Why people flock from all over the world to do sports in Voss
“The adrenaline capital of Norway.”
Nope, it’s not Oslo or Bergen. Instead, that honorific is about Voss, a relatively small place in the heart of Fjord Norway. But do you know why Voss is so special?
Credit: Erik Østlie | Voss Gondol
The diverse natural landscape
With its opportune location between two fjords, Voss is like a living showcase of all the best aspects of Fjord Norway.
There are snow capped mountains that you can hike and ski on. There’s breathtaking waterfalls, like the 116-meter-high (380 ft) Tvindefossen and Skjervsfossen, which is part of the Scenic Route of Hardanger.
There’s the Bordalsgjelet Gorge within walking distance from the centre of Voss, where you can take a scenic walk.
Credit: Sverre Hjørnevik | Fjord Norway
There are lakes like Vangsvatnet, where you can kite-surf or do boat dragged paragliding. There is the river Vosso, famous for its salmon. There are hiking trails up the mountains, hair-pin roads like Stalheimskleiva and overall endless opportunities for high octane activities.
This kind of diverse natural landscape Voss possesses is the perfect canvas for all kinds of extreme sports and outdoorsy types!
And we haven’t even talked about the most popular activities yet...
The skiing opportunities
Ah, yes, skiing: that’s definitely one of the most popular activities in Voss — and for good reason!
Due to its climate, you can always depend on Voss to have some beautiful, snowy terrain for you to ski on.
There are in fact two ski resorts (Voss Resort and Myrkdalen) which combined offer more than 70 kilometers (43 mi) of ski slopes for everyone from professionals to kiddos.
Credit: Jon Hunnaalvatn | Fjord Norway | Visit Voss
There are also opportunities to train in cross-country and biathlon skiing (in the cross-country arena Voss ski- og tursenter). You can also try snowshoeing, if you want to explore the wintery landscape sans skis.
The adventurous rafting moments
What’s the other popular activity in Voss you ask? That would be whitewater rafting!
Although of course this activity is more popular during the summer months, when the waters are not that cold. 2 of the 3 rivers of the area around Voss, Stranda (about 8 kilometers / 4 mi) and Raundal (about 7 kilometers / 4 mi), are among the best in Europe for whitewater rafting as they offer many rapids, waterfalls and abrupt turns.
You should know however that the Raundal River is a very challenging one so if you’re just starting with whitewater rafting you should be very careful!
Credit: Wild Voss
The Extreme Sports Week
Called 'Ekstremsportveko' in Norwegian, the Extreme Sports Week has been called “the world's premier extreme sports festival” and is one of the reasons why so many people are aware of Voss’ unique offerings when it comes to extreme sports.
Taking place every June since 1998, the Extreme Sports Week is a celebration of all kinds of high-octane activities one can enjoy in Voss. It stretches across the diverse landscape, utilizing everything from the rivers (for rafting and kayaking) to the local airstrip (for one of the largest drop zones in Norway) to the lake (for kite surfing and para-bungeeing over it). It’s definitely the experience of a lifetime!
Credit: Ekstremsportveko | Daniel Sapak
The Olympic legacy
All this abundance of extreme sport activities in Voss is not happening in a vacuum. For one, people who grew up here learnt to love extreme sports, and skiing in particular, from a very young age… so much so that they then went on to win medals at the Winter Olympics! It’s hard to believe for a small town of 15,000 residents, but Voss has been representing Norway in the Winter Olympic Games non-stop since 1948!
There are many famous Olympians from Voss, like Jon Istad (1966), Eirik Kvalfoss (1984), Kristen Skjeldal (1992 and 2002), Egil Gjelland (2002) and Lars Bystøl (2006). But perhaps the most famous is Kari Traa, a former Olympic freestyle skier who’s won gold and silver medals and is currently the owner of one of the fastest growing sports brands in Europe.
Kari Traa has played a big part in organising the Extreme Sports Week, helping people from all over the world fall in love with extreme sports in Voss, just as the locals!
Credit: Marianne Cecilie Huseby, Kari Traa SOME Specialist