I must admit it: I'm shamelessly proud of the county in Norway where I’m from, the Møre og Romsdal county. We have so much to offer here: A spectacular landscape, with high mountains, deep fjords, green valleys and scenic roads that combine them. A varied industry. A great number of good schools, universities and colleges that have become well known for the quality of the education they provide. Innovative and fearless entrepreneurs. Talented artists of many genres. Strong local traditions .... I could go on and on!
Where is Møre og Romsdal?
Møre og Romsdal county is situated in the northernmost part of Western Norway and borders the counties of Trøndelag, Oppland and Sogn og Fjordane. The county administration is located in the town of Molde, where I currently live, while Ålesund is the largest town. (Ålesund will be featured in a later blog post.)
The county is governed by the Møre og Romsdal County Municipality, which includes an elected county council and a county major. The national government is represented by the county governor. The name of the county was created in 1936, and the first element refers to the districts of Nordmøre and Sunnmøre, and the last element refers to Romsdal. The county has a total of 36 municipalities.
Traditionally, the county has been divided into three districts. From north to south, these are Nordmøre, Romsdal and Sunnmøre. Although the districts do not have separate governments and despite modern road-, sea- and air connections throughout the county, the three districts still have their own identities in many ways. Historically speaking, connections have been stronger between Nordmøre and Sør-Trøndelag to the north, Romsdal and Oppland to the east, and Sunnmøre and Sogn og Fjordane to the south, - than they have been internally. Differences in dialects between the three districts bear clear evidence of this.
Geographical features and difficult terrain
Due to geographical features, the county has many populated islands and is intersected by several deep fjords. Due to its difficult terrain, Møre og Romsdal has been very dependent on boat traffic. In the last decades, however, many of the ferries have been replaced by breathtaking bridges and scenic roads that have both made the daily life easier for a lot of people, as well as attracted visitors from all over the world to the region.
My main focus in this blog post will be on the district of Romsdal, where I was born and bred and also currently live. In later blog posts, I will give you a glimpse into the two other districts as well. However, this is such a varied and magnificent county that I would need a whole book to tell you about all the different features that you can find here (and that book might very well materialize in the not too distant future!) - but I'll provide you with a list of various features and attractions somewhere else on this blog shortly, and also give you links to where you can read more about them.
So let's dive into ....
The district of Romsdal
Being a "romsdaling" myself, moving back to this district after 25+ years in "exile" (as I like to call it) in the district of Sunnmøre, felt very much like coming home after a long journey. Even though Sunnmøre (or Ulsteinvik, to be more specific) was my home for so many years and I feel a certain belonging to that district, too, - there's nothing like home.
Nothing compares to the mountains in Romsdalen, in my opinion, and I'm then referring mainly to the mountains surrounding my home town Åndalsnes.
But the Molde Panorama, with 222 mountain tops in its range, is also a fantastic sight. From the famous viewpoint at Varden (407 metres or 1,225 ft above sea level) in Molde, you have a spectucal view over these mountains and the fjord, and it's truly breathtaking. You can drive all the way to the top in the summer, but the road is closed in winter, so the only way to get there then is on foot or on ski.
If you want to walk from the town of Molde and up to Varden, you can follow signs all the way via the Romsdal Museum and Storlihytta cabin, on a mostly gravelled path. The walk will take you about 1,5 hours on your way up, and 1 hour going back down (depending on how fit you are, of course). The terrain in which Varden is one of many destinations, is called Moldemarka, and it's used daily for recreation and exercise by people from Molde and the surrounding area. This hilly woodland area north of the city, is public land. The area has an extensive network of paths, walking trails and skiing tracks. Forest roads enter the area from several directions. Bulletin boards and maps provide information regarding local plants and wildlife, as well as signposts along the trails. Marked trails lead to a number of peaks, sites and fishing lakes and rivers. But be aware: A national fishing license is required to fish in the lakes and streams.
As I mentioned earlier, the town of Molde is the administrative center of Møre og Romsdal county, as well as the administrative center of the Municipality of Molde. It's also the commercial hub of the Romsdal region, and the seat of the Dicosese of Møre.
Molde has a maritime, temperate climate, with cool-to-warm summers and relatively mild winters. The town is nick-named The Town of Roses. It's an old settlement which emerged as a trading post in the late Middle Ages, and established as a municipality in 1838. The town continued to grow throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, becoming the center for Norwegian textile and garment industry, as well as the administrative center for the region and a major tourist destination.
After World War II, Molde experienced accelerated growth, and has become a center for not only administrative and public services, but also academic resources and industrial output.
