The Solund region of the Norwegian fjords has the nickname ‘the Venice of Norway’. Incorporating 1700 islands, it’s popular for fishing, kayaking, hiking and cycling. For scuba divers, there are some impressive WWII shipwrecks, as well as the rare chance to night dive with hundreds of periphylla jellyfish. Perhaps the most popular activity in Solund is island hopping via the Solund postal boat service.
The Solund postal boat stops at a multitude of tiny communities (sometimes with a population of one), and the captain provides a wealth of information about the area, pointing out wildlife and occasionally encouraging the other passengers to talk about their lives.
Hardbakke is the starting point for the Solund postal boat adventure. Due to the well-planned timings of Norwegian transport, you’re unlikely to have more than a few minutes to explore, but this isn’t a problem because the village is characteristically tiny.
What it lacks in size it more than makes up for in beauty. Gorgeous painted wooden houses reflect in the calm bay and barely a soul stirs aside from the friendly skipper who’ll greet you with a smile at the pier.
Although accommodation is limited, you can break up the journey and stay overnight. Activities include a hike up Ravnenipa mountain and a coastal arboretum.
For most of the island-hopping tour, you stay on board while the post is dropped off, but at Gåsvær, there’s an opportunity to disembark and look around. This collection of colourful houses belongs to the Solund postal boat captain’s family and they welcome you with open arms and a plate laden with sugary pancakes.
The boat shed is a fascinating place to explore, with marine paraphernalia neatly displayed on the walls. There’s also a small hill, which offers lovely views out to sea.
A cottage has been converted into self-contained guest apartments, which make the perfect base for a quiet fishing holiday. For those who like to journey to the back end of beyond it doesn’t get much more remote than a place where sea eagles outnumber people.
Departing from Gåsvær, you’ll pass some impressive rock formations as well as the tiny grassy islands where local sheep enjoy their summer break.
The Solund postal boat journey ends around 2 pm in Bulandet. Before exploring the island it’s time for lunch in the café. They’ve recently hired a new chef and his fish soup is to die for. Try as we might, he wouldn’t give up his recipe, so you’ll have to make the journey to see for yourselves.
The island-hopping itinerary gives you roughly two hours on Bulandet and the most popular activity is cycling. Just behind the café is a bike rental. Cycling this island chain from Bulandet to Værlandet is an enjoyable and relatively easygoing experience. The only inclines on this 5 km route are the approaches to seven sea bridges, and your short slog uphill is rewarded with stunning views if you’re careful to mind the occasional car.
As well as admiring the scenery, you can visit a local museum called Bulandet Temapark. If you’re looking for a good place to rest, there are shelters designed to look like clams, which open and close.
In Autumn, those of a wild nature can also enjoy the lesser-known pastime of ‘storm watching’, when experienced kayakers ride the waves at the annual ‘Storm Gathering’ event.
Before continuing their journey to Askvoll, some people choose to stay overnight in Værlandet. Its beautiful modern hotel is situated directly opposite one of the region’s biggest peaks, ‘Alden’. People occasionally race to the top of this horse-shaped mountain and if you arrange for a private boat to take you across, you can follow a footpath to the summit 481 m above sea level. Alternatively, the North Sea Trail is a 1.5 h signposted route to the top of Høgkletten.
You can purchase the Solund postal boat ticket online at fjordkysten.no. Adult tickets cost NOK 300 one way. The island-hopping season runs from mid-June to the end of August with the postal service operating Monday to Friday. As there’s only room for 28 passengers, you should book in advance. Alternatively, you can take a one-day round trip from Bergen for NOK 1,420, which continues north to Askvoll after Værlandet before retuning south, or you can book individual tickets and stay overnight in various villages.
If you have more time, there are plenty of museums, immersive experiences and outdoor activities on offer, as well as smaller islands to explore. If this is your style of travel, you might want to consider a FJORDCard, which offers unlimited travel on the express boats that run north from Bergen to Sogn and Nordfjord.