Hardanger - Norway's orchard
In the western part of Norway, you’ll find the idyllic region of Hardanger. In the summer months, the area is easily identified by fragrant floral blooms and blossoming fruit trees.
Hardanger’s name is derived from two Old Norse words which translate to “hard and tight fjord”, which you can see coming out in the rugged formation of Hardangerfjord. So, what are some things you can do in this charming region?
Hardanger is the home of Norwegian cider, which is among the best in the world. The unique conditions present along Hardangerfjord make it the perfect place for producing apples of impeccable quality. It stands to reason that high-quality apples will produce apple juice and cider of similar quality!
Cider making has been an activity present in Hardanger for centuries. Just like “Champagne” which is geographically protected and only produced in the Champagne region of France, “Cider from Hardanger” is also geographically protected and only produced in the Hardanger area. You can visit one of the many cider farms to learn more about the history of the apples and what contributes to their unique taste.
There are several fantastic cider-related experiences you can enjoy while in Hardanger – why not join a cider tour from Odda in order to experience the fantastic local flavors? This round trip will combine a fjord cruise with a cider experience, allowing you to visit the award-winning Aga Sideri to hear about the cider traditions in the area and sample ciders along with local meat and cheese.
The Hardanger Bridge
The Hardanger Bridge (Hardangerbrua) is a key attraction in the area. The bridge extends 1380 meters across Hardangerfjord, making it one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Completed in 2013, the bridge replaced the ferry service that connected Bruravik and Brimnes, allowing for a quicker connection between Oslo and Bergen.
The bridge has 2 lanes, one for cars and the other for people walking and cycling across the bridge. Walking out onto the bridge provides you with a stunning 360-degree view of the surrounding Hardangerfjord landscape. From end to end, the scenic walk across the full length of the bridge will take about 30 minutes, so it’s well-suited to families with kids. Wheelchairs and strollers are welcome on the bridge, but keep in mind that there is a bit of rugged terrain leading up to the entrance of the bridge.
At the south end of the bridge at Bu, you’ll find a parking area, picnic area, toilets, a viewpoint offering a beautiful view of the bridge and surrounding areas, and a bus stop in case you prefer to use public transportation. At the north end of Vallavik, you’ll find a parking area and another viewpoint of the bridge. The bridge area tends to be windy, so if you visit during the cold months, be sure to wear extra warm clothing. The bridge can also be slippery in the winter, so make sure to wear appropriate boots or good-quality shoes.
Sørfjorden is the longest arm of the Hardangerfjord, extending 38 kilometers in length, and it’s a big tourist attraction. Sørfjorden stretches from Kinsarvik to Odda, and one of the highlights of this area is Folgefonna National Park. There’s a massive glacier located in the park, which makes it a popular hiking spot for tourists – though you should be aware that hikes are not allowed in the winter season because the glacier is covered in snow. The glacier at Folgefonna is the third-largest in Norway, covering over 200 square kilometers. For those who are quite fit and up for a challenge, Odda can also serve as the starting point for a long hike to Trolltunga.
In Kinsarvik, there’s a hiking trail that leads to the magnificent Husedalen Valley which is very popular with both local and international hikers. The valley is famous for its amazing scenery and four beautiful waterfalls which you can see up close. To hike to the farthest waterfall and back will take around 5-6 hours. From Kinsarvik, you can also hike to Hardangervidda, one of the largest mountain plateaus in Europe. There are numerous lakes and streams to try your luck with fishing, or you can go camping, cycling, or even skiing on one of the well-marked trails in the area – so those who love active holidays are in luck!
If you’re an avid nature and cider lover, Hardanger is a must-visit place for you. With many options present, you will always have a place to visit to satisfy your appetite for spectacular views of nature and award-winning cider!