Hardangervidda National Park

Northern Europe's largest national park

Hardangervidda National Park is the largest national park in mainland Norway, it is 3422 km2 and extends beyond the counties of Hordaland, Viken and Telemark, divided into seven municipalities. The national park was established in 1981, and half the area is on private land.

From Geilo, Hardangervidda is easily accessible from several sides. Follow rv 7 west through Geilo to Haugastøl, here you are at the foot of two national parks, Hardangervidda and Hallingskarvet. After Haugastøl you can drive further west to get even higher up on the plateau. You can also drive on fv 40 towards Dagali, both Seterdalen in Dagali and Tuva Turisthytte (summer road) are good starting points for trips into Hardangervidda.

A visit to Hardangervidda National Park is fantastic, but remember that you don't necessarily have to be within the national park boundary to feel and see the greatness of a national park! The entire plateau offers great nature experiences and views.

Hiking trips in Hardangervidda National Park

Hardangervidda is amazing in both summer and winter. You can travel freely in all of the national park, but we recommend that you follow the marked paths. DNT's trails takes you to seven serviced and five self-service tourist cabins in the national park. If you are planning a trip from cabin to cabin, we recommend checking opening hours and book accommodation in advance. At the serviced tourist cabins you can buy a delicious home-cooked meal, and the self-service cabins have a rich food store where you can buy food such as crackers and dinner dishes. Everyone can use DNT's cabins. But in cabins without a host, at least one person in the party must be a member of DNT to be able to rent the special DNT key (can be borrowed from Tourist Information Geilo). Whether you're going from cabin to cabin or spending the night in a tent, it's important to take a map and compass with you, and it's important that you know how to use this. Remember that the weather in the mountains can change quickly, there is not mobile coverage everywhere, bring first aid and report where you are going.

Child-friendly trips  in Hardangervidda National Park

It is also possible to have shorter day trips in Hardangervidda, and some family-friendly trips starting from the center of Geilo, feel free to take the summer lift for a soft start. For other trips, you need transport by car or public transport.

Tunga Bru is a suspension bridge over Numedalslågen. The walk is easy, it has some short, steep hills but it goes well even for small children. It is approx. 1.5 km from the parking lot to the suspension bridge. It is exciting to walk over the bridge where it swings over the waterfall. When there is a spring flood, the water is high and you can risk getting a shower.

Hotel California is the name of the small cabin at the top of Glitreberget in Dagali. Here you get a 360-degree view of Hardangervidda, Hallingskarvet and Numedal. It is open all year round, you can sit inside where there are tables and benches or you can sit in the sun wall outside. Pictures of other Hotel Californias around the world are hung on the walls inside.

Skjerja is one of the most famous fishing waters in Geilo. From Tuva Turisthytte it is approx. 1 hour walk. Combine a great mountain trip with a fishing trip. If you don't catch fish today, you are guaranteed to be left with a great experience, fresh mountain air and a great view. End the trip with the famous waffles at Tuva.

More hiking suggestions in summer

Tour map of Hardangervidda National Park

Ut.no has an extensive interactive map that gives a good overview of hiking areas, cabins, summer trails, winter trails, cycling trips and more, in and along the entire Hardangervidda. Tour map at ut.no

What to experience on Hardangervidda

Humans have been walking on Hardangervidda for over 8,000 years, and you can see several traces of old roads, fishing facilities, settlements and huts. In recent times, there are many exciting things to experience on Hardangervidda.

Vøringsfossen is one of the most famous waterfalls in Norway. The waterfall is a whopping 182 metres, and plunges from the Hardangervidda plateau into Måbødalen. Here, it is well arranged to both walk over and around the waterfall so that you can see it from all angles. Hardangervidda offers fantastic experiences, from Geilo where the road slowly climbs upwards all the way to the plateau where the road gently bends over the large area downwards to a narrow, steep and winding road down Måbødalen past Vøringsfossen before you suddenly find yourself in the small village of Eidfjord in the heart of the Hardangerfjord.

Rallarvegen has been named Norway's most beautiful bike ride several times. It is not without reason, Rallarvegen is a journey through powerful nature, cultural monuments and history. It is 82 km long and stretches from Haugastøl in the east to Flåm in the west. Whether you cycle Rallarvegen or spend the night at Finse, it is worth a visit Rallar museum. It is located in Eastern trainstall, here you can see pictures and an exhibition about the history of the construction of the railway from 1894-1909.

