Hordaland is a county (fylke) in West Norway. Hordaland stretches from the weather-beaten islands on the North Sea coast, through the gentle fertile slopes of the great fjords, toward alpine mountains with glaciers and high plateaus inland. Bergen—Norway's second city and an important destination—sits in the middle of the county, and other key settlements worth visiting are on the islands and along the fjords.
The name "Norway" ("way to the North") originally referred to the sea lane from somewhere around present-day Stavanger, through the political centres on Hordaland's coast, and further north.
|Nordhordland (Fedje, Austrheim, Radøy, Lindås, northern Vaksdal, and Masfjorden.)
|Bergen Region (Bergen, Austevoll, Os, Sund, Fjell, Øygarden, Askøy, Meland, southern Vaksdal, and Samnanger.)
|Hardanger and Voss (Voss, Kvam, Granvin, Ulvik, Eidfjord, Ullensvang, Odda, and Jondal.)
|Sunnhordland (Sveio, Bømlo, Stord, Fitjar, Tysnes, Kvinnherad, and Etne.)
Southern coastal region
Cities and towns
- Bergen - Norway's main city for several hundred years, and its second-largest today
- Eidfjord - part of the great Hardangerfjord and home to Vøringsfossen waterfall
- Voss - a village and wide district in the centre of Hordaland, winter sport resort
- Askøy - island and suburb to Bergen
- Austevoll - archipelago south of Bergen
- Hardanger - the area defined by the grand, iconic Hardangerfjord
- See also: Fjords of Norway
The terrain is extremely fragmented, particularly near the ocean, while the interior is more dominated by grand fjord/mountain landscapes. Hordaland includes the charming city of Bergen (Norway's main city for several hundred years) and other key settlements on islands and along fjords.
The county is administered and promoted by Hordaland Fylkeskommune Tel: +47 55 23 92 84, Fax: +47 55 23 90 01.
Hordaland has two airports of interest to the traveller:
- Bergen Airport, Flesland, Norway's second largest airport,has flights to all major and several smaller Norwegian airports; the Bergen-Oslo route is among the 10 most busy in Europe. It also has regular direct flights to many European destinations, as well as to Tokyo. Connections by bus to the town centre are frequent on the Flybussen Airport shuttle.
- Stord Airport is vastly smaller, and has regular flights to Oslo.
If going to the southern border of Hordaland, Haugesund airport in Rogaland can be considered.
There are several departures every day between Bergen and Oslo on the Bergen Railway, and a long stretch of the railway line runs through Hordaland. Among the stations are Dale, Voss and Finse, which, at 1.222 metres above sea level is the highest station on the entire Norwegian rail network. Reservations on long-distance trains are compulsory in Norway. For this reason you should book ahead, especially on Fridays and Sundays as you may have trouble getting a seat or a sleeper.
By car, Hordaland can be entered from all its neighbouring counties, Rogaland, Sogn og Fjordane, Telemark, and Buskerud. From Oslo to north/central Hordaland including Bergen, the most common route in winter is following European route E16 through Akershus, Buskerud and Sogn og Fjordane. In summer, the route 7 is more common, at least after the opening of the Hardanger Bridge in 2013. The route 7 is shorter and faster but goes over the high mountain plateau and is affected by blizzards in winter. After the Hardanger Bridge use road 13 and E16 towards Bergen. From Oslo to south Hordaland, including Odda and Leirvik, route E134 is preferred.
From Hardanger, you can also drive along the Hardanger Fjord to Bergen. This road is a designated "National Tourist Road" by the Norwegian government, and goes through four small towns (Granvin proper, Øystese, Norheimsund and Samnanger) before meeting European route E16 just after entering Bergen municipality. You can also, instead of using the Hardanger Bridge, drive towards Odda. From Odda, you can continue following route 13 southwards into the southernmost part of Hordaland, Rogaland or Telemark. You can also drive through the Folgefonn tunnel, slightly north of Odda, and onwards to Rosendal and southern Hordaland.
Entering Hordaland from Rogaland (south) is rather straightforward. There are three alternatives; E39, the main road to Bergen from Stavanger, which leads through Stord and is rather ferry-heavy, and the aforementioned E134 and route 13, which both end up at Odda. The same can be said about entering from Sogn og Fjordane (north); there are two alternatives, E39, which runs near the coast and is, again, rather ferry heavy, and E16, which is the main road between Bergen and Oslo and is described above.
Passenger boats along the coast are an option, especially if you are visiting islands such as Stord. Even if you are travelling by road, chances are good that you will come to a stretch of water where there is no bridge, and you will need a car ferry to get across. The frequency varies considerably, car ferries are part of the Norwegian road infrastructure and are usually, but not always, fairly frequent. The fast passenger boats are not so frequent. Most boats are operated by the transportation company Tide and schedules can be obtained from their website (unfortunately, only in Norwegian):
If you would like to travel by bus or coach, the national coach operator is called NOR-WAY Bussekspress. Further regional and local buses are managed by the public transport authority in Hordaland, Skyss on Public Service Obligations. Outside of Bergen and its vicinity you may find some lines to be rather infrequent. Some lines run only a handful of times per day, some only on schooldays and so on. Even so, the network does cover most areas.
Where trains, boats and buses are not available, you will need to travel by car. Norwegian roads are frequently ridiculed for poor standards. The standard varies from location to location. As in the rest of Norway, renting a car is very expensive. However, as a car is needed to get to many rural areas, which are often the most interesting, renting one is still strongly recommended. All car rental companies present in Norway have offices in Bergen, at the airport and/or the city centre.
Travelling on the small but scenic railways of Western Norway can be a scenic and breathtaking experience. Local trains stopping at all stations are fairly frequent between Bergen and Voss and have open seating. There is also a shuttle between Bergen and Arna. Express trains the do not stop at all stations. Reservations on long-distance trains are compulsory in Norway. For this reason you should book ahead, especially on Fridays and Sundays as you may have trouble getting a seat. Trains are operated by the Norwegian State Railways, NSB.
- Trolltunga (access from Odda/Tyssedal). An unusual rock formation at the edge of Hardangervidda has become a very popular hike. Warning: The hike is long and strenuous and ascends into the high barren plateau. This is only for fit and experienced hikers with proper gear. Snow often remains into mid-summer. A long hike like this can not be done in autumn when days are getting short. There have been fatal accidents and numerous rescue operations. Visitors that are unsure should cancel or go with a local guide.