The little town of Ålesund

A view of a town across the water, which is mostly still. Pink clouds streak the sky just above the buildings.
Beautiful sunset and view

A few months ago on our trip to Scandinavia, we almost skipped Ålesund until I saw some blog posts from locals who said that the city is a must-see and is incredibly pretty. We only had a couple of nights there but it offered us some much needed rest after our time hiking in Andalsnes. I think Ålesund would make a pretty good base for anyone travelling nearby—if you wanted to hike in Andalsnes, but not stay there, for example, you might consider staying in Ålesund because it’s a larger town.

We were in no rush to get to Ålesund, since we didn’t have anything planned on the way there, and we could check out late from our hotel in Andalsnes. The drive was a little over an hour and we needed to return our rental car for this portion of the trip, as we would be flying to Lofoten in a few days. The rental drop-off was out of Ålesund’s town centre so we had to catch a bus once we dropped off the car.

Having travelled with so little clothing on our trip, we used the washing machine in our Airbnb as soon as we checked in. People who want to know how to pack light have often asked me about laundry. Along with wearing clothes over and over (which is better for the environment too), we try to have a couple of Airbnbs scattered throughout our trip, or at least find access to a laundromat. We only had two Airbnbs on our trip, though, because cost was comparable with hotels, and the effect of Airbnb rentals on available housing has upset the locals in places like Norway.

A view of a small town by the water, with uniform multi-storey buildings on each side. There are some bushes with flowers in the foreground. The sky is bright blue with some clouds.
Our first look at the town by the water
A town across a body of water, under a blue sky with grey clouds. There is a faint rainbow across the sky.
Chasing rainbows 🌈
A city from the top of a grassy hill with grey clouds in the sky, the sun just parting the clouds.
We stayed outside since the rain wasn’t terrible

That afternoon we found a cafe called Racoon Coffee, owned by an Australian from Melbourne! It was here where I had a snack and finally realised that the brown cheese I was eating was the famous Norwegian brunost cheese. I got kind of obsessed with it from then on, even considering buying some to take home. Australia’s border control laws are ridiculous, but apparently you can bring packaged cheese, and apparently brunost can keep for a couple weeks in a cool place. Eventually, I decided against it because of how much chocolate (the Freia Melkesjokolade) Nick and I ended up buying for our friends and family… my bag was already heavy, haha.

A white plate with an open round piece of rye bread with diced avocado and tomato.
I’ve had better, but this was alright 😅
A view mostly of the ocean, with a very blue sky. There is an island far in the distance with some buildings around the shore.
Enjoying another walk by the water

In the evening we explored the town’s streets, and it rained a bit, but my raincoat kept me dry. Ålesund was indeed pretty. There was a cruise ship in town when we were there, so at times it did feel busy with all the cruise-goers.

The following day we went to the Fjellstua viewpoint where you can get a lovely view of the city with the sea in the background. Again, this ended up being quite busy probably because of more tourists from the cruise ship, but I’d imagine it gets busy anyway. I think it would have been beautiful to go to the viewpoint in the evening. It’s a lot of stairs but it’s not excessive like other viewpoints, and there are small spots to have a little break and enjoy the view. I’d rate it as, if you’re fit, you’ll have no problem at all, and if you’re of average fitness you’ll find it a little more tiring but it’s not difficult. The views differ only slightly as you go higher up, but it’s still worth it to go to the top.

A view of a city surrounded by water. The buildings are light in colour and are at most several storeys tall. On the left, a cruise ship is docked.
The classic, well-known view of Alesund
A stone wall around a manmade pond, with stone steps going up a green grassy hill and surrounded by skinny trees.
A bit of the park at the foot of the steps to the viewpoint
A cobblestone street on a corner. The building on the corner is painted a light colour with three storeys and tiled roofs.
A street corner of Alesund

We spotted a doughnut shop and of course had to give it a try.

Three different doughnuts, individually placed on small plates. One is plain, another has white frosting with a chocolate drizzle, and the other is a caramel brown colour sprinkled with nuts.
Yay 🍩
Me, Georgie, an Asian woman with short dark hair, standing in the middle of a cobleestone pedestrianised street. I am wearing green pants and a bright blue raincoat.
Outfit check 😛
Me and Nick flexing our bicep mucles while taking a selfie in a gym mirror, behind a rack of large dumbbells.
Squeezed a workout in.

We also decided to use a gym during our stay in Ålesund—we’d been keeping up the gym workouts!—and we went to a small gym called Mudo Gym, where the owner was really friendly and offered us to use the space without paying for the visitor’s fee. Something we noticed on our travels in Norway is that the gyms often ask you to wear indoor shoes in the gym. We didn’t have specific indoor-only shoes, but Nick had brought his gym shoes and my sneakers were the same shoes I’d been using to walk around (sans hikes), but it didn’t seem to be a big problem since our shoes were not obviously dirty. Of course, squat racks were available, so I used the opportunity to do squats. 💪🏻

Nick standing looking out at a sunset over the water. The sun is just disappearing over land in the distance, and the sky is dotted with pink clouds that are reflecting slightly on the water. There is a bird in flight just above part of the silhouetted land.
Captured this at the right moment with the bird flying in the picture.
A view of the sunset, similar to the previous photo, with the foreground appearing like silhouettes, and the sun not visible, but its bright light radiating from behind the land in the background.
Last chance to capture the sunset

Our last meal in Ålesund was at a semi-fancy Japanese fusion restaurant called Zuuma. Nick said it happened again, I craved Asian food. Once again, we had a big meal on our last night in the city, which seemed to be a slightly annoying habit we had picked up on our trip. I think it was a combination of the grazing on snacks and small meals on days with hikes, or long days in transit, and the lack of breakfast options open early, and then almost making up for it by going for a big meal but then ordering too much. 🫣🤣

A large sushi platter on a long rectangular plate. The sushi includes some nigiri with raw fish, some sashimi, and maki rolls with different ingredients.
It was too much sushi 😂🫠

There seems to be a lot of things to do in and out of Ålesund, but it depends on your itinerary and your interests. If I were to visit this part of Norway again, I might consider Ålesund as a base. For us, it was a good connecting point as it has an airport. The next morning we booked a taxi (very early, I think it was 5:30am!) to make an early flight to Bødo, where we would then pick up a car before taking it onto a ferry and starting our journey to the Lofoten Islands.

Other posts about this Scandinavian trip:

Thanks for following this journey! Only a couple more instalments left. 😌

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