Port of Geiranger
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The town of Geiranger can be traversed from end to end in about five minutes. It's got the requisite souvenir shops, restaurants serving up reindeer and caramel-tasting brown goat cheese, a charming old church and the Fjordcenter to get your fjord 411. But mostly it serves as a jumping-off point for tours in the area. For a bird's-eye view of the fjord scenery, head up to scenic viewpoints like Dalsnibba or Eagle's Bend or take to the skies in a helicopter. Or go the other direction, and hop in a kayak to get closer to nature and feel the enormity of the mountains above you. For a bit of history and culture, visit a mountain farm and learn about how people live in this remote area.
About 150 to 200 cruise ships visit Geiranger every year, bringing more than 700,000 tourists during the May-through-September tourist season. With up to five ships in port at a time -- you wouldn't think the harbor could fit that many -- tours book up and the streets in town get packed. If you've got your heart set on a specific tour, do your research and consider booking in advance. Geiranger is such a beautiful place, it would be a shame not to see it to its fullest.
Top Geiranger Itineraries
MagellanMajestic FjordlandsLondon, Eidfjord, Flam, Geiranger, Bergen, LondonNow
Celebrity Silhouette7 Night Norwegian Fjords CruiseSouthampton, Bergen, Alesund, Geiranger, Stavanger, SouthamptonNow
Rotterdam19-day Baltic Jewels & Norse LegendsRotterdam, Copenhagen, Rostock , Tallinn, St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Rotterdam, Eidfjord, Alesund, Geiranger, Bergen, RotterdamNow
Arcadia12 Night Europe CruiseSouthampton, Skjolden, Flam, Flam, Flam, Geiranger, Geiranger, Andalsnes, Olden, Bergen, SouthamptonNow
Norwegian Pearl14 Night Europe - Northern CruiseAmsterdam, Edinburgh, Invergordon, Bergen, Flam, Geiranger, Belfast, Dublin, Dublin, Le Havre, London, Brugge , AmsterdamNow
Where You're Docked
Ships tender to the Geirangerfjord Cruise Terminal, three short piers side by side. Amazingly, given the tiny size of the town, a maximum of five ships can call in Geiranger in one day, with a limit of 8,000 cruise visitors.
Nothing in Geiranger is too far away. The area immediately adjacent to the pier offers a tourist office (where you can book day-of tours), toilets, a post office, souvenir shops, bus pickup, taxi stand and food.
Good to Know
Norway is very expensive. Be prepared for sticker shock if you're planning on dining in town or doing any shopping.
Also, the weather in Norway can be changeable, though bad weather can linger for hours before clearing up. Wear layers and bring rain gear -- even if it seems nice when you're preparing to debark. If you're booking any kind of tour in advance, make sure you're willing to go even if the weather is overcast or wet. On our day in Geiranger, many people reported the scenic overlooks to be fogged in with no view to be had.
On Foot: Geiranger proper is about a five-minute walk end to end. If you want to reach the church, Fjordcenter, Hotel Union or hiking trailhead, it's a steep 10- to 15-minute walk up Geiranger's one real road.
By Bus: A City Sightseeing bus takes independent travelers to Geiranger's two scenic viewpoints, Flydalsjuvet and Ornevegen (Eagle's Bend). The tour takes 90 minutes, and unlike the company's omnipresent hop on hop off buses, the Geiranger version does not let passengers come and go as they please (though there's a 20-minute stop at each overlook).
By Taxi: Taxis are available on the main road by the pier if you wish to head up to Westeras Farm or another destination. They take both cash and credit cards.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
Currency is the Norwegian krone (NOK). Check www.xe.com and www.oanda.com for current exchange rates. An ATM is located at the supermarket, and you can exchange currency at the Fjordbuda souvenir shop.
Norwegian is a varied language, with two written forms --Nynorsk and Bokmal. When speaking, Norwegians use their own regional dialects but generally can understand each other. Most people speak excellent English, as kids learn it in school from an early age. A few key phrases to know include: hallo (hello); tak (thank you); ja (yes); and nei (no).
Food and Drink
Norwegian fare centers around fish and local meat, as well as berries from the area such as cloudberries, strawberries, raspberries and lingonberries. Fish is often served cold -- think gravlax (salt-cured salmon) or lutefisk (fish steeped in lye) -- or as fish soup; meats might be reindeer, elk or even whale. A yummy, and affordable, treat is a Norwegian waffle served with jam and sour cream, or even the caramel-flavored brown goat's cheese.
You can find cafes and food stands in Geiranger's shopping area, or head to the hotels for a more formal repast. If you make the climb to the Fjordcenter, consider stopping at the Hotel Union for coffee or drinks with a view.
Cafe Ole: For a casual bite, slip into the charming Cafe Ole. Grab a coffee and a pancake or order off the "Nordic Tapas" menu for goat, lamb, venison, salted cod and cured salmon. They also sell sandwiches to go. (Open daily June to August, coffee and gift shop only May and September.)
Friaren Bistro: The Hotel Geiranger's a la carte restaurant serves up local and international dishes along the main pedestrian shopping area -- no need to climb up to the hotel's main entrance. Try aquavit sausage pizza, Geiranger tapas (local cheeses and cured meats), fish soup or medallions of elk. (Open daily 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.)
Brasserie Posten: Housed in Geiranger's old post office, the restaurant features inventive local cuisine and indoor/outdoor seating. The head chef used to work at the Hotel Union's restaurant. (Hotel Union is the big hotel and spa up the hill near the Fjordcenter.) For Norway, it's good value for your money. (Open daily noon to 10 p.m.)
Restaurant Westeras: Westeras is a farm up in the mountains with an on-site restaurant offering a rustic atmosphere and scenic views. You can get there by taxi or work up an appetite with a 4-kilometer hike. (Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.)
In Geiranger -- as in most Norwegian ports -- you can buy the country's signature (and expensive) knitwear, as well as troll figures and other souvenirs. For a local-to-Geiranger buy, head to Geiranger Sjokolade and purchase some chocolate made in the factory on-site. It sells funky chocolate flavors such as brown cheese, aquavit and cloudberry, and you can taste before you buy. You can also buy local jams, such as molte syltetoy (cloudberry jam). If you can't wait until you get home, the cafe there makes and serves coffee and hot chocolate, baked goods and, of course, its own chocolate -- and sells Kulinaris ice cream, a Norwegian brand. Geiranger Sjokolade is located in the Holenaustet boat house off the main pedestrian shopping street. (Open daily April to September 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)