The Hardanger National Tourist Route is a 98-mile-long stretch of road east of Bergen, in the county of Hordaland in Fjord Norway. Norheimsund, Kinsarvik, Jondal, Granvin and Odda are the five regional centers in the area.
The drive alternates between the dramatic and the gentle: The moorland landscape, the steep mountainsides with thundering waterfalls and the fjord, flat as a mirror, with peaceful harmony and space for contemplation. The area offers many opportunities for hiking, outdoor adventures and cultural experiences.
These lush green hillsides, the waterfalls, the mountains and the glaciers have been attracting tourists for more than a century. Hardanger is also the cradle of national romanticism, and artists of all ages have sought inspiration from its majestic scenery.
Hardanger has been a fruit-growing region since the 14th century. The soil along the Hardangerfjord imparts a characteristically fresh and tangy flavour to the fruit, and in the growing season fruit is on sale from small stalls along the road.
Viewpoints along the road
There are several panoramic view- and rest areas made in collaboration with Hardanger National Tourist Route. The locations offer magnificent views of the Hardangerfjord. Some of them have picnic areas and offer opportunities for fishing and swimming in the fjord.
Hereiane: This serene rest area has an unconventional service building with walls and roofing made of natural stone from a local quarry. The rest area at Hereiane is located in a topographically distinct region with a smooth, bare rock face rising from the fjord all the way up to the mountain peaks. This spot offers a magnificent view across the fjord, and is located in the vicinity of the Millennium Site of Jondal Municipality, two miles north of Jondal.
Steinstøberget: Rest area with service facilities at Steinstøberget, with excellent opportunities for angling in the Hardangerfjord. Here you can also set up a barbecue. Steinstøberget is located approximately 11 miles east of Norheimsund.
Hesthamar: The rest area at Hesthamar, two miles northwest of Utne, occupies an idyllic spot in an active fruit-growing area. From the car park, a trail leads out to a promontory with a large stone cross. From the rest area, another trail leads to a stone beach, which is much used by swimmers.
National Tourist Route maps
In co-operation with Nordeca, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) have launched a series of new road maps, each covering one of the 18 different National Tourist Routes in Norway.
The maps describe viewpoints along the way, as well as the National Tourist Routes' nature attractions, dining, accommodations and other attractions along the routes. To give the reader a good and visual impression of the routes, several pictures and descriptions have been placed in the maps themselves.
The maps are available in English, German and Norwegian from kartbutikken.no.
What to see
In the Odda Valley there are five great waterfalls, with the Låtefossen Waterfall as the most picturesque.
The Hardanger region is known as the "Orchard of Norway". If you travel there in late spring you will see thousands of fruit trees in full bloom - quite a sight. Later in the season the cherries are on sale by the roadside, and there is even a Sweet Cherry Festival held in Lofthus at the end of July every year.
If you would like to find out more about cider and apple juice production, visit the Hardanger Juice and Cider Factory or take the fruit and cider walk in Ulvik. The farms are within walking distance of each other, and offer exciting tastes of farm produce and culture.
Hardanger Museum Warf in Norheimsund is a living museum where boat building and boat preservation are in focus. Alternatively you can explore the history of the local culture at the open air museum Hardanger Folk Museum in Utne.
In 1918, Tyssedal's hydropower facility was the biggest in Europe. Today, the power plant is a cultural monument - an architectural jewel beautifully situated by the Sørfjord. Guided tours from the Norwegian Museum of Hydropower and Industry in Tyssedal.
The composer Edvard Grieg lived occasionally at Lofthus and composed some of his well-known works here. His composer cabin is now placed in the garden of Hotel Ullensvang.
What to do
Experience the Hardangerfjord by boat, ferry, yacht, sailboat or a small fishing boat. Moor up at some of the numerous enchanting villages, or feel the excitement of passing through the narrow strait of Fyksesundet before you arrive at Botnen, the birthplace of the Hardanger fiddle - a traditional stringed instrument.
Join a Hardangerfjord cruise connected by bus from Voss and Bergen. Hardangerfjord Sightseeing starts in and returns to Norheimsund, and calls at the villages of Herand, Utne, Lofthus, Kinsarvik, Ulvik and Eidfjord.
Enjoy summer skiing on the Folgefonna glacier, the third largest glacier in mainland Norway. Here you can go cross-country skiing, alpine skiing or try tricks and jumps in the center's terrain park. From the slopes at Fonna Glacier ski Resort you have views over fjords and mountains.
