Norway’s majestic fjords are famous for a reason. No other country in the world can match Norway when it comes to the breathtaking natural beauty of its legendary landscapes. Adding to the experience is that these picturesque landscapes are peppered with charming fjord towns that showcase Norwegian culture and provide unforgettable experiences.
Three of these must-visit fjord towns are Øystese, Voss, and Vik. Each of these towns not only offers stunning fjord scenery but also has unique attractions and activities that make them the perfect destinations for those seeking an immersive and memorable Norwegian adventure.
Nestled on the shores of the Hardangerfjord, Øystese is a picturesque village with incredible views of one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords that’s especially famous for its waterfalls and verdant natural surroundings. The fjord is so fecund that the region is responsible for 40 percent of all Norwegian fruit production, including apples, plums and pears.
Things to do in Øystese and area:
Hardanger Maritime Centre in Norheimsund: Fascinating maritime museum where you can delve into the maritime history and culture of the region. See craftspeople build boats by hand and there are even workshops where visitors can participate. This interactive, family-friendly museum features an impressive range of activities and exhibits.
Steinsdalsfossen: Because of its beauty and accessibility, Steinsdalsfossen is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area, drawing visitors from around the world to witness its natural beauty. Unlike many waterfalls, visitors can actually walk behind the cascading water curtain without getting wet. A paved pathway leads you through a narrow passage behind the waterfall, providing an up-close and awe-inspiring experience.
Grab lunch at Thon Hotel Sandven, a historically interesting 19th century wooden hotel.
If you stay at Hardangerfjord Hotel, be sure to note the lovely views of the Folgefonna glacier and don’t miss the chance to take an (albeit frosty) dip with locals at the Øystese Beach, just a five-minute walk from the hotel.
Visit the Hardanger Folk Museum to learn about traditional Norwegian architecture and the region’s cultural heritage.
Cider Safari: The area surrounding Hardangerfjord is especially famous for its apple cider and you can do a self-guided cider tasting by boat by visiting several of the area’s apple farms and cideries.
Hardanger Skyspace: The world´s northernmost lightwork display by the American artist James Turrell is located in Øystese.
Surrounded by mountains, lakes, and rivers, the town of Voss is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts — especially when it comes to rafting, hiking, skiing, and water sports. Adrenaline junkies can even give paragliding, skydiving, or bungee jumping a try. For a more relaxed time, take a scenic boat or kayak ride on Lake Vangsvatnet, go fishing in one of the crystal-clear rivers or just take a pleasant stroll around the walkable town filled with local shops, bakeries and cozy cafés.
Things to do in the town and area:
Voss Active: A well-known adventure sports and outdoor activities company located in Voss, Norway. They specialize in adrenaline-pumping experiences like rafting and kayaking for seasoned adrenaline junkies or a first-time adventurers. The company also runs a new boutique hotel near their base of operations that overlooks the river.
Eldhuset Dale: One of the most unique, unforgettable and thirst-quenching experiences visitors can have among the fjords — if not possibly in all of Norway — is the Kveik brewing Experience. It’s a fascinating journey into the ancient brewing art of Norway’s ancient farmhouse ale — a technique that has only been kept alive in a smattering of tiny communities in Norway. Visitors can sample the brew and learn about this traditional brewing process firsthand, guided by knowledgeable and passionate experts who happily share their expertise on the history, techniques, and flavors associated with Kveik brewing.
Visitors can also elect to stay on the property and particulate in a variety of hands-on workshops. The accommodation is as enticing as the beer, and ranges from a lovely glamping tent in the woods, or a cozy, lovingly restored 19th century farmhouse.
A wine tasting and meal at Park Hotel Vossevangen: The cellar at Park Hotel Vossevangen is known for its extensive and award-winning selection of rare and exclusive wines. Oenophiles won’t want to leave the region without arranging to do a thoughtful tasting arranged by one of the hotel’s experienced sommeliers. During the tasting, you’ll have the opportunity to sample a selection of rare and exclusive wines handpicked by the sommelier. A dinner at the hotel’s Restaurang Elysée is also a must (especially as you can complement each dish with an excellent vintage from the hotel’s cellar). The five-star dining experience is an unforgettable culinary journey.
Situated on the southern shores of the Sognefjord (nicknamed the King of the Fjords because it’s the largest and deepest of the fjords), the tiny town of Vik is a hidden treasure, offering visitors history and natural beauty in equal measures.
Things to do in the village and area:
Hopperstad Stave Church: Home to one of the oldest stave churches (a medieval wooden Christian church) in Norway, Vik offers a one-of-a kind look into the country’s rich cultural heritage. It dates back to the 12th century and features intricate carvings and a fascinating history. Perched on a hill overlooking the town, it makes for stunning photographs.
A guided RIB boat tour with Vik Adventure: One of the highlights of a visit to Vik is exploring the hidden coves and waterfalls peppered throughout Sognefjord aboard a powerful RIB boat. Led by experienced guides, you’ll venture into all the fjords breathtaking nooks and crannies and marvel at towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and secluded coves dotted with homes only accessible via boat. The knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights into the region’s history, geology, and wildlife, enhancing your adventure. Capture breathtaking photos and experience the thrill of high-speed rides that will leave you exhilarated.
Gamalost cheese: With its pungent, almost sour flavor this traditional Norwegian cheese (sometimes lovingly referred to as Viking cheese) is not for everyone. It is made from sour skimmed cow’s milk, which gives it a tangy and sharp taste. Tine, the only dairy still making the cheese is found in Vik so don’t leave the town without giving it a try. This cheese has a long history and has been a part of Norwegian culinary traditions for centuries. Grab a meal at the inviting Blix Hotel; the property’s restaurant menu features several culinary delights that highlight Gamalost.
Hove stone church: Often ignored by tourists, this lovely stone church in Vik dates to approximately 1170, making it one of the oldest stone churches in Norway. The walls are intricately decorated and the wooden roof displays intriguing carved creatures. Note that a short walk from the church you’ll come upon a rather inconspicuous plaque (if you can’t find it ask the locals for directions) detailing a fascinating revelation. The seven hills just steps away are not actually hills but are rather ancient Viking burial mounds. The informational plaque highlights some of the remarkable relics found in the graves.