Books and ghosts in Norway’s fjordland

In the middle of fjordland Norway, Mundal Hotel is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. This family-owned hotel has creaking stairs, a great turret bed room, a library, a billiards room, a music room, deep leather chairs by the fireplace – and books; not just in the library but everywhere.

fjordland Norway

That’s as it should be. Like Hay-on-Wye, this little village is a member of the International Organisation of Book Towns. Wherever you go in Fjærland, you’ll find books; indoors and outdoors, along the streets, in barns and in boat sheds. Four kilometres of second-hand and antiquarian books are for sale, mostly on a trust system: take the book you fancy and put money in the tin.

Picture 003

I found a book about old hotels and their ghosts. To my disappointment, Mundal Hotel doesn’t seem to have a resident ghost. Or does it…?

Mundal hotel, Fjærland, Norway

According to the International Organisation of Book Towns, a Book Town is a small rural town or village in which second-hand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated. Most Book Towns have developed in villages of historic interest or of scenic beauty.

Tiny Fjærland in Norway’s West Country has both.

Apart from the quirky hotel, Fjærland offers fabulous water activities on the fjord, hiking – on one of the many glaciers nearby if you like – as well as a hands-on glacier museum. On our first visit in 2000, Ötzi was visiting and my then 12-year-old and I got a close look at the remarkably well-preserved Bronze Age man found in the Alps some 20 years ago.

This is not a sponsored post. We stayed a night in Mundal hotel as part of a family holiday. We stayed in the turret suite even. It wasn’t cheap. But absolutely wonderful.


32 Responses to “Books and ghosts in Norway’s fjordland”

  1. David @ MalaysiaAsia 26 August 2011 1230 #

    Excellent. I hear the best time to visit Norway is in the Winter? Is that true? I’ve visited Stockholm in Autumn and that was amazing. Next time, I’m planning for Norway.

  2. Anne-Sophie Redisch 26 August 2011 1325 #

    @David – that depends on what you like to do. Winter is the best time to see the Northern Lights. If you’d like to have a go at all kinds of winter sports – or just being out in cold, crisp weather, you’ll really enjoy visiting in winter. On the other hand, summer is excellent as well – especially the long white nights (midnight sun if you go above the Arctic circle). Autumn can be nice as well – now and through September at least, the colours are just gorgeous.

    For Oslo, I would probably not choose early spring, at least not in the city – can be a bit wet and muddy when the snow is melting in the streets. But from May onwards – wonderful 🙂

  3. That sounds wonderful – I love the quaintness of the town!


  4. inka 26 August 2011 1552 #

    Sophie, thanks so much for telling me about the International Organisation of Book Towns. I get a feeling that I want to visit them one by one.

  5. Ana 26 August 2011 1553 #

    That’s my kind of town! Did you buy any books?

  6. Italian Notes 26 August 2011 1605 #

    Wow – it’s really beautiful.

  7. Anne Patrone 26 August 2011 1633 #

    Amazing photos – definitely makes me want to visit my hubby’s homeland . . .

  8. jenjenk 26 August 2011 1701 #

    how amazingly breathtaking!! Another spot I need to add to my ever growing list of places to visit!!

  9. Lisa 26 August 2011 1737 #

    Beautiful photos! We spent a day in Oslo on a cruise a couple of years ago and fell in love with Norway. Can’t wait to go back and see the fjords.

  10. The Travel Chica 26 August 2011 1802 #

    Looks like the perfect village to relax and read a book.

  11. Totally picture-book perfect!

  12. RON | 26 August 2011 1857 #

    the idea of a book town made me drool. thanks for this info.
    and oh. the concept of the resident ghost is sooo Hogwarts, i love it!

  13. The Anecdotal Baby 26 August 2011 2117 #

    I’m so jealous! What a beautiful town and full of one of my most favorite things, books–a past-time I’ve been missing since having my little girl. Thanks for sharing. Since I can’t visit in person your photos give me the next best thing!

  14. Jessica 26 August 2011 2122 #

    I love the idea of a booktown. We stayed in a hotel once that had a lend a library, where you left a book you were finished with and took a new book to enjoy. Very fun!

  15. Michael Figueiredo 26 August 2011 2327 #

    Beautiful photos!

  16. Shirlene from Idelish 27 August 2011 0413 #

    Love the photos. Looks like it’s out of a fairy tale!

  17. Sherry 27 August 2011 0515 #

    A town full of books set in a beautiful, secluded environment – now that’s a complimentary destination. The ghost (or possible ghost) of the Mundal Hotel intrigues me. All the more reason to go. Truly an interesting place, Sophie.

  18. jamie - cloud people adventures 28 August 2011 0303 #

    dont think ive ever heard of a book town before, but i really like the idea. and wow, what a location to kick back with a lazy read!

  19. ayngelina 28 August 2011 1127 #

    This is the first I have heard of a book town but sounds like such a wonderful time.

  20. Christy @ Technosyncratic 28 August 2011 1333 #

    That first photo reminds me of Heidi!

  21. Paulie 30 August 2011 0852 #

    This is sooo my kind of place. Just love the pictures and the entire article. How can I get there?

  22. robin 30 August 2011 1600 #

    K and I have our sights set on northern Norway in 2012 to see the northern lights and some fjords so i read anything Norway related with greater interest then ever 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 August 2011 0002 #

      @Robin – I think you will enjoy it heaps. And it willl certainly be quite different from Calor 🙂

  23. Muza-chan 1 September 2011 0821 #

    Beautiful 🙂

  24. Denise 1 September 2011 0821 #

    Th first two pictures….soooo beautiful.

  25. Cheryl 1 September 2011 1213 #

    OK, I want to head to this town right now to read some books and stay in the turret suite.

    Glad to hear you had an amazing time there! 🙂

  26. Nancie 1 September 2011 1428 #

    Great post Sophie! I had no idea that such an organization existed. I love it!

  27. Audrey 1 September 2011 1949 #

    Breathtaking! I’d love waking up to a view of the surrounding fjords 😀

  28. Cathy Sweeney 1 September 2011 2015 #

    Love the idea of book towns! Mundal Hotel does look like it could have a resident ghost. Lovely pics, especially the one of the village on the fjord.

  29. InsideJourneys 1 September 2011 2347 #

    I’d never heard of that organization. How wonderful! My kinda town.

  30. Laurel 13 September 2011 1320 #

    I’ve never heard of a book town, but love the idea. It looks absolutely charming.

  31. Andrew Darwitan 29 September 2015 1500 #

    Why do ghosts love to haunt the beautiful places??? Brrr…..

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