Sunnhordland stretches from the rocky islands out in the sea to fjords with steep mountainsides. Folgefonna – Norway's third largest glacier — is the icing on the cake. In Sunnhordland you can ski on eternal snow, swim in the sea, and fish a pollock in the fjord – everything in one day.
Sunnhordland has some of the finest and most distinctive scenery in Norway. In the outermost part of the region, the landscape is dominated by the ocean and the coastline. As you move further inland, you come to islands and fjords. There are thousands of large and small islands in the region. Norway's second longest fjord – the 179-km-long Hardangerfjord, called ”Queen of the Norwegian fjords” – starts in Sunnhordland. Furthest inland in the region, the mighty Sunnhordland mountains tower heavenwards, with some peaks as tall as 1700 metres. The mountains surround Norway's third largest glacier – Folgefonna. This magnificent glacier is `spread' over the mountains of the Folgefonna peninsula like the icing on a cake. Some of Norway’s most spectacular waterfalls cascade down the mountainsides. Folgefonna National Park, the 25th national park in Norway, was opened in the summer of 2005.
Sveio municipality is named after the old Sveio farm (Old Norse: Sviða), since the first Sveio Church was built there in the Middle Ages. The name is identical with the word "sviða" which means a "clearing made by burning". Sveio is on the Haugalandet peninsula, facing the North Sea to the west. The entrance to the Hardangerfjorden lies along the northern side of the municipality, and the smaller Ålfjorden lies along the eastern border of the municipality. Sveio's southern border is also the county border, bordering the town of Haugesund and the municipality of Tysvær to the south, the municipality of Vindafjord to the east (across the Ålfjorden), and the island municipalities of Bømlo and Stord to the north (across the Hardangerfjorden). The lakes Vigdarvatnet and Stakkastadvatnet lie in the southern part of the municipality, crossing into the neighboring municipalities. The Ryvarden Lighthouse is located on a small point, along the Hardangerfjorden.
History and culture
Sunnhordland was one of the first areas to be settled in Norway thousands of years ago, and up through the ages the area has had a special place in the country’s history. That is why Sunnhordland is one of the areas with many ancient monuments and a rich cultural heritage.
Given its central location, it was almost inevitable that Sunnhordland would come to occupy a prominent place during the Viking era. The region became a central base for Viking chieftains who often went raiding in the west. There are many places, therefore, where relics of this era can be seen. The aristocracy subsequently made their presence felt and the building of the Barony Rosendal was completed in 1665 – the only one of its kind in Norway.
Fishing, hunting, and boating
Sunnhordland's inhabitants have shown great prowess in fishing and hunting. The people of Sunnhordland have always been a travelling people, and boatbuilding became an important activity early in the area’s history. It is still an important industry, although nowadays they build modern ships and the world’s biggest oil installations.
The people of Sunnhordland have always been god(s)-fearing – both in old Norse times and in more recent times. Olav Tryggvason choose to go ashore in Moster in 995 AD in order to take over the throne and start the Christianisation of Norway. Moster is still home to one of the oldest churches in Norway – Moster Old Church. Erling Skakke built Halsnøy Monastery on the island of Halsnøy, one of the mightiest Augustinian monasteries in Norway’s history.
The name Sunnhordland is derived from "søndre Hordaland" which means "the southern part of Hordaland". People from Sunnhordland are called Sunnhordlendinger and the people in this area speak a Norwegian dialect called Sunnhordlandsmål.
The Sunnhordland region is situated between Bergen and Haugesund. There are many possible ways to easily get to Sunnhordland region by plane, bus, boat and car.
You can travel to Sunnhordland by using these airports:
- Haugesund airport lies about 1 hour 10 min drive from Sunnhordland.
- Bergen airport lies about 1½-hour drive from Sunnhordland.
- Stord airport has a direct route Stord-Oslo.
By ferry and car
International: From Hirtshals you can take Fjord Line ferry Hirtshals-Stavanger- Berge. Drive to from Stavanger to Sunnhordland (about 2½ hours) or drive from Bergen to Sunnhordland (about 2 hours) www.fjordline.com
- From Oslo - Sunnhorldand via Haugesund, take Haukeliekspressen www.haukeliekspressen.no
- From Stavanger or Bergen - Sunnhordland take Kystbussen or Nettbuss.
The Triangle Link bridge-tunnel network is based in northern Sveio, connecting the islands to the north to the mainland. The southern entrance to the Bømlafjord Tunnel is along the European route E39 highway, just south of the village of Valevåg.
Carferry and passengerboat
It is easy to use carferries or passenger boats if you are getting around in Sunnhordland with car or bicycle.
Information and timetables:
General timetable information
Timetable information for bus, ferry, express boat and flight bus: Call 177
Cycling is an excellent way to see the Western landscape close up. Long and/or deep tunnels can however make cycling demanding. Visitors should read map carefully and use bus or boat to avoid tunnels. Some tunnels replace old, narrow roads and these often remain open to bicycles and local traffic.
- 1 Folgefonna Glacier and National Park, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Folgefonna is Norway's southernmost glacier. From Sunnhordland the glacier can be seen from a distance as a white coat covering the plateau. In winter and spring the glacier is covered by snow and indistinguishable from the general snow cover. There are no roads within the national park but in summer there is access by car to the glacier at the summer ski resort in Jondal. Bondhusbreen branch can be visit on foot from Sunndal. Warning: Glaciers are treacherous and visitors should keep a generous distance to the glacier front and never walk on the ice. Big chunks of ice can fall of any time.
