Haugesund is a remote area of Norway, but yet it brims with history. At nearby Hafrsfjord, for instance, King Harald the Fairhaired, the first king of Norway, won a battle in 872 that led to a unified Norway. You can visit the site from Haugesund easily and see a nearby Viking farm. You can even experience history first hand by dressing up as a Viking and taking part in everyday village activities.
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Haugesund is a great base for excursions. As well as Viking-themed trips, historical outings include visits to monuments, burial mounds and medieval stone churches. As for general sightseeing, you don't need to limit yourself to a coach or car. There are tractor safaris that take you along isolated paths with amazing views of fjords and mountains.
The mountains around Haugesund are some of the best in Norway for hiking. One of the highest peaks in the area, the Steinsfjellet, has a series of viewpoints from which you can take in the city of Haugesund, the North Sea and the surrounding mountain ranges.
The Etnefjella Mountains are east of Haugesund. These are perfect for both short and long hiking expeditions. The trails are clearly marked and there are overnight cabins if you want to prolong your stay.
Another peak worth ascending is Trollvassnipen Mountain. The viewpoint at Holekleiv is easy to reach and gives you a panorama over Nedstrand village, Boknafjord and Ryfylke moor.
While you're in the mountainous regions around Haugesund, don’t forget to visit Norway’s fifth-highest waterfall, Langfossen at Etne, east of Åkrafjord. The waterfall has a spectacular drop of 2007 ft. (612 metres).
As well as mountains, Haugesund provides easy access to some lovely islands. To reach Utsira and Røvær, for instance, you need only take a short boat trip from the city’s harbour. Once on the islands, you’ll find a peaceful atmosphere and the chance to go fishing or hiking.
Another offshore idyll worth visiting is Karmøy Island. Here you can wander in the conservation area of Skudeneshavn, a small town established in the 1800s as a centre for the herring industry. The island also has white sandy beaches that stretch temptingly by the sea.
Other maritime trips you shouldn’t miss are visits to the lighthouse at Ryvarden, north of Haugesund, and the lighthouse at Geitungen on an island next to Skudeneshavn. From both of these you have commanding views of the North Sea.
Haugesund itself has a lot to offer visitors. During the summer, there's a packed festival calendar. This includes the famous Haugesund Film Festival towards the end of August. It’s here that the Norwegian equivalent of the Oscars takes place.
Places to stroll include the city waterfront with its wooden buildings. You can pause here and relax in the cafés and restaurants as you gaze out to sea.
Before you leave the waterfront, visit the monument to Marilyn Monroe on the quayside near the Rica Maritim Hotel. Haugesund is Monroe's ancestral home because it was from the city from which her father emigrated to America.
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