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Parking at Urnes Stave Church

We are traveling to Norway next month and planning to stop by the Urnes Stave Church UNESCO World Heritage Site. My understanding is that the parking for the church is a little way beyond the ferry quay and it's about a mile up a steep hill on foot to the church. Does anyone have any sense whether it would be possible to drive up the road to the church to drop off my kids and in-laws (who might not otherwise handle the walk well) if we plan to still drive back down to still park in the lot? I have reached out to the church through the website, but I wanted to check here too in case anyone had any insight. Tusen takk!

Posted by
656 posts

Have you looked at it on Google maps? There is a sign at the little, unpaved road that goes up to the church. It hards to read, but it looks like cars and motorcycles are approved to drive on it (not sure how you turn around, though;)). There's a coffee shop near the church, so it seems like you could drop them off there.

We went to another rural stave church and were able to drive right up to it, but there might be restrictions for Urnes.

Posted by
7575 posts

Back in September, we checked out of our airbnb in the morning, and caught the first ferry across to Urnes. We were heading elsewhere in Norway, and weren't waiting for the church to open (we’d seen several others, plus one later that day), but the fare checker on the ferry wanted to ensure that we were aware that the church wasn’t going to be open yet. We assured him that we were ready to cross.

At least in early morning, we were able to drive all the way up to the gate of the church. There was room for at least a half-dozen cars, although we were the only ones who’d driven up, up, up to get there. The few shops and businesses hadn’t opened yet, either, and we only saw maybe three other vehicles, driving up and down through the town. I don’t recall signs restricting parking up there. We didn’t need to look for any, but there might’ve been a few places on the drive up where a short-term visitor could’ve pulled off, to shorten the walk. If at least try it, and drive all the way, then drive back down as needed.

There’s a small cemetery outside the church, and sheep were grazing next door, on the other side of a stone wall. A sign at the site described the “Klyngjetunet - The Farm Cluster” in Norwegian and English. Being there before 8:00 in the morning, with nobody else around, was a serene experience, even if we didn’t see inside.

If you’re going farther north, on the Urnes side of the fjord, the base of the Feige Fossen waterfall is awesome. There’s a trail to hike alongside of, but just getting out at the large parking lot for a look would be very worthwhile. Seeing it from across the fjord is also impressive - it’s very tall, but being up close was more impressive.

If you continue farther north on the Urnes side, there’s a narrow, long tunnel with a blind curve in the middle. We slowed down and honked the horn a bunch, in case somebody was coming from the other direction - never saw another car, which was good. M not sure how easy it would’ve been to pop ass each other in that narrow space.

Posted by
7575 posts

Thinking some more about it, I think that there’s maybe a shuttle bus or van that takes passengers up to the church. Nothing would’ve been running that early in the morning when we were there, so we didn’t look for it. Even without extra cars up at the top, it did take a little maneuvering to get turned around and to head back down.