About The Seven Sisters and the Geirangerfjorden Waterfalls
The Seven Sisters Waterfall was certainly the most famous of the waterfalls in the Geiranger Fjord (Geirangerfjorden), and we’ve come to associate the two over the years.
Ever since our first cruise together on the Geirangerfjord under sunny skies, we learned that the fjord offered way more than this series of waterfalls.
Indeed, we got a very memorable experience that also allowed us to better appreciate the steep walls and cliff-hanging farms.
We also witnessed other major and minor waterfalls draping both sides of the fjord.
Coupled with the beautiful weather that we happened to be experiencing during our time on our first tour, we simply couldn’t have asked for a better visual experience.
In fact, the Geirangerfjord was gazetted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the year of our first visit in 2005.
Of course Norwegian weather can be very fickle, and our return trip to Norway 14 years later, we experienced a nasty rain storm on a Hurtigruten cruise as well as improving weather on a clearing storm another month afterwards.
Are there really seven sisters?
As for the Seven Sisters, it consisted of a series of several columns of water with the tallest drop said to be 220m.
I’d imagine that someone must have envisioned there were seven of these columns, which was how it got its name.
As you can see from our photo above, I don’t think we were able to count seven of them.
But perhaps that all depended on the amount of snowmelt or rain.
Besides, I had read from the literature that it was rare to actually see the stream segment into seven waterfalls.
In terms of nomenclature, we noticed that the falls also went by the Norwegian names of Dei Sju Systrene or De Syv Søstrene.
Given that there were multiple ways of saying “seven” in Norwegian (sju or syv) as well as “sister” (søster eller syster), I’m sure there could be many permutations of these Norwegian names.
That said, from looking at the Norgeskart map, the falls flowed from the series of streams called Knivsflåelvane so the falls could also be more formally named Knivsflåfossen.
Experiencing the Geirangerfjorden Cruise
We mentioned earlier that our visit to the Seven Sisters Waterfall involved many other waterfalls.
So we’ll continue this writeup with the progression of the waterfalls that we managed to see during our visit in July 2005, which was on a typical tourist cruise going all the way through Geirangerfjorden and back.
On our Hurtigruten Cruise, we actually entered the fjord from the west and would be seeing these sights in the opposite order.
In any case, we’ll only focus on the typical tourist cruise experience of the Geiranger Fjord on this page.
There were still yet other waterfalling experiences within the Geiranger town itself, but we’ll punt that description to the Storseterfossen page as this Seven Sisters page had enough to discuss already.
Experiencing the Geirangerfjorden Cruise – Gjerdefossen and the Eagle Road
First, as we left the port at Geiranger at the east end of the fjord, we started to see the serpentine road Ørneveien (or Ørnevegen; meaning “the Eagle Road”) on the north side.
Just a short distance west of the road was the waterfall Gjerdefossen.
It was a tall but light-flowing 200m waterfall during our visit, but from looking at the map, it appeared to have a trail that left the Eagle’s Road towards a profile view of the falls overlooking the scenic fjord.
Julie and I had completely forgotten about this possibility when the cruise was over and we had been really looking forward to doing that trail when we returned to Norway 14 years later.
Unfortunately, even on the subsequent visit, they closed the trail that went out to Gjerdefossen.
Instead, they had set up a new lookout platform complete with a diverted waterfall and a distant view down towards the Seven Sisters.
Experiencing the Geirangerfjorden Cruise – Bringefossen or Gomsdalsfossen
After Gjerdefossen, the next major waterfall to the west was on the watercourse Bringa.
Strangely, this waterfall didn’t have a formal name despite its substantial flow compared to Gjerdefossen.
This was despite the fact that it was probably one of the easiest waterfalls to notice from the cruise especially to whet the appetite of seeing the next waterfalls coming up.
We’ve informally called it “Bringafossen” or “Bringefossen”, and it was a nice lead-in to the next waterfalls just to the west.
It was only many years after the fact did we finally learn that this waterfall was said to be more formally called Gomsdalsfossen.
Experiencing the Geirangerfjorden Cruise – Friaren
Indeed, after Bringefossen, we then went into the middle of the fjord where we saw the Seven Sisters Waterfall to the north as well as another waterfall called Friaren right across the fjord to the south.
Given that this large and voluminous 250m tall waterfall was all alone with the Seven Sisters in sight, Julie and I heard a story perpetuated by the tourist boat cruise we were on explaining how the falls got to where they were.
Legend had it that the Friar was trying to woo the sisters across the fjord so he could have them to himself.
He only managed to make it as far as the fjord but wasn’t able to get any closer.
Yet there he was still plotting his next move…
Years later, when Julie and Tahia went on the same tourist cruise of the Geiranger Fjord, it appeared that they told the same story again so at least that was one thing that hadn’t changed over the years.
More formally, Friaren was on the river Geitelva, which tumbled beneath the farm Skageflåsætra.
It actually consisted of two named sections because its inverted fan shape had a plunge section and then a fan section below it.
The plunge section was more formally called Geitfossen while the lower section was officially named Skageflåfossen.
By the way, we were told that all of the mountain farms hugging this fjord (including Skageflåsætra) were abandoned from a combination of avalanches and the Black Death (bubonic plague) that decimated most of Europe during medieval times.
Indeed, life in the steep walls of the fjords and valleys in Norway was difficult, and it was by trial and error (often with costly consequences if something goes wrong; even tidal waves from landslides can occur).
I recalled one of the guides on our Hurtigruten Cruise pay homage to the brave people living here under such circumstances, and I totally get where he’s coming from after having gone through such scenery that was both beautiful as well as deadly.
It was this heritage of carving out a living in these fjords for centuries that differentiated Norway’s fjords from other fjords around the world.
That was why Geirangerfjorden was gazetted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Speaking of farms, we have noticed some tourists have managed to arrange for the cruise to drop them off (or pick them up) beneath the Skageflå Farm.
That way, they could hike up to it and get a very unique view of the fjord itself as well as the Seven Sisters as well as experiencing the farm itself.
Experiencing the Geirangerfjorden Cruise – Brudesløret
Further to the west of the famous Seven Sisters and Friaren, was the thin but very tall plunge of Brudesløret (the Bridal Veil).
It was said to be the tallest singular freefalling waterfall in the fjord (I recalled the boat might have said something to the effect it was 1000ft tall).
We particularly remembered this falls because there was an attractive rainbow in its mist at its base.
Experiencing the Geirangerfjorden Cruise – Ljosurfossen
Almost right across from Brudesløret was the next high-volume waterfall called Ljosurfossen (also spelled Ljosurdfossen) on the Ljosura Stream on the south side of the fjord.
For the most part, we were looking against the sun during our midday tour back in early July 2005.
Yet despite the high angle of the midday sun, the falls was still in shadow when trying to view this waterfall, which made for some difficult photos.
Around this falls were more abandoned farms – one closer to the fjord itself while others were way up the cliffs.
Julie and I particularly remembered a story told by the cruise that there was a farmer who lived in one of the higher farms that never had to pay taxes his whole life.
For when the tax collector came by, he’d cut the only rope access to his farm thereby preventing anyone from coming up to harass him.
Experiencing the Geirangerfjorden Cruise – Sunnylyvsfjord
The cruise ultimately made it all the way out to the junction of the Geirangerfjord with Sunnylyvsfjord (Sunnylyvsfjorden).
Then the cruise turned back at headed east to Geiranger allowing us to re-visit all of the waterfalls once again before ending back at Geiranger.
As the boat was turning around, we got to see a distant waterfall called Hellesyltfossen within the town of Hellesylt way in the distance.
We also glimpsed other other tall waterfalls along the Sunnylyvsfjord.
On our Hurtigruten Cruise, since we entered Geirangerfjorden from Sunnylyvsfjorden, we also explored and witnessed many more waterfalls along the way.
Meanwhile, as we headed back to Geiranger, we started paying attention to other unnamed (and possibly named) waterfalls within Geirangerfjorden itself.
Indeed, there were simply way too many waterfalls to single out on top of the more major ones we’ve singled out on this page.
Experiencing the Geirangerfjorden Cruise – Grinddalsfossen and the conclusion
Anyways, just as we were about to return to Geiranger, Julie and I noticed there was still another tall sloping cascade right behind the town.
To our knowledge, this waterfall didn’t have a formal name, but since it was coming from Grinddalen (according to the maps), we decided to call it “Grinddalsfossen”.
When we did the Storsæterfossen hike after the cruise, we’d find out that we would get to see more of Grinddalsfossen as well.
We also had a nice view of Grinddalsfossen from our hotel room.
Finally, in terms of time commitment, our cruise tour took about 2- to 2.5 hours.
Given the popularity of the cruise, it got quite crowded and getting the choicest viewing positions wasn’t easy.
I’d imagine that the higher the seat, the better the viewing experience as fewer heads would be in the way.
I didn’t recall how much the cruise had costed, but I did recall it seemed to be pretty reasonable.
There were other motorboat-hire options available, but I think to truly see the whole fjord like we did, a more powerful boat would be necessary given how much there was to see along the way and the distances that needed to be covered in a short amount of time.
At least that was our thought process that ultimately resulted in us going with the common tour option.
The Seven Sisters and the rest of the Geirangerfjord Waterfalls reside in the Stranda Municipality. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.
The tourist cruise described on this page can easily be experienced from the town of Geiranger, where we were able to book cruise tickets on the day of our visit and wait at the dock to board.
The Hurtigruten Cruise required us to pre-book (especially since we took a rental car on board), which is beyond the scope of this page.
That said, the Geirangerfjord was part of their itinerary (for the northbound route between Bergen and Molde), which was why I gave it a mention on this page.
It was also possible to do a long ferry between Hellesylt and Geiranger, where the ferry ride could also act as a one-way cruise, though we didn’t exercise this option so we can’t say more about it.
Anyways, while driving to Geiranger is straightforward (you can easily route to town from just about any other town in Norway), the tricky part is finding parking.
After all, the town is small but the tourist crush is heavy, especially at peak season.
Although we were able to find street parking in the Geiranger town during our early July 2005 visit, it was far less crowded back then.
There’s no guarantee that you will score a free parking spot nor even score a paid one in town.
When we came back to Geiranger in July 2019, in addition to the limited parking spots in town, we did notice some hard-to-score parking further up the mountain at the Fjord Center across the Rv63 from the Hotel Union.
Of course, since we were staying at that hotel, we could park in the hotel’s dedicated lot though even that had also proven to fill up fast!
My advice is to make a day out of visiting Geiranger so if you can score parking, try to keep that parking spot, then walk to where you need to go (unless you’re parking somewhere far away from town).
For geographical context, Geiranger was 75km (90 minutes drive) northeast of Stryn, 87km (over 2 hours drive with a ferry) south of Åndalsnes, 108km (over 2 hours drive with a ferry) southeast of Ålesund, 448km (6 hours drive) northwest of Oslo, 371km (6.5 hours drive with some ferry crossings) northeast of Bergen, and 376km (5.5 hours drive) southwest of Trondheim.
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