Sunndal is a municipality (kommune) in Møre og Romsdal. The total amount if inhabitants is less than 8000, half of whom live in the administrative center, Sunndalsøra. Other towns within the municipality include Øksendalsøra, Jordalsgrenda, Ålvund, Ålvundeidet, Hoelsand, Grøa, Romfo and Gjøra.
Historically, Sunndal used to be a poor society of farmers. Already in the 1800's Sunndal was an attractive area for rich British noblemen, who came to fish for salmon and trout in the bountiful river Driva. Many of these Brits have helped shape the local history, and their contributions are still visible today. The most notable is Barbara Elrington Arbuthnott, who moved there with her family, staying until her death in 1904. She was very rich, and spent a lot of resources on improving health care in the area, as well as founding a library. Despite of her good deeds, she ended up loosing everything: her son died of a sickness (possibly epilepsy) only 20 years old, she divorced from her husband, she was bankrupted and had to sell all her property and belongings. The story of her life has been made into a musical that has been performed in Sunndal every year since 1996.
A power plant was built around the first world war. In the 1950's there was built an aluminium factory, powered by the power plant. Most of today's population in Sunndal moved there to work at the factory, or sustain those who did, which resulted in the municipality's rapid growth.
By public transport
Bus is the only means of public transport connecting Sunndal to other cities. There is a bus station in the town center, with daily buses to/from Molde, Kristiansund, Oppdal and Trondheim. The buses from Molde and Kristiansund both take approximately 1,5 hours. The bus from Oppdal takes approximately 1 hour. Lastly, the bus from Trondheim takes about 3,5 hours and usually requires a bus transfer at Surnadal. Molde and Trondheim both have airports with national and international flight connections, and from Oppdal you can travel by train to/from Oslo or Trondheim.
Sadly, local transport is extremely limited. You can sometimes use the long distance buses to get to where you want, by pressing the stop button at the right place. But it's a good idea to talk with the bus driver if you are not familiar with the area.
The easiest way to travel in Sunndal is by car. You can rent a car from Sunndal Bilutleie AS, ☎ 920 25 300. or Hertz Bilutleie, ☎ 932 81 400.
It is also possible to hitchhike, although it can be very difficult.
- Vinnufossen is the highest waterfall in Norway, and the 6th highest waterfall in the world. It has an estimated drop of 860 meters all together, although it has never been officially measured. It freezes and disappears during the winter, but it makes for quite a spectacular view in the summer. You can find it on the eastern side of the valley by travelling along Riksveg 70 towards Oppdal for about 6 km. There is a resting spot for trailers where you can park, and if you continue a little further along the bike patch, until you reach an open field, you get a nice view of it.
- Leikvin Kulturminnepark (Leikvin Cultural Heritage Park) is an area dedicated to preserving the local history. It is based around Barbara Arbuthnotts farm, Leikvin. It consists of:
- Sunndal Bygdemuseum (Sunndal Town Museum), which hosts a big collection of old buildings and objects from the old farming culture, as well as traditional art and many artifacts from the "english period" in the 1800's.
- Phillipshagen (the Phillips Garden) is a beautiful (but sadly a little bit neglected) old garden full of (mainly) Rhododendron trees. It was made by the Brit Ethelbert Lort-Phillips.
- the old burial site at Løykja. If you walk through the Phillips Garden, continue down a narrow dirt path down a hill, next to the river, cross a small bridge over a creek next to a tiny, old timber house, and just continue for a few minutes, you will find this old burial site. The nature that you see along the way there is worth half the trip. In fact the burial site in itself isn't much to write home about, but it's a nice little hike in a very charming landscape.
- the graveyard at Løykja. This graveyard is still in use. The "attraction" of it are the graves of Barbara Arbuthnott and her son.
- Åmotan - dubbed "the Niagara of the North", this breathtaking area is the meeting-point of 7 rivers, and has a special geographical history. 3 of these rivers form beautiful waterfalls. You can either hike along the many paths in the bottom of the valley, looking up at the waterfalls, or you can look at the view from the viewpoint along the road that goes up the mountainside. This viewpoint is right next to one of the waterfalls, even the roaring sound of the rushing water is a nice experience. To get to the viewpoint, go to the small town Gjøra (half an hour's drive from Sunndalsøra), take a right turn by the sign that says "Hafsåsen", and just continue up that road for about 20 minutes. At the viewpoint there's a little space to park your car, and also a sign containing information about Åmotan in Norwegian, English and German.
