Have you dreamt of seeing majestic waterfalls plunging down the mountainsides shrouded in mist and rainbows? The waterfalls of Fjord Norway are even bigger and more beautiful in reality, especially when the snow melts on the mountains in spring. On this customised round trip from Bergen to Hardanger and Sogn, you’ll get to see Norway’s most dramatic waterfalls up close.
The magical giant waterfalls of Fjord Norway
How close do you dare to get to millions of tonnes of melt water falling freely from a height of several hundred metres? You’ll be hooked once you’ve been on a waterfall safari in Hardanger and Sogn.
Bergen → Norheimsund → Kinsarvik → Eidfjord →
Behind the waterfall
When you leave Bergen, it’s hard to imagine the great variation in scenery that awaits you over the next four days. A beautiful fjord landscape opens up when you cross the first mountains from Arna to Samnanger, before you again head into the mountains to Eikedalen and Kvamskogen. This is the number one winter destination for the people of Bergen, where there are many cabins and ski centres. Following a steep descent down towards Hardanger and Norheimsund, you come to the first big waterfall on this round trip. The 50-metre Steinsdalsfossen is one of Norway’s most popular waterfalls, both because it is right beside the road and because you can walk behind it and admire the cascading water from within it, without getting wet.
The four waterfalls in the Husedalen valley
After a chance to stop for lunch at one of Norheimsund’s many eateries, your next stop is Kinsarvik in Hardanger. There are two ways, at least, to get there. You can either take the Tørrvikbygd-Jondal and Utne-Kinsarvik ferries, or go via Granvin and the spectacular Hardanger Bridge, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges. Both routes offer fantastic views of the fjord and snow-clad mountain peaks, green hillsides lining the fjord and fruit trees in bloom – if you travel in spring that is.
The road continues from Kinsarvik up the steep Husedalen valley towards the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. After a short drive, you pass Tveitafossen waterfall (103 metres) and come to Nyastølfossen waterfall (YouTube-video), which at 115 metres is one of the four big waterfalls in Husedalen. You can take fantastic photos here and experience the huge forces of the Kinso river. If you have enough time, you can do a half-hour walk to the beautiful Nykkjesøyfossen waterfall (60 metres) with views down to the Hardangerfjord. Sotefossen waterfalls thunders some distance further up, which has a total fall of 246 metres over two steps and makes for a magnificent sight.
The twin giants in Eidfjord
If you haven’t completely fallen head over heels with Kinsarvik and booked yourself into a hotel or campsite there, the day’s highlight now awaits: Eidfjord and the Vøringsfossen, which also make for an exciting drive up the hairpin bends of the Måbødalen valley.
Vøringsfossen is the most photographed and famous waterfall in Norway, yet the fact that it is actually made up of two waterfalls plunging beside each other down into the valley is less well known. Vøringsfossen (182 metres) and the somewhat smaller Tyssvikjofossen (145 metres) together make for an overwhelming and indescribable sight: Quite simply a must see.
Voss → Flåm → Lærdal → Årdal →
Fruit trees in bloom in Ulvik
After a day of spectacular waterfalls in Hardanger, even more impressive experiences, if possible, await. If you’re up early, and you’re travelling in May or June, we recommend a detour to Ulvik, where the apple, plum and cherry trees will be in full bloom in Hardanger.
Huge waterfall in Skorvo
The drive from the hotel (or Ulvik) via the Hardanger Bridge to Voss takes around an hour and you pass the beautiful Granvinsvatnet lake and the old Granvin church with its picturesque graveyard. The sign to the day’s first big attraction, Skjervsfossen waterfall on the Skorvo river, is 10 km north of the lake. This little known waterfall sends enormous volumes of water down a 120-metre free fall – an awe-inspiring and compelling sight. Make sure you stand well back for safety reasons.
Bordalsgjelet gorge in Voss
The next leg takes you to the centre of Voss, Vossevangen, where a small but fascinating watercourse awaits, Bordalsgjelet. You can get to the opening of this narrow gorge on foot from the town centre, and on your way there see the many potholes formed by rock and melting glaciers. When it pours in spring, strong currents quickly form in the gorge, and we strongly recommend sticking to the path.
The Sognefjord reveals its secrets
Drive from Voss into the fabled region of Sogn, the very quintessence of Fjord Norway for many. The first waterfall you come to is Tvindefossen (YouTube-video), a 109-metre giant that attracts a steady flow of tourist buses full of foreign visitors in spring and summer. After passing the picture-perfect Oppheimsvatnet lake, you soon come to Stalheimfossen waterfall – which many believe gives Vøringsfossen a run for its money.
Once you arrive in Sogn, the long Gudvanga Tunnel awaits, which there is no way to drive around. In Flåm, you can admire the cascading Kjosfossen waterfall – a major tourist attraction that is a regular stop on the Flåm Railway. This attraction is situated some way up the hillside and you have to take the train from Flåm to Myrdal and back to see it. Check times and book tickets here.
For those who are in no hurry, Flåm is the ideal place for people who love adventure, nature and culture. The fjord is perfect for kayaking, fishing and fjord safaris, and the old Rallarvegen navvies’ road is popular among cyclists.
The road from Flåm to Lærdal takes you through another long tunnel, but the old Aurlandsvegen road across the mountains is still open when the weather permits. Stopping in Lærdal, one of the biggest tourist destinations in Fjord Norway, is recommended. You can also do a detour off the main road just after the tunnel up to Borgund stave church, a unique gem of a medieval church.
