Voringsfossen (Vøringsfossen; I think is pronounced “VEWH-rings-foss-un”) was definitely one of the waterfall highlights of our visit to the Eidfjord Municipality.
The falls dazzled us with what appeared to be converging waterfalls at the head of Måbødalen Valley (probably pronounced “MOH-bewh-dal-un”).
The tall and converging waterfalls produced afternoon rainbows that further decorated the scene.
Indeed, after our visit in June 2005, we could totally understand why we shared this waterfall with multiple tour groups and many other independent visitors.
In fact, I had to believe that this was one of Norway’s most famous and popular attractions.
Even though I tended to think of the entire convergence of waterfalls as Vøringsfossen, it turned out that the name really pertained to a gushing drop of the river Bjoreia (said to be 182m high according to a sign here though our book said it was 149m tall).
The taller (said to be 300m high) segmented drop on the opposite side of the cliff came from the Tysviko Stream and could probably be named “Tysvikofossen.”
The regulation of Vøringsfossen
Julie and I were actually surprised when we learned that the Bjoreia River was regulated, and that the main waterfall would only be allowed to flow between June 1 and September 15 (i.e. the Summer tourist season).
The rest of the year, the river would be diverted for the purposes of hydroelectricity.
In a country where it seemed like just about every big waterfall was regulated, I suppose that this was a fair compromise especially considering how other waterfalls have fared in the country.
For example, if we looked at the way Mardalsfossen was handled compared to say Mongefossen, we could see that at least the former was allowed to be enjoyed even in its compromised state.
Meanwhile, the latter was nearly completely sacrificed altogether.
In my mind, it was probably better to have something than nothing at all.
We were able to experience Vøringsfossen from two different perspectives, which we’ll get into separately below.
We felt each viewpoint was spectacular and we highly recommend doing both.
The first time Julie and I were here in late June 2005, each viewpoint actually required payment for parking so we ended up paying twice.
However, on our most recent visit here in late June 2019, it looked like the parking was free for both viewpoints.
For the purposes of this page, I’ll refer to the two viewpoints as the “Lower View” (also called Fossatromma on the maps) and the “Fossli Hotel View”.
Vøringsfossen from the Lower View
The first lookout we encountered was what I’m dubbing the “Lower View”, or more formally Fossatromma.
It was right off the north side (on the left as we headed east) of Rv7 probably around a kilometer or so east of the last of the roller-coaster-like tunnels.
From the car park, we had a choice of walking the paved paths along the Rv7 towards an often-crowded overlook where we looked right towards the head of the gorge of Måbødalen.
Or we also had a choice of walking along the cliff edges to get closer to the brink of Vøringsfossen as well more direct views of the taller, thinner waterfall that I think is called Tysvikofossen.
The view from the paved path along the Rv7 was our preferred view since it revealed all the waterfalls converging at the head of Måbødalen.
In fact, the picture you see at the top of this page (as well as right above) was taken from there.
Perched atop the cliff at the head of the gorge was the Fossli Hotel looking dimunitive compared to the waterfalls.
That gave us a sense of just how tall these waterfalls really were!
On our June 2005 visit, we happened to show up in the late afternoon on a mostly sunny day.
So the mist produced by the converging waterfalls yielded a rainbow that further added to the scenic allure of this viewpoint.
When we came back in June 2019, we had to contend with rain so we had a bit of a different experience altogether.
Although we didn’t do this all the way, there was a sign here saying that a cliff-hugging trail went close to the brink of the main drop of Vøringsfossen.
That said, in the 14 years between our visits to the Fossatromma area, it didn’t seem like a whole lot had changed during that time.
However, we can’t say the same thing for the next viewing area…
Vøringsfossen from the Fossli Hotel
About 1.1km further east on the Rv7 from the car park for the “Lower View,” we then turned left onto a signposted country road, which in turn led us to another left turn after another 640m or so.
At the end of the road after the second left turn, we were then at the car park for the Fossli Hotel.
Again, in our first visit back in 2005, there was an attendant collecting car park tolls (I didn’t remember how much we had to pay).
However, on our return visit in 2019, it appeared that the parking fee no longer applied.
Once we parked the rental car and walked past the Fossli Hotel on a developed path, we then found ourselves at a series of viewpoints with railings looking downstream right into Måbødalen.
Julie and I almost didn’t recognize the viewpoints here because they really did make transformative changes to the whole area.
So now they had extensive catwalks, bridges, and even the odd memorials and gardens.
That meant some of the infrastructure could get in the way while in other cases, the structures protruded a little further out towards the gorge for even more vertigo-inducing views.