- Svinberget is the highest point along the old road connecting Sunndalsøra to its neighbour town Øksendalsøra. After the tunnel was built, the old road beyond Svinberget was closed, but you can still drive all the way up to Svinberget. Drive towards Øksendalsøra, but take a right turn before reaching the tunnel. The sign placed by the turn will read "Viklandet". Just continue along that road until you reach the top. When you get there, there is plenty of parking space. From there you can follow the short dirt road up to the radio mast. When you reach it you can find many small paths spreading out, leading to wonderful viewpoints for both the Sunndal valley, and the fjord in the opposite direction.
- Sunndal Kulturfestival (''Sunndal Culture Festival''). takes place the last week of every June, and is centered around the Musical Lady Arbuthnott - Frua på Elverhøi, the story of Barbara Arbuthnott's life in Sunndal in the 1800's. In addition to the 10 performances of the musical (spanning over 10 days), there is also a big party tent in the town square, with bands and music almost every night, where you can also buy alcohol and snacks.
- Lady Arbuthnott - Frua på Elverhøi, Sunndal Kulturhus (In the center of town, on the other side of the town square directly across the road from the hotel and the bus station,), . 19:00-22:00 every day in the last week of June (dates vary from year to year). this musical tells the story (as mentioned), of Barbara Arbuthnott's life. It is performed in Norwegian (both standardized Bokmål and the local dialect), as well as two English songs. Still, it is worth watching even for people who don't speak Norwegian. The music is beautiful, and speaks for itself. The quality of the vocal performances will send chills down your spine. kr 425 (£46).
- Leikvin Kulturminnepark
- Hiking, all over the Municipality. Sunndal is literally a hiker's paradise, both for mountaineers who like to do proper rock-climbing, as well as for "normal" people of all shapes and ages, who just want to walk in beautiful surroundings. Even from the center of town, you only need to walk for 10 minutes to find the nearest hike (although a bit steep). If you travel by car in either direction out of town, you can find a huge amount of interesting hikes. There are too many possibilities to mention them all here, so you can consult the tourist information at Kulturhuset which lies directly in front of the town square. It is possible to hike all the way to the top of the peaks surrounding Sunndalsøra, like Hovsnebba and Kalken ( alt. Kaldkinn), but if you are not an experienced hiker it is a good idea to consult someone who has been to either of those peaks before, as there are some safety issues when going alone for the first time (especially at Hovsnebba).
- Vafler med grøt (local dialect: bakels med graut) is a local dessert consisting of waffles served with a sweet porridge. It is found several places in the northern part of Møre og Romsdal. Sunndal is no exception, the porridge being called Sunndalsgraut by the locals. A good place to find this tasty dish is at Johansen Bakeri, (on the ground floor of the shopping mall in the center of town, Amfi).
- Rallar'n, (Starting in the round-about in the town center, follow the main road towards the fjord. It lies right next to the road and is easy to spot.). W-Th 20:00-01:00. F 21:00-02:00. Sa 21:00-02:00 (20 years age limit).. Rallar'n is the town's only pub. It's a small and dim place, where there is sometimes live music. There is also an outside area that allows people to smoke. It is frequented by locals of all ages. Sometimes you have to pay an entry fee, other times entry is free of charge.
- Sunndalsøra Hotel, (It is located directly in the center of town, next to the bus station and taxi central.), ☎ 716 98 810 (email@example.com). There are two restaurants on the ground floor. Single rooms from kr 1095 (£123) and double rooms from kr 1245 (£140)..
- Trædal Hotell og Turistsenter, (It lies outside the town center, on the other side of the river.), ☎ 716 98 700 (firstname.lastname@example.org). It borders the neighbour valley Litjdal, and is placed on top of a hill, which provides a very scenic view. They run their own restaurant.
Camping is a far cheaper alternative compared to hotels, but is is also a lot less luxurious. There are several camping sites in Sunndal.
- Furu Laksvald og Campingsenter, (It lies 2,5 km outside the town center, along the main road towards Oppdal.), ☎ 716 91 368 (email@example.com). The cabins do not have sheets for the beds, neither do they have access to toilets or showers. But there is a building containing laundry machines, and each cabin has a fridge and some cooking appliances. It is open from the 1st of May until the 15th of September. Their prices range from kr 120 (£13) for staying with a bike and a tent, to kr 600 (£67) for a cabin for 6 people...
- Myren Camping, (It lies 20 km from the town, towards Oppdal.), ☎ 716 94 560 (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can rent a cabin, or bring a caravan or tent.
Do not move stones that seem to form any kind of formation, like piles, walls, or square shapes, even if they seem irrelevant, overgrown by moss and grass, etc. There has been a case on the island of Flå, where an old viking tomb was destroyed by travelers. They re-arranged stones from the tomb to make a fire-place for themselves, thinking the stones were just "lying around". Remains of tombs and old settlements may just be barely visible, but if moved they can not be restored.