Selje – Why everyone should visit this small town in Norway

Written by Maria Aardal

October 20, 2017

What is Selje?

Right on the west coast of Norway lies the small, beautiful town called Selje. The town is famous for its beautiful scenery and interesting history.

Selje

While the town is known for its beauty and nature it is a hidden gem. You will not encounter large tourist groups, and most people you meet will be locals. Less than 700 people inhabit the town, and it will give you an authentic small village feeling. Visiting Selje will show you the “real” Norway. Selje is a calm oasis away from the hectic big city life and where you can still see the signs of the Norway that used to be before the oil and riches that came with it took over.

Selje and the surrounding areas are filled with farms and huge properties. It is a huge contrast to the bigger cities like Bergen and Oslo. The roads are small and snakes along the coast and over mountains. Sheep, cows, horses and goats roam the area and roads.

How to get to Selje?

When travelling to Selje, you have the options of getting there by boat, bus or car.

Vestkapp

Bus or plane

You can catch a bus from the surrounding areas, however the buses does not run often and it is important to check the times before. The closest airport is Anda which is about 1,5 hours away from Selje, including one ferry. If you travel by plane to Anda, you still need to make arrangements to get from Anda to Selje.

Boat

Hurtigbåten” is a boat that travels from Bergen and north to Selje. The trip takes about 5 hours. If you are traveling out of Bergen this is definitely the easiest way to get to Selje. The boat leaves twice a day on weekdays and once a day on the weekends. The scenery along the boat ride is beautiful, with lots of classic Norwegian nature with high mountains and long fjords. I would recommend taking the morning boat from Bergen to get the most out of the ride.

Traveling by boat is very comfortable, the boat is large with two floors. Downstairs there is a small kiosk where you can buy drinks, snacks and some hot foods like hotdogs, pizza, and noodles, and there is a playroom for the children. The boat is also equipped with plugs, wifi, and TVs’, though you should not count on the wifi. If you get easily seasick sitting in the middle of the downstairs is the best, however, if you do not, sitting upstairs by the window provides the best view. The boat ride will give you an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful coastal line of western Norway. You get to see the fjords and the mountains from a different perspective.

Car

If you are on a road trip on the western coast of Norway stopping in Selje is a must. Driving there is a unique experience. The roads are very unlike the rest of Europe, they turn and twist like you will not believe. Not to mention the sheep and other animals you will encounter. Driving lets you really explore the mountains and views. Driving over the mountains close to Selje is beautiful and the view is just breathtaking. You get to see views from high up overlooking the characteristic fjords.

selje
Selje

Driving on Norwegian country roads can be a bit of a challenge for those who are not used to it. The roads are narrow and turny, yet the speed limits are fairly high. It is important to just take your time, and it is because the speed limit is 80 does not mean that you should hold 80 in all the turns. People who are used to driving on these roads will often pressure you and overtake or drive close to your car. Do not let this pressure or stress you to speed, rather pull over and let them past.

Where to stay?

Unfortunately, the hotel in Selje was burnt down and has yet to be rebuilt so, for now, there are only a few options of where to stay.

You can camp at the local campsite. You can either camp in a tent, your caravan or rent a cabin. The cabins are comfortable and great no matter what time of the year it is. It is located just 500 meters from the “city center” and is situated in beautiful surroundings. The campsite has everything you need for a comfortable stay, and it is right by the golf course for those who like a good game of golf. There are common areas, wifi and everything else you might need.

Selje

You also have the option of camping in the surrounding nature. If you are going to Selje to hike, you can always camp in the mountains. In Norway, you are also allowed to put up your own tent in nature. You can set up camp anywhere in nature as long as it is 150 meters away from buildings. While this is the general rule, you must, of course, think about where you set up camp and not set it up in someone’s farm or something like that.

