Norway // Bergen and the western fjords //


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.

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