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Hiking at Gaustatoppen.
Photo: Håkon Nordby
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Varied family hiking in Southern Norway

In Southern Norway, both Telemark and Setesdal have a varied landscape with hiking options for the whole family. Drive from coastal walks to summit hikes in only a couple of hours. See sun-soaked rocks by the open sea and charming mountain villages in one and the same trip.

Hiking in Telemark

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.

Check out the Top 5 hiking trails in Telemark.

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.

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Hiking offers in Telemark

Hike to the top of Gaustatoppen

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 4,450, including tickets to Gaustabanen and accommodation at Gaustablikk Høyfjellshotell incl. breakfast (two adults and two children).

The Saboteur's Trail

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 6,350, 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).

Hiking on the Lifjell mountain plateau

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.

Follow the Bamble coastal path

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.

Hike to the great views at Venelifjellet

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.

Rewarding hike to Lårdalstigen

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.

Hiking trip at Hovden
Photo: Anders Martinsen

Hiking in Setesdal

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.

Hiking offers in Setesdal

Daytrip to Gloppefoss waterfall in Valle

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.

4-hour hike to the village of Homme

Get your walking boots on for an 8,5-kilometre long hike over the Homfjellet mountain (950 metres above sea level).

The foot of the mountain is a 10-minute drive from central Valle, and the trail starts easy on a fairly broad gravel road. As you enter the forest, it gradually becomes steeper and more rugged. As a red (challenging) graded trail, there is no need to feel bad about catching your breath at the many viewpoints along the way. After a well-deserved rest at the top, choose the blue trail down to finish in the village of Homme.

Reach the summits of Hovden

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.

Find your way

Refer to the map below to locate the hike you've set your eyes on and start planning your next adventure.

Hiking offers in Telemark
The varied terrain of Telemark consists of coastal paths, gentle valleys, forests, mountains and plateaus.
Gaustatoppen towers majestically above the town of Rjukan at an altitude of 1,883 metres. The top is easy to reach and offers at great view of about… Read more
Gaustatoppen - the highest mountain in Southern Norway
The Saboteurs' trail is the world-famous route the Norwegian Resistance used during the Second World War. Read more
The Saboteur's trail
The Lifjell mountain plateau in the Mid-Telemark region is a vast hiking area of about 200 km2, with more than 20 summits over 1000 meters above sea… Read more
Lifjell mountain plateau
The Bamble coastal path starts at the library in Stathelle and finishes at Fossing in Krageø, covering a stretch of approx, 62 km. Read more
The Coastal Path - Bamble
This is a great, family-friendly summit trip! Mount Venelifjellet – literally "the beautiful mountain" – carries its name well and is a… Read more
Venelifjell Hiking Area in Vrådal
Lådalstigen is a fantastic hike between Lårdal and Dalen. A large part of the walk follows the mountain ridge 800 metres above the Telemark Canal. Read more
Hiking offers in Setesdal
Setesdal is a sparsely populated area with vast areas for recreation, from gentle lowlands in the south to high mountain terrain in the north.
Gloppefoss is one of the highest waterfalls in the Setesdal Valley, with a great flow of water through the whole summer season. Read more
Daytrip to Gloppefoss waterfall in Valle
A taste of the high mountains - also accessible for children. With central Hovden as a starting point, the summit is reached within one hour. Read more
Hartevassnuten - round trip 4 or 7 km
The hike over the Homfjellet mountain to the village Homme takes you through magnificent scenery with breathtaking views. Read more
Homfjellet - round trip 8,5 km
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    Statens Kartverk, Geovekst og kommuner - Geodata AS

    Getting here and around

    • Setesdal/Telemark boat

      By boat

      There are good ferry links from the continent to Kristiansand and Larvik (Fjord Line and Color Line) and to Langesund (Fjord Line).

    • Setesdal/Telemark car

      By car

      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.

    • Setesdal/Telemark train

      By train

      The Norwegian State Railway (NSB) stops at several stations in Telemark. Check out NSB’s webpage for prices and timetables.

    • Setesdal/Telemark bus

      By bus

      Telemark and Setesdal are covered by express buses provided by NOR-WAY Bussekspress, with connections from Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, and other Norwegian towns.

    • Setesdal/Telemark plane

      By plane

      Southern Norway has an international airport in Kristiansand, with regular flights to most European capitals.

      Another airport with international flight connections is Torp Sandefjord Airport.

    Safety in the mountains

    Return to hike another day

    Norway is an incredible place to explore, with untamed mythical landscapes, mountains, valleys, and fjords. Before you enter the outdoors, get familiar with the nine simple rules of the Norwegian mountain code to help you stay safe.

    1. Plan your trip and inform others about the route you have selected.
    2. Adapt the planned routes according to ability and conditions.
    3. Pay attention to the weather and the avalanche warnings.
    4. Be prepared for bad weather and frost, even on short trips.
    5. Bring the necessary equipment so you can help yourself and others.
    6. Choose safe routes. Recognize avalanche terrain and unsafe ice.
    7. Use a map and a compass. Always know where you are.
    8. Don’t be ashamed to turn around.
    9. Conserve your energy and seek shelter if necessary.

    Read the mountain code with supplementary comments.

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