The other accommodation option is “Doktorgarden“. It is located right in the center of Selje, just a two-minute walk from the stores. Doktorgarden is not only accommodation, but it is also a cafe, gallery, and store. There are four double rooms, all equipped with everything you need to cook for yourself and live. The cafe has a lot of options for home-cooked Norwegian meals, in the store you can buy books, wool, gifts, and souvenirs.

Selje

There are also a few places other where you can rent a room or an apartment, like this one and this one.

Where to eat in Selje?

As Selje is so small the options are limited. As mentioned above Doktorgarden has a cafe with lunch, dinner and dessert options. They also have a liquor license and it is a spectacular place for a glass of wine.

On the pier, right by where “hurtigbåten” arrives lies The Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a restaurant/cafe during the day, and a bar at night. It is located right on the pier, and you can sit outside with a view of the ocean, pier, and islands.

Selje

In the weekend evenings, Åheimsbuda turns into a bar/club and the vibe is good. There is live music and dancing. The place is unlike any other and you will see people from all generations drinking and dancing together.

The last option for food is the gas station. You will not find great cosine or traditional Norwegian meals here, but it is a good option if you are in a hurry. They have burgers, hot dogs, fries and normal fast food.

Weather

As Selje is right on the west coast of Norway the weather can get quite crazy, but that is part of the charm. Just the weather is reason enough to travel to Selje. The northern winds can get very strong and the winter is cold. During autumn and winter, there are usually a few larger storms. If you are lucky you get to experience one. The winds are strong that you can feel the whole house shake.

Vestkapp

While it is not the most comfortable whether it can be beautiful and a lot of fun. “Lying” on the wind, and hearing it howl as you go to bed at night.

What to do in Selje

At this point, you might be asking yourself, “why though?”. Why would anyone travel to such a remote place, yes the nature is beautiful but is that it? No, there is so much more to see and do.

Hiking

Hiking is practically mandatory when traveling to Selje.

The easiest hike in Selje is to walk the stairs up to “Risnakken”. The stairs are just a few years old, and it is about a 15-minute hike. Even though the hike is “easy and fast” the view from the top is breathtaking, you see the whole town and the beach. You also get a good view of the surrounding islands.

Selje

If you feel like a longer hike you can take the stairs up and keep going inwards and upwards you end up in “Kvenhusdalen”. There is a perfect place to camp. You can set up your tent wherever and there is a spot to make a fire and barbecue. There is also a small lake that is perfect for a swim if the weather is okay. Getting back down you can either take the stairs or you can walk down “Kyrkeskaret” Kyrkeskaret is more of a challenge, but it is a very fun hike. It is very steep and at more than one point you need to hold on to rope railings. This hike would be about one hour altogether. The trails are easy to find and there are lots of signs pointing you in the right direction.

The highest mountain in Selje is “Eggja” and if you feel like a “real” hike this is it. It is right over 700 meters. It is possible to drive quite far up the mountain and from there it is about an hour’s walk. The trails are well-kept and its a nice hike. If you want more of a challenge you can start with the stairs and go all the way to the top of Eggja. This is a longer hike and more of a challenge. Count about 2 hours up and be prepared to walk on less traveled trails.

These hikes are right in the center of Selje and if you are more sporty or looking for every better view there are so many more very close by. “Hornelen” and “Libbera” are both great hikes.

“Sanden”

Whether it is summer or winter you have to take a walk along the long, white beach. Among the locals, the beach is known as “Sanden” meaning “the sand”. The name is easily understood when you see the beautiful white sand. The beach has a tropical feel that you do not find many places in Norway. During summer the beach is filled with swimming children, people barbecuing and tanning.

Selje

If you are traveling during winter a swim might not seem tempting, but a walk on the beach is just as beautiful. At the end of the beach is the local beautiful church surrounded by traditional “boat houses”.

Aardalen

About 5km from Selje centrum is “Skårbø”. From there you can keep hiking outwards, the nature is beautiful with the wild sea on one side and high, steep mountains on the other. If you walk about 20 minutes from there you will find Aardalen farm.

