One of the best places to visit in the world, Norway is a breathtaking country with so much natural beauty. It has steep snow-capped mountains, majestic blue lakes and rivers, and dense pristine forests. Even a better chance to see the Northern Lights. It is too much to take in. And its scenic small towns like make it a wonderful stop for any traveler. For this trip, spending a weekend in Vossevangen, or Voss for short is one such destination.
For an idealistic mountain town, Voss is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike. It has become a winter destination and is commonly known as the extreme sports capital of the country. But do not let that deter you from spending your time here. There are multiple activities for all levels. Or if you prefer to just relax and enjoy the fresh air and watch the scenic landscapes. Stay in town where there is more to keep you busy for the day.
A weekend might not seem like enough to fully enjoy what Voss has to offer but if you plan accordingly, you can get the most out of your time here. It’s just large enough that you can take a self-guided tour of Voss for a full day. This can even be planned as a day trip from Bergen, which is less than 2 hours away. Here is an itinerary of things to do both in and outside of Voss to make this place one for the memories.
Where is Voss
The village of Vossevangen is located in Vestland County, situated in Western Norway. It lies alongside Lake Vangsvatnet but it’s between the Hardangerfjord and Sognefjord, two of the top Norwegian Fjords in all of Norway for its length and deep waters. Which is what makes it such an ideal location. It is still a less populated area compared to others with under 10,000 inhabitants. For transportation, the E16 highway is great for a road trip or taking the train from the Bergensbanen rail line as both pass through the village.
Where to Stay in Voss
With Voss, there are plenty of accommodations to fit what kind of setting you want to have here. There are several nice hotels you can stay out, with some being of the hostel variety. Or if you want something a little woodsier and outdoors feel you can rent yourself a nice cabin. Camping is also very popular here with spacious campgrounds. It depends on your comfort and affordability.
Things to do in Voss
Whitewater Rafting is one of the main attractions found in Voss. You can find these incursions on either the Stranda or Raundal rivers. Both of these are great choices that will take you through the rapids for both beginner and advanced rafters.
Kayaking is another excellent choice if you want to spend your time on the water but want to take a slower pace. There are guided tours that will take you through the Nærøyfjord, part of the even more impressive Sognefjord.
Voss Gondola is a great attraction here. This is the best way to see the scenic mountain tops and landscape of the entire city, Vangsvatnet Lake, and the countryside. Be sure to bring your camera as this is a top location for panoramic photography. In Northern Europe, it is the largest and most modern gondola. You can purchase tickets at the bottom of the gondola or online, regardless of if you choose to ski or not.
Once you are up at the top you will be at Voss Resort, one of the largest ski resorts in western Norway. This premium ski resort offers all levels of slopes to skiers and cross-country trails for you to explore. What makes it such a popular spot for the activity is that there is a consistent powder so it’s rare that you won’t be able to use the slopes. There are hiking trails off the beaten track along this area with Voss Gondola as the starting point for joggers and bike riders alike. The viewpoints are astounding.
Bordalsgjelet Gorge is a nice attraction outside of the town to take a casual walkthrough. You will be able to enjoy the path through the woodlands along the edge of the lake. Once you reach the bridge you will be able to see how impressive this gorge is. It takes less than an hour each way so it is a quick respite from the more intense activities you can do here.
Tip: If you plan on just exploring the town, make sure to stop at Voss Church. Replacing wood to stone in the 12th century, it has become a fixture of the town as it is located right on the main street. It has gone through renovations over the last century, but it still gives that old-world feel we travelers just seem to love.
Tvindefossen Waterfall is another nature attraction outside of the city and is popular due to its easy location. It is right off the scenic road. Depending on the season you may find a constant stream of visitors coming through on their way to the rest of Norway. This may be due to the popular myth surrounding it, that the water contains magic powers of youth and vitality. The water is drinkable and oh-so refreshing if you want to take a sip.
You do not need to spend your entire time here unless you want to sit back and relax to enjoy the surroundings or take one of the hiking trails.
Other Activities in Voss include:
Indoor/Outdoor Skydiving is available here. Whether you choose to jump out of a perfectly good airplane or prefer to free fall in a more controlled environment (at least mentally) indoors this is a wonderful way to get yourself out of your comfort zone and into a more adrenaline-fueled mood.
If you are looking for a more historical attraction head to the banquet hall known as Finnesloftet. It’s an easy walk from town to this national monument. It’s particularly famous for not only being built during the late 12th century but because of the stave construction which was preserved mainly through religious buildings like the Stave Church.
During Easter, you can attend one of the oldest festivals in Norway, which surprisingly involves jazz music along with world and folk music. It’s called Vossa Jazz and is a 3-day festival for adults and families. Throw in some artwork exhibits, musical workshops, and the fact that it is free and you’ll be wondering why you never heard about it in the first place.
There are plenty of great guided hiking tours that will take you all over the area. You will be able to traverse the mountains, wander along the lakes, and marvel at the views. You will learn about the local history from your local tour guides and what makes these locations a place to call home.
Where to Eat in Voss
Voss has a regularly active food scene with options from local culinary traditions to international cuisine. What is great about this though is that of the places in town to choose from, they focus on seasonal and local produce from farms and other nearby communities. This makes the ingredients pretty fresh and delicious. The dish they are most famously known for is sheeps head or smalahove. It may make you a little squeamish but for the exotic eater, it’s a good decision to at least try it.
If you can be here in September, an annual food festival, the Smalahovesleppet happens. And what makes this even more enjoyable is that the entire town seems to participate. Held in the center of town you will find a multitude of tasty treats and fun activities for the day.
Choosing to take the Voss Gondola as part of your day, you can enjoy a great food experience. At the top is Hangurstoppen Restaurant, the largest restaurant in Voss. The place gives you a warm and comfortable ski lounge uniqueness. Their homemade meals of local ingredients seem simple, but they are anything but. The menu changes throughout the seasons which makes it even more worthwhile to try something new here. Embrace nature just outside the clear window views.
Haik Grill & Bar is an upscale restaurant located next to the Scandic Voss Hotel. They also source all their ingredients locally. Aside from eating you can relax at the bar while playing a game of shuffleboard. Stay out on the terrace weather permitting to enjoy views of the lake and the cool fresh air.
Pepe’s Pizza is a popular pizza chain originating in Norway and has spread all over Scandinavia. Think of it like the Norwegian Pizza Hut or Dominoes. Do not be surprised to find at least one in each town or city you are traveling through as they have over seventy-five locations spread throughout the country. They serve American and California-style pizza, which is an extremely popular option for the locals.
If you plan to make your way through Norway, do not miss to include Voss in your travels. Even if it is only for a couple of hours. You will not regret it one bit. This is one of the ideal, small, and amazing villages similar to Hellesylt and Lillehammer which you will find all over Norway and Scandinavia as a whole. Each place has its unique qualities but for the adventure seeker and adrenaline enthusiasts this location will fit the bill.