What You Need To Know
Ålesund is a town and municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. It is part of the traditional district of Sunnmøre, and the center of the Ålesund Region. It is a sea port, and is noted for its concentration of Art Nouveau architecture. The town of Ålesund is the administrative centre of Ålesund Municipality, as well as the principal shipping town of the Sunnmøre district.
The 99-square-kilometre (38 sq mi) municipality is the 383rd largest by area out of the 426 municipalities in Norway. Ålesund is the 17th most populous municipality in Norway with a population of 47,199. The municipality’s population density is 506.6 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,312/sq mi) and its population has increased by 14% over the last decade. The greater Ålesund urban area has a population of 56,223 (this also includes most of neighbouring Sula Municipality as well).
Population: 47,199 (2017)
Area: 98.62 km2 (38.08 sq mi)
The municipality of Ålesund occupies seven of the outer islands in the county of Møre og Romsdal: Hessa, Aspøya, Nørvøya, Oksenøya, Ellingsøya, Humla, and Tørla. The town centre is located on the islands Aspøya and Nørvøya, while Heissa and Oksnøya contain residential areas.
The second largest island, Ellingsøya, used to be accessible only by boat or by road via Skodje Municipality, but the undersea Ellingsøy Tunnel was built in 1987 to make traveling between the island and the town centre more convenient. The tunnel is 3,481 metres (11,421 ft) long, and was upgraded in 2009.
Situated 236 kilometres (147 mi) north northeast of the city of Bergen, Ålesund is adjacent to the Hjørund and Geiranger fjords, the latter being on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
The municipality covers an area of 93 square kilometres (36 sq mi). The population (2017) is 47,199, making the population density of 506.6 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,312/sq mi). The population of the agglomeration, which includes parts of the neighbouring Sula Municipality, is 48,460. The municipality also contains three smaller separate urban areas on the island of Ellingsøya: Hoffland, Årset, and Myklebost with a total population of 1,279. Other villages include Løvika and Spjelkavik, both on Uksenøya.
Ålesund has a temperate and heavily moderated oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). Winters are mild, damp and windy; the coldest month of the year, January, has a mean temperature of 2 °C (36 °F). The lowest temperature ever recorded at Ålesund Airport, Vigra was −11 °C (12 °F). The climate is extremely mild for the latitude and inland areas at similar parallels especially in lowland Sweden see much hotter summers and colder winters. The warmest temperature ever recorded in Ålesund is 34,4 °C (94 F°). The following climate data is from Ålesund Airport Vigra, on an island in the sea off Ålesund in Giske municipality. Ålesund itself is more sheltered and has warmer summers.
Ålesund has the most important fishing harbour in Norway. The town’s fishing fleet is one of the most modern in Europe. Ålesund and surroundings also has a large furniture industry. Some well-known household items are manufactured here. In the 1950s and 1960s, Ålesund was one of the chief stations of the herring fishery business.
In relation to the relatively large fishing fleet belonging to Ålesund and nearby harbours a large shipbuilding and ship equipment industry has evolved. There are not any yards building ships in Ålesund any more, the last shipyard – Liaaen Shipyard evolved into ship repairs and since late 1990s has mainly been serving the offshore industry through the company Liaaen Technology that merged and rebranded to Strata Møre in 2007. In the close by communities however shipyards continue to operate successfully: Vard, Ulstein Verft, Kleven Maritime, Havyard Group.
When oil was found in the North Sea in the 1970s the local fishing fleet ship owners seized the opportunity and rebuilt fishing vessels to serve the infant oil exploration and production industry. Soon they were able to build purpose designed offshore vessels at local shipyards to serve the North Sea oil adventure even better. Today this has become a cornerstone industry in and around Ålesund through leading offshore supply ship owning companies Farstad, Bourbon, Olympic, Havila, and Rem. Serving the ship building industry a large number of equipment manufacturers has evolved: Rolls Royce, Odim, Sperre, Optimar, Ship Equip, Jets and many more.
To the east of Ålesund lies the Sykkylven Municipality where the Ekornes factory, producing furniture such as the StressLess chair, is located. Håhjem, another village near Ålesund, contains the headquarters of the Stokke company. Ålesund is also one of the harbours at which the Hurtigruten arrives two times per day. Ålesund is a tourist attraction, both due to its town center and its proximity to fjords. The Atlanterhavsparken aquarium is another tourist attraction.
From Øye at the head of Hjørundfjorden, a road strikes south to the Nordfjorden, and from Maråk on Geirangerfjorden another strikes inland to Otta. The Rauma Line starts at Åndalsnes, 120 kilometres (75 mi) east of Ålesund, going to Dombås, then southwards on the Dovre Line to Lillehammer and Oslo. Ålesund is a port of call for passenger and freight vessels travelling between Bergen, Kingston upon Hull, Newcastle, Hamburg, and Trondheim, including the Hurtigruta (Norwegian Coastal Express) cruise ships, which arrive in Ålesund twice a day.
The town’s airport, Ålesund Airport, Vigra, has several daily flights to/from Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Copenhagen. It used to have several weekly flights to/from Riga (Riga International Airport) (AirBaltic) and London (London Gatwick Airport) but these routes have since ceased. In November 2012 KLM announced it would fly to Ålesund 5 days a week from Amsterdam starting in April 2013.
Lately, there have been suggestions of a high-speed rail link to Oslo as well as metro-style local services to meet the needs of the expanding population of the town.
The Norwegian Centre of Art Nouveau Architecture, Jugendstilsenteret, is situated in Ålesund. It is a museum and competence center with exhibitions telling the story of the town fire and Art Nouveu/Jugendstil in Norway and Europe.
Sunnmøre museum, founded in 1931, is an outdoor folk museum devoted to the Norwegian coastal culture and way of life. Located on an area of 120 hectares (50 acres), it has more than 55 old and distinct houses from the past 300 years moved to the site, replicas of old Viking ships, and the Medieval Age Museum with artifacts from excavations of the old trading centre.
The local newspaper is Sunnmørsposten, founded in 1882 and published six days a week. Ålesund is the site of the annual Norwegian Food Festival.