Hear the jingle of bells when the goats come running, meet a dairymaid barista, and experience old traditions at summer farms in the Norwegian mountains. Their cafés offer tasty treats like newly churned butter, cheese, porridge made with sour cream, and goat milk caramels.
Norwegian summer farms
There are around 700 operating summer mountain farms in Norway. They normally stay open from the beginning of June to the end of August or the beginning of September. Many of these farms have a small shop and offer accommodation and activities.
More information about Norwegian summer mountain farms and farm stays can be found on the websites of HANEN, Norsk Gardsost (Norwegian farm cheese) and Norsk seterkultur (Norwegian summer farming culture).
Happiness is to cuddle cute baby goats, enjoy the fresh mountain air, and eat traditional food, all in surroundings straight out of a fairy tale.
For centuries, the summer pastures in the mountains were a vital part of Norwegian agriculture. At most, you could find more than 100,000 mountain farms around the country.
“The mountain summer pastures made it possible for farmers to take advantage of the entire rough grazing land. It was common to have more than one mountain farm”, says Bernt Bucher-Johannessen. He is the manager at HANEN, an organisation promoting rural tourism in Norway.
Throughout the summer, dairymaids managed the mountain pastures. They milked the cows and goats, made cheese, churned butter, and looked after the animals. The milk was distributed in the area so that others also could make products like cheese, butter, sour cream, and “prim”, a soft cheese spread.
Today, around 700 mountain farms in Norway offer authentic and fun farm experiences for children and adults alike.
“When you visit a summer mountain farm, you can get close to animals and see where butter and cheese come from, and enjoy traditional farm food, like ‘rømmegrøt’ (sour cream porridge), flatbread and cured meats”, Bucher-Johannessen explains.
Some places you can also help milk and feed the animals, learn how to make cheese or join in on fun activities like horseback riding and “melkespannkasting”, a competition where you see who can throw a milk churn the furthest. Many mountain farms also offer accommodation and have a café and a small shop.
“A farm visit is perfect for hikers who want some tasty food after a long day in the mountain, as well as for grandparents who want to spend quality time with their grandchildren”, says Bucher-Johannessen.
Here he recommends some of the most scenic mountain farms in Norway.
Where: Norddal in Sunnmøre, Fjord Norway
The beautiful Herdalssetra mountain farm has been in use for more than 300 consecutive years. It consists of 35 farmhouses, both big and small, and is home to 400 animals. They produce white and brown cheese, as well as caramels made with goat’s milk. During summer, the café serves traditional food like sour cream porridge and cured meat.
Nearby experiences: Herdalssetra lies by the Hereggja mountain (1557 m.a.s.l). You can also embark on a two-hour hike to the Kallskaret nature reserve, known for its unique geology. Spend a night at the hotel Petrines Gjestgiveri in the picturesque fjord village of Norddal, and try their famous goat burger. Find more things to do in Sunnmøre and the Geirangerfjord area.
Where: Lom in Jotunheimen, Eastern Norway
At Brimi Sæter in the Jotunheimen mountains, exiting farm experiences await the whole family. See how they produce their award-winning cheese, pet the cute animals, and try the divine food in the cosy café. You can stock up on the goodies too, as they sell a variety of products. The farm offers accommodation in farmhouses and lavvos (tents) and sleeping quarters in the attic (which is cosier than it sounds).
Nearby experiences: Brimi sæter is an excellent base if you want to hike the Besseggen ridge, Mount Galdhøpiggen or Glittertind. The mountain farm is located a short drive from the village Lom, where you can visit the Norwegian Mountain Center, the Lom stave church and last, but not least, the famous bakery Bakeriet i Lom! Find more things to do in Jotunheimen.
