Cruising Norway's Fjords
Touring fjord country is like riding a roller coaster. Fjords lie at sea level, and getting from one to the next usually involves crossing the mountain ranges separating them.
The road to the Hardanger region takes you over a stunning tundra-like landscape plastered with snowfields that help you spot the distant herds of reindeer. But a couple hours later, you'll be back at sea level, cruising along the shores of Hardangerfjord, Norway's orchard, where most of the nation's fruit and flowers are grown.
Take the ferry across the fjord from Kvandal to Kinsnarvik and drive north to Eidfjord. It's the long way, and well worth the extra time. Eidfjord's just a short scenic drive away from Hardangervidda National Park, a vast plateau perfect for wandering aimlessly or for making hut-to-hut hiking tours. Stay away on the weekends, though, when berry-picking Norwegians descend like a horde of Nordic locusts.
Vxringfossen, one of Europe's tallest waterfalls, flows nearby. Hike as close as you dare to the foot of this narrow torrent and watch it roar more than 600 feet straight down. The hike takes about an hour each way through a narrow gorge along one of Norway's innumerable bottle-green rivers.
Eventually, you'll have to steer east and take the low road back to Oslo. Brace yourself for a bout of post-fjordal trauma.
There's plenty of splendid scenery to enjoy on the drive back, but nothing to match the magnificence of the fjords. Once you've experienced their magic and majesty, you'll be unable to resist the urge to return, like a spawning salmon.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication