (kr), and credit cards are widely accepted in Norway. There are plenty of ATMs, called “mini-banks,” scattered around Alesund. Bargaining and haggling isn’t common practice in Norway, so it’s unlikely you can catch a deal on a souvenir or market items. Tipping in Norway isn’t common either, but it’s very polite, especially if you’ve received great service. A service charge is typically already included in your restaurant bill, so there’s no need to tip additionally when you eat out.