Where: Sunndal in the Northwest, Fjord Norway
Every summer since 1740, the Opdøl family has brought their animals to Renndølsetra in the Innerdalen valley. Like previous generations, they still make sour cream, yoghurt, and butter from cows’ milk. The idyllic and traditional mountain farm has six guest rooms, which can accommodate 26 people in total. In the café, you can indulge in fresh waffles or try the traditional food made from the farm’s own products, as well as fish and meat from the local area.
Nearby experiences: Renndølsetra is located in Innerdalen, which is known as one of Norway’s most beautiful valleys. Admire the famous mountain Blåfjell from afar or hike to the top. Find more things to do in the Northwest.
Where: Tinn in Telemark, Eastern Norway
Håvardsrud Seterliv is a traditional mountain pasture in the Skirvedalen valley. It offers farm stays, activities, and food. Help move the animals to their new grazing area, try horseback riding, feed the animals or milk the cows. Or perhaps you want to know the secret to churning butter? The shop sells eco-friendly products from the farm and the local area.
Nearby experiences: Håvardsrud Seterliv is located 45 minutes from Rjukan by car. Here you can hike the marked trails, take the Krossobanen cable car, and learn about the sabotage missions that took place here dure the Second World War. Find more things to do in Telemark.
Where: Hol in Hallingdal, Eastern Norway
The mountain farm Fagerdalen støl is located in Hallingdal and has been in the same family for more than 300 years. It is fully operational every summer, and the products they source and make here are served or sold in the farm café. Try traditional food like sour cream porridge and cheese before you visit the cute animals.
Nearby experiences: Fagerdalen støl lies between Bergsjø and Hoved, and it is well suited as a base for bike rides in the area. It is also the perfect place to start if you want to hike two of Hallingdal’s most scenic peaks, Hallingskarvet and Reinsskarvet. Find more things to do in Hallingdal.
Where: Valdres, Eastern Norway
In scenic surroundings by the Olevatn lake in Valdres, just 15 minutes northeast of Beitostølen and 40 minutes north of Fagernes, you’ll find the Olestølen mountain farm. Here, the goats’ milk is refined in the “micro cheese factory” and turned into the most delicious cheese – white and brown, and from feta to chevre. The brown cheese is boiled in an iron-cast pot and stirred by hand. The farm is also home to animals like horses, pigs, ducks and cats, and the shop sells local handicrafts.
Nearby experiences: The popular hiking and skiing destination Beitostølen is only a short drive from Olestølen. In summer, you can try dog sledging (on wheels), paddle, or go packrafting. Find more things to do in Valdres.
Where: Vågå in Gudbrandsdalen, Eastern Norway
Kalven seter is located by the Lemonsjøen lake, not too far from the Jotunheimen mountains. The farm has eight houses from the 1800s and 1900s – and what’s probably Norway’s most unique coffee bar. In the old sitting room, the dairymaid serves everything from espresso with milk from the farm to smoothies and warm waffles.
Out in the farmyard, you can throw horseshoes or milk churns and try archery or horseback riding. The farm also hosts concerts and exhibitions.
Nearby experiences: Kalven seter is excellent as a base for adventures in the Jotunheimen mountains, both on foot and by bike. In Vågå town centre you can walk in Munch’s footsteps and visit the old church with a history dating back to the 1100s. Find more things to do in the Gudbrandsdalen valley.
Where: Tinn in Telemark, Eastern Norway
The mountain farm Selstali Seter lies by the foot of Mount Gaustatoppen. Here, cows, calves, and lambs walk about and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The cow’s milk is used to produce everything from butter and sour cream to farm cheeses.
Selstali serves food throughout the day during summer and has two lumber cabins for rent. And even the youngest in the family can help with the milking and feeding of the cows.
Nearby experiences: Selstali Seter is a perfect place to visit if you’re embarking on a trip to the top of Mount Gaustatoppen, considered by many, including Lonely Planet, to be Norway’s most beautiful peak. On a clear day, you can see one-sixth of the mainland from the top. You can also paddle in one of the lakes in the area. Find more things to do in Telemark.
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