The port city of Alesund, home to Norway's largest cod-fishing fleet, is noted for its concentration of Art Nouveau buildings and proximity to the rugged, beautiful western fjords.
Following a catastrophic fire in the early 1900s, which destroyed much of the city, Alesund was rebuilt in the distinctive style of the German Jugendstil movement. Indeed, the city's centre, Jugendstilsenteret, features turrets and towers, mock Gothic and pastel-painted facades and other folksy flourishes. As a result, Alesund retains an altogether different feel from any other Norwegian town and this makes it a fascinating place to spend a few days.
Just a short hop from the city, the island of Runde – home to just 150 hardy locals – is popular for day trips. It's especially well known among birders, who come to watch thousands-strong flocks of gannets, kittiwakes, guillemots and puffins settle on and soar over its jutting crags. Alesund is also the gateway to some of Norway's most spectacular fjords, including Storfjorden and its stunning southern offshoot – Geirangerfjord.