“Had I known it was so beautiful here, I would have come before”, said Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, a norwegian author.
Ullensvang has approximately 3.500 inhabitants and covers a area of 1.398,8 km2 and lies in Hordaland. The district centree is Kinsarvik, Lofthus and Utne. The main attractions are Hardangarvidda mountain platau. Folgefonna glacier, Husedalen valley and 500,000 fruit trees. Spring in Hardanger, a pink and white symphony of apple blossom contrasting sharply with green hills and snow capped mountains, the fjord acting as a back drop. This is what spring is like in Hardanger. Lofthus is a good place to experience this. The local vicar hosted travellers already in the 18th century. And the famous norwegian painters Tidemand and Gude have shown their impressions through Norways most famous painting, “The Bridal Journey of Hardanger”.
Kinsarvik is the administrative centre of the municipality. The village is located at the end of a small bay at the confluence of the Sørfjorden and Eidfjorden where they join to form the main branch of the Hardangerfjorden. The village lies along the Norwegian National Road 13 and it has a ferry port with regular routes that connect it to Utne and Kvanndal across the fjord. Due to its important location along the Hardangerfjorden, Kinsarvik has been an important location since the Viking age. Kinsarvik has been the site of Kinsarvik Church since the 12th century, serving the people of the whole region.
Kinsarvik sits at the end of the Husedalen valley. The wild Kinso river runs through the village, and the rivers is what gives name to Kinsarvik. The EKinso River drops 1.100 meters from the vast Hardangervidda plateau through the Husedalen valley before emptying into the sea level fjord at Kinsarvik. Along the way there are 4 spectacular waterfalls. The waterfalls can be viewed after approx. 5 hours of hiking. Kinsarvik is also a major access point many longer treks into the Hardangervidda National Park.
Lofthus village lies along the eastern shore of the Sørfjorden, along the Norwegian National Road 13. Lofthus is located about 10 kilometres south of the village of Kinsarvik and about 30 kilometres north of the town of Odda.
Lofthus is a tourist area with hotels and camping sites. There is also a significant amount of fruit farming in the area, so Lofthus is home to a national fruit research centre. The most popular fruit to grow in this area is the cherry. The medieval Ullensvang Church is located in this village as is the Hardanger folk high school.
Skrikjofossen waterfall is located about 3,5 kilometres southeast of the village of Lofthus. Its total height is 455 metres, while the tallest single drop is 260 metres.
A waterfall plunges off the Hardangervidda into the Opojuvet high above the village of Lofthus. This vantage point is accessed via the trail to Nosi and traverses the Monks’ Steps (Munketreppene). Munkatreppene is next to Lofthus and has a length of 0,57 kilometres.
The composer Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) lived occasionally at Lofthus and composed many of his most famous works here. The composer Edvard Grieg came for the first time in 1878, and spent many summers, and one winter, in Lofthus. In Lofthus, he found the inspiration for music like “Springtime”, “The Holberg Suite” and “Peer Gynt Suite”. His composers cabin is still here, displayed in the hotel garden, and the surrounding nature can still inspire and impress even the greatest travellers! Hotel Ullensvang is family owned, and has been since the establishing in 1846.
Do you seek a perfect centre for touring an area rich in natural beauty, where you can holiday at a leisurely pace in relaxing surroundings. In the hart of Hardangerfjord you can find a spot, with crystal clear air and fresh spring water. Utne Hotel is Norways oldest hotel still in operation. The hotel was established in 1722 and remained in the same family for 250 years. Today, Utne Hotel is owned by a foundation. The rich collection of heritage treasures is still to be found at the hotel.
The Hardanger Bridge is a suspension bridge across the Eidfjorden branch of Hardangerfjorden. The bridge connects the municipalities of Ullensvang and Ulvik. It replaced a ferry connection between Bruravik and Brimnes, and thereby shortens the driving time between Oslo and Bergen. It is the longest suspension bridge in Norway.
HARDANGER FOLK MUSEUM
Regional museum for Hardangar. The museum has a modern exhibition- and administration buildlng housing permanent exhibitions, such as “The Woman’s Working Year”, “The Wedding Procession of Hardanger”, “The Hardings at the Sea”, “Fruit Productlon In Hardanger”, “Hardanger Embroidery and Costumes”, “Folk Music and Dance” and wood carvings of Lars Kinsarvik. Files of folk music and fiddle maker’s workshop. Changing art- and heritage exhibitions. Open air museum with boat houses, grocery, school and dwelling house. Ski factory.
Ingrid and Bernhard Greve’s collections, open air museum with popular art. Also Jon Bleie’s art and book collection. New summer exhibition every year Open June10th – Auguet 20th.
Collection from the local historian Amund K. Bu (1872-1944). In the collection we find books, costumes, embroidery, breast clothes, coins, tools, utility- and decoration articles. Yard with several old houses.
