Fjord boats are a key part of Norway’s transportation system, and you can go traditional or take a high speed catamaran between destinations. For many, the gateway to world class hiking and for traversing these deep inland fingers of the sea begins at Bergen.
Bergen has the atmosphere of small-town charm rolled into an international city, all packed with tradition and history. It is situated between the beautiful Hardangerfjord in the south and Norway’s longest fjord, Sognefjord, to the north. Before setting off to hike this stunning country, you may want to attend a concert from one of the world’s oldest symphony orchestras or visit Bergen’s 125 acre- botanical gardens. In addition to an impressive rose collection, the botanical gardens are home to the largest Nordic collection of Rhododendrons, with 5000 plant species from around the world. The gardens have inviting hills, rocky gorges, a small lake and a shoreline of several kilometers.
Bergen’s waterfront, the Bryggen, became a thriving center of international trade in the late Middle Ages. Here, the characteristic parallel rows of buildings with their seaward-facing gables represent a building tradition dating back almost 900 years..
Once underway on your hiking adventure, visit Kinsarvik, with its magnificent opportunities for hiking and skiing. It is an excellent starting point on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. This is one of the most beautiful walks in the country; you will pass several breathtaking waterfalls, located closely on your trip through Husedalen from Kinsarvik to hardangervidda. Want more variety? Take a sea kayak or schedule a glacier guide to take you up the ancient snowfields showing all the colors of a rainbow. Want another variety of water- based activity? Just hire rowing boats and canoes. If ancient architecture interests you, you may want to visit Kinsarvik Church. Dating from 1160, it is one of the oldest stone churches in Norway.
The Hardangerfjord scenery is at its most beautiful in Lofthus, with its marvelous view of the Folgefonna glacier. It is easy to understand why Lofthus was one of composer Edvard Grieg’s favorite haunts. You’ll recognize his music instantly. A stroll among the fruit trees here is an experience we recommend at any time of year. Open in summer, the old stone church dating, from 1250, is also worth a visit.
Located at the end of the Ulvik fjord, a side arm of the Hardangerfjord, sits the tiny village of Ulvik with 661 inhabitants as of 2008. It offers a nature that is wild, beautiful and exotic, and quaint restaurants serving delicious local products, including many varieties of wild berries.
The Sognefjord area features Glacier National Park, where you can experience the largest glacier on mainland Europe at close range, which extends its arms of blue ice into lush valleys. This area’s beautiful glaciers and mountain snow feeds majestic waterfall and wild rivers, pooling to nurture fresh trout in the bright mountain lakes.
Several of the highest waterfalls in Norway are found here, including the majestic.
So whether you traverse the mountains on foot or skis, the landscape unfolds gradually, revealing its herd paths and farm roads gradually worn in over time. Farmers, family, and livestock travel these trails from their year-round farms down in the valley to their summer farms at tree line or to the alpine grazing areas above. Other trails may simply wander over the tundra. Bridges are found at any stream crossing requiring more than a few steps to get over.
Norway’s landscape can be rugged, bring you to and through dramatic scenery or over rolling upland. Its vast history and welcoming people will give you a satisfying trip you will remember for years.
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