Mother Nature invested an Ice Age in grinding out the fjords of Norway. The scenic dividends are undeniable, even if it’s hard to wrap your head around the geology of it all. A glacial river of ice carves a path to the sea, retreats at millimeter pace, and with a millennia-long voila! reveals Sognefjord — officially Norway’s deepest and longest fjord at more than 125 miles. With its bow pointed inland, your boat is no more than a speck. At rare spots, you see how just enough cliff erosion has created a goat meadow or a toehold for a tiny settlement. At the small village of Marifjøra, you’ve finally cruised back in time to 1689. Tucked into a traditional glacier-white hotel at the edge of the turquoise water, take the all-too-rare chance to let the incomprehensible power of nature surround and overwhelm you.
Kenai proves that fjords are fun. The waters are calm, ideal for some kayaking — even if it’s your first time to hold a paddle. Down at water level on Resurrection Bay, you see just how much wildlife loves this setting. Your best bet: Head out with a marine biologist, and keep your eyes open for bald eagles, puffins and endangered stellar sea lions. With a bit of luck, you may also spot humpback whales or orcas. Glaciers creep right to the edge of the bay. While you’re here, you shouldn’t miss the chance to walk on one for a top-down look at how fjords came to be!
Not all fjords are chilly. On a mellow Adriatic coast lined with palm trees instead of pines, Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor is often called Europe’s southernmost fjord. Technically, it’s a canyon carved by a river of water, not ice. But in a setting this spectacular, why split hairs? Taste the oil at a family olive orchard instead. Go for a stroll to an island monastery. Stretch out dinner long enough to watch the sun set on the waterfront of Kotor, a red-tiled beauty of a town. No fjord anywhere has more sophisticated flair.