The hike to Mount Gaustatoppen is an absolute must for anyone in search of a hiking experience with a sensational view. From the top, almost half of the southern part of Norway is visible on a clear day. Even if you don’t want to hike, you can still enjoy the view by taking the most unique cable car in all of Northern Europe.
If the hike doesn’t sound tempting, fear not. A secret dating back to the cold war awaits you inside the mountain. The hidden cable car Gaustabanen will take you comfortably to the top.
Gaustabanen is a big part of the reason why approximately 100,000 people visit Gaustatoppen each season. The cable car opened in 2010 and, despite the height of the mountain, it takes no more than 15 minutes to the top.
The Gaustatoppen mountain is located around two and a half hours from Oslo by car. The road Fv 651 between Tuddal and Rjukan takes you straight to the car park by Gaustabanen, which is clearly marked. If, however, you plan on hiking to the top, Stavsro is a popular starting point. You can also start at Svineroi or Selstali, depending on how much of a challenge you want.
“What’s so great about Gaustatoppen is its accessibility due to the cable car. At the same time, there are so many different trails leading to the top. From families with children to experienced mountaineers, all hikers are bound to find a route they’ll enjoy”, says Henriette Hack from The Norwegian Trekking Association Telemark.
The easiest route to Gaustatoppen begins at the car park at Stavsro. If you’re hiking this route at regular speed, it should take you about two and a half hours to the top and two hours back down. The terrain is quite rocky towards the end, so wear proper hiking boots (as always in the mountains).
The last part to the top takes you across an open mountain ridge. As you shouldn’t cross it in bad weather, a lot of people choose to end their hike at the viewpoint just a bit further up past the Gaustatoppen cabin. The trails are all marked.
During the summer and until the first week of October, Gaustatoppen cabin also serves simple food and offers accommodation to those who’d like to spend the night there. As mentioned, it can only house eleven people at a time, so it’s a good idea to book in advance. You can also put up a tent and sleep under the stars if you wish, but note that the ground is completely covered with rocks.
But don’t worry. There are several comfortable and easily accessible places to stay in the area surrounding Gaustatoppen, including Rjukan, Hjartdal and Gaustablikk. Many of them can even boast about their view of the majestic mountain top.
The good thing about this area is that nothing is too far away. You can take the Krossobanen cable car up to Hardangervidda. Built in 1928, the cable car was the first of its kind in Northern Europe, according to Visit Rjukan. It was built for the locals so that they could easily get to the top of the mountain and enjoy the scarce sunlight during the winter months. These days, the Krossobanen is considered a tourist attraction, and it’s open every day all year round.
If you prefer to take it easy, you can sit at Gypseborg Panoramic Café. Enjoy a lovely dinner, a cup of coffee, or admire the view of the surrounding tops, including the stunning Gaustatoppen.
Bringing your bike along on the Krossobanen is also a great option. You’ll find exciting biking tracks in pretty much any direction from the top of Hardangervidda, and they’re well suited for all. And no worries if you don’t have a bike. You can rent one in Rjukan before you board the cable car.
Still in need of an extra rush of adrenaline? Then the bungee jump from the bridge across the Vemork gorge has your name written all over it!
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