When I googled things to do in the city of Stavanger, the Lysefjord was the first attraction that came up and one that was highly recommended. I then had to google that as I had never heard of it before but I was immediately sold upon seeing the beautiful pictures of it.
I ended up booking a sightseeing cruise with Rødne Fjord Cruise, a locally based company that offered boat trips on the Lysefjord. When the boat first started pulling away from the harbor, I wasn’t overly impressed. I had seen enough images of fjords and what I was looking at in those initial moments was not what was in my mind. However, the thing about the Lysefjord is that one needs to be patient.
Once we got enough away from the city, the landscape became less developed and more open and green. The automated recording that played in what seemed to be about half a dozen languages said how many of the locals had summer houses out here. What I was looking at definitely made me feel that I was finally in Scandinavia (simple but efficient design; Copenhagen reminded me a great deal of cosmopolitan Europe). The wooden structures that dotted the banks were lovely in a minimalist sort of way; there was nothing grandiose about them, unlike summer homes you see in other parts of Europe or the United States). And the views they had, well, I would certainly take one.
You knew you were finally in the Lysefjord once the hillsides became mountains and more importantly, you could see snow on top of said mountains. Then all of a sudden it seemed there were waterfalls everywhere. I had always heard that Iceland was the country of waterfalls and yet it seems Norway could give it a run for its money. At one point during the cruise, the boat actually backed in to get up and close with a waterfall, which was awesome, even if the temperatures outside were a bit chilly for such an activity.
And then there came that moment during the cruise when the beloved Sound of Music song “The Lonely Goatherd” comes into your head for there, over on a hill grazing, were two goats. Thanks to a corny song, it’s a moment that will always stay with me and an experience that will be fondly remembered.
Although the Lysefjord is quite long (about 40 kilometers or 25 miles, the sightseeing cruise only went a portion of the way into it. Its turnaround point was the famous Pulpit Rock or Preikestolen as it’s known in Norwegian. It towers almost 2000 feet (604 meters) over Lysefjord and is a flat mountain plateau that was most likely formed with the melting frost 10,000 years ago! My only disappointment is that from the fjord (i.e. the ground), when we got to Pulpit Rock, you couldn’t see it from its famous, most photographed angle. You can hike to the top of Pulpit Rock and two of our dinner companions actually did this. I guess if I ever return there this is something I would like to do.
We ended up sailing through two fjords on our cruise trip (Lysefjord and Geiranger) and while I found the latter to be prettier, I was still quite amazed by Lysefjord, whose name means light fjord and is said to be derived from the lightly colored granite rocks along its sides. As it was our first stop in Norway, it was definitely a wonderful introduction to the natural beauty that is this striking country.
Additional info: The Rødne Fjord Cruise is three hours round-trip and departs right from the harbor, making it a quick and easy stop from your cruise ship. Adult tickets cost 450 Norwegian Kroner and children ages 4-15 are 280; children under four are free.