Molde seen from the fjord, with Seilet Hotel and Aker Stadium.
What's to see in Molde?
No matter how you arrive in Molde, either by car, bus, bike, motorbike, aeroplane or boat, you will find a charming town with plenty of old wooden houses, but also with spectacular and modern newbuildings, some of which have become the new landmarks of the town. Among these are the Seilet Hotel and Aker Stadion, both designed by the Molde architect Kjell Kosberg (who is in fact, I'm proud to say, my brother). Both buildings are situated on the waterfront to the west of the town center, and you get a splendid view of the two if you arrive by ferry from Furnes. The Stadium seats 1,200 people and is the home arena of Molde Football Club, who's playing in the highest division in Norway.
Another new and great looking building in Molde is Plassen, the town's new culture arena which offers varied activities and houses the town library, theatre and an art center, as well as the administration of the Bjørnson Festival and Molde International Jazz Festival.
Romsdalsmuséet - the Romsdal Museum - has recently opened its new visitor center "Krona", which tells the Romsdal story and includes folklore costumes, exhibitions and the Café Mali. There's also an outdoor exhibition showing buildings and interiors from the entire region. Well worth a visit!
Pictures above: From Kringstadbukta in Molde - a beach and recreation area.
Among Molde's many old historical buildings and monuments is Chatauet - Le Chateau, - listed and restored mansion and grounds from 1918. There's a beautiful park surrounding the house, with information signs that tell the story of the park and of the family that used to live here.
Slideshow above: From the Chateau.
It's nice to walk about in Molde on a summer's day. The natural meeting point is the square in front of the Town Hall, with its many benches and a view to the fjord, and with the The Rose Girl (statue with fountain - see slide show further up in this post) in front of the Town Hall, and the Jazz Boy (another statue) playing his saxophone a little further down by the sea front. I suggest you sit down and relax on one of the benches and have a look around for a while ...
A little bit of wind in your hair ... the seagulls crying above your head ... an ice-cream from the kiosk nearby ... view to a strawberry stand in the market square where they sell delicious local produce ... the ferry coming in ... or perhaps you'll witness the arrival of the coastal steamer or one of the many cruise ships that visit the town every summer ... There's always something to look at on a summer's day in Molde.
If you enjoy shoppig, there are quite a few nice shops in the town centre, as well as a few department stores. There are also plenty of cafés and restaurants to choose between, and there are a few malls just outside the town center, Roseby and Molde Storsenter. You can easily get there on foot, or jump on one of the local buses which will take you there in just a few minutes.
Accomodation and activities
If you're planning to stay in Molde for a few days, there are several hotels and other accommodation of good quality, and if you're into sports or other physical activities, the options are varied and exciting. You can take part in guided mountain hikes, kayak tours, rent kayaks, bikes, etc. and explore the area on your own, and you can use the indoor climbing wall Moldeveggen, play golf at the 9-hole driving range at Eikrem, or you can play bowling or visit Moldebadet, which is an indoor waterpark with pools, slides and children's play area ... just to mention a few.
In the summer there's the annual Molde International Jazz Festival (always in week 29, which is in July), and the town has a rich cultural life with many opportunities to listen to music of all sorts, go to the cinema, watch a theatre performance, etc.
Trips in the area
Molde is also a great starting point for trips in the area. You can hire a bike and go "island jumping" to the beautiful islands Ona and Sandøy, among others, or you can go by boat to Hjertøya and the Fishing Museum. The boat has regular crossings several times a day during the summer, from mid-June until mid-August, and is very popular among both tourists and locals.
Other exciting excursions you can make from Molde is to the mystical Marble Caves at Naas, a fantastic journey into the mountain, - perhaps combined with a trip to The Atlantic Road, which is said to be one of the world's best road trips. I went there just recently, and it was truly a great experience, as I hope you can see from my pictures in the slide show below.
The Atlantic Road
The highway is about 8 km long and zigzags across several bridges and islands, to the point where the land and the ocean meet the fjord. There are "floating pathways" built at the various view-points along the road, where you can walk safely around and watch the spectacular scenery and shoot as many pictures as you want, - and perhaps even bring a fishing rod and see if you can catch some fish.
There are also a few places where you can use the toilet (if you need one) and - of course - get something to eat. I stopped at the kiosk at the beginning of the road, Atlanterhavskiosken, where I bought myself a nice "vafle" (typical Norwegian waffle), and chatted with the two very nice, pretty girls who worked there. They told me they were going to work there over the summer, so if you visit the Atlantic Road this year, perhaps you'll meet them, too.
