In Episode 30 we introduced the staggering beauty of Norway, and because there’s so much to explore we’re staying in Norway.
Hardangerfjord is the fourth longest fjord in the world and the second longest fjord in Norway. This singular and very popular cruise destination has three cruise ports; Eidfjord, Ulvik and Rosendal, and boasts fjords, mountains, waterfalls, glaciers and orchards filled with plums, apples, pears and cherries.
We’ll start at the port of Eidfjord, with a population of about 930 and located in the innermost part of Hardangerfjord. Eidfjord has an embarrassment of riches; it’s the gateway to the Hardangervidda, the largest plateau of its kind in Europe, Hardangerjøkulen, which is one of Norway’s largest glaciers, and it’s home to Norway’s largest national park. The cruise port is in the center of Eidfjord. The town offers a unique natural environment that appeals to active adventure seekers as well as those looking for peace, tranquility and natural beauty. If you want to explore, take the Trolltrain for a guided tour of Eidfjord. If you prefer the water, take a fjordsafari by RIB (rigid inflatable boat), a guided kayak tour or rent a canoe. If you want to stay on dry land there’s a Viking exhibit, local hikes, bike rentals, two beautiful churches, a woodshop, and an art gallery.
Vøringsfossen waterfall has long been Norway’s most visited natural attraction. Construction is ongoing to make the views even more accessible and spectacular. The first new viewing platform near Fossli Hotel has been completed and construction will continue thru 2023.
The Norwegian Nature Centre, dedicated to the nature, climate and environment of the country, gives visitors a comprehensive overview of Norway’s amazing natural beauty and resources. There are interactive stations, models, illustrations and wildlife projections highlighting the rich ingenuity of the people who have adapted to make use of seasonal resources. By watching, touching, listening and learning visitors can become an active and creative part of Norway’s natural and cultural history.
Next we visit Rosendal, a charming village surrounded by scenic mountains and the famous Hardangerfjord. The landscape of Rosendal attracts countless year-round visitors. Rosendal offers a great selection of cultural sights and boundless nature. The main attraction in Rosendal is Baroniet Rosendal, the only barony in Norway. The beautiful Manor House, completed in 1665, is the smallest of its kind in Scandinavia. Visiting Baroniet Rosendal is a journey back in time, with rooms and interiors created by its owners over 250 years. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the Manor is preserved as a home. You will find it as it was when the last owners left in 1927. From the harbour you can easily reach Sjethaug and get a great view of the fjord. On your way to Baroniet Rosendal make sure to stop at Hattebergfossen, a must-see waterfall. Maybe you’re ready for a longer hike? Then head to Skålafjell or Kjeldestøl, an old renovated dairy farm. Also located by the Rosendal harbor is the Folgefonn Centre, which houses interactive exhibits of Folgefonna National Park.
As you explore Rosendal make sure to stop by Kvinnherad Church, a whitewashed brick church built in the mid 1200’s, likely the main church for the region in the Middle Ages. In 1678 it became a private church for the baron of the Barony Rosendal and was not a parish church again until 1910. Make sure to leave time for a bit of shopping and a coffee along the main street.
Ulvik is Norway’s orchard. It has a wonderfully mild climate where apples, plums, pears and cherries easily grow. The fruit blossom season in May and June is breathtaking. The mountains are covered in white, pink and red flowers from the white caps at the top to the blue fjord below. July thru October is the harvest season for fruit. If you time it right you’ll be able to catch the sweet cherry and cider festivals in the small villages along the fjord. Ulvik offers rich culture, great hiking paths and incomparable landscapes. Lovers of cider will be right at home in Ulvik by following the fruit and cider routes through 3 fruit farms, tasting and sampling nature’s bounty and its products. At Hardanger Juice and Cider Factory you can see the production process and taste samples of cider, liquor, spirits and aquavit.
We have only scratched the surface of what Hardangerfjord and its three cruise ports have to offer. Are you ready to go? Norway is waiting for you.
Image credit: Stig Are Helle