Fjærland is the district surrounding Fjærlandsfjord, a branch of Sognefjord. Fjærland has 300 inhabitants, and is part of Sogndal municipality. The centre in Fjærland is Mundal, about 3 km from the main road, down the fjord. Most people in Fjærland are engaged in farming and tourism.
Until 1985 the only way to get to Fjærland was to travel by boat on the Fjærland Fjord. In 1986 the road north to Skei was built. It was opened by former U.S. Vice-President Walter F. Mondale, whose family and name originates from Mundal in Fjærland. In 1994 the road was continued south to Sogndal making Fjærland easy to reach from both north and south.
The area has been settled since the Viking Age, but there are finds dating back to the late Stone Age. The size of the population has varied over the years. Large scale emigration to America took place in the late 19th century.
Mundal includes school and church, as well as shops, hotels and other services. The church is from 1861, rebuilt in 1931. It is open to the public. In Mundal you also find The Norwegian Book Town with several picturesque second-hand book shops. The Book Town opened in 1996, being the eighth booktown in the world and the first in Scandinavia.
Nature and landscape
The landscape in Fjærland has been shaped by glaciers through successive ice ages during the last 2,5 to 3 million years. Towering mountains and U-shaped valleys surround large delta areas which results from the accumulation of sediment supplied by the glacier rivers.
The glaciers Bøyabreen and Supphellebreen come down to the valley floor in Fjærland. These are branches of Jostedalsbreen - the largest glacier on the European continent (474 km²). The ice in the ice falls of the glaciers is gliding down the mountain side with a speed of 2 metres per day - among the fastest in Norway. Supphellebreen, at an elevation of 60 m, is the lowest lying glacier in Southern Norway. Parts of Fjærland lie within Jostedalsbreen National Park. The National Park covers 1230 km² and is characterized by great variation within short distances, from fjords and lowland, to mountains and glaciers.
Jostedalsbreen has been in use as a transport route for several hundred years. One of the most popular routes at the southern part of Jostedalsbreen is between Lunde and Fjærland.
The Bøyaøyri estuary at the head of the fjord is a protected nature reserve, due to its part in bird migration during the spring and autumn. 100 species have been observed and approximately 50 of them nest in the area.
The farms are large and easy to run compared to most farms of Western Norway. Soil quality and climate are particularly good for milk and meat production. All the valleys in Fjærland have mountain pastures, so called 'støl' or 'sæter'. These are reached by path or cart road. Few of them are in use today.
Since the second half of the 19th century travellers have come to see and explore the fjords, the mountains and the glaciers.
In the early years numerous cruiseships brought tourists to Fjærland, where they travelled by horse and carriage to the glaciers. Today these round-trips are made by bus. Several cruise ships visit Fjærland every summer. Especially the magnificent nature, the stillness and the good hiking conditions continue to delight the visitors. The path from the Supphelle Valley up to the hut Flatbrehytta is the best gateway for hikers to the glaciers. In addition, the local sports association has marked a number of other trails, from easy 1/2 hour walks to more strenuous walks for 5-6 hours.
In Fjærland you will find two beautiful wooden hotels by the fjord. The classic Hotel Mundal was built in 1891. Read more about the hotel here. The other one, Fjærland Fjordstue Hotel, re-opened in spring 2012. More information here.
Today daily buses connect Fjærland with, among others, Oslo, Bergen, Flåm, Sogndal, Stryn and Førde. In the summer a car ferry Fjærland - Hella - Balestrand also connects with ferry/boat to Vangsnes/Vik and express boat to/from Bergen and Flåm.
In Fjærland a bus connects with the ferry and takes you to the Glacier Museum. From the museum the bus continues to the glaciers, before it brings you back to the ferry quay.