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Norway’s Roadside Architecture Attractions Opening In 2020

The new staircase at the Vøringsfossen waterfall in Norway
The new staircase at Vøringsfossen. Picture: Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk / Nasjonale turistveger.

Despite travel restrictions, many of Norway's roadside architecture projects are continuing as planned. Here are the best of those opening in 2020.

Plans for Norway's summer of domestic tourism are well underway. I know many of you living in Norway are planning a road trip.

Norway's most scenic road trips

If you've ever been on a road trip in Norway, chances are you've come across one or more of the Norwegian Scenic Routes. Since 1994, these 18 stretches of road have received extra investment from the government to improve conditions and facilities.

But the investment goes beyond improving the roads and opening rest stops. There's a focus on architecture, turning the rest stops into attractions in their own right. By 2023, the 20-year investment will come to an end. In the period 2018-2023, there are 46 projects planned.

Throughout 2020, the following new architectural highlights are set to open:

Vøringsfossen phase 2

The new viewpoint at the Vøringsfossen waterfall already attracts plenty of visitors. Later this year, a new staircase is set to bring even more.

The existing viewpoint at Vøringsfossen, Norway

The design for the new staircase is pictured at the top of this article. The creation by architect Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk is set to open in September.

Høllesli, Ryfylke

Norway's Lysefjord is one of the country's most famous fjords. Most people know of the spectacular viewpoint atop Preikestolen, but not everyone wants to battle with the crowds to hike there.

The new rest stop at Høllesli, Ryfylke
Architect: Lie Øyen. Photo: Fredrik Fløgstad.

Høllesli on the Ryfylke route is a good alternative. Many cars used to stop by the side of the road causing a hazard, but now a new rest stop has been constructed offering parking and an elevated viewpoint of the fjord.

Valdresflye

On Valdresflye it's easy to get a feeling of “flying” above the mountain plateau in central Norway. The road (closed in winter) has long been a vital transport connection, and today takes keen hikers to many trailheads.

Valdresflye view of mountain plateau in central Norway
Flye 1389, Valdresflye. Architect and illustration: Knut Hjeltnes.

The new DNT cabin offers a view of Jotunheimen National Park and a small cafe with indoor seating. The building will serve as an activity centre for hikers and those keen to experience Norwegian friluftsliv.

Refnesstranda, Jæren

The new rest area will be the sixth such place on the Jæren route, one of the more ‘ordinary' of the 18 routes. Tractors often trundle along the route, so rest areas are a popular distraction for tourists.

Rest area at Refnesstranda, Jæren, in southwest Norway
Architect and illustration: Lie Øyen

The new parking area close to the Obrestad lighthouse is one of the better places to spend several hours. Visitors can explore the wild scenery, and a small bathing-friendly beach is located a short walk away. The new parking area including restroom facilities opens in the autumn.

Sohlbergplassen, Rondane

Sohlbergplassen is the newest of the five viewpoints along the Rondane route. The viewing point beside the lake Atnsjøen curves around slender pine trees and beautifully frames the Rondane mountains.

The Sohlbergplassen rest stop and viewpoint at Rondane National Park, Norway
Sohlbergplassen. Picture: Helge Stikbakke, Statens vegvesen

The viewpoint provides the angle made famous in Harald Sohlberg's 1914 painting ‘Winter Night in the Mountains'.

Domen, Varanger

Few international travellers make it as far to the north-east at Vardø. This small birdwatching shelter in glass and white-painted wood on the edge of the mountain is influenced by the local climate and ecology.

However, this part of Norway has a sinister story behind it, too. The mountain crossing is said to be the place you meet with the devil.

Domen, Varanger: A birdwatching hide near Vardø, northern Norway
The birdwatching hide near Vardø, northern Norway. Architect and illustration: Biotope.

During the 17th century witch trials, 63 women and two men were charged and executed here. The 164-metre tall bare, flat-topped mountain is known as Domen, or the Judgement.

More coming in 2021

Several more roadside rest areas are under construction and set to open in 2021. These include:

Tyrvefjøra, Hardanger: A new restroom facility at a fjordside parking area.
Tyrvefjøra, Hardanger: A new restroom facility at a fjordside parking area. Architect and illustration: Helen & Hard.
Hestad, Gaularfjellet. Toilet, viewing platform and rest area by Hestad Chapel.
Hestad, Gaularfjellet. Toilet, viewing platform and rest area by Hestad Chapel. Architect and illustration: Nils Mannsåker
Sjonfjellet, Helgelandskysten. Rest area with toilet facilities and views towards the fiord, the coastline and the open sea.
Sjonfjellet, Helgelandskysten. Rest area with toilet facilities and views towards the fiord, the coastline and the open sea. Illustration and architect: Atelier Oslo.
Espeneset, Hardanger. Rest area with toilet facilties on Sørfjorden.
Espeneset, Hardanger. Rest area with toilet facilties on Sørfjorden. Architect and illustration: Code.
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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

2 Comments

  1. Good to hear that the authorities are upgrading the toilet facilities on these tourist routes! Long overdue, I’d say, but better now than never. Hopefully, the funding also includes staff salaries to KEEP THEM CLEAN!

  2. I like this idea a lot and have seen a couple. Unfortunately many are inaccessible without a car (unless you fancy spending the whole day there – or longer). Maybe they could add similar sculptures/facilities to some of the railway stations or near transport hubs, so non-drivers could enjoy the same sort of thing.

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