Vøringfossen is not the highest waterfall in Norway — in fact it’s not even on the top 20. However, it’s by far one of the most beautiful!
The total drop is 183 meters, where 163 meters is from the main drop, making it the 83rd highest waterfall in Norway. The source of the falls is the Bjoreia river, which is also developed for hydroelectric power.
Getting to Vøringsfossen
You find the waterfall in Måbødalen in Eidjord, Hordaland County.
It is easy to get to, and in fact if you’re driving from Bergen to Oslo via highway #7, over Hardanger, you will pass right by it. It’s the perfect spot for a pit-stop, to stretch your legs and snap some photos. See the map below (from Google Maps), for the exact location.
If you would like to hike to the top, that’s perfectly doable.
It’s safe, but unlike many other popular natural tourist sights in Norway, people have fallen down from the top and died! Work to improve the safety has been debated back and forth, as this will certainly ruin some of the natural untouched beauty. However, after several drafts by architects, and much back and forth, a rebuilding of the trail will be finished in 2015.
The best time to visit the falls
The source river is developed for hydroelectric power, and the amount and rate of water is highly dependent on this. In the spring, when the snow melts, the water level will be at it’s highest, and this is in my opinion the best time to go there.
Today, with the highway passing right by, it’s hard to believe that this place was pretty much unknown for anyone but the locals up until the last century.
Professor Chrisopher Hansteen was one of the first persons to describe the waterfalls around 1820. On his way to Hardangervidda (just south of the area) to do astronomical observations, he ‘stumbled upon’ the falls.
As a curious scientist, he decided to throw a couple of rocks off the ledge, took the time it took for the rocks to plunge into the water with his pocket watch, and estimated the height to be around 280 meters.
Later, around 1900, the height was measured by a rope to 163 be meters — almost half of what Hansteen measured.
Places to stay in the area
Fossli hotel, was built on top of the waterfalls in 1880. At that time, there was only a tiny bridle path, along with 1500 stairs, to get to the top.
A new and better road with a tunnel was soon built along the nearby lake (Eidfjordvannet), and soon after cruise ships started to arrive, and since then tourism has just increased.
Check out the video from the top of the trail:
(Opening photo: Dag Endre Opedal, Flickr CC)