Hardangerfjord, the fifth longest fjord in the world and the second longest in Norway, is a natural masterpiece that stretches 179 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean into the mountainous interior of Norway along the Hardangervidda plateau.
Located in Vestland county in the Hardanger region, the fjord's innermost point reaches the town of Odda. This fjord is not just a geographical wonder, but also a historical treasure that dates back to 8,000 BC when the Scandinavian land mass started to rise up as enormous glacial ice started to melt.
What is Hardangerfjord?
Hardangerfjord is a fjord, or a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, in Vestland county in Norway. It is the second longest fjord in Norway and the fifth longest in the world. The fjord is a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning natural beauty, including waterfalls, glaciers, and mountains. Hardangerfjord is one of the best fjords in Norway.
Location and Geography of Hardangerfjord
The Hardangerfjord starts at the Atlantic Ocean about 80 kilometers south of the city of Bergen. It passes by the larger islands of Stord, Tysnesøya, and Varaldsøy on the north/west side and the Folgefonna peninsula on the south/east side. The fjord's maximum depth is more than 860 meters just outside the village of Norheimsund in the middle of the fjord.
History of Hardangerfjord
The history of the fjord goes far beyond its Viking history, back to the time of hunters on the surrounding mountains, and later on, farming along this fertile area which today is considered the "fruit orchard of Norway".
In 1875, the fjord became the birthplace for a large tourism influx to Norway, with Thomas Cook starting weekly cruise departures from London to the Hardangerfjord.
Wildlife in Hardangerfjord
The fjord is home to a variety of wildlife, including numerous species of fish, making it a prime location for fishing. The surrounding areas are also rich in wildlife, with many species of birds and mammals calling the region home.
Activities and Attractions
Hiking in Hardangerfjord
The area around Hardangerfjord offers numerous hiking opportunities, with trails ranging from easy walks to challenging mountain hikes. One of the most famous hikes is to the top of Trolltunga. This hike is not for the faint-hearted, but the view from the top is worth every step.
For those who want to extend their adventure, there's the option to spend the night in a sunset/sunrise dome with a glass ceiling, offering a unique experience.
Camping is a popular activity in the Hardangerfjord area, with numerous campsites located along the fjord. Camping allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the fjord. It's an opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life and reconnect with nature.
Hardangerfjord is a prime location for fishing, with numerous species of fish found in its waters. Fishing trips can be arranged with local guides. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a beginner, fishing in the fjord is an experience you won't forget.
Boating is a popular way to explore Hardangerfjord. Visitors can rent boats or join guided boat tours to explore the fjord and its many arms. It's also possible to explore the fjord in a kayak or on a RIB safari, offering a more intimate experience with the fjord.
Hardangerfjord is known for its stunning waterfalls, many of which can be seen from the fjord itself. Some of the most famous waterfalls include the Vøringsfossen and Steinsdalsfossen.
The Vøringsfossen waterfall is one of the most impressive sights in Norway, with a viewpoint that hangs above one of the deepest canyons in the country.
The Hardanger region is known for its fruit orchards, and cider production is a local specialty. Many farms offer cider tasting tours. The cider makers in Hardanger are repeatedly winning awards for their "Nordic champagne".
Join the cider safari on board the hybrid sightseeing vessel "Vision of the Fjords" in Sørfjorden, or join the guided fruit and cider route in Ulvik.
In the late summer and autumn, visitors can pick their own fruit at many of the orchards in the Hardanger region. The hills are speckled with white flowers in spring, and in autumn, the trees are laden with fruit, including the juiciest apples you’ll ever taste!
Tips for Planning a Trip
When to Go to Hardangerfjord
The best time to visit Hardangerfjord depends on what you want to do. For hiking and camping, the summer months are ideal. For fishing, the spring and autumn months are the best.
How to Get There
Hardangerfjord is easily accessible from the city of Bergen, which has an international airport. From Bergen, it's a short drive to the fjord.
Where to Stay
There are numerous accommodation options in the Hardangerfjord area, ranging from campsites and holiday cottages to hotels and guesthouses. One example is the noble Ullensvang hotel in Lofthus, where you can go for a swim both indoors and outdoors, or just lie back and admire the fjordscape from a steaming hot sauna.
What to Pack
Be sure to pack for the weather, which can be unpredictable. Even in the summer in Norway, temperatures can be cool, especially at night.
Hardangerfjord is a stunning natural wonder that offers a wealth of activities for visitors. Whether you're interested in hiking, fishing, boating, or simply enjoying the breathtaking scenery, Hardangerfjord has something to offer.
And don't forget, if you want to explore the fjord at your own pace, consider renting a campervan from Campervan Norway. It's the perfect way to fully experience the beauty of Hardangerfjord and the surrounding area.