Sognefjord, Norway

Lake Locations:

Norway -

Also known as:  Sognafjord

Often called ‘King of the Fjords’, Sognefjord is Norway’s longest fjord. Sognefjord is also the third longest fjord in the world. An amazing 4,291 feet deep in some areas, the spectacular fjord is set between steep cliffs soaring another 3,300 feet above the water’s surface. Averaging over 2.5 miles wide, the scenery along the shoreline is always changing, from steep mountainsides showcasing spectacular waterfalls to small meadows, goats grazing on precarious slopes to small villages, and many branching fjords often famous in their own right. The surrounding terrain is mountainous and includes several national parks holding such natural wonders as the Jostedalsbreen, continental Europe’s largest glacier. One of Norway’s famed tourist roads, the Sognefjellet shadows the fjord’s innermost branch, the Lustrafjord, before it heads into the mountains past the Jostedalsbreen glacier and across Northern Europe’s highest mountain pass. In the opposite direction the Sognefjord stretches 127 scenic miles to the Norwegian Sea. It is no wonder that the Sognefjord is one of Norway’s most attractive tourism destinations.

Many visitors tour the Sognefjord by boat. Luxury cruises can be arranged from several of the cities along the fjord. In fact, one of the most direct routes between towns along the shoreline is by boat, as steep cliffs along the shore require many additional miles by road. The fjord is a favorite for kayakers, small boats and fishermen, with watercraft available for rent in several areas for a day on the water. Several marinas on the fjord branches offer slip space and supplies for boaters. Nearly all larger towns have a small harbor which is friendly to visitors, and many are regular boarding points for the cruise ships sailing the fjord. These harbor towns are the point of entry to trails and roads into the surrounding mountains, with fishing guide services and tour guides leading glacier treks and excursions to local sights.

Fishermen enjoy the Sognefjord for the sea life it holds. The most common catches include pollock, flounder. whiting, cod and halibut. Fifteen of the rivers flowing into the Sognefjord are designated for sea trout and salmon fishing where special regulations apply. The town of Laerdal is home to the Norwegian Wild Salmon Centre, where avid anglers can learn all there is to know about these protected fish and observe them from a viewing station. The Sognefjord Aquarium in Balestrand exhibits over 100 kinds of fish that inhabit the Sognefjord. Wild trout are available in many of the mountain streams. Combining hiking with a little fly fishing is a favored activity in the area.

Mountain bikes may be rented in several areas, so active visitors may enjoy the spectacular scenery while engaging in their favorite sport. Some cyclists enjoy touring the entire 127-mile Sognefjellet with its scenic overlooks. Jotunheimen National Park can be accessed from the village of Skjolden on the Lustrafjord. The Jostedalsbreen National Park is easiest to access in the Luster and Sogndal areas; both offer glacier hikes and have glacier museums. Of particular cultural interest are the three stave churches that still exist near the inner end of the fjord. Kaupanger and Urnes are located along the shoreline, with Borgund the best preserved 19 miles up the Laerdal valley. These ancient wooden churches were built primarily in the 12th century and some are still in use today. All are a marvel of wood engineering and a tribute to the human search for meaning in the Middle Ages.

Plenty of other special sites are dotted around Sognefjord. Waterfall fans will be delighted with spectacular Vettisfossen waterfall in Ovre Ardal. The waterfall has a freefall drop of over 900 feet and is the highest protected waterfall in Norway. Other beautiful waterfalls are Feigumfossen in Luster, Kjosfossen in Flamsdalen and Kvinnafossen between Leikanger and Hella. Sogn Folk Museum at Kaupanger displays life along the Sognefjord with open-air exhibits and a traditional farm with live animals. And no visit would be complete without a tour on the Flam Railway. Once a part of the regular rail line, this short route climbs 2,835 feet in elevation up to Myrdal Station in only 12 miles-the steepest unassisted railway climb in the world. One branch of the Sognefjord, the Naeroyfjord, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site noted for its wild and unspoiled beauty.

Like other fjords, the Sognefjord is a natural feature complete with ancient myth and modern mystery. Although connected to the ocean and technically an arm of the sea, geophysical explorations suggest fjords formed from a number of different geological events in prehistory. Many lie along fault lines, and plate tectonics is suspected to have had a major role in their formation. Sognefjord is unusual in that its greatest depths are located near the inner end of the fjord, while the bottom rapidly rises near the sea where the water is only about 330 feet.

The high mountain peaks surrounding the fjord make its appearance even more dramatic and have led to the development of many facilities in the area for tourist lodgings. Hotels, inns, guest cottages and apartments are all available, often with spectacular views of the fjord and the surrounding mountains. Campgrounds and caravan resorts can also be found near the water. Holiday flats can be located year-round, and visiting the area blanketed with snow exposes a fantasy winter wonderland. Come visit Norway and Sognefjord-it will be an unforgettable experience!

Things to do at Sognefjord

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall
  • National Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Sognefjord

  • Cod
  • Flounder
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Sognefjord Photo Gallery

  • Photo: Arne Glenn Flåten

Sognefjord Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Saltwater Lake, Not Dammed

Maximum Depth: 4,291 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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