- The route
- Rallarvegen with children?
- How long will it take me?
- What to bring?
- Watch out!
Rallarvegen, following the outskirts of the Hardangervidda Plateau, leads you along the Bergen Railway Line from Haugastøl via Finse, Hallingskeid, Myrdal and down to Flåm. It is also possible to follow the road down to Voss. The road by itself is an attraction, but it also brings you through a fantastic highland area starting at 1000 meters above sea level(a.s.l.), peaking at 1350 meters for then to lead you back down to the fjords at sea level.
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Rallarvegen as a bikeroute
Rallarvegen was opened for cycling in the summer of 1974. For the first few years it was only a couple of hundred cyclists who rode the track from Haugastøl to Myrdal. But the number has rapidly increased since. Through the last few years we estimate that about 25 000 bikers from both Norway and abroad has found their way along the Rallarvegen each year.
The construction route known as the «Rallarvegen» is a 100-year-old man-built transport road designed for the conveyance of men and materials during the building phase of the most mountainous sector of the Oslo - Bergen Railway Line. The railway constructors' road is a cultural and historic monument. From this road you will at all time keep in touch with, and see the Bergen Line which was opened in 1909. You will discover painstakingly detailed work in stone and earth, carried out by a labor force which at its peak comprised 2400 men. You will see Line Inspectors' houses of high architectural caliber and get an impression of Norway's loftiest place of employment from 1900 to 1964. It all started when the Norwegian Parliament decided in 1894 that a railway connection were to be built between Bergen in the west and Christiania, former name of Oslo, in the east. The railway would cross the mountain range that split southern Norway in two, and to do so, they had to build construction roads leading up onto the plateau from Voss, Flåm and Geilo and along the path that the railway would follow. This would soon become the most demanding railway project in Europe. Everything that would be needed of supplies and equipment had to be transported from the villages and up onto the plateau. Every day throughout an hectic summer season, hundreds of horse carriages transported all the material and gear that was needed for the work to be carried out up into the highlands. "Rallar" was the name of the work force which later gave the name to this famous construction road; Rallarvegen. The Bergen Railway Line was officially opened on November 27 1909. In 2009 the railway celebrated its 100-year jubilee.
In these high mountains there are usually large quantities of snow, and along the Finse to Hallingskeid stretch, precisely where snowfalls are heaviest; there is no snow clearance service. Early in the season, i.e. in July or if there is a lot of snow , we therefore recommend that you travel the Finse-Hallingskeid sector by Rallar train. Scattered sizeable snowdrifts up to 100 or 200 meters in length can also occur east of Finse and west of Hallingskeid. July/August and the weekends in September is the peak season, so it is recommended to pre book your trip including rental bikes, train and accommodation. Weekdays in end of August and September are calmer since Norwegians are back in school and work. So if you are travelling from abroad we strongly recommend biking on weekdays. An added bonus with biking in September is the fantastic autumn colors in the mountains.
Haugastøl - Finse 27 km
You can choose to start the trip from Haugastøl Train Station. The trains from Oslo and Bergen stops here regularly, and here you will also find public car parking. From the station you follow the national highway RV7 to Haugastøl Turistsenter. You can also find public parking across the road from Haugastøl Turistsenter. Our “all inclusive” package is a popular option if want to book the whole trip without hassle of booking bikes, accommodation, food and trains separately The Rallarvegen starts just outside Haugastøl Turistsenter. It rises 222 meters over 27 km up to Finse from Haugastøl. Along the road you will ride through fantastic mountain highland nature, see many impressive 110 year old man-made bridges, inspector's huts and the Nygård Farm. Nygård Farm used to be the only farm at this level still in function up until the middle of the 1900s. You will also pass by the Storurdi Lake and the Storurdi Inspector's Hut at 1105 meters a.s.l. After this you ride past Okseboth at 1160 meters a.s.l. This is an ancient summer farm used by farmers from Ulvik. You will see the new and modern railway track, built to withstand the speed of future trains. A new tunnel is built, Gråskallen, and you pass by the snowscreens built to keep the snow from covering the tracks during the harsh winters. Finse lies at 1222 meters a.s.l. and is the highest situated railway station in Norway. Here you will find many possibilities for nice hikes like the one to Hardangerjøkulen, the glacier just west of the station. We highly recommend a guided tour on Hardangerjøkulen with Jøklagutane if you have a extra day in the area. A visit to the Rallar Museum is almost mandatory when cycling the Rallarvegen. Detailed and useful information on the story behind the Bergen Railway is found here. It shows how the men recorded snow depths, planned, staked out the route and the actual tools and aid that were used to make sure the construction work could carry on. The museum is situated in the house east of Finse station. If you wish to spend the night at Finse, it is possible to do so at Finse 1222 and at Finsehytta.
In the summer season we do weekly guided tours on this route. For more information and booking see Geilo 365.
Finse - Hallingskeid 21 km
When you cycle west from Finse, you will glide into the beautiful and natural surroundings of the Hardangervidda Nationalpark. Take your time and enjoy the landscape. It's hard not to be impressed by the magnificent mountains surrounding you, and take in the view of how the Hardangerjøkulen glacier with his great cape of white and blue eternal ice. If you are lucky you might even spot wild reindeer or the white mountain fox in this area. Ride slow so you don't miss out on the beautiful highland flowers along the road. You can see traces of how the men lived whilst they battled against the weather for so many years just to keep the railway track open in all conditions. You can see the Inspector's Dwellings where the men lived with their families. You will pass by dwellings at Sandå, Slirå, Fagernut and Grjotrust. Fagernut lies at 1310 meters a.s.l. and is the most elevated Inspector Dwelling in Norway. The dwellers lived here in the years between 1904 and 1964. You will also pass by the Fagervatn Lake, which is the highest point of Rallarvegen. In the summertime, a Cafè is run in the Fagernut Dwelling. Here you can buy freshly made waffles and coffee. The dwelling is restored in same technique and interior from the time is was built.