Selje

In Aardalen they have found traces of activity from 400 years before Christ, and the houses that are there now are about 150-200 years old. The farm is special because it was never touched by machine farming, it was only manual labor. The house is authentic, and you can really feel what it was like for those who lived there.

Aardalen

The site also has a great view right out to Selja island and the monastery.

Selja island

Right outside Selje is the island Selja. The island is a pilgrim site and famous for the legend of Saint Sunniva. It is a 15-minute boat ride from Selje. You can buy tickets that include the boat trip and a guided two-hour tour. You can buy it online here and there you can also find the departure times.

On Selja you will see the ruins of a monastery from the 12th century. The ruins are beautiful and interesting. You can even walk up in the tower and ring the bell.

A small hike further up on the island you will find the Sunniva cave. This is the site of the legend of Saint Sunniva. It tells that Sunniva was a king’s daughter from Ireland who was supposed to be forced into marriage with a heathen. She ran away and ended up on Selja island, and settled there with a group of helpers. Legend has it the locals did not like them and they were accused of stealing sheep. The locals then came to kill them, and Sunniva and her men hid in the cave. They prayed to God to save them from the heathens and he listened and had the cave collapse on them. The legend then tells that Olaf Tryggvason came to Selja and found sweet-smelling bones and Sunniva’s body completely intact.

She became a saint and a monastery was built in her honor. The ruins are still there and the atmosphere on the island is magical. On the island you can also drink water from a “holy” well that is supposed to bring good health.

Vestkapp

Vestkapp is counted as the westernmost mountain plateau in Norway. The view is amazing and you can look right into the ocean horizon. Vestkapp is on the mountain “Kjerringa” at about 497 meters above the ocean. Vestkapp is about a 45-minute drive from Selje.

While Vestkapp is beautiful and the view is just astounding, if you go on a rainy/foggy day you will not see anything. I am not exaggerating now, you will literally not see anything on a bad day. Not even a few meters in front of you. While the surroundings can still be beautiful, you will not get the perfect horizon view. Try to go there on a clear, sunny day.

Hoddevik

The drive there is also great. Beautiful nature at every turn, you cross high mountains, with huge plains on the top. Everywhere you look there is something new and beautiful.

Hoddevik and Ervik 

Hoddevik

Hoddevik and Ervik are two of the most popular surfing spots in Norway. Located on Stadt which is famous for windy, crazy weather. The waves create the perfect surfing conditions. There are several places that offer accommodation and surfing/yoga lessons. Lapoint, Stad Surfing and Ervik surf shop are some of the options. These are also the perfect places to experience real “Stadt” weather, which is famous for strong winds.

Tips

  • Come prepared for any weather
  • If you drink or plan on drinking while in Selje, there is no alcohol store there so stack up before you leave. You can buy beer, cider, and that stuff at the store, but nothing stronger
Selje

Would you visit Selje? Have you ever traveled to a beautiful small town?

If you are visiting other places in Norway you should make sure to check out my current home-city Bergen!

Welcome!

I am Maria, a 20 year old student. I am here to show you that traveling is possible for everyone, including you. I belive that traveling can be done in a lot of different ways and that you never have to limit.

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2 Comments

  1. Malin

    This is such a good read. Selje is my home town, I grew up there but moved away to study. It feels like this was written by a local, you got everything right on the spot. I also reccommend seeing the caves in Ervik (Ærvikja in local wording) from 2nd world war, used to look out for ships. Park the car at the left end of the beach, follow the trail by foot up the fieldside. Its a short walk, maybe 10 minutes. The caves are dark, so bring a flashlight. At the end you come out on a small hill on the ocean side with a great view.

    Reply
    • bothpathstravelers

      Yeah, I was actually born there, but I moved when I was just 2. I love Selje and still visits when I can. I have actually never heard of the caves, sounds amazing. I definitely need to see them next time I am there.

      Reply

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