Do not miss a glacier walk on the Folgefonna Glacier. A blue ice hike can be done on the Juklavassbreen glacier. In the Buer Valley it is possible to walk to the edge of the Buarbreen Glacier. Folgefonni Breførarlag and Flat Earth Adventures organise guided hikes on the glacier.
Climbing the Via Ferrata in Tyssedal will give you the opportunity to feel how everyday life was for the navvies who built the hydroelectric power station Tysso 1. At first you climb up the ladder that runs alongside the pipes. Halfway up the ladder you will face the scariest part of the route - a climb out on the metal bars drilled or cemented into the rock. Guiding and all necessary equipment such as helmets and harnesses are provided by OpplevOdda.
Trolltunga is situated about 683 miles above sea level, hovering 434 miles above Ringedalsvatnet lake, with a breathtaking view. The hike to Trolltunga starts in Skjeggedal and takes 8-10 hours in total.
Opplev Odda organises guided hikes to Trolltunga.
There are good fishing opportunities in local rivers, lakes and in the fjord. Fjord fishing is free. Fishing licence for rivers and lakes can be bought at the tourist information center and other tourist venues.
An important starting point for the Hardanger National Tourist route, Steinsdalsfossen waterfall is rare in that a rock formation in its upper part makes it possible to walk behind the waterfall itself. It is located 1 mile west of Norheimsund.
The nearby area has ample parking, and a small building houses a service center with toilet facilities and a tourist information office.
The service center and the path to the waterfall are both especially designed and constructed to complement the nature and the landscape around, as well as the waterfall itself. The path from the road to the waterfall is constructed to make it easy for most people to reach the fall, but even though the path and stairs are equipped with handrails, take care in winter, as the spray freezes and may make the path very slippery.
Where to stay
Located in beautiful surroundings in Lofthus, Hotel Ullensvang is a first-class hotel, owned by the same family for five generations throughout more than 160 years. There are stunning views over the Hardangerfjord and the Folgefonna Glacier from the hotel.
Travellers have been enjoying food and shelter at Utne Hotel since 1722. It is one of the oldest hotels in Norway to have operated continuously in the same building.
Brakanes Hotel is situated by the fjord in Ulvik. The hotel is surrounded by high mountains, fruit orchards, a sparkling fjord and a varied cultural landscape. Many of the rooms have a balcony and a fjord view.
Tyssedal Hotel dates back to 1912 and the development of the hydroelectric industry in the region. This historical hotel is home to a large art collection and is also renowned for its excellent cuisine.
In the center of Norheimsund, close to the Hardangerfjord, Thon Hotel Sandven is located in a listed building dating from 1857. The Steinsdalsfossen waterfall is only a five minute drive away.
Pick your own cherries, plums, apples and pears at Lofthus Camping, picturesquely situated in an old orchard, overlooking the fjord and with a view of the Folgefonna glacier. It is only a short walk to the fjord, and makes an ideal starting point for hikes into the Hardangervidda National Park.
Where to eat
Enjoy a good meal at Utne Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Norway, where the focus is on seasonal local food.
You will be delighted by the atmosphere in the à la carte restaurant Zanoni at Hotel Ullensvang in Lofthus, which boasts breathtaking views over the Hardangerfjord. Here you can enjoy both Norwegian and international food with a slight Italian touch.
Taste freshly picked fruit and berries, apple cake, bread, "lefser", preserves and apple juice. At the cafeteria at Steinstø Frukt og Kakebu at Steinstø you can also enjoy delicious homemade food whilst taking in the beautiful view of the Hardangerfjord and the surrounding mountains.
The shop at Kjerland Gardsbutikk stocks a range of traditional foods, including vegetables, fruits, berries, meat and bakery products. Kjerland Gardsbutikk is situated in Granvin, in the yard of a farm with sheep and fruit production.
Tyssedal Hotel in Tyssedal is renowned for its excellent cuisine. This historical hotel is home to a large collection of original art. Christian Krogh and Hans Dahl are among the artists represented here. Tyssedal Hotel is also a good starting point for hiking trips to Trolltunga.
Read more about Food in Hardanger.
- Road: Fv7 between the Steindalsfossen Waterfall at Granvin, Fv49 between Norheimsund and Tørvikbygd, Fv550 between Jondal and Utne and Rv13 between Kinsarvik and Låtefoss in the county of Hordaland.
- Length: 98 miles.
Getting to Hardanger National Tourist Route
Hardanger is a one-hour drive from Bergen. The area is easily accessed by car or public transport. Read more about Getting to Hardanger and around.
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