You will find kid-friendly activities and attractions all over Norway. Here are our top tips in six regions that have made an extra effort to make the youngest globetrotters smile.
Published: November 2019
Hallingdal, situated between Oslo and Bergen in Eastern Norway, has become a top location for family holidays. The Bergen Line between the two cities runs through the valley and stops at all the destinations mentioned below.
Every day, the staff at Bjørneparken (“the bear park”) in Flå arrange magical encounters between humans and animals. Apart from bears, you can get close to elk, lynx and even crocodiles! There is also a wide range of activities and playgrounds, a zipline, and a brand-new water park for children. For more wildlife, swing by the wildlife and nature park at Langedrag, where you can get acquainted with wolves and lynx, feed reindeer, and say hello to the king of the forest – the mighty moose.
Further down in the valley, stop at Gardnos meteorite park. Situated just outside Nesbyen, a geologist will show you a real meteorite crater which is also used as an unusual playground. If the weather doesn’t hold, the pleasant water temperature at Tropicana waterpark at Pers Hotell in Gol is a safe bet.
In Ål, the activity centre at Hallingdal feriepark (also a five-star campsite) is an Eldorado for adventurous kids. The centre is equipped with a climbing park, a farm, a giant indoor play centre, and a very special minigolf course, carefully decorated with fun objects from local traditions and folklore. The campsite also houses the Hallingdal bike park, built to suit all ages and levels.
In Geilo, try the family-friendly Prestholtstien hike that leads up to Hallingskarvet. Thanks to the stone steps built by Sherpas from Nepal, the 6.5-kilometre-long walk is now accessible to most people. At the top, you can recharge with a well-deserved waffle with jam and whipped cream. The Geilo summer park at Vestlia is another top tip with a zipline, a playground, and a waterpark. And a myriad of fab bike trails makes Geilo ideal for mountain biking.
The area around Lillehammer, less than two hours by train from Oslo Airport, is a blast for families with an adventurous streak. The most obvious choice is the Hunderfossen family park, which has several fairy-tale themed sections.
A given hit for the smallest family members is the Lilleputthammer miniature town in Hafjell, where most activities have been designed for children between one and eight years. Inside the small buildings, kids can dress up, watch films, listen to stories, and take part in arts and crafts activities. The park also includes a climbing tower, a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel. And perhaps most importantly, there are plenty of vehicles that the little ones can drive safely all by themselves. As for the toddlers, they usually enjoy playing with the animals at the nearby Barnas Gård (the children’s farm).
Hafjell bike park offers organised fun on two wheels. It is the biggest bike park in Norway with a lift system for cyclists during the summer months. At the top, there are 14 trails to choose from, with a difficulty level from green to black. On a rainy day, head over to Jorekstad aqua park seven kilometres outside of Lillehammer. Here you’ll find 1,350 square metres of pools, slides, and a Jacuzzi, as well as a climbing wall for the kids.
If you have made it to Lillehammer, be sure to pay a visit to Maihaugen. This is an outdoor museum that offers a variety of family-friendly activities during the school holidays, including a walking theatre show.
A little further north in Gudbrandsdalen, families can try rafting, river boarding and canyoning in the Sjoa river. Or check out the Olympic bob run (available for children from ten years). Surrounded by soft, rolling hills, Gudbrandsdalen is also perfect for family-friendly hiking and biking.
There are many kid-friendly campsites in the valley. A popular choice is the campsite Mageli by the Gudbrandsdalslågen river, which has both a swimming pool and a beach. If you plan to go in the summer, a great tip is to rent an apartment in one of the ski resorts, as they tend to lower their rates when the skiing season is over.
If you’re after something unique, check out Elgtårnet in Espedalen – a 12-metre tall moose observation tower where you can stay overnight. The campsite Arctic Dome in Åstedalen offers a glamping experience with a difference, and at Paulsrud farm in Vestre Gausdal, guests are invited to take part in the everyday running of the farm.
The most popular holiday destination for Norwegian families is Southern Norway, and for good reasons. The region has a fabulous archipelago, lovely beaches, and tons of attractions, especially for children. Kristiansand zoo and amusement park is a biggie. With different themed sections and a large waterpark, it is much more than just a normal zoo.
In Kristiansand, which you can easily get to by train, ferry, or plane, the whole family can enjoy the beautiful, centrally located and completely free Bystranda beach, lined with palm trees. If you’re unlucky with the weather, remember that you have six different bathing areas with five different water temperatures at the waterpark Aquarama, conveniently situated just by the beach.
Xland is the name of Norway’s first indoor activity park. An adrenaline seeker’s dream, it has everything from climbing walls and ziplines to challenging obstacle courses. Ten minutes from the city centre you’ll also find the region’s biggest climbing park Høyt & Lavt Kristiansand. Another exciting excursion is to go up to the fortress and canon museum Møvik fort, beautifully situated on a hill with magnificent views in all directions. In the summer, you can go on a ride on the small ammunition railway.
On a sunny day, two hot tips are the popular beach Hamresanden, just outside the city, and island hopping in the archipelago on MS Bragdøya. Or you can visit Norway’s southernmost point Lindesnes, where you can stay overnight in the lighthouse. On route to Lindesnes, it is a great idea to stop at the Furulunden and Sjøsanden recreation area in Mandal, which has one of the finest sandy beaches in the country.
Chill out with an ice cream at Fiskebrygga by the water before exploring the idyllic island of Odderøya. Previously a naval base, Odderøya is now appreciated as a lively meeting point with cultural events such as live music and performances, cosy cafes and lovely beaches.
Kristiansand has several family-friendly campsites including Kristiansand Feriesenter, Skottevik Feriesenter and Åros Feriesenter.
