Western Norway (Vestlandet)
Western Norway is one of Norway's major geographic areas and It's nature has a lot to offer.
Norway is considered to have five major geographic areas (landsdeler): Nord-Norge (Northen Norway), Midt-Norge (described as the northern most section of southern Norway, it is the area containing the city of Trondheim), Vestlandet (Western Norway), Østlandet (Eastern Norway) and Sørlandet (Southern Norway).
This article summarizes Western Norway, which contains the following counties: Møre og Romsdal, Vestland and Rogaland. Bergen (Vestland) and Stavanger (Rogaland) are the two largest cities in Western Norway. This region, which the official Visit Norway website refers to as ‘Fjord Norway’, has a variety of natural beauty, from mountains to fjords to islands, rushing waterfalls to gentle rivers and lakes. Western Norway's climate is such that a short trip from the milder coastal areas can bring you into a colder inland climate providing seasonal opportunities for skiing and other winter-sports. The summaries and links below to the counties will get you started exploring the nature of Western Norway.
Stavanger is the largest city in Rogaland and is situated near many of Rogaland's natural attractions.
Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), a steep cliff offering a spectacular view, towers 604 metres above Lysefjorden and is one of the most visited toursit attractions in Norway.
Kjerag is a 1,110 metre tall mountain featuring Kjeragbolten (a 5-cubic-metre stone wedged in the moutain's crevasse) and Kjergafossen (among the highest waterfalls in Norway and in the world) as well as opportunities for hiking, base jumping, and climbing.
Magma Geopark is a UNESCO Global Geopark (an internationally important geological heritage site) featuring a rock type (anorthosite) more common on the moon than it is on earth. Activities in Magma Geopark include hiking, climbing, cycling, paddling and more.
In Magma geopark you can visit:
- Trollpikken (Troll's penis, a distinctively shaped rock formation)
- One of the largest screes (collection of fallen rock fragments) in Northern Europe, Gloppedalsura (Gloppedals scree)
- Gursli, a mine from the turn of the century
How to get there
Stavanger can be used as a base for reaching several attractions in Rogaland. It is possible to reach Stavanger by plane or bus.
- To Stavanger By Bus- From Bergen bus station, you can take Nor-way Bussekspress to Stavanger Sentrum Jernbaneveien (4 hrs 50 min - 5.5 hours).
- Preikestolen – Preikestolen can be reached from Stavanger (via Tau) with the Pulpit Rock bus seasonally. Additionally, you can get to Peikestolen by a combination fo boat, bus, and hiking.
- Kjerag – Kjerag can only be hiked without a guide seasonally (June-September). During the summer, you can reach Kjerag via Stavanger with a guided tour via Go Fjords.
- Magma Geopark – Magma Geopark may be a challenge to visit without renting a car or booking a tour (Trollpikken's trailhead, for example, is located outside of the town of Egersund and does not have direct bus service). You may wish to book a guided tour or a bus trip to Magma Geopark through the Magma Geopark website.
Hordaland (part of Vestland county)
Natural experiences, including Bergen's own Byfjellene (city moutains), Kvamskogen (a ski and recreation area), and a variety of natural beauty around Voss. In addition to the mountains to explore surrounding Bergen, Hordaland also boasts other natural bounties that provide opportunities for skiing, hiking, water sports, skydiving and more.
The Hardanger area
- Hardangerfjorden: The third longest fjord on earth, the area offers famous hikes (like Trolltunga) and waterfalls.
- Hardangervidda: An enormous stretch of wilderness dotted with cabins, one can hike or cross-country ski from cabin to cabin across the plateau.
- Vøringsfossen: One of the most famous waterfalls in the country, near Eidfjord.
- Kvamskogen: A mountain plateau about one hour outside of Bergen offering winter sports including downhill and cross-country skiing. Kvamskogen.
- Folgefonna: Refers to three glaciers in Hardanger. The glacier has a summer skiing resort and is part of Folgefonna National Park.
How to get to the Hardanger area
- By Boat: You can get to Rosendal (in Hardanger Region) by boat on Rødne Fjord Cruises' Hardangerfjord Express Boat (about 2 hours).
- By Bus: You can get to a number of destinations within the Hardanger Region by local bus (Skyss), including Odda (the starting point for Trolltunga), Route 930 from Bergen Bus Station (about 3 hours). Use Skyss's travel planner to plan your trip.
- To get to Kvamskogen you can take bus number 925 and 930 from the Bergen bus station. Use the Skyss Travel Planner to plan your trip.
- Here is a complete guide for travel to the Hardangerfjord.
Voss is one of the most famous winter recreation areas for Norway featuring outdoor recreation all year round. Rafting, climbing, skydiving, skiing or just flying inside an indoor wind tunnel. Read more information about Voss here.
How to get to Voss:
- By Train: Voss is easily accessible by Train (about 1 hour away from Bergen). Plan your trip on Vy’s site.
