The diversity of Telemark’s landscape is a great foundation for an exciting cycling holiday with endless options: peddle along the Telemark Canal, go along the coast, enjoy island hopping or venture out to Hardangervidda, Europe’s largest mountain plateau.
Cyclists are spoilt for choice in the county of Telemark in Southern Norway. An obvious highlight is to explore the 105 kilometre long Telemark Canal, which was blasted out of the rocks by hand by 500 men in the 19th century. The canal, which was described as “the eighth wonder of the world” in Europe when it was completed in 1892, remains almost as it was over a hundred years ago. Today, you can enjoy the ever changing scenery along the canal by bike, or combine cycling with a boat trip.
One of the most scenic cycle routes in the area is a three day trip that follows the canal on small roads from Ulefoss to Dalen, along the National Cycle Route 2. Telemark also offers great mountain biking and downhill biking.
A completely different experience is to take your bike to the Hardangervidda National Park. A cable car in the town of Rjukan takes you to the top, from where you can follow a well-marked trail through mountain terrain from Gvepseborg to the DNT cabin at Kalhovd. Make a roundtrip back to Rjukan, or arrange for a rental car to be available here.
For a less strenuous, more family-oriented option, enjoy the narrow roads between the coastal towns of Langesund and Kragerø, with spectacular viewpoints and beaches. You can even go island hopping with your bike. Skien, the birthplace of Henrik Ibsen, offers various cycling routes in nature or urban surroundings.
The season for cycling in Telemark stretches from May to September.
The E18 runs through the southern part of Telemark when you drive between Oslo and Kristiansand or Stavanger, whilst the E134 goes through the middle/upper parts of the county to Hardanger and Haugesund.
Telemark is only a short distance from the gateways of Oslo, Kristiansand, Larvik, Sandefjord and Langesund, which have daily ferry connections to different European destinations.
The nearest airport with international flight connections is Torp Sandefjord Airport.
When cycling on the roads in Norway, the same traffic regulations and road signs apply to you as to cars and other vehicles: Keep to the right, give way to those coming from your right, and don’t drink and bike.
You may cycle on the pavement, but adapt your speed. You may not cycle on motorways and dual carriageways. Always wear a helmet when cycling. A high visibility vest is a good idea, especially on busy roads. Only children under the age of 10 may be carried as passengers.
In darkness and poor visibility make sure your bike is equipped with a white or yellow light in the front, and a red light in the back. You also need a red reflector in the rear and white or yellow reflectors on the pedals.
Make sure your bike has two brakes that work independently of each other and a bicycle bell.
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