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A man inside the Grønligrotta cave in Helgeland in Northern Norway, one of many exciting caves and caverns
The Grønligrotta cave in Helgeland.
Photo: Connie Sperstad
A man inside the Grønligrotta cave in Helgeland in Northern Norway, one of many exciting caves and caverns
The Grønligrotta cave in Helgeland.
Photo: Connie Sperstad

Exciting caves and caverns

A hole through a mountain, underground labyrinths, and a mysterious cave by the sea! Explore Norway’s most impressive caves – with or without a guide.

Some are like mountain cathedrals. Others are long and narrow – so narrow that you have to wriggle your way on your stomach in some cases. All of them are pretty awesome. But where can you find these natural masterpieces?

A man who definitely knows the answer is Dr.Philos. Stein-Erik Lauritzen, professor of Speleology – or cave research.

“Most of the caves in Norway are karst caves that occur in soluble rocks. You’ll often find these caves in large areas of limestone and marble, especially in Northern Norway. But we also have overhangs, gorge caves, and sea caves all along the coast”, Lauritzen explains.

Ancient treasures

Many of the karst caves are older than the ice ages, which means that they are between two and three million years old. Some caves in Porsgrunn in Telemark were created hundreds of millions of years ago!

“Caves contain sediments, dripstones, animal and plant remains, unique microbes, and traces of early humans, such as the Neanderthals. They are considered open “burial chambers” and are very vulnerable, which is why they are placed on the Norwegian red list for ecosystems and habitat types”, Lauritzen says.

Although nature is both magnificent and powerful, it can also be fragile. If you want to explore a cave, you must tread lightly and with consideration and care. Be aware some caves should only be visited with a guide. Never leave marks in the rock, and don’t dig or damage the caves in any other way.

“Take pictures, nothing else”, Lauritzen concludes.

Many caves are full of exciting history. Over time, several have been used for animal husbandry or as cemeteries or shelters, for instance during World War II.

In other caves, such as Kollhellaren in Lofoten and Solsemshula at Leka in Trøndelag, you get to see ancient cave paintings – if you go with a guide.

Here are Lauritzen’s tips for thrilling cave experiences.

  1. Grønligrotta

    Where: Rana in Helgeland, Northern Norway

    “This cave has lighting, stairs, and cast footpaths, and you can visit in sandals if you want. There is a lot to see, and there is guiding all summer.”

    Inside the cave, you can study beautiful marble formations and small streams. There are also some hidden passages here that don’t have lighting, so bring a flashlight if you want to take a closer look. The temperature in the cave is four to eight degrees.

    Since you’re already here: Rana is located in Helgeland, and from here you can drive Kystriksveien – one of the most scenic roads in the world – northwards to Bodø or south towards Namdalen in Trøndelag.

  2. Setergrotta

    Where: Rana in Helgeland, Northern Norway​

    “This is a real cave experience. Rent the equipment you need (helmet and suit) and let a guide take you on a varied tour through narrow corridors and large halls. Be prepared for some physical challenges, typical of what cave explorers must be able to cope with.”

    As you explore the marble passages in Setergrotta, you get to both climb between boulders and see an underground river.

    Since you’re already here: On Helgeland in the southernmost part of Northern Norway, great experiences await on four, two or no wheels. Travel along Kystriksveien, try island hopping by bike or go kayaking between the beautiful islands.

  3. The hole through Torghatten

    Where: Brønnøy in Helgeland, Northern Norway

    “The hole through Mount Torghatten is a sea cave. It was formed by sea ice and waves when the sea was about 120 metres higher than today. The last time this happened was about 10,000 years ago. The hole is unique because the surf has worked its way all through the mountain, which is unusual for sea caves. The cave has easy access, and you can explore it on your own.

    Since you’re already here: Torghatten is located in Trollfjell Geopark, where you can walk in a beautiful coastal landscape. It is also close to the city Brønnøysund, a great starting point for island hopping along the Helgeland coast, or trips to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Vega or the red island of Leka.

  4. Kirkhelleren

    Where: Træna in Helgeland, Northern Norway

    “A typical sea cave and one of many on the island Sanna at Træna. It lies 60–70 metres above sea level but was formed when the sea was higher. The waves hit the mountain, and the sea ice burst loose rock from a deep fracture zone.”

    The cave is only 45 metres deep but has a huge portal that is 20 metres wide and about 30 metres high. Like in so many other sea caves, people lived here in prehistoric times, both during the Stone Age and later. Not that long ago, a human tooth was found in the sediments on the floor.

