Førde was previously rated the ugliest town in Norway. There are unfortunately many contenders for this unfavourable title and I sincerely doubt Førde is heading the list any longer.
Despite this, Førde still has a large potential in developing itself as a fascinating destination in its own right, a place to stop on your way elsewhere, or even a place to live. Førde’s setting in beautiful Western Norway, at the end of the picturesque Sunnfjord, with a river running through the centre of town, and with high mountains on all sides, is a great start.
Moreover, Førde is situated on the main north-south road in Western Norway, the E39. This makes it a convenient place to stop. Førde is an important crossroads in this part of the country and the bus terminal is the pulsating heart of it all. It’s pictured above.
The valley is typical of these parts of the country. It is wide and U-shaped, formed by retreating glaciers ten thousand years ago. The street layout reflects this wide and open setting. The streets are running in straight lines, they are wide and ringed by unassuming garages, petrol stations, shopping malls and office buildings none of which are higher than 2-3 storeys. “American-style” comes to mind.
Wooden houses, so common in most of Norway, are virtually absent in Førde. There is nothing hinting us of a centre dating back more than three-four decades. The building material all over town is “modern” prefab concrete slabs. Boring.
Some of the malls are reasonably new and quite alright, although no more interesting than any other shopping malls in Norway.
There is a lot to be done in developing a centre of town, a plaza or market, or any other place where people would meet. Finding a restaurant is even more hopeless, although the Rica Sunnfjord Hotel quite often serves good food.
There are however a few, new buildings that seem to be pushing the town’s development in the right direction: The bank and residencial apartments directly opposite the drab bus terminal is one. Next door is the Sogn og Fjordane Art Museum, with a high quality exterior. Across the river, the municipality has erected a new colourful town hall. And there is a little park by the river. That’s a good start.