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Round trip: valleys of Eastern Norway

A holiday in the valleys of Eastern Norway never gets boring or flat. Kickstart your planning of eventful days with the help of our expert's hints.

He left the world-famous fjords of his childhood for the mysterious inlands of Eastern Norway. The Bergen-born Ove Gjesdal, now head of tourism at Lillehammer and the Gudbrandsdalen valley, says: “I was quickly enthused by the unseen activities here. There is something interesting going on all year. I’ve gotten into cycling, skiing and other sports, and I have become addicted to cultural festivals and other events that the region is known for.”

Get more valley for your money

Grab the steering wheel and see it for yourself: many of the valleys of Eastern Norway seem wonderfully endless when you travel through them and start to make spontaneous or planned stops by the many sights and attractions. The constantly changing landscape shifts without notice between soft hills and dramatic shapes.

As a traveller you will have the advantage of both a rather predictable climate and great variations in seasons. Find out how you can visit many of these valleys within your timeframe.

Day 1: Oslo–Lillehammer

Estimated time by car: 2 hours 15 minutes
Distance: 183 kilometres

The Olympic city of Lillehammer is located at the very southern end of the Gudbrandsdalen valley. The traditional wooden houses in main street of Storgata has many niche shops, restaurants and other cultural experiences.

Pay a visit to Lillehammer Art Museum and continue to the open air folk museum of Maihaugen. Finish at the ski jump facilities of Lysgårdsbakken with the bonus of a view over Lillehammer. Get a good nights sleep in Lillehammer.

Day 2: Lillehammer–Hafjell–Hunderfossen

By car Lillehammer–Hafjell: 20 minutes
Distance: 16 kilometres

By car Hafjell–Hunderfossen: 7 minutes
Distance: 4 kilometres

From Lillehammer, travel northwards to Hafjell, one of Norway’s major ski destinations. In the summertime, the area is considered to be amongst Norway’s most well-developed cycling parks.

On the other side of the valley, the big thing is bobsleighs on wheels. There you will also find the fairy tale theme-based Hunderfossen Adventure Park with family-friendly accommodation alternatives.

Day 3: Hunderfossen–Ringebu–Muen

By car Hunderfossen–Ringebu: 40 minutes
Distance: 43 kilometres

By car Ringebu–Muen: 30 minutes
Distance: 30 kilometres

Continue northwards through the Gudbrandsdalen valley. Make a stop at the stave church of Ringebu before you leave the main route E6 and head to Venabygdsfjellet. Explore the mountain hiking or by horse.

The mountain of Muen is a good spot for a panoramic view of Rondane National Park. Spend the night at a hotel or camping of your choice at Ringebu or nearby.

Day 4: Ringebu–Gålå–Elgtårnet

By car Ringebu–Gålå: 30 minutes
Distance: 30 kilometres

By car Gålå–Elgtårnet: 50 minutes
Distance: 40 kilometres

Cross the U-shaped Gudbrandsdalen valley, starting at Gålå. This destination is known for its seasonal outdoor play Peer Gynt, and is also a good starting point for driving the mountainous Peer Gynt Road via Fefor all the way down to Espedalen valley.

The tower-shaped lodge Elgtårnet is a good place to spot moose from above. Further south, the famous natural potholes at Helvete are amongst the biggest in Northern Europe.

Day 5: Elgtårnet/Espedalen–Fagernes

Estimated time by car: 2 hours 40 minutes
Distance: 165 kilometres

A visit to Valdres is a natural next step. The Besseggen ridge has been listed by National Geographic as one the world’s best hiking tours, and Bukkelægret is equally a 2,000 metres high hike. The mountain village of Beitostølen is located by the foot of the Jotunheimen mountain range.

The predictable climate of Valdres and its surroundings comes with a snow guarantee during the winter season, which makes it a good spot for skiing. Taste the area’s famous semi-fermented trout, celebrated during the Rakfisk festival in November.

You can find suitable accommodation options in many places, such as in the city of Fagernes.

Day 6: Fagernes–Nesbyen or Elverum

By car Fagernes–Nesbyen: 1 hour 40 minutes
Distance: 90 kilometres

By car Fagernes–Elverum: 2 hours 40 minutes
Distance: 175 kilometres

Halfway between Bergen and Oslo, Hallingdal offers many activities. The valley has well-developed areas for hiking, biking and skiing. The small cities of Gol, Geilo, Ål, Nesbyen, and Hemsedal are all excellent points of departure, and offer varied accommodation. For close contact with bears and other creatures typical for this part of Norway, visit Langedrag Nature Park and the Bear park in Flå.

Alternative route: to Elverum in the Østerdalen valley
The Østerdalen valley is shaped by Norway’s longest river Glomma. South of the city of Glåmdalen the valley landscape changes name to the Glåmdal valley. The valleys offers numerous activities by and on the river and in the mountains. Spend the night in Elverum.

Day 7: Nesbyen–Nore in Numedal

Estimated time by car: 1 hour
Distance: 65 kilometres

Numedal is the southernmost of Eastern Norway’s lush, big valleys. Here, you can visit four stave churches that are solid reminders of the rich past. The traditions of Numedal as a trade route during the Middle Ages are celebrated every summer at Middelalderuka (the Medieval week).

Hardangervidda national park is great for hiking and skiing, and the whole valley of Numedal has specialised in wooden cabins as well as other comfortable accommodation alternatives.

Day 8: Nore–Rjukan

Estimated time by car: 1 hour 50 minutes
Distance: 110 kilometres

From Numedal, the road to the small city of Rjukan in Telemark bear marks of the silent charm of the Norwegian countryside. Rjukan is located deep down in an unusually narrow valley, so narrow that a sun mirror has been placed atop of a mountain to reflect the winter sun down to the city.

A short distance away, you’ll find Hardangervidda National Park with great skiing and hiking options according to season. At the altitude of 1,883 metres, on the Gaustatoppen mountain, you can see one sixth of Norway on a clear day.

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