The modern Finse community was created as part of the construction and operation of the Bergenline Railway. Finse are located on one of the most sheltered areas on the alpine stretch of the railway and was, for this reason, picked as the centre of the manpower needed to clear the track of snow in the winter.
Finse is today predominantly a tourist centre. The railroads have only two remaining employees who work at the train station (ticket sales and post office). Despite the small size of the community the activity level is surprisingly high.
The centre of the Finse community is Finse 1222 a hotel with excellent cuisine, drinks and a unique atmosphere. Apartments connected to Finse 1222 through an old railway car. Finsehytta, one of The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association´s (DNT) biggest and most visited hostels, located 500 meters east of Finse Station.
The first tourists at Finse were British Lord Garvah and his son who in the 1850s used Finse as their base for hunting and fishing trips. A series of stone cabins, referred to as the Lord Cabins are still visible around Finse. The best known of these is Lordehytta in the Foldaskardet which remains in excellent condition.
Finse have the Navvy Museum, a museum and archives about the construction and operation of the Bergenline Railway, a Art Gallery and a Ski Resort. The Universities of Oslo and Bergen research centre are located just east of Finse.
After the opening of the railway in 1909 Finse Mountain Chalet (Later Finse Hotel) was opened and it quickly became the desired holiday spot for European jet-setters like the Prince of Wales, Sonja Henie and Fridjof Nansen.
A hike on the dramatic Hardangerjøkulen Glacier and Blåisen (The Blue Ice) is a must for all nature and hiking enthusiasts - with its enormous ice-massives, dramatic formations and vibrations from eternity the glacier offers an experience you will not forget.
The first traces of human activity at Finse are 7000 years old. Hunters and gatherers lived and hunted reindeer in the Finse area. Archaeologists have located several camps at the islands on Finse Lake from these peoples.
In more resent years Finse has been the location for many movie productions. The most famous of these was Star Wars Part II (The Empire Strikes Back). All the winter scenes of the movie where shot at the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier.
Throughout the 20th century Finse has been used by numerous explorers to test equipment for polar expeditions.
In 1914 Norway´s first indoor skating-rink was constructed at Finse. Triple-Olympic champion Sonja Henie lived temporarily at Finse and used this facility to practice for her three Olympic gold medals. The Skating rink was unfortunately demolished after Finse was bombed by the English during World War II.
During the Second World War the Germans established a top-secret research base here in order to test the qualities of different engines and fuel types in a high altitude arctic climate. It was these research efforts that led to the English bombardment of Finse in 1943.
THE NAVY ROAD (Rallarvegen)
Rallarvegen starts at Haugastøl in Buskerud County, continues to Finse and descends into dramatic Flåm in the fjord county of Sogn & Fjordane County.
Most cyclists start their trip at Finse (altitude 1.222). From Finse the road takes you through the arctic mountain plateau to the highest point of the road which, is located 1 km east of Fagernut (Altitude 1.343).
Along the road you can see the old Guard Houses (Railway Heritage Sites) of the Bergenline Railroad. A stop at Fagernut Guard House is highly recommended. Apart from Norway´s best waffles, coffee and a warm fire place, Fagernut features an interesting exhibition about the life of the Railroad Guard´s life.