A Closer Look at Voss
If you've ever taken the Oslo to Bergen railway, you'll have noticed Voss. It marks the transition from the stunning scenery over the mountains to the increasing numbers of villages and towns on the way to Bergen.
Today, the village welcomes you with snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, wild rivers and waterfalls. It is home to around 15,000 people and has a prime location between Bergen, the Sognefjord and the Hardangerfjord.
One famous event from the 12th century has been immortalised in a popular hike. After attempting to take Bergen by surprise in 1177, Sverre Sigurdsson and his Birkebeiner rebels fled Voss after an ambush by locals. Their escape from Voss up a steep hillside resulted in the naming of the trail, Sverrestigen, or Sverre's path.
A beautifully preserved farmstead in the hills overlooking the town, Voss Folk Museum provides a genuine window into the past. The wooden buildings of the Mølstertunet farmstead are unchanged from as far back as the 16th century and reveal how tough daily life was in this part of the world before transport links, electricity, and computers.
Norwegians flock to Voss because not only is it the largest ski destination in western Norway, it’s also one of the most reliable areas for snow throughout Europe. In addition to the two major alpine resorts, cross-country ski touring and freeskiing are popular in the surrounding mountains.
The well-known resort Myrkdalen is known for excellent off-piste skiing and floodlit cross-country trails. Many of the 22 slopes are suitable for beginners and families. In addition to a day pass, there are cheaper half-day and evening options available. All ski and snowboard equipment is available to rent.
A free shuttle bus runs from Voss, but keen skiers may like to stay at the resort itself in the Myrkdalen Hotel. A further 22 slopes are available closer to the town at Voss Resort, which can be reached by cable car or the free resort bus, both from Voss railway station. Ski rentals and lessons are available.
The mountains surrounding Voss are prime hiking territory. There's many kilometres of marked trails that weave their way through valleys, along lakes, and past former farmsteads for a taste of rural Norwegian life. Keen hikers can challenge themselves with the demanding hike from Voss Folk Museum to the summit of Lønahorgi, a 1,200-meter (3,937-foot) climb that can take up to eight hours for the round-trip.
Other popular hiking trails in and around Voss include the all-day Bakkanosi hike for a spectacular view of the Nærøyfjord, or the much more leisurely walk to Bordalsgjelet gorge, which starts from the town centre.
Throw yourself into the spirit of Voss by taking to the crystal-clear waters. A two-day course from Vått og Vilt begins by learning basic paddling techniques on calm water, before testing out your newfound skills on a more exciting river.
Where to stay in Voss
The grand old lady of Voss hotels, Fleischer's Hotel has been run by the Flesicher family since its opening in 1864. The main building gives off the feel of a Swiss mountain lodge with its 19th-century decor and elegant restaurants. A dip in the indoor swimming pool is the perfect way to relax those aching muscles after a day on the slopes.
If you are looking for a special place to stay while you are in Voss, you should check out Ringheim Hotel. The special ambiance of the collection of old farm buildings around a courtyard in an area of cultivated countryside nestling among high mountains, all combined with a high standard of comfort and style, makes the Store Ringheim Hotel & Restaurant a unique place to stay.
At the top of Mount Hangurstoppen, 820 metres above sea level, lies the largest restaurant in Voss. The region has tasty food traditions, and even Gordon Ramsay has visited Voss – to try the traditional local dish smalahove (sheep’s head). You can taste this speciality in the farmhouse Smalahovetunet. On the menu, you’ll also find cured meat, salted and dried ribs of mutton, and sour cream porridge.
Several well-known events take place in this village too, like Vossa Jazz and Ekstremsportveko, the world’s largest extreme sports festival!