There is more to Utne than we imagined before arriving here. The evening we spent was perfect and the next morning offered an insight into Norwegian traditions that more visitors should experience.
We arrived at Utne in the early evening after a wonderful road trip from Rosendal, visiting a glacier and wonderful mountain slopes of blossoming fruit trees. We had booked a night at the historical Utne hotel.
Ferry approaching Utne on the Hardanger Fjord. In front: Grass and slate covered roofs of buildings belonging to the Hardanger Folk Museum
The hotel is located on the north end of Sørfjorden in Hardanger, right at the ferry landing in Utne. It is one of Norway’s oldest hotels still in operation. There has been hospitable activity here ever since the opening day in 1722.
Part of a chain of independent hotels, I felt compelled to write this review on Tripadvisor:
A hotel full of charm and history: This very old hotel offers a fine mix of historic atmosphere with modern amenities, good food, attentive and knowledgeable managers. Our room was charming, the common areas full of exciting historic details and the location is perfect, right on the car ferry slip. Standing on the terrace in front of the hotel you face the beautiful Hardanger fjord.
After apple cider tasting, a full dinner menu and a good night’s sleep, we woke up to another beautiful day and a very good breakfast.
Utne hotel breakfast buffet and decorative painted (“rosemalt”) cupboard from around 1620
Hardanger Folk Museum
Only a short walk along the shore from the ferry landing and the hotel, there is a very interesting museum. The main museum building hosts a permanent exhibition of Hardanger embroidery, traditional costumes (“bunad” in Norwegian) and a large collection of old Hardanger fiddles.
There is also an open air museum with historic buildings found at the shore and uphill from the modern museum building. Museum people in Norway have been debating for decades the idea of moving old buildings away from their original site into a concentrated open air museum area. Some places, like in the county of Rogaland, they have decided against it. Here in Hardanger they had obviously concluded with the opposite.
There was a large number of buildings – barns, homes and more – on display. Open to walk into and savour the way of life for the people in Hardanger decades or centuries ago. Very interesting.
Hardanger embroideries on display in the Hardanger Folk Museum at Utne
Confirmation ceremony in the Utne church
Confirmation is a deeply rooted Norwegian tradition. It is like a coming of age rite seen in many cultures irrespective of religion, time and place. In Norway it is a basically a religious act, confirming the baptism, and a public statement that the person being confirmated is still part of God’s realm.
Most Norwegians are still Christian, in a way, and they are still getting confirmed at the age of 14-15. Traditionally this is a big day in the family, for relatives and for the society at large.
We had the pleasure of witnessing a group of youngsters ready to be confirmed at the Utne church. They were walking in a procession, lead by the priest, to the church where the congregation and visiting relatives where awaiting.
It also happens that Norwegian confirmations are an extravagant exhibition of Norwegian national costumes, not only customs. The “bunad” costumes we had seen on models in the museum were wrapped around live people, primarily women. It seemed that the recent “fashion” in Norway for males to wear traditional costumes had not quite caught on here at Utne.
Awaiting confirmation ceremony inside the Utne church
This concludes my story from Utne. Book your room at Utne Hotel right away.
This is the story of a road trip in the southern part of the region of Hardanger, in Western Norway. Read the articles:
(1) Stavanger to Rosendal
(3) Rosendal to Utne
(6) Sørfjorden, Odda and Røldal
This is the map showing our trip. Zoom in and out and expand to a new tab as you like.