A fjord is a long, narrow arm of the sea with steep sides, carved by glacial activity. Many people consider fjords the very symbol of Norway. This country contains some of the longest, deepest, and most beautiful fjords in the world. In a survey conducted by National Geographic Traveler Magazine the famous fjords of Norway were selected as the number one unspoiled travel spot from a list of 115 destinations around the world. Interestingly, other fjord coasts in New Zealand and Chile also scored well.
Howe Sound is North America’s southernmost fjord, situated immediately northwest of Vancouver. Surrounded by towering peaks that rise straight out of the sea, Howe Sound is Vancouver’s playground for sailing, fishing, diving, camping and a host of other recreational activities. The fjord incorporates many islands, three of which are large and mountainous in their own right.
Kenai Fjords is a 650,000-acre National Park on the Kenai Peninsula in south-central Alaska. The park’s dramatic landscape includes spectacular mountains with great glaciers flowing down between them to the sea, as well as mile-deep fjords that provide a habitat for thousands of nesting seabirds and smaller marine mammals such as sea otters, harbor seals, and sea lions.
The Lysefjord is a popular tourist attraction in south-western Norway. As well as the extraordinary scenery of the fjord itself, two points along its length are popular. The Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) is a plateau located above a vertical drop of 604 meters offering magnificent views of Lysefjord and the surrounding mountain scenery. At the end of the fjord lies the Kjerag mountain, a popular hiking destination with even more spectacular drops.
The landscape of the Aisén Region in southern Chile is marked by several glaciations that formed a lot of lakes, channels and beautiful fjords. The Laguna San Rafael National Park, reachable only by boat or plane, is one of its most popular tourist destinations in the area. The park comprises some of the higher mountains of Patagonia.
Misty Fjords is a remote and wild National Monument on the southern tip of the Alaska Panhandle. Large cruise ships can’t navigate through the narrow, steep-walled fjords but they offer excellent sea-kayaking opportunities, although the tides and frequent storms can make boating challenging.
The Ilulissat Icefjord is located close to Ilulissat town, on the west coast of Greenland, 250 km north of the Arctic Circle. The fjord runs 40 km (25 miles) from the Greenland ice sheet to Disko Bay. The area around the head of the icefjord is an amazing site, where icebergs from one of the world’s fastest moving glaciers (19 meters per day) create fantastic and dramatic scenery.
Doubtful Sound is a very large fjord situated on the south-western corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Best known for its wilderness and wildlife, Doubtful Sound is the second largest of the 14 fjords in Fiordland National Park and it is 3 times longer and 10 times larger than the more famous and accessible Milford Sound.
The Nærøyfjord is considered to be the wildest and most beautiful branch of the Sognefjord, the largest fjord in Norway. The Nærøyfjord is 17 km long and the narrowest point is only 250 metres wide. The passage through Nærøyfjord is one of the most dramatic fjord trips in Europe.
Milford Sound is one of the most famous tourist destinations in New Zealand and claimed the number one spot for TripAdvisor’s 2008 Travelers’ Choice Destinations Awards. Lying at the most northern and accessible end of Fiordland National Park, Milford sound offers some of the world’s most staggering coastal scenery with its dramatic peaks and dark blue waters. The area’s frequent downpours only enhance this South Island beauty, sending numerous waterfalls cascading down the cliffs.
Geiranger is the crown jewel of all the famous fjords of Norway. The snow-covered mountain peaks, the beautiful waterfalls, the lush green vegetation and the deep blue waters all add to the experience. The fjord can be explored by booking one of the 130 cruise ships that come here every year or taking the car ferry between Hellesylt and Geiranger, a small town that lies at the head of the Geiranger Fjord.