Sheltered 30-40 houses in clustered groups from the middle age up to modern times. “Lagmannstova” from about 1250 built by the knight, judge and senator Sigurd Brynjulfson is the only building of its kind in Norway. Cafe with traditional food. Art exhibitions (incl sales). Different exhibitions with e.o. clothes, interior, tools and middle age. Fruit growing memorial. Sales of hand made products. Baking of traditional cakes in the firehouse every Friday. The crofters place Nortveita, marked hike of about 45 minutes. Good terrain for hikes with marked paths in the surrounding landscapes. Open medio May – medio August every day 1000 -1800.
FRUIT BLOSSOM and HARVEST TIME
Ullensvang is the most important fruit growing municipality of the country and about 80% of the sweet cherries (morellos) are harvested here. Ullensvang Research Centre (Planteforsk) that is a national centre for fruit- and berry research, accepts groups of professionals for sighteeeing. Opportunity to visit the laboratories and research fields. At Bleie about 4 km south of Agetunet the farmers Gjertrud and Lars Bleie welcome guests for sightseeing by appointment. They tell about the everyday life at the farm and the dramatic avalanche winters of 1992-93.
Among the oldest stone-churches in Norway, from about 1160, roman style. Restored in 1880 and in 1960 – 61. In the Mlddle Age Kinsarvik was a storing harbour for Viking ships. Sails and masts were stored in the church attic. Chalk paintings on the walls from the 13th. century show the archangel Michael weigh souls. Kinsarvik was in older days gathering place for Hardanger, here was a court, market and religious centre. The church is open May – Sept.
Built in stone, gothic architecture from about 1250. The church was extended with a tower in the 1880’s. The stained glass pictures are by the painter B. Greve. Idyllic location by the fjord, just south of the centre of Lofthus, Is often used as concert hall due to the excellent acoustics. Outside the church graveyards from the middle age.
Wooden church from 1895. Designed by P. Blix. Stained glass pictures by B. Greve.
Parts of Hardangervidda – Northern Europe´s largest mountain plateau, was appointed as a National Park in 1981. Access from Kinsarvik via Husedalen. First cabin Stavali (1024 m.a.s.l) 6 – 7 hrs, self service cabin. From Lofthus via forest path/trail to Nosi (959 m.a.s.l). Lofthus – Stavall 7-8 hrs. one way from Lofthus you can also walk from Frøynes to Stuasete and further on to Skriksete. Hikes at Hardangervidda demand good equipment and hot clothes. The tourist offices sell maps.
The valley from Kinsarvik to Hardangervidda is one of the natural wonders in Ullensvang, including 4 impressive waterfalls, Iying close at each other within a distance of 3 hours on foot. Tveitafossen, about 4 km from Kinsarvik centre, thereafter 3 bigger waterfalls within walking distance, Nyastølsfossen, Nykkjesøyfossen and Søtefossen. Excellent terrain for hikes.
THE MONK STONE STEPS
Forest road/path from Lofthus to Nosi (950 m.a.s.l). This is one of the gateways to Hardangervidda. At 650 – 700 metres are the monk steps made of stone, probably laid by monks who settled at Opedal in the 12th. century. Lofthus Nosi return about 4 hrs. walk. For pack horses, contact the tourist office.
Sightseeing over Folgefonna glacier. Booking at the tourist office or at the hotels. May – Sept.
Heliport at Husedalen by Kinsarvik. Fantastic experience flights for 4 – 5 persons. Longer or shorter flights by appointment.
Parts of Folgefonna glacier, Norway´s third largest glacier, is situated within the boundaries of Ullensvang municipality. Hikes with guide from Aga, or Bleie can be arranged.
Small game hunting in Ullensvang Statsalmenning. Small game hunting without dog: from 15. Sept.- 28 Feb. Small game hunting with dog: from the wild reindeer hunt is finished. For years without wild reindeer hunt, the Small game hunting starts earlier. For further information, please contact Ullensvang Fjellstyre.
Trail along the river Opo. In the bottom of the valley you can watch the waterfalls at short distance: Opo waterfall, Norway´s 3rd longest with a total fall of 650 metres and Skrikjo waterfall about 400 metres vertical fall. About 2 hrs from Lofthus centre return. Easy hike. Offer for horse lift.
Outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and solarium at Hardangertun, Kinsarvik. Indoor pool and sauna at Lofthus Camping and Hotel Ullensvang.
Public beaches: Haugasundsvika, Lofthus. Parking by the church. Lothe camping og badeplass, just by route 550, about 5 km from Utne direction Jondal.
Fjord- fishing tour with the boat “AIbatross”. Max 11 pax. for fishing baat with up to 6 persons.
At Hotel Ullensvang. Ullensvang Golfsimulation is is a place where you can simulate a game of golf. You can also play Tennis, Squash and Bowling.