The varied terrain of Telemark consists of coastal paths, gentle valleys, forests, mountains and plateaus.
The highest peak is the Gaustatoppen Mountain at 1,883 metres above sea level. On a clear day, you can see one sixth of Norway from this summit – no wonder that it is one of the most photographed views in Norway. The hike to the top is hilly but family-friendly and takes around two and a half hours each way. There is also a funicular railway, Gaustabanen, that goes to the top inside the mountain.
The most popular hikes in Telemark are Gaustatoppen mountain, Lårdalstigen, Falkeriset, Solstien, Mount Venelifjell and Mount Hægefjell in Vrådal, Rui in Dalen, Lifjell mountain plateau, Gygrestolen in Bø and the coastal trail in Southern Telemark. The Seljord and Morgedal areas also offer great trails.
On a clear day, you can see one sixth of Norway from the top of Gaustatoppen, which is Southern Norway’s highest mountain at 1,883 metres above sea level. The tour takes about two hours.
An alternative is to take the cable car Gaustabanen, which goes inside the mountain to a viewing platform at the top. Accommodation is arranged at Gaustablikk Høyfjellshotell, beautifully situated 960 metres above sea level with a view over Gaustatoppen.
Price from NOK 4,050, including tickets to Gaustabanen and accommodation at Gaustablikk Høyfjellshotell incl. breakfast (two adults and two children).
During the Second World War, the Norwegian resistance made headlines after blowing up the heavy water plant at Vemork. Combine hiking and history by following in the footsteps of the celebrated saboteurs.
From the mountain lodge Rjukan Fjellstue, the tour goes through varied forest and mountain terrain, with impressive views of Rjukan. On route, you can read about the historical events on information boards. You can also book a guided tour.
Price from NOK 5,650, including entrance and film at Norwegian Industrial Worker's Museum, guidebook and two nights in either an apartment or at a hotel (two adults and two children).
A hiking area of some 200 km2, magnificent views in all directions, and more than 20 summits over 1,000 metres – these are a few reasons the Lifjell mountain plateau has earned the epithet “a miniature of Jotunheimen”.
There is a great variety of trails, both for experienced hikers and families with children. Many visitors also take the opportunity to fish for trout in one of numerous mountain lakes. The high season runs from May/June to the end of October.
Accommodation from NOK 1,400 per day in a simple cabin with bathroom, fully equipped kitchen and TV.
Explore the old tracks used by the coastal dwellers along the Bamble coastal path.
The route takes you past Gamle Stathelle and Langesund with the characteristic, old wooden buildings, through easy forest terrain, over outcrops, through deciduous forest, past lovely beaches and to an old fort, among other things. The terrain is family-friendly, although some sections are steep.
Try a pleasant 2,5 hour hike along a well-marked trail to Venelifjellet (aptly named “the beautiful mountain”). On route you experience a change of vegetation zones from boreal coniferous forest to Arctic vegetation.
The path includes some light climbing which is definitely worth the effort – on a clear day you can see all the way to the ocean by the island of Kragerø, the mountains of Hardangervidda and the Gaustatoppen mountain.
Follow the mountain ridge between Lårdal and Dalen, up to an altitude of 800 metres above the Telemark Canal.
This demanding but rewarding hiking package is an experience of a lifetime that attracts people from near and far. You will return from Lårdal on one of the old liners on the Telemark Canal and the hike is combined with an overnight stay in the historic Dalen Hotel.
Setesdal is a sparsely populated area with vast areas for recreation, from gentle lowlands in the south to high mountain terrain in the north. There are marked hiking paths throughout the area, many of which are ideal for family day excursions.
Free hiking brochures and maps can be picked up at the tourist offices and in hotels and other accommodation facilities.
The region includes Setesdalheiene, the second largest protected area in Norway, where you can spot wild reindeer.
Thanks to a large network of hiking cabins run by the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), it is possible to wander in the wilderness for days on end. Two recommended bases for hiking holidays are Hovden and Valle/Rysstad. Just make sure you bring suitable equipment.
This two-hour excursion goes through magnificent scenery with high mountains on both sides. The walk follows a marked path through the Veiåjuvet canyon and along the Veiåne river. Hikers have to cross the river several times, but it is not difficult unless there has been a long period of heavy rain. The hike is recommended for families.
At the Gloppefoss waterfall itself you can expect a solid flow of water through the whole summer season, even in periods with little rain.
Go for a wander in Rysstad Nature Park (Rysstad Turpark). The walk takes around two hours and is a little steep at times, but you will enjoy a wonderful view of Rysstad from the top.
The trail is signposted and will be suitable for most people: there are plenty of benches along the way if you need a rest, and if you feel warm afterwards you can take a dip in the river below the waterfall.
Explore the family friendly mountains surrounding Hovden. Four of the summits are particularly well suited for trips with children: Otrosåsen (858 m.a.s.l.), Hartevassnuten (1,068 m.a.s.l.), Hovdenuten (1,119 m.a.s.l.) and Nos 1,209 m.a.s.l.).
On each summit you will find a guest book, so make sure you write a greeting. Afterwards you can request a diploma from the tourist office. The four routes are marked blue and signposted from the centre of Hovden.
Refer to the map below to locate the hike you've set your eyes on and start planning your next adventure.
Southern Norway is easily reached by car. The highway between Kristiansand and Bergen, RV9, runs through all of Setesdal, while E134 is the most important road in Telemark.
The Norwegian State Railway (NSB) stops at several stations in Telemark. Check out NSB’s webpage for prices and timetables.
Telemark and Setesdal are covered by express buses provided by NOR-WAY Bussekspress, with connections from Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, and other Norwegian towns.
From one of Norway’s most charming coastal towns to tall mountains and highlands, the county of Telemark is as diverse as it is beautiful. Go on a trip on the Telemark Canal and get a taste of what the county has to offer.
The Setesdal valley is centrally located in Southern Norway and easily accessible from continental Europe. The highway RV9 passes through many villages and the landscape varies from flat countryside to wild and beautiful mountains. Around every bend, in the 210-kilometre long valley, new vistas and activities await you. In the winter you can choose between two skiing destinations; Brokke and Hovden.
Go hiking in Norway and discover why the locals can’t get enough of nature. Our most scenic landscapes are definitely best enjoyed on foot.
Before you embark on a trekking adventure in the Norwegian wilderness, take a moment to ponder the practicalities. Be prepared, stay safe and pack your bag like a hiking pro.