Hardanger is a traditional region in Hordaland, Norway. It comprises the Hardangerfjord, the surrounding shores and valleys, and related uplands, mountains and glaciers. Despite its location below the glacier and the rough highlands, Hardanger enjoys a mild climate and has for centuries been a centre for fruit production in Norway. Hardanger also include wild waterfalls, alpine summits, high plateaus and major glaciers.
Hardangerfjord is 180 km long and about 850 m deep. This the second longest and second deepest fjord in Norway, only surpassed by Sognefjord, and outside Norway these are only surpassed by fjords in Greenland. Hardangerfjord is complex with branches and underwater thresholds. At Utne/Kvanndal the fjord makes a u-turn and with Åkrafjord in Sunnhordland district it creates a peninsula. The highest parts of this peninsula is covered by the Folgefonna glacier.
|“||All that is grand, all that is beautiful, will be found in the Hardanger, and even if an English visitor went nowhere else, he would have seen typical Norwegian scenery of every possible kind.||”|
—A. F. Mockler-Ferryman (1911)
- 1 Odda - The only real town in the region. Industrial centre at the far end of Sørfjorden branch of Hardangerfjord.
- 2 Norheimsund - Commercial center of the region. Entrance point when arriving from Bergen.
- 3 Øystese - Commercial center. Almost merged with Norheimsund.
- 4 Rosendal - Small village that is a popular stop among tourists. Famous for Norway's only barony, dated back to 1665.
- 5 Ulvik - Small village around a sheltered bay in the far end of the Hardangerfjord.
- 6 Granvin - Small village. Entrance point when arriving from Voss.
- 7 Eidfjord - Small village. Entrance point when arriving from Oslo.
- 8 Lofthus - Small village. Home to the annual cherry-festival
- 1 Hardangervidda - largest mountain plateau in Europe and the largest national park in Norway.
- 2 Folgefonna - a glacier located on the mountain plateau the east side of the Hardangerfjord and west of Sørfjorden, mostly protected as national park. Available mostly by hiking as there are no roads within. The main glacier is visible from far and low altitude branches are visible at Buerbreen (Odda) and Bondhusbreen (Mauranger).
- 3 Kvamskogen - upland area with several ski resorts.
When thinking of Norway, most people think of fjords and mountains, and to that degree, Hardanger is one the most stereotypical Norwegian areas in Norway. The region covers the area from Kvam in the west, up north along the Hardangerfjord to Granvin and Ulvik in the north, Eidfjord in the east, and down along the Sørfjord to Odda in the south. Roads cling to the mountainsides along the fjord, and there are three ferries crossing the fjords. Apart from the grand nature, the region is known for its extensive fruit production with almost half of all fruit growing in Norway. Apple growing was probably introduced by british monks in the 14th century. Farms growing apples, pears, cherries and plums cover almost all the space along the fjords. This makes the region a lovely place during the fruit blooming in May and early June. The region is also home of several notable artists, musicians and writers. The mountain-areas of the region are good locations for skiing and winter sports. The Folgefonna glacier also has a summer-ski center.
Ulvik is a village and the administration center of Ulvik municipality (pop. 1,107 as of 2008) which also includes Finse and parts of Hardangervidda, some small settlements, and a number of farms (many of which are abandoned). Ulvik village sits at the end of Ulvik fjord. The inner part of the fjord is relatively shallow and almost closed off from the main fjord like a lagoon. The village is surrounded by fine small farms and fruit gardens. One of these farms were run by poet Olav H. Hauge, his "This is the Dream" was voted Norway's best poem of all times. His poems often reflects life among the apple trees in pretty, sheltered Ulvik. The well-known final words of the poem "...that one early morning we will slip into a bay we have never known" may resonate with sailing up Ulvik fjord.
People of Hardanger are known as harding and the dialect is also known as harding. Modern Hardanger dialect has guttural R but lighter than in Bergen. Widespread use of unusual, ancient diphthongs such as baot (båt in most dialects) makes the dialect stand out. Harding people are well aware where they are from. Origin of the name Hardanger is not known for certain, one possibility is the germanic tribe hǫrð (English: harudes) that is assumed to have settled in the area in prehistory. The suffix -anger is an ancient word for fjord such that Hardanger was in fact the fjord itself. The name of the fjord later transferred to the surrounding district and eventually -fjord was added to distinguish the watercourse from the land.
- Follow E39 to Arna where you enter E16, at Trengereid junction switch to road 49 which will take you to Norheimsund, the first village at the Hardangerfjord. 74km.
- Follow RV13 south to Granvin. 26km.