Halnekongen offers boat transport from Halne Fjellstugu (located at road rv 7) and 13 km in to Hardangervidda. Here you get a fantastic starting point for walks into the national park. The nearest DNT cabins are Heinseter and Rauhelleren, and many people choose to spend the night at these cabins before continuing into the national park or returning to Halne Fjellstugu.

Winter on Hardangervidda in nice weather is one of the most beautiful things you can experience. A snow-covered landscape as far as you can see. It is possible to go snowshoeing and skiing on Hardangervidda in winter. Here you will find marked trails from cabin to cabin, or you can make your own way on mountain skis. See interactive map on ut.no of cross-country tracks and serviced and unserviced cabins on Hardangervidda..


Fishing on Hardangervidda

Part of the waters on the eastern side of Hardangervidda belongs to Geilo Hunting and Fishing Association. Fishing licenses can be bought at the Tourist Information Center and the sports shops in Geilo, but also at most tourist cabins. There are also a number of private waters, usually you can buy a fishing license for these at the nearest tourist cabin. More about fishing in Geilo


Facts about Hardangervidda National Park

  • Created April 10, 1981
  • The national park itself is approximately 3422 km2
  • Home to Europe's largest herd of wild reindeer
  • Sandfloegga is the highest peak at 1,721 meters above sea level.
  • The characteristic peak Hårteigen is 1,690 meters above sea level.

National Park Center for Hardangervidda

There are two national park centers for Hardangervidda;

Hardangervidda National Park Center at Skinnarbu in Tinn - Here you can see, among other things, the award-winning interactive exhibition about nature and wild reindeer. The exhibition contains 22 interactive installations, they also offer a mini-cinema with a short film by Arne Nævra, as well as a French cave with original tools and objects made from wild reindeer bones more than 17,000 years ago in France. Here you will also find a cafe with a panoramic view. The visitor center for Hardangervidda National Park Skinnarbu is open all year round.

Hardangervidda visitor centre in Eidfjord - Here you get a modern experience center for Norwegian nature, climate and environment and an authorized visitor center for Hardangervidda National Park. You can watch the spectacular panoramic film "Fjord Fjell Foss" directed by Ivo Caprino, and experience the exciting exhibition on 3 floors with, among other things, interactive stations, rocks, fossils, aquariums and illustrations. Here you will also find a restaurant with local food. The Norwegian Nature Center Hardanger is open from April to the end of October.

At Skinnarbu you can also find Norsk Villreinsenter Sør, this is a foundation whose main purpose is to promote the conservation and sustainable management of the wild reindeer populations and the wild reindeer areas in Norway.

Plant and animal life in Hardangervidda National Park

Hardangervidda is considered the southernmost point for several arctic animal species and plants, this particularly applies to snow owls and arctic foxes. The arctic fox was almost extinct in the early 20th century because of its fur and skin, and they have since 1930 been protected. But there are many indications that it is difficult to get a stable arctic fox population on Hardangervidda. One of the reasons why the arctic fox has difficulty surviving is the ever-increasing red fox population. Only every four to five years does the population slowly recover. In the national park we also find a rich animal- and birdlife, for example golden eagles, moose, falcons, wild reindeer and beavers. Wolverine also roams along Hardangervidda National Park, but it is not known that it resides here permanently. On the quieter and unmarked paths you will find the silence needed to spot birds and wild animals. We recommend the area around Sandhaug and Tinnhølen, which is known for its varied birdlife. There are also good opportunities to see birds around Tuva Turisthytte, here a bus route is set up during summer and runs daily on weekdays.

The wild reindeer herd on Hardangervidda is Europe's largest, and one of the most important purposes of the national park was to secure the areas for the wild reindeer. Here, the wild reindeer can roam freely over large areas without particularly large obstacles. At Hardangervidda you can also find remains of the original European reindeer.

In addition, Hardangervidda is known for its many fishing lakes and waters. Something unique in a large area like the Hardangervidda is that in the west and north part the trout predominates in the many limestone-rich shallow waters, while in the east and south there are larger deposits of char.

