Haugesund, Norway

Haugesund stands proudly on Norway’s southwest shore, where the icy fjords flow out into the North Sea. Breathtaking scenery and world-class views are the main ingredients of this dramatic coastline.

Sheer cliffs and rolling meadows adorn the silent inlets of Haugesund, while nearby you’ll find striking rock formations and experience the thunder of tall waterfalls.

The part of the country in which Haugesund stands was a region of great importance during the Viking Age, and even lent its name to the country itself. The shipping lane offshore was known as the North Way, which shortened over time to Norway. It’s also renowned as the site where Norway's first king, Harald Fairhair, united the nation and was later buried.

The hamlet of Avaldsnes nearby gives you a chance to visit Viking Village, a recreated farmstead, or perhaps Karmoy Island, with its ancient grave mounds and tall memorial stones.

Skipping forward several centuries, Haugesund today is celebrated as the setting for two major events in the Norwegian cultural calendar, as every August it plays host to the Sildajazz music festival and The Norwegian Film Festival.

Crowned by a pink neoclassical town hall, there’s much to admire within Haugesund itself. Even so, it is what’s close by that often proves more irresistible. Many visitors, for example, choose to explore the narrow 32-kilometre20-mile Akrafjord, set between sheer cliffs on either side.

The broad 2,000-foot Langfoss waterfall is one of its most spectacular sights, resembling a river running down the rock face. You may also see the subject of countless photos with your own eyes, the famous Pulpit Rock, whose scenic view over Lysefjord has become an emblem of the entire fjords region.

You can even feel like you’ve stepped back into the 1800s by visiting the picturesque herring fishing town of Skudeneshavn. Perched on the southern tip of Karmoy island, it’s home to over 100 excellently preserved whitewashed wooden houses topped with pointed orange roofs.