Photograph of the week: Stegastein viewpoint, Norway
A must-stop for anyone travelling between Oslo and Bergen, Flam sits plum in the middle of UNESCO World Heritage fjord territory. The Stegastein viewpoint, near Flam, offers the best views of those fjords.
Stegastein is likely one of the most photographed viewpoints in Norway, a veritable Mecca for avid Instagrammers seeking selfie-stardom. But don’t let that deter you. It may not be the road less travelled by, but those who never travel this twisting, turning, winding road, littered with spectacular views at every hairpin bend, miss out on, well, spectacular views at every hairpin bend. After all, tourist attractions become tourist attractions for a reason.
The panoramic views at Stegastein are proof of this. They are, quite simply, stunning. And the platform from which you view them is just as stunning in its own right.
Part of the Aurlandsfjellet National Tourist Route that runs from Aurland to Lærdal, popularly known as ‘The Snow Road’, the Stegastein viewpoint was designed by Todd Saunders and Tommie Wilhelmsen. Completed in 2006, this pine and steel platform juts out 30 metres (98 ft) from the mountain and a staggering 650 metres (2132 ft) above Aurlandsfjord.
To get there, bus directly from Flam via Aurland or, if you’re feeling brave, self-drive, slowly, by taking route E16 from Flam towards Aurland. Top tip: to avoid the worst of the tourist crowds, avoid arriving between 11am and 2pm, which seems to be when the biggest tour busses unload.
An even better tip? Make the trip in winter, by snowshoe. With summer being peak visiting season to the Stegastein viewpoint, you can avoid even more crowds by taking in the views in winter. The waterfalls may not be flowing then, but neither will the streams of tourists. These are replaced by an icy, exquisitely serene, silence. The waterfalls become frozen walls of ice, the fjords become silent pools, crusted with thin layers of ice, and the tourists become, well, too cold to visit.
Whenever you choose to go, know that the views are spectacular in all seasons, and the viewpoint is open 365 days a year.
Fun fact: In 2015, the toilet at Stegastein received the ‘Most Beautiful Toilet’ award from Design Curial Magazine. Talk about a room with a view…