And do not worry, there are no dangerous animals on Hardangervidda. And the animals that live here are afraid of people!

Accommodation near or in the National Park

Halne Fjellstugu located along national highway 7, they offer accommodation, experiences and delicious home-cooked food! Halne is located right at the entrance to Hardangervidda National Park and is a popular destination for many hikers.

Haugastøl is the family-run hotel in Haugastøl, they offer modern apartments, breakfast and dinner, coffee bar, bike shop, bike hire, as well as meeting rooms. They are located at the foot of the two national parks, Hardangervidda and Hallingskarvet.

Tuva Turisthytte is one of the oldest privately owned tourist cabins on Hardangervidda, it is a family business and is run by 4th generation hosts Mailiza and Sigbjørn. Delicious food and accommodation are offered here, and they are most famous for their Tuva waffles, which have been baked with the same secret recipe for 3 generations.

Finse 1222 is a hotel located at the highest point of the Bergen Railway, 1222 meters above sea level. You can only get here by train or by bicycle. The hotel has 45 hotel rooms and a fantastic restaurant that prepares food from good, local ingredients, based on Nordic cuisine. Finse is also the start of one of Norway's most beautiful bike rides, Rallarvegen.

Torsetlia Fjellstue og Hyttegrend is 30 km from the center of Geilo and in the middle of the hiking and fishing eldorado of Hardangervidda. Here there are options for accommodation, dinner, lunch and a cafe.

Hakkesetstølen Fjellstugu og Hytter is a cozy mountain lodge with all facilities. It is an excellent starting point for day trips, or a start/end point for those who want to go from cabin to cabin on Hardangervidda. At Hakkesesetstølen you can buy delicious traditional food and home baked goods.

Camping on Hardangervidda

Free camping/tenting is considered to be traveling and staying in nature, and this is regulated by the Norwegian Outdoor Activities Act "Everyone is allowed to travel and stay in the outback in Norway. The right is a free public good and part of our cultural heritage." But there are some rules for accommodation in the outback:

  • You can camp/sleep at least 150 meters from the nearest inhabited house or cabin.
  • You can camp/sleep for up to 2 days in the same place, longer if you are on high mountains or far from built-up areas.

Show respect for each other, the animals and nature. Always take your trash with you!


The history of Hardangervidda

It is believed that people arrived on Hardangervidda at the same time as the reindeer after the last Ice Age. Around 250 Stone Age settlements have been found and the oldest is from approx. year 6300 BC. And remains of a leather hut from approx. year 5600 BC have been found by Finnsbergvannet where the reindeer passed, 12 km southeast from Finse. People probably changed places of residence according to the reindeer's migration routes, many of the places of residence are located at bottlenecks in the terrain where the reindeer herd was squeezed together, often by lakes and water. On the plateau there are many remains of hunting facilities and animal graves, but finds show that the first people hunted with bows and arrows. They primarily hunted reindeer and grouse, but bone remains of moose have also been found.

One of the oldest and best-known roads on Hardangervidda is the Nordmannslepa, it runs from Veggli in Numedal to Eidfjord, with connections to Hol and Uvdal. The old roads were an important link between the east and the west. There are several places with names that testify that they were once places of trade, including places for sale of salt.

Hardangervidda has also been a favorite place for extraction of iron. At Møsvatnet there are remains of iron mining in 1400 different places. Iron was mined in the bogs, and iron winches were in use on Hardangervidda until the middle of the 14th century.

In the Middle Ages, there was extensive livestock farming on the Hardangervidda, where the farmers in the valleys took the animals up Hardangervidda for the summer. At the same time, the hunting also continued, on Sumtangen there are still two huts from the Middle Ages. Here there are piles of reindeer bones dating back to the 14th century. It is believed that the use of these stopped in connection with the Black Death, but was later used as a place of capture in modern times. In the 2000s, there are still 50-60,000 sheep in the summer at Hardangervidda.

Old hunting and fishing huts and old cabins lie on Hardangervidda as a memory of a time of harsh living conditions, when the resources on Hardangervidda were vital to survive.

Hiking Hallingskarvet

Hallingskarvet National Park

Hallingskarvet rests on the surrounding plains, with steep mountain sides to the north and south, and Folarskardnuten towering at the top, 1

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