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Latest revision as of 14:18, 11 June 2011
Hordaland is a county (fylke) in West Norway. It is a mountainous region with fjords and islands, on the North Sea coastline.
Hordaland has two airports of interest to the traveller; Bergen Airport, Flesland, Norway's second largest airport, and Stord Airport, Sørstokken. Bergen Airport has flights to all major and several smaller Norwegian airports; the Bergen-Oslo route is among the 10 most busy in Europe. It also has regular direct flights to many European destinations, as well as to Narita International Airport in Tokyo. Stord Airport is vastly smaller, and has regular flights to Oslo and Aarhus in Denmark. Connections by bus to the town centre are frequent on the Flybussen Airport shuttle.
There are several departures every day between Bergen and Oslo on the Bergen Railway, and a long stretch of the railway line runs through Hordaland. Among the stations are Dale, Voss and Finse, which, at 1.222 metres above sea level is the highest station on the entire Norwegian rail network. Reservations on long-distance trains are compulsory in Norway. For this reason you should book ahead, especially on Fridays and Sundays as you may have trouble getting a seat.
There are local trains between Voss and Myrdal in Sogn og Fjordane county. Trains are operated by the Norwegian State Railways, NSB.
By car, Hordaland can be entered from all its neighbouring counties, Rogaland, Sogn og Fjordane, Telemark, and Buskerud. From Oslo, the most common route is following European route E16 through Akershus, Buskerud and Sogn og Fjordane. When following this route, the first Hordaland town en-route is Voss, in north-eastern Hordaland. If you want to get to Bergen or anywhere else on the coast as fast as possible, continue following this road.
From Voss, you can also drive southwards to Hardanger. Having driven approximately 25 kilometers, you end up at the mouth of a 7 km long tunnel, where you have the choice of either driving through the tunnel, to inner Hardanger, or to Granvin, outer Hardanger and finally Bergen. This road is a designated "National Tourist Road" by the Norwegian government, and goes through four small towns (Granvin proper, Øystese, Norheimsund and Samnanger) before meeting European route E16 just after entering Bergen municipality. The first option, however, does not end up in Bergen. Once you reach the Hardanger fjord, you can either cross the fjord by ferry, or drive towards Ulvik. From the terminus of the ferry connection, follow RV 13 westwards, towards Odda. From Odda, you can continue following RV 13 southwards into the southernmost part of Hordaland, Rogaland or Telemark. You can also drive through the Folgefonn tunnel, slightly north of Odda, and onwards to Rosendal and southern Hordaland.
Entering Hordaland from Rogaland (south) is rather straightforward. There are three alternatives; E39, the main road to Bergen from Stavanger, which leads through Stord and is rather ferry-heavy, and the aforementioned E134 and RV13, which both end up at Odda. The same can be said about entering from Sogn og Fjordane (north); there are two alternatives, E39, which runs near the coast and is, again, rather ferry heavy, and E16, which is the main road between Bergen and Oslo and is described above.
Passenger boats along the coast are an option, especially if you are visiting islands such as Stord. Even if you are travelling by road, chances are good that you will come to a stretch of water where there is no bridge, and you will need a car ferry to get across. The frequency varies considerably, car ferries are part of the Norwegian road infrastructure and are usually, but not always, fairly frequent. The fast passenger boats are not so frequent. Most boats are operated by the transportation company Tide and schedules can be obtained from their website (unfortunately, only in Norwegian) passenger boat schedules, ferry schedules.
If you would like to travel by bus or coach, the national coach operator is called NOR-WAY Bussekspress.
Further regional and local buses are managed by the public transport authority in Hordaland, Skyss on Public Service Obligations.
Outside of Bergen and its vicinity you may find some lines to be rather infrequent. Some lines run only a handful of times per day, some only on schooldays and so on. Even so, the network does cover most areas.
Where trains, boats and buses are not available, you will need to travel by car. Norwegian roads are frequently ridiculed for poor standards. The standard varies from location to location. As in the rest of Norway, renting a car is very expensive. However, as a car is needed to get to many rural areas, which are often the most interesting, renting one is still strongly recommended. All car rental companies present in Norway have offices in Bergen, at the airport and/or the city centre.
Travelling on the small but scenic railways of Western Norway can be a scenic and breathtaking experience.
Local trains stopping at all stations are fairly frequent between Bergen and Voss and have open seating. There is also a shuttle between Bergen and Arna.
Express trains the do not stop at all stations. Reservations on long-distance trains are compulsory in Norway. For this reason you should book ahead, especially on Fridays and Sundays as you may have trouble getting a seat. Trains are operated by the Norwegian State Railways, NSB.