Solvorn is a little, sleepy village in the Fjord Country. It has a very nice layout, stretching elegantly like a fan uphill from the fjord. The view across the Lustrafjord, a branch of the long and wide Sognefjord, towards Ornes is superb.
The road to Solvorn
We arrived here on the second day of our Fjord Norway road trip. Earlier in the day we started out from Lærdalsøyri and visited the stave churches of Borgund and Kaupanger. At Solvorn we checked in at the Walaker Hotel and got a room with a view across the fjord to Ornes. Ornes is where we find the spectacular stave church of Urnes. It is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as the premier example of Norwegian medieval stave churces.
We took the ferry and visited Urnes stave church. In combination with a gradually improving weather we enjoyed our evening in the hotel and concluded that it had been a day to remember.
Here are a few pictures of what we saw before we came to Solvorn.
This is the map of our trip. Zoom in and out and expand to a new tab as you like.
Solvorn’s past and present
Solvorn became quite an important trading town from late medieval times (1300’s) and also grew into becoming an administrative centre for the area. It was never a really large place. In 1865 it is reported to have had three merchants and two bakers. When transportation moved from sea to land in the 19th century, Solvorn’s location became much less attractive. It has been well preserved.
There are not many people living in Solvorn today, only 229 according to Statistics Norway. It has a church, a grocery store and a primary school. There are a couple of farms but the majority of the population seem to be working in the tourist industry or elsewhere in the region.
Many of the houses date back to the late 19th century. The boathouses along the beachfront were owned by landowning farmers and merchants. Poor families without land (“strandsittere”) were allowed to put up their modest houses here as well.
“Strandsittere” was a common sight in the fjords of Western Norway from the 17th to the mid-20th century. They rented the land for their houses for free or a small fee, working as fishermen, small size merchants or craftsmen. Behind the boathouses there were and still are residential houses – most of them are being tended very well and the fondness of flowers is easy to notice. The houses would originally have been built as log cabins or log houses, but the majority have now been equipped with a panelled exterior.
The best thing about Solvorn is that there is not much to see. You can stay a night here, or five, and just relax. A good place to stay is the Walaker Hotel. The hotel has been owned by the same family since 1690 and is now run by the 9th generation. Its setting is perfect right on the shore of the picturesque Lustrafjord, with the quay close by for the ferry across the fjord to Ornes. The hotel garden offers a relaxing atmosphere, and so do the living rooms inside. Sitting on the front porch with a book or a drink before dinner does something to you. Be sure to come here in the summer season or else you’ll find a locked door.
This was my review of the hotel on Tripadvisor:
“You won’t be returning many times to Walaker. Spending the night, having the dinner with wine and a couple of drinks before and after cost us nearly 5000 kroner. That is simply too much. On the other hand, if you want to forget about the money and indulge yourself in a feeling of rare luxury then Walaker is the place. Fantastic setting and view of the fjord, a lovely little village, a well-maintained garden and bedrooms and living rooms taking you back in time a hundred years is something to enjoy. We loved the dinner and especially the dessert: Parfait made from Norwegian brown-cheese.
Room Tip: Our room in the old section of the hotel only had a small window.”
The next morning presented itself from a clear blue sky and with a pleasant temperature. After a very good breakfast we knew that this was going to be a perfect day. We went on a photo-safari in Solvorn.
It really was a perfect day. We took a ferry on the fantastic Nærøyfjord in beautiful weather and did not stop until we had reached the heavy and wild waterfall at Vøringsfossen. Read about it in the next chapter.
There are many more relevant articles on this blog. Read my introduction to Western Norway, the fjord country. These posts all have videos describing them in more detail. Find the videos on the Norway playlist on my YouTube channel.