This covers two separate days — on the first day, we spent our morning in Voss and then took a train over to Bergen where we grabbed some lunch and then rented a car to drive to Tyssedal, where we spent a few hours driving through the Norwegian countryside and alongside the Hardangerfjord. On the second day we had a short drive to Trolltunga where we spent the entire day hiking, after which we were unable to do much but grab dinner in our hotel and then catch some rest to relax our sore muscles.
See & Do
- Voss: Sleepy little town right in the middle of Bergen and Flam. Although it shares the same name, the expensive bottled water is actually not from this town. Most people continue directly to Bergen from Flam, but Voss is a nice stopping point if you want to spend a little more time exploring the Sognefjord area as it has easy road access (located on the main road between Oslo and Bergen), as well as solid public transit connections to nearby attractions (either via bus or train).
- Hardanger Bridge: One of the longest suspension bridges in the world–longer than the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco–this bridge was constructed in 2013 to shorten the driving time between Oslo and Bergen. Prior to 2013, you would have had to take a ferry to get across the Hardangerfjord. What’s even more impressive is that the connections on either end are tunnels, leading to a cool looking roundabout that’s inside a tunnel. The 150 NOK toll (~$18.50 USD) is quite a hit right in the wallet.
- Tyssedal: Tiny little working class town with an amazing looking hydro-power plant right at the base of the fjord. Its main claim to fame at this point is being a convenient stopping point for hikers on the way to Trolltunga as well as a blue glass monument in a never-ending spiral pathway.
- Trolltunga: In a word: wow. There are plenty of resources online to get you started on the world-famous Trolltunga hike. In fact, this hike is the main reason many people travel to Norway in the first place. We picked up some Shanghainese students who were looking for a ride to the hike and set out early in the morning, and arrived at the trailhead around 8am.
The first 1km is a pretty intense vertical climb, and the signpost telling you that you still have 10km to go is pretty demoralizing.
I can’t in all honesty say that it gets any easier, as there is another steep climb from about 3.5km – 5km. Once you reach the top, you are granted an amazing view of Lake Ringedalsvatnet, and you’re also greeted with chilly winds and the beginning of snow and ice on the ground.
We had to hike the remaining 6km through thick snow and ice (in the middle of August no less) for a total of 11km one way. At this point you’re well above the tree-line so the terrain is like the surface of the moon.
Once you reach the end of the hike for a well deserved break and lunch, you’ll have to wait in line with everybody else for the famous pic on the troll’s tongue rock that’s sticking out. Be careful here! The rock is actually a lot wider than it looks in pictures, you never really feel like you’re in danger of going off the edge. There’s a large crowd in this general vicinity celebrating their accomplishment–it almost feels like you’re in the middle of a city at a tourist attraction rather than on a remote mountain.
11km – 1km (heading back):
Unfortunately, you’ve got a long way to go to get back…it seems easy in theory, because it’s almost all downhill, but your knees will not be happy at all by the end. In retrospect, the first 10km was just a lot of time consuming walking downhill, and though the downhill parts were a bit tough due to the wear on the knees, in retrospect it was nothing at all compared to the last kilometer downhill.
1km – 0km (heading back):
It rained a bit during the hike, so the steep vertical descent was a complete muddy and slippery mess all the way down. There are ropes to help you descend, but in reality they are just going to end up giving you rug burn and muddy hands since they’ve been exposed to mud and rain. The last kilometer probably took as long as the previous 4. Reaching the asphalt felt amazing. There’s a tap to wash off your boots and pants so that you don’t track too much mud all over your vehicle (might be wise to have a few clean towels/sheets stored in the car).
Some additional notes and thoughts on the hike:
I would strongly recommend bringing good, sturdy hiking boots, NOT sneakers (there is a good chance you’ll be hiking through mud and snow on steep inclines). Make sure you bring layers as the temperature changes dramatically throughout the hike, and also wear clothing that you don’t mind getting a bit muddy. It may be warm at the bottom, but it gets really windy after the second peak. And then it starts heating up again as you warm up from the hike a little while after that. Etc. Don’t forget to pack a good lunch as you’ll be famished by the time you get to the top. Don’t worry too much about bringing water as there is plenty of fresh, flowing glacier water available throughout the hike (but you should probably bring a water bottle or something at least). Get there early as the hike will take about 8-12 hours depending on your fitness level (we took about 10 hours, started ~8am and ended ~6pm). Timing the hike to take place during daylight is not a huge concern during summertime as it doesn’t get dark until very late at night. If you drive, parking is 120NOK for 14 hours.
Eat & Drink
- Godt Brod Marken: Stopped by this place on our way to pick up the rental car. Apparently it’s a Norwegian chain with several locations, their sandwiches were pretty solid. You can pick the type of bread and ingredients you want. Their coffee (had a latte and cappucino) and dessert bread is also pretty good (we had the almond bun). 79 NOK per sandwich. 42 NOK for dessert.
- Lunch from Tyssendal Hotel: The hotel offers sandwiches for you to bring on your hike. You can also order coffee only if you brought your own thermos which we did not. We both got the chicken with bacon baguette. It was made with good quality meat and vegetables. 95 NOK each.
- Dinner at Tyssendal Hotel: After the hike we were too exhausted to go out anywhere further and had a meal in the hotel restaurant. I’m not sure if it was just the mood after the hike, but the food was really quite good (schnitzel & fish and chips) and the beer was one of the best I’ve had in my life. 295 NOK for two-course meal.
- Tyssendal Hotel: A nice enough place that’s super convenient to the Trolltunga hike. Most people stay in Odda, which is just down the road, but this hotel is pretty much as close as you can get, and it’s in a charming, tiny little town (seriously, it’s tiny–I wouldn’t even really consider it a town, maybe more like a housing complex with a supermarket). There’s a supermarket within walking distance to stock up on necessities, but note that the rooms don’t come with a refrigerator (not sure if that’s an option available upon request, we didn’t ask). One thing that unexpectedly got us was that there’s no elevator–fine, it’s just a 3 story building so it didn’t seem like a huge deal until we were done with the Trolltunga hike. Climbing up (and down) 2 flights of stairs was really not fun at all in the shape that our knees were in after the grueling hike.
- 08/05/2015 – 08/06/2015