- By Bus: It is also possible to take the bus to Voss (about 1 hour, 45 minutes), with Nettbuss.
Sogn og Fjordane (part of Vestland county)
Glaciers, fjords, rivers and mountains await exploration in Sogn og Fjordane.
The 22 km long Jølstra River flows out into Fødefjorden from 207 metres above sea level. It offers recreation such as rafting.
A mountain with a depression in it that earned it a name meaning 'the bowl'. This is the longest uphill stretch in Norway - providing a hike with amazing fjord views.
Many picturesque fjords cut through Sogn og Fjordane.
- Aurlandsfjorden: a branch off of Sognefjorden, sometimes referred to as 'the King of Fjords' (Norway's longest fjord). You can view the Fjord from the famous Stegastein viewpoint. Join our trip to Flåm and you can experience this.
- Fjærlandsfjord: also a branch of Sognefjorden, is at a meeting point between glacier and fjord. Read about visiting Fjærlandsfjord here.
- Nærøyfjorden: another branch of Sognefjorden, 18 km long and at times only 500 metres wide, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Other, more man-made attractions include Selje Abbey, a Benedictine monastery; stave churches such as the Borgund Stave Church (the best preserved of Norway's stave churches); as well as the extremely scenic and steep Flåmsbanen (the Flåm railway line). If you want to take the Flåmsbanen, you can buy tickets at Norway’s national rail service, VY. Flåmsbanen runs between Myrdal and Flåm (you can take the train from Bergen to Myrdal first).
How to get there
- By boat: Norled offers express boats from Bergen Strandkaiterminal (near the Fishmarket) to Flåm, Aurland, Sogn, etc (around 5 hours). The routes are prone to seasonal variation, explore Norled's website here.
- By Bus: Nor-way Bussekspress offers routes from Bergen Bus Station to Flåm, Aurland, Loen (a town about 2 km from the trailhead for Skåla), Stryn (a town about 3 km from the Brikksdalsbeen glacier arm). These take between 2.5 hrs and over 6 hours depending on the destination.
- By Train: VY offers the Flåmsbanen route to Flåm, you must first take the train to Myrdal (about 3 hours total).
Møre og Romsdal
Geirangerfjorden, a UNESCO World Hertitage Site, is one of the major natural attractions in the region of Møre og Romsdal.
A 15 km branch of a larger system of fjords. It was listed as a UNESCO World Hertiage site in 2005. Surrounded by some of the west coast of Norway's steepest mountains, it is a narrow fjord with no habitable shoreline. The looming mountains house a part of notable waterfalls that face each other across the fjord: Seven Sisters and the Suitor (aka the Friar).
How to get to Geirangerfjord
- By boat: In the summer you can take the Hurtigruten from Bergen to Geiranger. In winter you can take the Hurtigruten from Bergen to Ålesund and a bus from Ålesund to Geiranger. If you want to book a port-to-port trip through the Hurtigruten English web page, you must contact their customer service directly. You can book havn-til-havn (port-to-port) on the Norwegian Hurtigruten webpage if you can get by in Norwegian.
- By Bus: Nettbuss has buses that run from Bergen Bus Station to Ålesund (about 9 hours 45 minutes, route 430). From Ålesund you can take a local bus (route 210 and 211, with ferry in between) to Geiranger (~3.5-4.5 hours).
- Take a look at options for getting to Geirangerfjord on their official website.
Hjørundfjorden and Sunnmørsalpene
Hjørundfjorden is a roughly 33 km branch off of Storfjorden (literally, 'the large fjord') is surrounded by a mountain range called Sunnmørsalpene (Sunnmøre Alps).The Sunnmøre Alps offer hiking and skiing and is known for its long skiing season. UT.no is a great tool for exploring the Norwegian mountains but is only available in Norwegian. Copy and paste text into a translator, such as Google translate, if needed.
How to get to Hjørundfjorden/Sunnmørsalpene
- By boat: You can visit Hjørundfjorden and the Sunnmøre Alps via the Hurtigruten. The Hurtigruten has a port at Urke (Urke and Sæbø are roughly opposite each other across the Hjørundfjorden). If you want to book a port-to-port trip through the Hurtigruten English web page, you must contact their customer service directly. You can book havn-til-havn (port-to-port) on the Norwegian Hurtigruten webpage if you can get by in Norwegian.
- By Bus: One option for traveling to Sæbø (a tourist village next to Hjørundfjorden) is to take Nettbuss from Bergen Bus Station to Ørsta (about 8 hours) and then take a local bus (route 370) from Ørsta to Sæbø.
Other (less natural) attractions include: Trollstigen (Troll's path), a steep section of the Norwegian County Road 63 with dramatic hairpin turns; Atlanterhavsveien (the Atlantic Ocean Road), a 8.3 km section of County Road 64 that runs through an archipelago; and Hotel Union Øye, a hotel dating back to 1891 in a scenic location that has been visited by royalty.