Hallingskeid - Vatnahalsen 17 km
The first dwelling you will pass by, is now a tourist cabin that is open for visitors all year around. Notice the grassy opening in the bottom of the valley. This used to be the base of a annual summer marked up until the Black Death (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Death) in the 1300s. People came from all of the nearby valleys and fjords, Hallingdal, Sogn, Hardanger and Voss. They met up to sell their products, to hold competitions, to dance , drink and fight. From Hallingskeid and down the valley to Myrdal you can see how the railway track leads along a mountain shelf. Try to imagine how the workers built this part, and the challenges they were faced with. This is a part which is troubled during the winter months by many avalanches. The bridge, Klevabrua, is a beautiful and impressive bridge that you will notice before you carry on down the wild and fascinating gully, Klevagjelet. The road carries on along a narrow shelf, so be careful and walk this part of the road. On your way to Vatnahalsen, you will pass by Seltuft where you can see traces from the Stone Age. At Vatnahalsen you will find one of the stations for the Flåm Railway Line, as well as Vatnahalsen Hotel. At this point you will have to make a decision. - You can either carry on along the road down to Myrdal and Flåm, or take off down to Voss. It is 2 km to Myrdal, where you can enter the train and go both east towards Oslo or west towards Bergen.
Flåmsdalen is an impressive valley with the steepest railway track in the North of Europe, The Flåm Railway. It is 20 km, has 20 tunnels and a altitude difference of 865 meters. The Flåm Railway is world famous. Every summer it is almost 600 000 tourists that travel the Flåm Railway as well as about 100 cruise ships arriving Flåm with guests for this famous railway track. The Rallarvegen makes its way through 21 sharp bends down to Kårdal which is the highest farm in Flåmsdalen. From Kårdal the road carries on through the wild Flåm Valley past Berekvam and Dalsbotten. From Dalsbotten and down to Hårreina you will pass by the powerful waterfall, Rjoandefossen. Make sure to stop by Flåm Church which was raised in 1667. The poet, Per Sivle, was born and grew up on the farm across the river from the church. You can see the stone that has been raised in his memory. On the last part towards Flåm you are cycling on the car route going up the valley, so take care and keep your speed down.
The Flåm Train Station is located in the end of the Aurlandfjord, one of the arms of the Sognefjord. During the summer, Flåm is a melting pot of tourists from all over the world. You can hear all kinds of languages and watch tourists on their way to new experiences by boat, bus or train. You will find all facilities you need, hotels, b&bs, campingsites, cafes, restaurants and shops. It is possible to catch the train over Myrdal to Bergen or Oslo, or a boat taking you out the Sognefjord either southwards to Bergen or northwards to Selje. For those who chose the Bike package from Haugastøl Turistsenter, a return journey from Flåm to Haugastøl by the famous Flåm Railway is included.
Rallarvegen with children?
Rallarvegen is at times very steep, and the road is largely unsecured and demanding for children. If you want to ride all the way, we recommend that the children are 12 years old. That being said we have 7 year olds who are fine, and 16 year olds who don't stand stand a chance. Luggage Trolleys and children is not recommended distance between Finse and Flåm. The ride between Haugastøl and Finse is suitable for younger children. The road is in relatively good shape, and not as steep as the Finse-Flåm route.
Every day of the season there is a cycle train from Haugastøl to Finse in the morning. Riding time back to Haugastøl is about 3 hours at a leisurely pace.
The «Rallarvegen» has many places where the road is in a bad condition, and three rather perilous spots where the utmost caution is required: 1 - Where you cross the railway track in the snow shed at Grjotrust 2 - In Klevagjelet ravine with its unprotected roadside and precipitous drop into the turbulent river below. 3 - On the way down the notorious 21 hairpin bends in the upper end of the Flam valley, dismount here, as there is real danger of your brakes getting overheated and seizing up.
How long will it take me?
Haugastøl – Finse 3-4 hours (27 km)
Finse - Haugastøl 2-3 hours (27 km)
Finse – Fagernut 1 hour (10 km)
Finse – Hallingskeid 3 hours (21 km)
Hallingskeid - Flåm 3 hours (32 km)
Finse – Myrdal 5 hours (38 km)
Finse – Flåm 5-6 hours (53 km)
What to pack?
- If you decide to bring your own bike make sure you bring spare breakpads, tube, patchkit, pump and a repairkit. If you rent a bike this will be provided with the bike.
- A helmet is the cheapest insurance you will ever buy! (great helmets can be bought at Haugastøl for 399 NOK)
- Use waterproof panniers, heavy backpacks are NOT great for biking.
- Good shoes! Either light waterproof hiking shoes, or running shoes with shoe covers. (can be bought at Haugastøl for 299,-)
- Wind and waterproof clothing is a must, the weather in the mountains change fast!
In addition to the hotels along the route there are good options for wildlife camping. There are a few forbidden areas thats good to know about when planning your trip. The first 13 km from Haugastøl towards Finse and the area surrounding Finse is of limits.