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Snow covering the Folgefonna glacier
Danai Christopoulou

Danai Christopoulou

Author
6 mins read

15 Interesting facts about Folgefonna

If you had to choose only one national park to visit, then Folgefonna National Park should be on the top of your list.

Norway is home to many national parks. After all, the country itself is so green and picturesque it could be considered a national park in its entirety… 

Located near the Queen of the Fjords, Hardangerfjord, Folgefonna National Park is home to so many different sites, experiences and activities, it will take your breath away!

Here are some things you may not know about Folgefonna National Park:

Tourists have been flocking here since 1833

Although the National Park itself was established quite recently, the breathtaking beauty of the natural area has been attracting visitors for almost 200 years! 

By 2005 though, with the number of tourists ever increasing, it became clear that the area’s biodiversity had to be preserved. And so, Folgefonna National Park officially came into life.

You’ll feel like you visited many different worlds

Imagine wandering around mountainous peninsulas with very scarce vegetation, visiting valleys bursting with flowers… and then spotting arctic cotton-grass at the edge of the Folgefonna glacier! 

Because Folgefonna National Park is so vast (spanning no less than four municipalities), it is also geologically diverse. So diverse, you’ll feel like visiting ten national parks rolled into one — even temperatures vary greatly from spot to spot.

You’ll get to explore Norway’s southernmost glacier(s)

Of course the star of Folgefonna National Park is the Folgefonna glacier, which is also the third largest glacier in Norway. But… it’s actually not just one glacier but three: Nordfonna, Midtfonna and Sørfonna, covering a total area of 207 km2. 

At its thickest, the glacier is almost 400 meters — talk about a lot of ice! Which brings us to our next point…

You can hike blue ice

Whether you’re 8 or 88 years old, hiking a glacier is definitely one of those bucket-list adventures you shouldn’t miss out on. 

In Folgefonna National Park, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to glacier hiking: there’s blue-ice hike, a snowshoe hike, ice climbing… And you don’t have to worry if you haven’t done this before: there are different levels of climbing and various routes depending on ability, so the hike is literally suitable for everyone over 8 years old. (Did you think we were exaggerating before?) 

It will take about 5-6 hours to hike across the Folgefonna glacier, but it will be hours well spent!

You can visit one of the World’s 10 most beautiful waterfalls

Do you know the song, “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls”? Well, forget it. In Folgefonna National Park, you are actually encouraged to do so. The park is home to many spectacular waterfalls but Langfossen really takes the cake. The waterfall is the fifth highest in Norway and has been voted as one of the 10 most beautiful in the world by CNN! 

Langfossen runs 600 meters down the mountainside before flowing into the Åkrafjord. There is even a picnic area nearby, so you can properly take in the views.

Norway’s national bird hangs out here

Folgefonna National Park is home to so many bird species that it would be a shame not to pack a pair of binoculars with you. There’s white-backed woodpeckers who have become rare everywhere else in Europe. 

There’s golden eagles, nesting in the valleys towards the Folgefonna glacier. But the most unique sight of all are the white-throated dippers, Norway’s national bird: you can spot them diving into rivers and streams, looking for food.

You can ski at the same place as the national team in alpine skiing

You know Norway is famous worldwide for its skiing teams… Well, the reason Norwegian skiing teams always win at global competitions, is because they have places like the Folgefonna National Park to train at! 

There is a summer ski resort in the national park, where you can go alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and even snowboarding. It’s indeed one of the favorite training spots for many national and international alpine clubs, so you’ll be in good company. Imagine a 1.1 km of downhill skiing, with a 250 m (820 ft) altitude drop..

There’s a rock in the Bondhusdalen valley signed by the Queen of Norway

Bondhusdalen valley is one of the most beautiful places within Folgefonna National Park. In fact, it’s one of these places visitors flocked to since the mid 1800s… 

It’s an easy hike on a gravel road (stroller and wheelchair friendly) to get there and the views of the lake and the icefall are beyond charming. Perhaps that’s why, when Folgefonna National Park officially opened back in 2005, this was the location chosen for the opening ceremony. During that ceremony, Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway herself, signed a rock by the lake to commemorate the opening of the park.

You’ll be surrounded by 1.5 billion years of history

Yes, billions. The Folgefonna peninsula has seen its share of changes over the many millennia. Sediments have formed on what was once ocean floor; tectonic plates have collided pushing high mountains toward the sky... Here, even the soil itself has fascinating stories to tell. 

Did you know that below the retreating icecap of the Folgefonna glacier they’ve found flint arrowheads and the ashes of ancient campfires from 10,000 years ago? You can even spot prehistoric petroglyphs at the village of Herand, depicting symbols of boats, as this was one of the earliest boat making areas in the country.

Nature’s most adorable assassin lurks here after dark

No, we don’t mean your cat (although we’re sure she’s also adorable and potentially lethal to rodents). The title of “nature’s most adorable assassin” actually goes to pine marten, a super cute brown mustelid with a yellow bib on its chest, native to Northern Europe. 

Because of its excellent senses of sight, smell and hearing and its semi retractable claws (like your cat), pine marten is an excellent hunter. 

You may spot him in Folgefonna National Park around dusk, when he goes out to hunt.

There’s a 23-metre-long stone wall that tells the history of our Earth

At Rosendal Stone Park, just a 10-minute walk from Rosendal village centre and harbour, a time-lapse story of Earth’s geological periods awaits… in the form of a wall. 

Confused? Well, the wall is created from thirty minerals of different geological ages (from coronite, the county rock of Hordaland, to orbicular gabbro, one of Norway’s rarest minerals with a 1.3-billion-year history) to signify key events in Earth’s geological periods. 

The wall itself is located in a beautiful park, amid streams and picnic tables, so this will be a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

You can be at the site of of one of Lars Hertervig’s best-known paintings

Born in 1830 in the area near Bergen, Lars Hertervig was one of Norway’s most fascinating painters (although his work was discovered after he died), his landscapes always evoking strong emotions. 

A local of the area, Lars Hertevig was inspired by the beauty of Rullestad, a hamlet on the shore of a lake inside Folgefonna National Park. In fact, it was the old postal road through Rullestadjuvet that inspired the painter. 

When you visit it, keep an eye out for the deep hollows in the stone called “giant’s cauldrons” as well as for the strangely formed trees with the shortened trunks.

You can hike century-old trackways

It’s not just the postal road that inspired the painter though. In Folgefonna National Park you’ll get the chance to hike many well-marked trails, some of which are century-old. Kaiser Wilhelm, the last German Emperor, once strolled here. 

There’s also a historic Ice Path, used to transport ice from the Folgefonna glacier to the fjord’s docks (from there, the ice was hauled up on boats, headed towards the nearby coastal towns and villages). Are you ready to walk in the footsteps of history?

Here lies the only Barony in Norway

Just outside Folgefonna National Park, you’ll find the Manor House Baroniet Rosendal, dating back to the 17th century. As the only Barony in the country, it has been a listed building since the 1920s and is currently a very popular attraction. 

ake a stroll at its surrounding rose gardens, your Instagram feed will thank you!

You’ll get to watch four movies about it all

By now, you’re probably convinced that Folgefonna National Park is full of fascinating sites and attractions. But if you want to go deeper, at the visitor’s centre in Rosendal you’ll find important information from climate researchers and oceanographers, that will allow you to better appreciate the natural area around you. 

And because we humans are visual animals, at the visitor’s centre you’ll also get the chance to watch four movies about important environmental factors of the area, from the water itself and the life in the fjords, to the majestic red deer you’ll encounter in Folgefonna National Park…