Norway is known for having some of the most stunning natural landscapes in Europe….and arguably the most stunning of these are the Norwegian fjords. By definition, a fjord is a deep, narrow, elongated sea or lakedrain that is surrounded by steep land formations (ie. Mountains) on three sides. Although other countries including Canada, Chile and even the U.S. (Alaska) have fjords, the Norwegian fjords are probably the most well-known in the world, making them one of Norway’s biggest tourist attractions.
On our recent trip to Norway, we put “a boat ride through a fjord” as the number one thing we wanted to do while in the country. And through a little pre-planning, we had the opportunity for an up close and personal view of the Hardangerfjord, the second longest fjord in Norway, and the third longest in the world, located in the southwestern region of Norway.
Although from our starting point of Bergen, a trip to the Hardangerfjord would have taken about an hour by car, we opted to take the more scenic route – a roundtrip boat cruise from Bergen through the fjord to the little village of Rosendal. The 7.5-hour trip was one of our favorite parts of our entire European vacation, not only for the amazing views but also for the ease of booking the trip and navigating the cruise details. It also allowed us to go through the fjord and back in less than a day, which then gave us ample time to enjoy dinner and the rest of the evening in Bergen.
So what made this trip one of our best travel experiences ever? Let me break it down for you:
Easy Booking Process – Booking the fjord trip through Rodne Fjord Cruise was extremely easy and in my opinion, very reasonably priced (about $55 per person). The website was not complicated and prompts were available in English and Norwegian. The cruise line had several cruises to choose from with detailed descriptions of each. We booked the Hardangerfjord Express Boat to Rosendal which includes a 2-hour boat cruise through the fjord to the village, about 3.5 hours to explore the village, and a 2-hour boat cruise back to Bergen. After booking our cruise, my full receipt and tickets were promptly emailed to me for easy reference and access.
Proximity to Bergen Central – Getting to the boat was also easy as it was conveniently located right on Bergen’s main harbor, a 5-minute walk from our hotel and right across the water from Bryggen. Travel Tip – many of the cruise boats look alike, so it’s always a good idea to ask the crew if you are on the right boat!
Comfortable Cruise Boat – The boat itself was very clean and had plenty of great seating on the upper sun deck as well as the lower, enclosed seating area. All seating was freestyle, but we had no issues finding a place to sit up top (on the way to Rosendal) and down below, on our return. As for amenities, there were two small bathrooms on board a small snack bar selling candy, chips, drinks, etc.
Stunning landscapes – On our departure leg of the cruise, we sat on the upper sun deck so that we would have clear views of the fjords for our entire 2-hour journey to Rosendal. The views were breathtaking – from the bridges, to the narrow waterways (and there were a couple very narrow passages!), to the many surrounding mountains, to the little houses along the coast, to…well, everything! Honestly, the whole cruise felt like a dream or a least a once-in-a lifetime experience that I was able to enjoy with my whole family. Travel Trip – the upper sun deck is very windy, be sure to hold on to your phone and bags at all times! But, if you can stand the wind and direct sunlight (assuming it’s sunny on the day of your cruise), then the upper deck is the best place to be.
Charming Village of Rosendal – After our 2-hour ride through the fjord, we arrived at the quaint village of Rosendal. But don’t let the village size fool you. There were plenty of activities to keep us busy during 3.5 hour “layover” in the town. After doing some advance research, we knew we wanted to hike to the Hattebergfossen, a waterfall which was about 30 minutes by foot. We saw so many charming sights on our way to and from the waterfall including the Baroniet Mansion and Rose Garden as well as colorful houses and farms. But the real sight to behold was the waterfall itself – with its rushing water and multiple streams leading into it. Plus, the pathways took you close enough to the falls where you could actually feel the misty spray on your face. After walking back to town, we stopped by Elins Matgleder, a little cafe where we enjoyed a wonderful light lunch and drinks al fresco. After lunch, we ended our Rosendal excursion with a little shopping at the darling shops along the main street just beyond the harbor. We were so exhausted from our village excursion that we could barely keep our eyes open on the 2-hour boat journey back to Bergen…but we weren’t the only ones as half the boat seemed to be catching a few winks after returning from their own adventures.
Quite honestly, I only saw one downside to our entire cruise which is the fact that there is no “tour” included with the cruise, ie. someone giving you insights into what you are seeing or where you are headed. But even with no tour, this cruise was an incredible adventure and I’m so thankful that we were able to go.
Happy Travels My Friends!