With a population of just 14,000, VOSS, 100km from Bergen, is a small town with an attractive lakeside setting and a splendid thirteenth-century church. It is, however, best known as an adventure-sports and winter-skiing centre, with everything from skiing and snowboarding through to summertime rafting, kayaking and horseriding. Consequently, unless you’re here for a sweat, your best bet is to have a quick look round the town’s central shops and cafés – it takes just five minutes to walk from one end of town to the other, though this is still something of a treat if you’ve been stuck in the tiny hamlets and villages further north – and then move on. There is a caveat, however: Voss is the ideal base for a day-trip by train east up the Raundal valley, an especially scenic part of the Bergen–Oslo rail line. The most popular target on this stretch of the line is the Myrdal junction, where you change for the dramatic train ride down to Flåm.
For centuries, Voss has been a trading centre of some importance, though you’d barely guess this from the modern appearance of the town centre. In 1023, King Olav visited to check that the population had all converted to Christianity, and stuck a big stone cross here to ram home his point, and in the 1270s another king, Magnus Lagabøte, built a church in Voss to act as the religious focal point for the whole region – and this church, the Vangskyrkja, survives today.
Outdoor activities around Voss
Outdoor activities around Voss
Every summer, hundreds of Norwegians make a beeline for Voss on account of its watersports. The rivers near the town offer a wide range of conditions, suitable for everything from a quiet paddle to a finger-chewing whitewater ride. In winter, skiing around Voss starts in mid-December and continues until mid-April – nothing fancy, but good for an enjoyable few days. From behind and above the train station, a cable car – the Hangursbanen – climbs 700m to give access to several short runs as well as a series of chairlifts that take you up another 300m. In January and February some trails are floodlit. There’s a choice of red, green and black downhill ski routes, and among the greens is a long and fairly gentle route through the hills above town; cross-country skiing here is limited to 20km of tracks.
Summer sports operators
Mjølfjell Fjellstove t56 52 31 50, wmjolfjell.no. Up in the hills about 30km east of town, Mjølfjell Fjellstove specializes in mountain horseback riding with guided excursions from one day to a week; a week-long trip costs 4300kr per person.
Nordic Ventures t56 51 00 17, wnordicventures.com. This operator offers all sorts of kayaking excursions (a day-long trip costs 975kr per person) as well as tandem paragliding and parasailing.
Voss Rafting Senter t56 51 05 25, wvossrafting.no. Among several rafting operators, this one sets the benchmark. Their whitewater-rafting trips venture out onto two rivers – the Stranda and Raun – with prices beginning at 600kr per person for a 3hr excursion, half of which is actually spent on the water. Other options with the same operator include river boarding (4hr; 1150kr) and waterfall rappelling (4hr; 850kr).
Winter sports operators
Voss Ski School t47 00 47 00, wvossresort.no. Full equipment for both downhill and cross-country skiing can be rented by the day from this ski school at the upper Hangursbanen station. They also offer lessons in skiing and snowboarding techniques.