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Ulvik in Hardanger

Credit: Reinhold Kager

Freelance writer Kenneth Kiesnoski

Kenneth Kiesnoski

Author
3 mins read

8 facts about the Hardangerfjord

Stunning waterfalls and exciting hikes. Sparkling cider and authentic folk culture. With all this and so much more, it’s no wonder the Hardangerfjord is a must on any Norway holiday. Here’s a look at 8 compelling facts about this iconic waterway and its region.

It is one of the longest fjords in the world

Hardangerfjord is the second-longest fjord in Norway — and third in the world — stretching 179 km (111 mi) inland from the Atlantic to the town of Odda. As it wends its way through the scenic Hardangervidda plateau, this verdant and scenic fjord splits into many smaller branches, like the Sørfjord, its longest arm.

It is located in the ‘Nordic Champagne district’

Thanks to fruit farms lining its shores, Hardangerfjord is the apple of many a visitor’s eye. The “Orchard of Norway,” the fjord valley yields tons of strawberries, raspberries, plums, cherries and, most famously, apples each year.

In spring, it explodes with white apple blossoms, which by autumn become crisp and juicy fruit. Savor a bite of a common variety like Aroma, Discovery or Summered. Toast your visit to Hardanger with a glass of cider — aka, “Nordic champagne” — or alcohol-free eplemost

More than 50 farmers belong to the local cider guild, and many offer tastings and tours. Fun fact: Since 2011, “Hardanger cider” has been a geographically protected branding denomination, just like “Champagne.” How about them apples?

It is close to Norway’s third largest glacier

The icy truth? Norway’s third-largest glacier, Folgefonna, looms over Hardangerfjord in Folgefonna National Park. Grab your crampons and ice pick for a guided hike on this 220 sq km (85 sq mi) sheet of ice. More of a skier? A summer ski resort at the glacier’s northern end offers alpine and cross country trails, a freestyle park and snowshoeing treks.

It was one of the first international tourism hotspots 

Hardangerfjord is where it all began — at least when it comes to Norwegian tourism. The first holiday makers started visiting in the early 19th century … and liked what they saw. Word got around, and by 1875, British travel pioneer Thomas Cook was offering the curious weekly cruises from London. 

For a dose of this hospitality history, head for the fjord village of Utne, where you can book a room at Norway’s oldest hotel, in business since 1722.

It is surrounded by stunning waterfalls

A cascade of natural attractions awaits in Hardangerfjord, including — wait for it — amazing waterfalls. Many major falls powered industries in towns like Odda. 

Today, some of the most stunning are yours to explore. At Vøringsfossen, peer over the falls into one of Norway’s deepest canyons. 

Steinsdalsfossen features a walk behind its 50 m (165 ft) curtain of water. 

In Husedalen valley, hike to four stunning falls amid the amazing Hardangervidda scenery.

It boasts lots of delicious seafood

Attention, seafood lovers! Fish farming is a major area industry, producing more than 40,000 tons of salmon and rainbow trout annually. Dig into fish dishes both traditional and new at the region’s legion eateries. 

For industry insights, visit the brand-new Hardanger Akvasenter in Øystese, an education center and working salmon farm.

It lies in an area rich in cultural traditions

Nature’s great, but how about a little culture? The Hardangerfjord region is a treasure trove of Norwegian national customs — and costumes. The local folk outfit, or bunad , is said to be the country’s most popular thanks to its colours and embroidery. Trawl Utne’s Hardanger Folk Museum for a deeper dive into the area’s rich traditions.

It lies in an area home to iconic hiking destinations

Take a hike. Trekking doesn’t get any better than in Hardangerfjord, home to iconic attractions like Trolltunga, or “Troll Tongue.” The rock juts out over the fjord at 1,100 m (3,600 ft) above sea level. Confident hikers can reach it in a half-day. Or follow in royalty’s footsteps on HM Queen Sonja’s Panoramic Hiking Trail between Kinsarvik and Lofthus for majestic fjord views.