However, the day is drawing to a close, if it has not already done so, as you drive into Årdal municipality. On the map, the administrative centre of the municipality Årdalstangen appears to be situated bang smack in the mountains. Being beside the sea yet so far from the coast is mind-boggling. You’re here now though, so take time to recharge your batteries ahead of tomorrow’s rigorous adventure.
Three big ones, and one...
From Øvre Årdal, the route takes you on to what could well be the biggest attraction on the round trip, Vettisfossen waterfall in Utladalen valley. Take care not to set off too late in the day, as a lengthy hike awaits that can take up to four hours there and back from the car park in Hjelle, a ten-minute drive up from Øvre Årdal.
You can see the first big waterfall of the day, Hjellefossen, already from the car park. Its total fall of 365 metres makes it one of the biggest in Fjord Norway, although some of the other waterfalls you’ll see on this leg have an even bigger free fall. The first of these is the next one you come to on the day’s hike, Avdalsfossen, which carries melt water from the Hurrungane mountains down a free fall of 175 metres.
If you’re a waterfall lover who appreciates other qualities than just height in metres, the next waterfall in Utladalen is definitely for you. Its emerald green fall of just five meters makes Høljafossen a very aesthetic waterfall. This is also the case for the ‘Queen’ as Vettisfossen is also called. It is the final destination on the day’s walk, and also for the river Morki, which plunges 275 metres straight down into Utladalen valley, into the river Utla.
A major international poll from 2016 named Vettisfossen the most beautiful waterfall in Norway. The fact that Utladalen valley is surrounded by 50 plus peaks of more than 2,000 metres by no means spoils the indescribable experience of standing on the viewing platform facing Vetisfossen waterfall.
The end of the Sognefjord
The day’s final stop is on the other side of Store Skagastølstind, Norway’s third highest mountain at 2,405 metres, first climbed in 1876 by William Cecil Slingsby. The road then continues along the Sognefjord back to Lærdal and the Fodnes-Mannheller ferry, and then on along the Lustrafjord to the end of the Sognefjord, to Skjolden.
Feigom → Solvorn-Gaupne → Balestrand →
The magnificent Feigefossen
Picturesque Skjolden innermost in the Lustrafjord in inner Sogn is one of the most charming communities in Fjord Norway, and you can do lots of activities there like stand-up-paddling, organised trips to abandoned farms high up on the mountainsides or hire a bike or head for the huge mountains in the area accompanied by a guide. You’ll have to save these activities for another trip, however, because you’re now set to drive south along the opposite side of the Lustrafjord in relation to yesterday. The magnificent Feigefossen waterfall commands an idyllic location on the mountainside, unleashing the melt water from the Hurrungane mountains.
You may have become rather blasé having already seen so many impressive waterfalls, but Feigefossen is one of Norway’s most beautiful waterfalls with a free fall of 218 metres. You can admire the waterfall as you make your way up on the half-hour walk from the car park beside the fjord. After you pass the first viewing platform, there’s a path on down to the foot of the waterfall, from where it looks particularly large and ferocious.
Today’s leg is all about the wonders of nature. After you’ve seen Feigefossen, you take the ferry across the Lustrafjord to Solvorn, which has been welcoming tourists from far and near for almost 400 years. Hotel Walaker, Norway’s oldest family-run hotel, opened already in 1640. From here, you take the Rv 55 road past Leikanger towards Balestrand, where, one of Norway’s most legendary waterfalls, Kvinnafossen, cascades 120 metres right down beside the main road. When the snow really starts melting in May and June, the traffic has to drive through a cascade of water and foam covering the road. If you love that kind of experience, you now have a chance to set out on the fjord in a RIB boat to see the waterfall from the sea. This activity starts in Balestrand. You’ll also find Kviknes Hotel here, jewel of the Sognefjord since 1877.
Gaular → Vik → Voss → Bergen →
Gaularfjellet and the Waterfall Path
On top of the wealth of activities available in Balestrand, you can also do a detour up to the mountain Gaularfjell north of the village. The wonderful view across the glaciers can be enjoyed at stopping places on the way, but walking the Waterfall Path from Gaularfjellet to Viksdalen valley offers the best views of all. You can choose how far you want to walk and where to start, and spend a few fantastic hours in a fertile landscape, rich in birdlife and fauna.
After doing the Waterfall Path on Gaularfjellet, you can drive the hairpin bends back down to the fjord and Balestrand, where you head south on the ferry across the fjord.
On the south side of the Sognefjord, you come to the 13th-century Hopperstad stave church and the beautiful Hove Steinkyrkje church, both right beside the road in Vikøyri. You can do a detour to Arnafjord from here, where the beautiful Botnafossen waterfall is well worth seeing.
Back in the car, the E13 road ascends steeply up to the Vikafjellet mountains, where you are above the treeline and in the high mountains. In spring and early summer, there is a chance you’ll have to drive between tall banks of snow, but, whatever the season, on a cloudless day you’ll be able to glance back at the snow-clad peaks on the north side of the Sognefjord. A sight for the gods.
Back down from the Vikafjellet mountains on the E16 road in Vossestrand, the final stage of the trip to Bergen starts – a worthy conclusion to a spectacular waterfall safari.