Vøringfossen is the 83rd highest waterfall in Norway on the basis of total fall. It lies at the top of Måbødalen in the municipality of Eidfjord, in Hordaland, not far from Highway 7, which connects Oslo with Bergen. It has a total drop of 182 meters, and a major drop of 163 meters. It is perhaps the most famous in the country and a major tourist attraction on the way down from Hardangervidda to Hardangerfjord.
The name Vøringfossen (Old Norse Vyrðingr) is derived from the verb vyrða (English: esteem, revere). The last element fossen, the finite form of foss (waterfall), is a later addition.
The waterfall was hardly known by anyone other than locals until 1821. In that year professor Christopher Hansteen, who was on his way to Hardangervidda to make astronomical observations, estimated the height of the waterfall to be about 280 meters by throwing stones down from the edge and measuring the time they took to fall with his pocket watch. In 1893 it was measured with a string, and the real height was revealed to be 163 meters.
In 1880 Ola Garen decided to build a hotel at top of the waterfall. The only way up there was a path with 1,500 stairs up Måbøbjerget together with a bridle path that had been built in 1872 to carry English tourists to the waterfall. In 1891 a new road with tunnels was built along Eidfjordvandet, and in the same year the Fossli Hotel was finished, designed in Art Nouveau style by architect Frederik Konow Lund. All materials for the construction had to be carried on horseback from Eidfjord up to the top of the hill. About 1900 large cruise ships began to visit Eidfjord, and from there passengers were transported by horse and wagon up the valley.
Bjoreia, the small river that flows into Vøringfossen has a hydroelectric dam in the Sysendalen valley above the falls. The water volume in the river is regulated in connection with power development, but there are requirements for minimum water flow of 12 m³/s above its natural rate in the summer, not enough to benefit the tourist trade.
There are several warning signs in regard to the dangers of falling to one's death. Other measures for preventing deaths, are planned for implementation in the spring of 2015.