Moreover, there were no more areas of cliff exposure as pretty much the entire rim had railings and barricades. That definitely wasn’t the case on our first visit.
Indeed, the infrastructure improvements made here were largely done to better handle the high volume of foot traffic whenever tour buses would deposit many people at the same time.
In any case, from this top down perspective at these upper overlooks, we were able to look down at the entirety of the main Vøringsfossen itself (as shown in the photo just above).
We were also able to continue walking along the perimeter of the precipitous cliffs where the guardrails disappeared and we had to be very cognizant of the cliff exposure.
We didn’t go very far along the cliff rim so we can’t say more about where the path would ultimately go.
I didn’t recall if we didn’t make it far because the path dead-ended or if we opted not to continue walking probably towards the Tysviko stream.
In any case, this vantage point was just breathtaking, and we could also better appreciate the steepness and context of the Måbødalen gorge as the river Bjoreia continued cutting into the young valley.
Other Experiences Around Vøringsfossen
One things that I wasn’t aware of on our first visit in 2005 was that there was a path that went down into Måbødalen.
This path ultimately ended near the base of Vøringsfossen for a more unique perspective.
Unfortunately, our second visit in 2019 was hampered by a combination of rain as well as a closure due to landslides in the steep valley.
So we can’t really say much more about it other than it was a fairly strenuous hike that could begin near one of the exits of the twisting Måbødaltunnelen, which was called Storegjel.
The hike from Storegjel to the base of Voringsfossen was said to involve a 3.4km round trip hike with a 250m elevation change, which was estimated to take 3 hours.
Since parking is limited at Storegjel, you can also start the hike at Fossatromma where parking would be more plentiful.
However, the hike to get back to Storegjel from Fossatromma was 2km in each direction.
That meant that the overall hike would be 7.4km round trip, and would require 4-6 hours in total.
In addition to the hike to the bottom of Voringsfossen, we also noticed that there was a little train station at Fossatromma for the so-called troll train (trolltoget [“TROLL-toh-guh”]).
We didn’t go on this ride, but we understand that it would bypass the road tunnel we took to get here and allow riders a chance to see more of the young Måbødalen (said to be created shortly after the last glacial retreat from the most recent Ice Age).
We don’t know if there was a way to get to the bottom of the gorge safely or if the train would offer something like that.
Julie and I also did a little exploring closer to the car park where there was a series of seemingly informal trails leading right up to various cliff-hanging views (without rails).
These spots gave us a very in-your-face view of the south-facing cliffs as well as the strandy Tysvikofossen.
We definitely were hesitant to get too close to the cliff edges given the vertigo-inducing drop offs here.
So our photos tended to have obstructions from the ground by our feet.
By the way, the sheer exposed dropoffs here have become a safety issue over the years due to a handful of deaths from tourists.
I’ve read that more improvements (on top of the changes that we noticed between our visits) were slated for completion in 2020 so by the time you go there, you might benefit from such developments.
While we explained some of the details of each of the car parks in the detailed waterfall descriptions above, I’m going to go into them here while providing the full context as if we were driving from the town of Eidfjord.
I think routing to Eidfjord is pretty straightforward from wherever you happen to be.
From Eidfjord to the Lower Car Park at Fossatromma
To make a long story short, from Eidfjord, we drove east on the Rv7 for about 17km right to the lower car park at Fossatromma.
Some notable landmarks on this drive include Øvre Eidfjord at a little over 6km, then an extensive series of tunnels in another 6km.
I remember these tunnels well because they’re not only long, but they also twist and corkscew and spiral as if they were almost like a rollercoaster within the mountain!
Anyways, roughly 400m after the last of the tunnels, the Fossatromma car park (“Lower Car Park”) was on the left.
This drive should take less than 30 minutes though it depends on slower traffic and whether they use the pullouts or not to let faster cars pass them.
From Fossatromma to Fossli Hotel
Continuing east on the Rv7 from the Fossatromma car park, we went another 1km to a signed turnoff for the Fossli Hotel, where we then turned left.
We then followed this road to the Fossli Hotel after about 800m.
There was a fairly extensive car park area there, and we had ample parking during our visit (though admittedly bad weather in our 2019 visit probably kept it from being crowded).
For some geographical context, Eidfjord is about 51km (about 45 minutes drive) southeast of Voss, 70km (over an hour drive) north of Odda, about 90km (under 90 minutes drive) west of Geilo, 310km (4.5 hours drive) west of Oslo and 153km (2.5 hours with a ferry crossing) east of Bergen.
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