Make your stay extra special by spending the night in a pirate apartment in Kristiansand zoo and amusement park’s Abra Havn. Other accommodation options are the SafariCamp, where you can stay in a safari tent for two to six people, and Roligheden Camping, where you can bring your own caravan or tent, rent a hammock to sleep in, or opt for a full glamping experience in tents with two bedrooms for up to five people.
The county of Telemark in Eastern Norway is a perfect match for lively families with children. The train between Oslo and Stavanger stops at several stations in the county, and the closest airport is Torp Sandefjord.
The biggest attraction is Bø Sommarland, Scandinavia’s largest waterpark with everything from fast-paced water slides to thrilling roller coasters. Bø Sommarland’s neighbour is the Høyt & Lavt climbing park, where you can take your family adventure to new heights in 70 different climbing challenges in the forest.
In the Skien leisure park, you can combine water-based fun with activities like frisbee golf and outdoor climbing. At the DuVerden Maritime Museum and Science Center, children can learn about maritime history through interactive activities. In the ship simulator, they can even find out what it’s like to be the captain of a ship. The Telemark Museum also offers daily activities for children at all its branches.
The region has endless opportunities for outdoor adventures, too. At the Hulfjell farm in Drangedal, you can get to know 20 different animals and enjoy a nine-meter high climbing wall, a water trampoline with a slide, a bouncy castle, and a swimming pool.
During the summer months, an exciting suggestion is to take the kids along the Telemark Canal with MS Telemarken – a pirate ship with a treasure hunt and competitions. Another way to explore the canal is by bike or in a canoe. You can also pop into the West Telemark museum, which has a miniature version of the canal on display.
A myriad of rivers, lakes and canals make the area perfect for paddling. For an unusual water-based adventure, explore the natural pools and water slides in the giant caves at Nissedal.
Most people can make it to the top of Mount Gaustatoppen, but anyone who’s not up for it can always take the funicular railway Gaustabanen to the top instead. Be sure to enjoy a waffle while you admire the widest view in Southern Norway. More unforgettable viewpoints are waiting in the UNESCO town of Rjukan. Take the Krossobanen cable car up to the top station Gvepseborg, which has a glorious view over Rjukan, Gaustatoppen and Vemork. Here you will also find the Rjukan climbing park with several historical climbing trails. From Gvepseborg you can take the whole family for a pleasant one-hour walk along the Solstien path. Those who prefer biking can go for a ride on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau to Kalhovd tourist lodge.
If the sun doesn’t come out, Rjukanbadet is a safe option with indoor and outdoor pools.
The Oslo region offers countless inspiring things to do with the little ones. One of the main highlights is TusenFryd, Norway’s largest amusement park. Expect everything from hair-raising rollercoasters with VR technology to river rafts that take you through tunnels and waterfalls.
Most art museums in Oslo arrange activities for families. The International children’s art museum shows the world through children’s eyes. The museum contains paintings, sculptures, pottery and more made by children from more than 180 countries. Also worth mentioning is the Museum of science and technology, with more than 100 interactive installations and around 25 exhibitions for curious minds of all ages. Another great place to combine playing and learning is the Inspiria science centre in Sarpsborg, an hour’s drive from Oslo. Kids, moms, dads, grandparents – everyone is encouraged to explore and experiment with more than 70 interactive exhibitions.
The Oslo reptile park offers hours of fun in the form of more than 100 large and small creatures including snakes, lizards, frogs, and turtles. Visit on a Tuesday to watch the reptiles being fed.
On warm summer days, you need a good place to cool down. A few options are Sørenga sjøbad, Huk, Tjuvholmen, and Frognerbadet. Unless you accept the challenge to find your very own bathing spot? If you go island hopping to Hovedøya, Gressholmen and Langøyene, you will probably find that it’s not so hard! It is also fun to go sculpture spotting in Ekebergparken and Vigelandsparken, and the latter boasts a large playground as well. More cool activities are available in the activity hall Skur 13 at Tjuvholmen: skateboarding, BMX, street basket and frisbee golf, for example.
At Oslo summer park at Tryvann, you can swing through the trees in a climbing park with 200 challenges spread out over 12 different trails of varying difficulty levels. The park has several ziplines, the longest of which is 230 meters long.
Long sandy beaches, magnificent nature and last but not least, many activities and museums designed especially for children makes Stavanger, one of the largest cities in Fjord Norway, a place worth checking out. The first stop for many families is Kongeparken – with over 60 attractions and experiences, you can’t go wrong! Who’s brave enough to try Stupet, the world’s tallest drop tower that will pull you down 80 metres at 125 kilometres per hour?
A few museums in the city centre are worth mentioning. The Norwegian petroleum museum is fully prepared for young, inquisitive minds, and the Stavanger maritime museum has an interactive exhibition for children. Next to the two museums, you’ll find Geoparken, a playground and park that experiments with different ways to recycle materials, objects and ideas from the oil industry. And what was life like during the Viking Age? You’ll find the answer at the Archaeological museum.
The interactive science centre Vitenfabrikken in Sandnes, next to Stavanger, is one of the most popular family attractions in the region. After a visit, you will know things like how strong a spider web is, how fast you react, and how warm your brain is. Another given hit is the Egersund chocolate factory, where children can make their own chocolate.
With kilometre upon kilometre of white sandy beaches, the Stavanger region is a paradise for everyone who likes water activities. The shallow Sola beach and the Orre beach are particularly suitable for the youngest in the family.
Or how about horseback riding in the beautiful countryside around the farm Tryggvi islandshestgård or paddling on the Refsnesvatnet lake? Canoes and kayaks are available to rent at Preikestolen fjellstue, which also offers SUP boards to explore the Lysefjord.