Odda, Hardanger, Hordaland, Exploring Norway

Odda, Hardanger – Exploring Norway

Odda is a town in western Norway, in the traditional district of Hardanger. It is the seat of the municipality that shares its name and was once a part of Hordaland County which is today within Vestland County. Odda has a population of around 4.700 inhabitants. The people live in a valley surrounded by mountains such as Ruklenuten (1379 m) and Møyfallsnuten (1447 m). To the south is Lake Sandvinvatnet and to the north is the fjord Sørfjorden. It is Sørfjorden that connects Odda with the Atlantic Ocean.

Odda developed early to become a tourist destination. Royalty was not uncommon at the turn of the 19th century when the German Kaiser Wilhelm II frequently visited the area.

A Short History of Odda

To simplify things, Odda’s history is split into two branches. One is tourism, which has been important for the area for almost two centuries. The second part is its industrial past with the now UNESCO World Heritage Site of Odda–Tyssedal.

Tourism to the area began to a larger extent around the year 1830. Visitors since have included royals such as the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. He visited the area for 23 consecutive years between 1891 and 1914.

Industrial development began in the early 20th century. This was after the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in nearby Tyssedal. The available electricity made it possible to start the production of carbide and later cyanamide in 1908. Cyanamide is according to Wikipedia used in agriculture as well as for the production of pharmaceuticals. It was around these production facilities that the town developed and it eventually gained town status in 2004, just a year after the decommissioning of the large plant.

Things to Do and See

Mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls. There are a lot of sights to explore in the surrounding nature. Meanwhile, Odda takes the position as a commercial center of the surrounding region and it does have restaurants and shops for the ones that look for a bit more urban experiences. Odda is also the gateway to the famous cliff Trolltunga.


Smelteverket is the old manufacturing plant for carbide and cyanamide. It was established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 together with the hydroelectric power plant in Tyssedal. this was once the largest production facility for carbide in the world.

Odda Church

Odda Church is a white wooden church dating back to the 13th century. Well, that is the origin of the foundation of the current church. The original church was replaced by the current in the mid-19th century. It has today a capacity of around 500 visitors and is a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway.


Sørfjorden is a 28-kilometer-long fjord with Odda at its southernmost point. This is a branch of the Hardangerfjord that connects the village with the Atlantic Ocean. The fjord offers both the possibility of fishing as well as walks and hikes along its waterfront.

Opo River

From Lake Sandvinvatnet to the fjord Sørfjorden flows the 2.3-kilometer-long Opo River. The river flows through the center of Odda and there are walking paths along the shores of the river.

Oddadalen – The Odda Valley

Oddadalen is also known as the Valley of the Waterfalls. There are plenty of waterfalls here that run down the mountainside towards River Storelva and Lake Sandvinvatnet. The five major waterfalls are Espelandsfoss, Låtefoss, Strandfoss, Tjørnadalsfoss, and Vidfoss. It is possible to drive through the valley along Road 13.

Folgefonna National Park

Folgefonna National Park was established in 2005 and covers an area of 545 square kilometers. The area includes three glaciers on the Folgefonna peninsula. The highest point within the Folgefonna National Park reaches an altitude of 1.662 meters above the sea. The visitor center of the park is in Rosendal.


A cliff with a 700-meter-high drop? That is Trolltunga, the world-famous hiking destination located a bit to the east of Odda. The cliff is hovering over Lake Ringedalsvatnet like the cliff in The Lion King did out over the savannah. It is a difficult and long hike where a guide is usually recommended. It is only possible to climb Trolltunga during the summer months.

How to Get to Odda

  • Flights: Oslo Airport (OSL) is 132 kilometers to the west. It offers both domestic and international flights.
  • Car: Odda is located along Road 13 just north of the intersection with Road E134 at Skare.

The driving distance from 5 major Norwegian cities, according to Google Maps:

  • Oslo – 346 kilometers (5 h 15 min)
  • Bergen – 135 kilometers (2 h 45 min)
  • Trondheim – 646 kilometers (9 h 45 min)
  • Narvik – 1539 kilometers (23 h 13 min)
  • Kirkenes – 2124 kilometers (29 h)

Find out more about other destinations in Norway by visiting our page Exploring Norway

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