Just an hour and a half drive from Bergen (1 hour 15 minutes by train) lies the the small town of Voss. Now, the town itself doesn’t look that special, but Voss happens to be surrounded by stunning snow-capped mountains, wild rivers and tall waterfalls. Thanks to its dramatic landscape and prime location between Bergen, Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord, it’s no wonder Voss has become a center for outdoor adventure activities in Norway.
Amongst Norwegians Voss is particularly famous for its two ski resorts, Myrkdalen Fjellandsby and Voss Resort. In fact many of Norway’s world champion and Olympic athletes have trained in Voss and Voss has more medals per capita than any other place in the world!
But even if you’re not into skiing there is so much to do here. Here you can raft down one of Europe’s best rafting rivers, go paragliding, skydiving, kayaking, biking, rock climbing, and of course hiking, among other activities. Or if you want something a bit more low key, you can take the Voss Gondola up into the mountains from right by the train station.
And if you want more tips for planning your trip through southern Norway, I’ve gathered all my best advice in a 93-page ebook covering my top recommendations for places to visit (both on and off the beaten path), the best times of year to visit, how long to visit for, the best accommodation choices, transportation, what to eat, what to pack, and a sample itinerary that covers my personal favorite route through the south. You can purchase The Southern Norway Travel Guide here.
So here are my top picks for things to do in Voss when you’re not hitting the ski slopes:
Tvindefossen is right by the highway near Voss, so you don’t even have to hike for hours to enjoy it. This 152 meter waterfall is very photogenic and a popular spot for tourists, so be prepared for some crowds.
Along the Hardanger National Scenic Route on the road between Granvin and Voss you’ll find Skjervsfossen, a waterfall split into two streams dropping 150 meters. There’s a big parking lot here and several different hiking paths so that you can enjoy the waterfall from different viewpoints.
The Voss Gondola is included in all of the ski passes in Voss, but you can also pay to ride the gondola even if you’re not skiing. The Voss Gondola leaves from Voss Station and takes you from 56 to 820 meters above sea level in about nine minutes. At the top you can visit Hangurstoppen Restaurant, which is the largest restaurant and après ski in Voss.
You can buy your ticket at a ticket machine at the bottom of the gondola, or skip the line and buy online here. Individual adult one way tickets cost 305 NOK and 410 NOK for roundtrip, but you can also buy family tickets and day passes.
Voss is conveniently located between Hardangerfjord and Sognefjord, two of the most beautiful fjords in Norway.
Guided sea kayaking through the Nærøyfjord from Voss
There’s seriously no better way to experience a fjord than from a kayak, and from Voss you can take a guided sea kayaking tour through Nærøyfjord, which is one of the prettiest branches of Sognefjord. Fjord kayaking is very calm, so you don’t need any prior kayaking experience. Check current prices and availability here
Voss adventure activities
You can find a list of outdoor adventure activities in Voss here, including:
Whitewater rafting through the Raundal valley in Voss
Voss is famous for rafting, and a whitewater rafting tour along the Raundal River takes you through a number of Grade III rapids, while being suitable for beginner and experienced rafters alike. Check current prices and availability here
River kayaking courses in Voss
Voss is the perfect place to learn the whitewater kayaking, or level up your skills if you already have experience. You can choose an introductory, novice, or intermediate course based on your level. Check current prices and availability here
Rock climbing in Voss
Lønahorgi mountain and Uskedalen, a fjord valley outside of Voss, offer Western Norway’s best climbing from beginner to expert levels. You can book guided rock climbing to fit your level here.
Tandem paragliding in Voss
What better way to see Voss than from a paraglide? Voss Paragliding Club offer tandem flights with experienced pilots. You can read more and check prices here.
As Norway’s adrenaline capital of course Voss also offers skydiving. Skydive Voss offers tandem skydives, which you can book here. Or if you’re not quite ready to jump out of a plane but still want that adrenaline rush you could try out the indoor wind tunnel at VossVind.
Ekstremsportveko is the largest extreme sport festival in the world and it looks pretty crazy. The festival hosts competitions in all sorts of extreme sports, including skydiving, paragliding, cliff diving, kayaking, and rafting. And then for the last three days it turns into a bit of music festival with lots of Norwegian as well as international artists performing.
Traditional Norwegian food
Voss is also famous for smalahove, or sheep’s head, a traditional dish you can sample at Smalahovetunet farm. They also serve other local specialties, if the sheep’s head is a bit too exotic for your taste (I recommend the sour cream porridge!).
Vossa Jazz Festival
Voss is also famous for Vossa Jazz, an international jazz festival dating back to the 1970s that is held each year right before Easter.
Housed in a grand 19th-century building, Fleischer’s Hotel is right downtown by the Voss train station and gondola. I love the mixture of old-world charm and modern conveniences here, and the restaurant serves a menu of local specialties. Check current rates and availability here
The very modern, recently built Scandic Voss is also downtown by the train station and offers Scandic’s usual high level comfort and excellent breakfasts. Plus they have a sauna! Check current rates and availability here
If you want to experience Voss like a Norwegian, stay in a cabin! This Voss Hytte/Cabin is located in Skulestadmo, 100 meters from Bavalls ski lift at Voss Resortand will give you that typical Norwegian experience of going to the hytte. Check current rates and availability here
Voss Vandrarheim Hostel is a family-run hostel about a kilometer from the Voss train station. They have some family rooms which are especially affordable if you’re traveling with several people. Check current rates and availability here