With change coming to tourism in the Norwegian fjords, Eidfjord is one destination that’s set to benefit. The small town is ideally placed to be a base for travelers exploring some of Norway’s scenic fjords, mountainous national parks, and powerful waterfalls.
A typical Norwegian fjordside settlement, Eidfjord is home to several hundred people. It’s located at the innermost end of the Hardangerfjord, one of Norway’s biggest fjords.
Tourism to the town has long benefited from its position on the main driving route between Oslo and Bergen, Norway’s two biggest cities. But now its status as an emerging cruise port could boost the destination further.
At some point in the coming years, the Norwegian government will finally activate its plan to ban all but zero-emission vessels from its UNESCO World Heritage fjords. That means the majority of big cruise ships will no longer be able to easily visit famous ports such as Flåm and Geiranger.
As local authorities have invested in Eidfjord’s cruise port, the infrastructure improvements mean the town could soon welcome many more tourists. Here’s why you should plan a trip to the Hardanger region of Norway, and Eidfjord in particular.
A road trip to remember
The trip from Oslo to Bergen via the longer Eidfjord route takes drivers along not one but two of Norway’s national scenic routes.
The 41-mile-long Hardangervidda route soars over a mountain plateau before quickly descending down to fjord level at Eidfjord. Then, drivers can pick up some of the 98 miles of roads that together make up the Hardanger scenic route. This is packed with classic fjord Norway features from mountains and fjords to epic waterfalls and apple orchards.
Both scenic routes are dotted with rest stops, providing interesting architecture and sensational views along with the necessary facilities.
The spectacular Vøringsfossen waterfall
One of Norway’s most famous waterfalls, Vøringsfossen plunges down almost 600 feet into a beautiful gorge. Thanks to recent improvements, visitors are treated to fantastic vantage points of the waterfall and the surrounding scenery.
That being said, the recently added metal bridge that spans the upper part of the gorge is a controversial addition. Supporters say it gives visitors a better appreciation of the natural scenery, while opponents say it ruins it.
Whatever the weather, the waterfall and surrounding area are well worth a visit. It’s also possible to hike along the bottom of the gorge, but this requires more time.
Dive into Norwegian nature
In upper Eidfjord (Øvre Eidfjord), you’ll find the Norwegian Nature Center. What was originally one of two visitor centres for the vast Hardangervidda National Park is now an experience centre for learning more about flora and fauna in the Norwegian fjords and mountains.
Don’t miss the panoramic movie, which gives you some wonderful drone perspectives on the landscapes and wildlife of the Hardanger area, year-round.
Drive the Hardangerfjord Bridge
Opened in 2013, the impressive Hardangerfjord suspension bridge is Norway’s longest. It slashed travel time on the road trip from Oslo to Bergen.
While it’s not necessarily worth seeking out on its own, it’s good to know if you’ll be crossing it. That’s because with tunnels at both ends of the bridge, it’s easy to not realise you’re on the bridge until it’s too late to appreciate it.
Drivers should also be aware of the $9-$12 toll payment. A longer route is available for those wishing to skip the cost.
If you’re travelling to Eidfjord on a cruise ship, it’s worth being out on deck to experience the experience of sailing underneath.
Things to do in Eidfjord
Eidfjord itself is a pleasant place but there are limited things to do for those spending the day here. Nevertheless, there are some must-see sights, useful to know for cruise ship arrivals or for drivers taking advantage of the many electric car charging points downtown.
The path that snakes around the waterfront makes for a lovely introduction to Eidfjord and a good way to get oriented. One of the curious things you’ll see along the way is the series of trees with woollen trunk covers. Lining the roadside, the so-called ‘knitted trees’ are the result of an art project that involved the whole community.
At the heart of the town, several sculptures and art installations dot the public square outside the municipal offices. The most notable, a huge old pelton runner from a nearby hydropower station, gives insight into the industry on which so much of the fjord region relies.
If your time in port is limited, the tour of the town by the wheeled Troll Train is a good option. Operational on days when there’s a cruise ship in port, the Troll Train tours the town’s highlights with commentary. The ‘station’ will be setup at the tourist information office, right by the cruise ship port.
Highlights of the tour include the largest prehistoric burial ground in Western Norway and the historic old church, where the tour stops briefly to allow photographs and a closer look.
Old Eidfjord Church
This whitewashed old stone church from 1309 seats around 100 people. It’s only used now on special occasions, but the door remains open during the daytime allowing visitors to catch a glimpse inside.
Next to the old church you’ll find Trebua, home to a traditional wooden craftsman with souvenirs for sale and a small exhibition on the Hardanger fiddle.
Historic mountain farm life
Discover what rural life was once like in the fjord region at the historic Kjeåsen mountain farm. A road was only built here in the 1970s thanks to the local hydropower company blasting a tunnel through the mountain, so prior to that everything used at the farm had to be hauled up manually.
The view of the fjord from the farms, almost 2,000 feet above sea level, is nothing short of breathtaking. Driving up is possible, as is hiking for the experienced hiker.
Viking burial mounds
An easier hike is the marked 90-minute trail to Hæreid. Here you’ll find a few hundred burial mounds making up the largest Iron Age site in Western Norway. Pick up a map at the tourist information office.
Where to stay in Eidfjord
Road trippers have several good options for accommodation in and around Eidfjord.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the town, consider the full-service Vøringfoss Hotel. Despite being named after the famous waterfall, it’s located on the waterfront in Eidfjord.
The Fossli Hotel is a great option to consider if you value peace and quiet. Located just steps from Vøringsfossen waterfall, the hotel gives drivers the opportunity to appreciate this natural wonder once the day trippers are long gone.