From Oslo and East Norway From Oslo there are several routes.
- Route 7 from Hønefoss (E18 to Sandvika, E16 to Hønefoss). This is the shortest route and includes a drive through Hallingdal and across Hardangervidda. 330 km to Eidfjord
- Instead of road 7 through Hallingdal follow E18 to Drammen, then E134 to Kongsberg and from Kongsberg road for about 150 km to road junction with 7. 350 km
- Route E134 from Drammen via Røldal connects to road 13 from the south
- Road 13 from Sandnes near Stavanger via Suldal to Odda. Slow but scenic
- Road E39 to Haugesund, then E134 towards Odda and road 13.
Bergen and Voss are the nearest railway stations. Finse station is the only railway station in Hardanger, but at the high plateau and without road connections. Finse is an excellent starting point for hiking (summer) and skiing (winter until about mid-May). Haugastøl and Geilo are the nearest stations east of the plateau.
- There are no regular boat lines serving Hardanger, however you can easily sail here in your own boat. Follow the Hardangerfjord to Norheimsund where you will find a well equipped guest-harbor.
- Hardangerfjordekspress is a sightseeing trip by fast catamaran from Bergen to Rosendal and back.
If you bring a bicycle, the area is well suited for biking trips. Hiking in Hardanger is also recommended.
The easiest way of getting around once you reach Hardanger, is by using a car. Because the mighty Hardangerfjord and its arms cuts through the area roads continue onto ferries across the fjord, these ferry crossings are part of the road network and road numbers include the crossing. There are 3 major crossings, the fourth crossing near Eidfjord is now replaced by a huge bridge.
The two key roads are # 7 from Geilo via Eidfjord and Norheimsund (east-west), and # 13 Odda-Granvin-Voss (north-south). Folgefunntunnelen is a short cut under the glacier from Odda to the western part of Hardanger.
If you would like to travel by bus or coach, the national coach operator is called NOR-WAY Bussekspress. Further regional and local buses are managed by the public transport authority in Hordaland, Skyss[dead link] on Public Service Obligations. In Hardanger, you may find some lines to be rather infrequent. Some lines run only a handful of times per day, some only on schooldays and so on. Even so, the network does cover most areas.
The hardanger fiddle (hardingfele) is a characteristic instrument from Norway. The oldest existing hardanger fiddle was built i 1651 by Ole Jaastad, sheriff of Ullensvang. Master fiddlemakers in Hardanger produced a large number hardingfele around 1700 and later some of which are still in use. This idiosyncratic violin has four or five sympatheic or resonance strings beneath the standard four strings, and made from thin, delicate and decorated wood. The haunting, powerful sound is used to create traditional folk music: dance music as well as "listening music". The oldest hardanger fiddles are from the 17th centuries and one from 1650 is held at Bergen museum. Edvard Grieg and other modern composers incorporated folk music for the hardanger fiddle in their own music.
- 1 Agatunet outdoor museum, Aga (west shore of Sørfjorden) (Road 550). Museum showing traditional west Norway buildings and village settlement.
- 2 Hardanger bridge, Between Vallavik and Bu (Road 7 and 13). One of the longest suspension bridges in the world (longer than Golden Gate bridge in California), the longest two-lane suspension bridge. Towers are more than 200 meters high. Fascinating tunnel system connects the bridge to the roads on either side. Impressive engineering. Excellent view from the bridge, 60 meters above the water. Free for pedestrians. kr 150 (cars), kr 600 over 3500 kg.
- 3 Tyssedal power plant and museum, Tyssedal at Odda (Road 13). Monumental and stylish power plant building from early industrialization, now hosting the Norwegian museum of industry and hydro power. The architects were inspired by Italian cathedrals. The building is protected cultural heritage and is nominated to the UNESCO world heritage list. Named "building of the century" in Hordaland county.
- 4 Tokagjelet gorge/road 7, Norheimsund (Road 7). Legendary road construction through Tokagjelet gorge above Norheimsund village. Old road construction still available from new tunnel deeper in mountain.
- 5 Hardanger Folkemuseum, Utne. Hardanger museum of cultural heritage with a collection of traditional costumes, hardanger fiddles and other items typical for Hardanger. Occasional arts exhibitions.