- 2 Langfossen waterfall, road E134 near Fjæra village. At about 600 meters this striking waterfall is one of Norway's tallest. Road E134 runs across on a bridge offering perfect closeup view. Listed by CNN on top 10 waterfalls in the world: "Instead of falling in a straight drop like most waterfalls, Langfoss slips down a cliff, maintaining contact with the rocks the entire way down, before spilling into Akra Fjord." (CNN 2011) Åkrafjorden is also one of Norway's unknown great fjords. free.
- 3 Rullestadjuvet (Rullestad canyon and giants kettles), Short detour from road E134 near Fjæra village. In the steep rock wall of the Rullestad canyon there are big giants kettles (or potholes) several meters in diameter, among the largest in Northern Europe. To experience the potholes up close, visitors must follow the marked Postvegen from Skromme and take off at the sign. The hike is relatively easy, but the terrain is steep and the hike airy. The rock surface must be dry, the hike requires good shoes. Ask for advice in the Tourist Information before you go on your own! Guided tour can be booked for groups. free.
- 4 Baroniet Rosendal (Rosendal barony and manor house), Mosterhamn, Bømlo. Barony Rosendal (Baroniet Rosendal) is a historic estate and manor house situated in Rosendal, Kvinnherad. Built from around 1650. The families of Rosendal were prominent people in the cultural life of Norway. Authors like Henrik Ibsen and painters like Hans Gude visited Rosendal often. Musicians like Edvard Grieg and Ole Bull were guests there.
- 5 Old Moster Church (Moster gamle kyrkje), Mosterhamn, Bømlo. Possibly the first Christian church in Norway. The current stone church was probably built around the year 1150 on the site of the original wooden church. Christianity was accepted in Norway at the Moster assembly, Mostratinget, in 1024. Memorial stones can be seen at the church. Free.
- 6 Moster Amfi, Mosterhamn, Bømlo (next to the Old Moster Chuch), ☏ . Open-air amphitheatre cut into a commanding stone quarry. Houses exhibitions on history and art, and various other types of shows. There is also a café. See website for hours and price of shows; many are free.
- The gallery at Breidablikk in Grovarvegen at Tysnes island houses temporary exhibitions of arts and crafts, prints by Magne Kjellesvik and hand-made dolls in historic dress, finger and hand puppets, etc.
- 7 Ryvarden Lighthouse. At Ryvarden, you will find, among other things, Galleri Ryvarden art atelier, the lighthouse master’s quarters which can be hired for overnight accommodation, and the memorial for the 16 deceased in the Sleipner shipwreck a few years ago. From Mølstrevåg, Ryvarden Lighthouse is about a 2-km walk on a good gravel road.
- Hiking Sunnhordland has both short and long trails with different levels of difficulty.
- Leirvik is an excellent departure point for a bicycle trip. The bicycle trip to the Barony in Rosendal is a varied and easy ride. From Rosendal, you can cycle over the mountain to Skånevik (and further on to Etne) or across Tysnes island to Bergen or Leirvik. All the roads in Tysnes are narrow, but the traffic is mostly light.
- The North Sea Cycle Route [formerly dead link] is the world's longest route, circling 6,000 km around the entire North Sea. Through Sunnhordland, the route runs through the coastal landscapes of Fitjar, Stord, Bømlo and Sveio.
- Boating Sunnhordland has a long tradition of boat tourism, and a wide range of harbours. Many boat rentals are available.
- Fishing The sea and many lakes abound in fish.
- Mandelhuset, Våge, Tysnes, ☏ .
- Bømlo Kystferie, Foldrøyhamn, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Karo hytteutleige, Stautlandsgarden 7, 5437 Finnås, ☏ .
- Bryggekanten, Innvær, Solhøgda 14, Rubbestadneset, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Haaheim Gaard, Haaheim, Uggdal, ☏ . farm
- Laukhamar Fritid, Onarheim, ☏ , .
- 1 Baroniet Rosendal Avlsgård & Fruehus, Rosendal, ☏ . hotel
- Fjord Ferie Feriehus, Sæbøvikvegen 50, Sæbøvik, ☏ . Holiday houses/cottages/cabins
- Rabben Feriesenter, Uskedalen, ☏ . camping
- [dead link] Løvfall Camping, Løfallstrand, ☏ . camping
- Rosendal Turisthotell, Skålagata, 5470 Rosendal, ☏ . hotel
- Trygve Nes Hytteutleige, Rosendal, ☏ . cabins
- Presthus Gård (Nicoll), Ølvesvegen 745, Ølve, ☏ . Cottage on farm
- Dønhaug Gjestegard, Uskedalen, ☏ . farm with accommodation
- Husnes Camping, Opsangervatnet lake, Opsangervegen 69, Husnes, ☏ . camping
- 8 Ryvarden Lighthouse. At Ryvarden, you will find, among other things, Galleri Ryvarden art atelier, the lighthouse master’s quarters which can be hired for overnight accommodation, and the memorial for the 16 deceased in the Sleipner shipwreck a few years ago. From Mølstrevåg, Ryvarden Lighthouse is about a 2-km walk on a good gravel road.
- Tjernagel Leir og Fritidssenter, Tjernagel, 5550 Sveio, ✉ email@example.com.