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.
For a unique nature experience in pristine surroundings, cycle in the beautiful high mountain landscape of Norway's largest national park Hardangervidda. The beginning of the cycling tour is special thanks to the Krossobanen cable car that whisks you up from Rjukan to the starting point at 886 metres.
The route is signposted and well maintained. There are plenty of good fishing lakes along the roads if you want to go trout fishing. After 30 kilometres, you arrive at the cosy Kalhovd Tourist Cabin where you can have dinner and a well-deserved rest.
Price from NOK 1,595 for adults and NOK 1,095 for children, including lunch, tickets to Krossobanen, three-course dinner, accommodation and breakfast.
The Canal Route follows roads with little traffic through surprisingly dramatic scenery. Surrounded by canals, lakes and mountains, this is a beautiful if challenging ride with a few hills to conquer on the way.
The packages combine cycling and boating. You can split the trip into several stages and customize it to suit your level and preferences. Most people spend two days from Ulefoss to Dalen, while others prefer to take it a bit slower. The route can be cycled both ways and the length of the trips vary from 20 to 113 kilometres.
The route is part of Norway’s national cycle route number 2, and there are several hotels and campsites along the way. Just be aware that the selection of accommodation is limited in some parts, especially from Vrådal to Dalen.
Price from NOK 1,290 per person including one night’s accommodation, boat tour and bicycle transport.
Enjoy a bike ride in magnificent surroundings along the coast from Langesund to Kragerø. You follow the well-marked national cycle route number 1. This weekend trip with lots of fresh air, good food and great experiences is suitable for all.
You will start with delicious food and an overnight stay at the recently refurbished Quality Hotel & Resort Skjærgården on Friday afternoon. The bike route the next day is 45 kilometres. On arrival at Kragerø Resort you may enjoy the rest of the afternoon at the hotel, take a refreshing swim and have a lovely dinner.
Combine your cycling tour on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau with a wonderful boat trip on lake Mårvatn. First you take the cable car Krossobanen up to the starting point, at 886 metres above sea level. Here you cycle 30 kilometres to Kalhovd Tourist cabin, where you take the road to the left for another eight kilometres.
At Synken, the boat MB Mårfjord takes you across the lake. Make sure that you check the boat timetable in advance, as there is only one departure in the evening. The boat trip takes around 40 minutes, and the captain can show you where to store your bikes safely.
You will stay the night at Mårbu Tourist cabin, and return to Synken and your bikes the next day.
Price: NOK 1,795 (adults) and NOK 1150 (children 4-12 years) including lunch, tickets to Krossobanen, three course dinner, accommodation and breakfast.
See all the interesting offers from Telemark on a map.
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.