Hugging the Jøsenfjorden, Hjelmeland is a sprawling municipality on Norway’s south-west coast that has long been synonymous with salmon fisheries and fruit orchards. It’s home to one of Norway’s big-walled peaks and a fairytale-inspired forest while it also serves as a gateway to the island of Ombo.
Things to do in Hjelmeland
In the village of Årdal is the Old Årdal Church, a red wooden building dating back to 1620. It’s located on the site of a stave church that is believed to have been built in the 13th century, with many of its materials used in the current construction. Coincide your visit with one of the two worship services scheduled here each year to admire the church’s hand-painted rosemåling.
Combine your visit to the Old Årdal Church with a walk through Eventyrskogen, a magical forest that children will love. The short trail is dotted with wooden sculptures and signs detailing the elves and trolls that are believed to inhabit the forest, with many associated with Norwegian fairytales. In addition to grills and wooden benches where you can relax, Eventyrskogen also features a children’s playground.
For a more challenging hike, tackle the trail that leads to Skomakarnibbå, a sheer cliff that plunges 700 metres into the Jøsenfjorden below. Translating as “The Shoemaker’s Crag”, it is associated with an old Norse saga and offers impressive views across the fjord and its surrounding mountains. Skomakarnibbå can also be viewed from the Norwegian Scenic Route Ryfylke as it winds its way between Vadla and Vindsvik.
Getting around Hjelmeland
Hjelmeland is around an hour’s drive from Stavanger and 1.5 hours from Stavanger Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe. Buses travel to Hjelmeland and ferries connect to nearby Ombo Island. Renting a car is the most convenient way of exploring the region.