As soon as I started researching Norway’s fjords, I knew I wanted to visit the Hardangerfjord area. The main thing that drew me to it was the beauty and easy accessibility to the spectacular Voringfossen. Little did I realise, there was so much more to see!
Huge thanks have to go to the SPECTACULAR Ingrid. She is an amazing lady who runs the guesthouse and restaurant Vik Pensjonat of Hytter in the charming village of Eidfjord. Not only was the food and accommodation excellent, but her service and attention to detail was second to none! We arrived, as requested, before 6pm in the evening (she asked that should we expect to arrive after 6pm to let her know so she could let us in) as her cafe/restaurant closes at 6pm and there is a common entrance.
When we arrived, she immediately offered to have her chef and herself stay late just to cook us dinner. I felt this was totally above and beyond the type of service one would normally expect. She conversationally enquired if we had any plans on what to see in the area. As I had a loose idea, but no fixed plan, I was delighted to get some local knowledge. She showed us a multitude of places, some of which I hadn’t encountered in my researches and recommended an order in which to see them! She also told us about a scenic route to take back to Bergen. I honestly cannot recommend Vik Pensjonat of Hytter and the wonderful Ingrid more!
The Sysendammen (Sysen Dam) is about 1.5 km long gravity dam that holds back Lake Sysen and allows it to serve as a reservoir to a nearby hydroelectric power station. You can enjoy beautiful views across the rolling countryside from the top of it. This wasn’t why Ingrid recommended it though. She gave us the insider knowledge that at the time we visited (May), you can stand on the dam and see both snow free fields that are beginning to return to their summer green colour and the frozen surface of Lake Sysen at the same time!
I was fortunate enough to get a few beautiful snow photos up there too! It was actually great to get to experience snow when visiting Norway, even if it was fairly cold too!
There is a wonderful walkway from which you can view the Voringfossen, with very little walking involved! It’s just outside the Fossli Hotel. There’s plenty of parking there and there is a wonderfully constructed walkway that leads from there around the top of the cliff opposite the falls so you can get an ideal view of them from any angle. Check it out for yourself!
On the road leading up to the Fossli Hotel from Eidfjord, there are signs for a Voringfossen viewing area. DON’T FOLLOW THEM. You will get a passable view of the falls, but for the sake of an extra two or three minutes in the car, you will get far far superior ones.
This was a total surprise for me. Ingrid recommended it very highly and having been up to it, I can totally see why! This is the private farm of a lady who’s family have lived here, in the summer months, for centuries. Until 1974, the only way to reach this farm, 513m above the sea in the fjord below, was on foot.
Getting up to Kjeasen Farm is slightly unconventional. There is a road. It’s quite narrow and steep and ends in a tunnel. If you do choose to visit, you will need to time your arrival. You can only make the 15 minute drive up on the hour (for example, 11:00, 12:00, etc) and you can only make the descent on the half hour (for example, 11:30, 12:30, etc). The reason for this is that the road is too narrow and doesn’t have any area to pull in if two cars meet travelling in opposite directions.
To be honest, there isn’t a huge amount to do up there, but the views are stunning and if it’s a fine day, or better yet, a warm one, it’s a wonderful spot to chill and enjoy a picnic! Remember though, you are on somebody’s property, so respect it accordingly and try to give the buildings a wide berth in order to respect the privacy of the people who call this amazing place home.
There are loads of amazing scenic routes in the Hardangerfjord area, so if you have the time and inclination, simply going for a drive is worth the time. My next destination after Eidfjord was (unfortunately) the airport in Bergen to catch my flight home. Ingrid kindly plotted out the most scenic route from Eidfjord to Bergen.
The route took us from Eidfjord to Kvanndal where we got on a car ferry across the fjord to Utne. From Utne, we drove through the fruit (mainly apple) producing area of Hardangerfjord with narrow roads that would through forests and orchards in a very surreal and beautiful hour long drive to our next car ferry in Jondal. Both ferries cost 150 NOK for two people in a car (approx. € 15/£ 14/$ 17) and the run roughly every hour.
After crossing from Jondal to Torvikbygd, We took the road past an often photographed island of Omaholen. This island typifies rural Norwegian life and has the amazing backdrop of the fjord and (usually) snowcapped mountains out in the distance. The ideal way to finish off a wonderful visit to Norway’s fjords to to gaze upon this small island and marvel at the natural beauty of a wonderful country.