- 6 Vøringsfossen waterfall and Mabødalen canyon (Turn off the Rv 7 road at the access road to Fossli Hotel/Vøringfossen.). 24 h. About 180-meter fall into a wild canyon. The waterfall has been a major tourist attraction and icon since it was first described by visitors in the 1800s. Mabødalen canyon is a geological wonder. Road 7 along the canyon is a masterpiece of engineering and offers convenient access to this highlight. The road makes a full circle within the bedrock in order to make the steep ascent. Two previous generations of bold road construction are intact. Note: Viewing platforms are free of charge except one has to pay for parking in front of the hotel. Nearby Sysendammen (Sysen reservoir) is part of the large Sima hydro power plant. The Sysen dam regulates the flow of Vøringsfossen. Hardangerjøkulen glacier can be seen in the distance. Vøringfossen is Norway’s most visited natural tourist attraction. It has a total fall of 182 meters, including a vertical fall of 145 meters. The best location to see the waterfall is by Fossli Hotel, which lies 20 kilometers from Eidfjord at the top of Måbødalen. Free.
- 7 Hardangerjøkulen glacier (Road 7 or Bergen railway line (Finse station)). 24 h. One of the largest glaciers on Norway's mainland. The glacier rests on an elevated plateau above Hardangervidda plateau. Most of the year covered in snow and even in summer mostly seen as a "cream cake" slightly higher than Hardangervidda. Free.
- 8 Skjervet waterfall (Skjervesfossen), Skjervesvegen, Granvin (When driving between Granvin and Voss in the summer, you can drive the old road Skjervesvegen through Skjervet instead of the new tunnel.). 24 h. It's a steep valley with hairpin bends and waterfall. At the top, you are able to park the car and enjoy the view. Free.
- 9 Folgefonna (glacier). 24 h. One the large glaciers in Norway, Hardanger's main glacier, between Sørfjorden and main Hardangerfjord. Visible from a long distance because of its elevation above the deep fjords around. On clear days it is visible from Bergen and from the ocean. Arms of the big glacier stretch into the valleys below, for instance at Odda (Buerbreen) and Mauranger (Bondhusbreen in Sunndal). The glacier and some surrounding area is protected as a national park. There is a summer ski resort on the glacier. Warning: Hiking the glacier is only for experts, do not attempt a hike outside marked trails at the ski resort on your own. Free.
- 10 Låtefossen, Odda (Road 13). Striking waterfall. Road 13 runs on a fine bridge (constructed 1859 and still in use) across the waterfall. The road is constantly wet from the cascade.
- 1 Kvamskogen ski resort (Road 49). Kvamskogen is a mountain plateau in Hardanger, situated between 400 and 1300 metres above sea level in Kvam municipality. It is a popular target for ski enthusiasts from Bergen and the surrounding areas in the winter. Kvamskogen is only accessible by car or bus. The closest airport and port are all located in Bergen. In the winter season, there is a "ski bus" Saturdays and Sundays, daily in school vacations.
Hardanger is famous for its fruit. Small fruit stalls can be found along all major roads from late summer 'till mid-fall. Most of these stalls are not manned, but rely on the honesty of the customer. Most often there is a small jar where you leave the money for the purchased products. Stealing from these jars would be considered extremely rude.
- Den Grøne Kafe (The Green Cafe), Promenaden 7, 5730 Ulvik, ☏ .
Several apple farmers produce fine apple juice and cider from various types of apple. The cider comes in alcoholic and non-alcoholic variants.
Three of Ulvik's four hotels are owned by the same hotel chain. All four are located in Ulvik village.
- Ulvik Fjord Hotel, Eikjeledbakkjen 2, 5730 Ulvik, Hardanger, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 14.00, check-out: 12.00. Privately owned, family run. 19 rooms, WLAN, restaurant, bar, Large garden. kr 950,-.
- [formerly dead link] Rica Brakanes Hotel, 5730 Ulvik, Hardanger, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 143 rooms, wlan, pub, bar, etc.
- [formerly dead link] Rica Ulvik Hotel, 5730 Ulvik, Hardanger, ☏ , email@example.com. Restaurant. The guests have access to all the facilities of Rica Brakanes Hotel.
- [formerly dead link] Rica Strand Fjordhotel, 5730 Ulvik, Hardanger, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Restaurant and swimming pool. The guests have access to all the facilities of Rica Brakanes Hotel.
- Øydvin Gardsturisme, Øydve Ulvik. High standard holiday home by the fjord.
Visitors should keep a generous distance to glaciers. Hiking on glaciers is only for experts and visitors must join a guided tour for a walk on the ice. Waterfalls are surrounded by slippery and treacherous areas.
|Routes through Hardanger|
|Hønefoss ← Geilo ←||E W||→ Trengereid (E16)|
|Stavanger ← Suldal ←||S N||→ Voss → Balestrand|