Ålesund, Norway + Runde Island + Alnes Lighthouse
After our time in Bergen, we took a bus to the Bergen airport and flew to Ålesund, Norway. When doing my next trip to Norway I think I would take the time to rent a car and drive between the two cities in order to experience more of the fjords but based on our busy itinerary and upcoming destinations it made the most sense to fly. The flight was still very beautiful as we were able to experience the fjordlands from above and only took about an hour. It was also way cheaper than driving.
Ålesund is where we met up with our friends who would be joining us for the rest of our time in Norway. After meeting up, the four of us decided to walk from our hotel to the Aksla viewpoint. The viewpoint is accessed by 419 stairs which begin at Town Park and provides you with a panoramic view of the entire city of Ålesund and the Sunnmøre Alps. For those who would like to skip the many steps up there's also an option to drive your own car or take a city train to the viewpoint.
After a day of exploring the city, which included a fantastic meal at the Lyspunktet Café, our friends turned in for the night and we set out on our midnight hike to Sukkertoppen. Sukkertoppen is accessible from Ålesund city center by bus to Hessa and is a highly recommended stop during your trip to Ålesund. This is especially true if you are able to hike late into the evening and experience a midnight sunset (make sure you check the bus schedule in order to not miss the last bus back to Ålesund as taxis in Norway are very expensive). Also be warned that as the sun goes down you may experience a sudden drop in temperature so be sure to bring some extra layers in your backpack. If you're looking for a pack to bring on your trip be sure to check out the backpacks at Parkland, which is what I carried throughout our entire trip and doubled as a great option for days in the city and for hiking trips.
Day trip to Runde Island: After a super cozy sleep in our hotel, First Hotel Atlantica, we set out to Runde Island to find some Puffins. In order to get to Runde Island we had to take an express ferry and two buses which took us about 2.5 hours. The more convenient way would be to rent a car, however, I enjoyed the many modes of transportation especially if you are looking for a budget friendly option.
When arriving to Runde Island we were greeted by a local who kindly informed us that if we were to see Puffins we would have to wait until they migrated back up to the mountain, which would most likely occur later the evening. Since we had taken public transportation we were unable to stay until the time needed and were only able to view a few Puffins from a distance (whomp whomp) throughout our hike. You also have the option of taking a boat ride which you can access from the Runde Environmental Center. The boat will take you to view the puffins, who spend their days by the water. We decided instead to hike out to the lighthouse on the far end of the island and have a picnic, which we packed earlier in the day. Even though our day did not turn out how I had expected, I was extremely satisfied with our hike. If you are looking to visit Runde Island in order to see Puffins make sure you visit between the months of February and August which is when over 100,000 puffins come to the island to nest. I'd also recommend driving in order to ensure optimal viewing of these super adorable creatures. I guess my failed attempt of seeing them up close is just another reason I'll need to return to Norway in the future!
Alnes Lighthouse: Another side trip we took when visiting Ålesund was to the Alnes Lighthouse. You can access the lighthouse by either car or bus. We ended up renting a car in order to drive through the northern fjords up towards Trondheim and made a stop to Alnes on our way from Ålesund to Geirangerfjord. The small detour was certainly worth it as the lighthouse as you can see below is picture perfect!
Ålesund is a definite must see during your trip to Norway. It's a wonderful gateway to many beautiful fjords and Sunnmøre coastal alps. Be sure to check back for my fully loaded Norway itinerary which will include details on where to stay, what to eat, things to do and tons of day trip options like the ones listed above!