I must say that I enjoy going on road trips, alone or with friends. It brings me to so many beautiful places, and I always meet a lot of nice, friendly people along the way. This trip was no exception. A bit further along the road, I met another nice girl who was working at the Service Center, in Favoritt Kro, and she willingly let me shoot a few pictures of her in the inviting interior.
I went for a walk on the "floating pathway outside the café, and got a perfect view to the bridge that I had crossed a few minutes earlier. I was very lucky with the weather that day, so I managed to shoot quite a few great pictures. It had actually been raining when I left home in the morning, but when I reached the point where the road started, the sun came through and it stopped raining. It stayed that way for the remainer of the day, so I was very happy about that. It gave me the opportunity to really take in the fantastic scenery and enjoy the cry of the seagulls, the wind in my hair, the rolling waves, the blue sky ... in short: The best of what this country - and this county - has to offer.
Slideshow above: The Atlantic Road
On my way home from The Atlantic Road, I decided to follow the road via Farstad and Elnesvågen back to Molde. I'm glad I did, because then I came across the sign that said "Farstadsanden", and I decided to go there.
A beautiful place that I will most definitely recommend that you visit if you're in the area, perhaps on your way back from The Atlantic Road, - is the beach at Farstadsanden. It's popular with surfers, as far as I could tell... at least there was one surfer there when I visited. He was making an attempt to ride the waves, but the wind was a little bit strong that day, so he had a hard time paddling himself far enough from the shore to catch a long wave. I didn't stay around long enough to see if he succeeded, but let's hope he got lucky in the end.
Slideshow above: Farstadsanden beach
Farstadsanden is a sandy beach and an eldorado for families with children, but also for anyone else who enjoys a day at the beach. It may get a bit windy, as this is far out, by the ocean, but a bit of fresh air won't kill you, so bring a hamper of food and some blanket and have a picnic! I think I may go back there in the evening some time, to sit there and watch the sun go down...
There are several beaches closer to the town of Molde, as well. One of them is Kringstadbukta, whick is another sandy beach with plenty of opportunities for picnics and also for a walk through the woods ....
Slideshow above: Kringstadbukta
And then there's Retiro, which is a grassy picnic area just by the roadside a few kilometres from the town center, with a diving tower for the bold and a small sandy cove for the children to play in. There are paved paths in several directions, and this area is therefor a popular place for people to walk their dogs or just go for a stroll on their own. Most of the dog-owners actually do a good job when it comes to picking up the droppings after their dogs, so if other people who use the beach could be just as good at taking care of their garbage when they've finished picnicing, the municipality wouldn't have to take the job with cleaning it up, like they had to in 2015/2016, when the area had to ble closed off for several months for the renovation. It seems like that was a lesson learned for everybody, though, because I haven't noticed any garbage lying around when I've visited this place lately, and that's great!
Let's keep our beaches clean, for all our sakes!
Møre og Romsdal is, in fact, a very clean and unspoilt region. There's a lot of focus on the environment and how to protect it, and it works.
Rural district with lots of animals
What I absolutely love about driving around in the rural districts, is the fact that I'm likely to come across some beautiful animals along the way, and this road-trip was no exception. I met some lovely horses, and of course I simply had to get out of my car and say hello to them, - and take pictures. Quite a few people have horses around here, and there's a riding club in Molde where I'm quite sure you could get the chance to try some horseback-ridinig if you contact them.
There are quite a few farms in the area, most of which produce meat and milk, so the kind of livestocks you're most likely to see are sheep and cattle, and perhaps a few goats and hens.
Apart from farms, there's also a varied industry in the region, so if you want to find out more about work opportunities here or simply learn more about what the region has to offer, I suggest you dive into the reference-/link section which I'll make a list of and put here on my blog in a short time. It should keep you busy for some time ...
If you want to find out more about Molde and the surrounding area, I've listed a lot of references and links HERE for you to explore.
I hope you've enjoyed this dive into the Møre og Romsdal county, and that you'll want to read more in my next blog post, which will be all about another spectacular part of the county: MY valley and MY mountains, in the area around Åndalsnes: Romsdalen, or the Rauma Valley.
See you soon!
Hi, I'm Else Kosberg, a Norwegian woman who is passionate about travel, languages, photography & filming, and learning about other people and cultures. I'm a writer, motivational speaker and broadcaster who wants to empower others (and especially women) to live unapologetically on their own terms. I will forever be a Warrior for Peace, love and understanding across the borders, and with this blog I hope to inspire, motivate and empower YOU to start exploring the world and maybe follow the roads less traveled.