The Hardangervidda National Park lies just east of Bergen in the centre of southern Norway, and its enormous, raised plateau offers incredible scenery, countless outdoor adventures and a home for Europe’s biggest population of Reindeer.
Norway’s largest national park is comfortably one of its most diverse. Whether you’re looking for a place to hike, fish or simply a stunning wilderness to explore, Hardangervidda is - as the renowned polar explorers Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen would attest - as close to a polar expedition as you’re likely to come.
Bearings can be gotten from Hårteigen peak in the centre of Hardangervidda, which acts as a significant signpost and can be seen from almost everywhere on the plateau. From the titanic spectacle of the Vøringsfossen waterfall to a calming stroll around the Kinsarvik Church, to visit here is to see some of Norway at its very best. Here are a few hints and tips for your trip to Hardangervidda…
An adventurous few days in Hardangervidda wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Måbødalen Valley. Alongside a surprising array of plant life, you can see the mighty Vøringsfossen waterfall, and stand in awe as the water plummets down from a height of more than 145 meters.
Vøringsfossen is one of Norway's best-known tourist destinations for a reason, so don’t miss out! Renovations are currently underway to make the entire spectacle a little more accessible, including the restoration of a number of tracks and trails between the different viewing points. Completion is expected in 2020, but don’t let that put you off visiting sooner.
Set against a backdrop of impressive mountain vistas and harbouring a unique history, Kinsarvik Church isn’t your everyday religious building. Inside are a number of medieval treasures, both artistic and Christian, dating back to as early as the 11th century.
Photo credit: Henny Stokseth
These include a number of 13th-century paintings which were recently uncovered underneath the plaster of the church’s internal walls. Admission is free, so don’t miss the chance to spend a couple of hours wandering through Norway’s long forgotten past.
As with most of Norway’s wild outdoors, a fantastic way to discover Hardangervidda is to embark on a hike on some of its many tracks and trails. A popular trail is to go from the above Kinsarvik to Stavali, Husedalen, or from Finse to Blåisen. It’s always recommended to plan ahead to an extent, and it is well worth purchasing a detailed map of the area from the Norwegian Trekking Association, a local bookshop or tourist information offices. There are countless routes you can take, so research ahead of time to discover which best suits your ability and what you want to see.
Hardangervidda is home to several spectacular peaks. The highest three are Hallingskarvet (1,933m) Gaustatoppen (1,883m) and the glacier of Hardangerjøkulen (1,876m), and all are scalable with enough preparation, depending on the weather of course!
Plenty of keen fishermen visit Hardangervidda every year to take advantage of the healthy trout stocks in the majority of the National Park’s waters. Highly recommended are the narrow inlets of the Sørfjord, and if you don’t have any luck then a trip to the Hardangervidda Nature Centre will bring you face to face with many of the species that call the park home. A non-fishing way to appreciate Hardangervidda’s pristine waters is to take a cruise on Lake Møsvatn, which rests at over 900m above sea level.
Hardangervidda is also home to Norway’s most popular cycling route. Rallarvegen, or Navvies’ Road, traverses almost 100 kilometres across dramatic mountain scenery down to Flåm and the Aurlandsfjord.
Finding accommodation within the national park shouldn’t be too much of a problem. There are a number of hotels, cabins, and lodges, whilst camping is also permitted anywhere inside the park, provided you aren’t in a cultivated field and aren’t within 150 meters of the nearest house or cabin! The same goes for mobile homes and caravans.
What would you do in Hardangervidda? Let us know in the comment section below.