    Because of its cathedral-like acoustics, Kirkhelleren is a perfect concert venue – especially during the yearly music festival Trænafestivalen.

    Since you’re already here: The islands of Træna pops out of the sea 61 kilometres off the Helgeland coast and offers everything from mountain hikes to charming cafes. Helgeland Museum Træna exhibits archaeological finds from Kirkhelleren.

  5. Mikaelshulen

    Where: Skien in Telemark, Eastern Norway​

    “Mikaelshulen, or Mikael’s cave, is a rarer cave type. The granite here has been transformed into soft clay that has been both washed out and excavated by humans. It was used as a church in the Middle Ages and is a good example of the cathedral feeling you get in some caves.”

    Since you’re already here: In Telemark you should visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rjukan and take a boat trip on the Telemark Canal, which has been called “the world’s eighth wonder”. You can also enjoy the summer atmosphere in Kragerø or a mountain hike to Gaustatoppen.

  6. Trollkirka

    Where: Molde in Northwest, Fjord Norway

    “Trollkirka, or the Trolls’ church, is a karst cave, where water has dissolved the limestone. The path up to the cave is fairly steep, but it is well worth it. You arrive at a portal at the mouth of an underground river, and inside you see a spectacular waterfall shaft. Because the limestone here is a bit acidic, the water has formed it into sculptures.”

    As with many cave openings where water flows freely, loose stones can fall from the roof – so enter with care.

    Since you’re already here: From Molde in Northwest, you can drive northwards on the famous Atlantic Road to the city of Kristiansund, or head towards Innerdalen, one of the country’s most beautiful hiking valleys. You can also visit the mountaineering capital Åndalsnes and drive up Trollstigen – one of the Norwegian Scenic Routes – towards the Geirangerfjord.

  7. The Brufjell caves

    Where: Flekkefjord, Southern Norway

    “Like Kirkehelleren at Træna, the Brufjell caves are sea caves – only these are teardrop-shaped and widest at the floor level. The surface in caves like these is polished and looks a lot like potholes. It is interesting to see how the caves have developed furthest in, where the waves have worked at the highest intensity – do they disappear into narrow cracks, or are they rounded?”

    Since you’re already here: In Flekkefjord you can see cool street art, stroll through the old town Hollenderbyen or try rail biking. If you enjoy this taste of Southern Norway, you can drive eastwards to Farsund and Lista and Lyngdal. Or head to Lindesnes, where you can visit Norway’s southernmost point and eat at the world largest underwater restaurant. Kristiansand is the largest city in the region.

  8. Ice caves

    Where: Svalbard, Northern Norway​

    “Ice caves are formed by water currents inside glaciers and have a beautiful blue colour. Some have narrow passages that lead to large rooms, while others hide old plant remains that have been trapped in the ice for a thousand years.”

    Guided ice cave trip often include glacier hiking, hiking or dog sledging. Some companies also offer ice cave climbing.

    Since you’re already here: Svalbard is the most remote part of Norway. Here you can join activities such as northern lights hunting, walrus safaris, and dog sledging. Svalbard is also home to a few thousand polar bears and the global seed vault.

    P.S: You can also see the inside of some of the glaciers on the mainland, for instance at the Nigardsbreen glacier in Jostedalen and the Klimapark 2469 in Jotunheimen.

  9. Bonus – closed mines

    Several old mines all over the country are open for visitors, from the silver mines at Kongsberg and copper mines at Røros to the marble mines Bergtatt outside of Molde. At Blaafarveværket near Drammen, you can walk on a cool glass bridge inside a cobalt mine – a great day trip for art lovers in the Oslo region.

    Some of the mines are wheelchair accessible.

There are many other must-see nature attractions in Norway. Stay in green hotels along the way and visit some of our more sustainable destinations.

Must-see nature attractions

The Norwegian nature is world-famous for its beauty. Here are some of the highlights:

Northern lights

Midnight sun

Fjords

Glaciers

Waterfalls

Explore caves all over the country

Find caves and caverns, ice caves, and mines on the map.

Caves and caverns
As the only cave in Scandinavia with lighting inside, over the past century Grønligrotta has become one of Scandinavia’s most visited limestone caves.… Read more
Guided cave tour in Grønligrotta
Pay a visit to pure nature in the Setergrotta cave. One of the largest and most exciting caves in Norway – shaped by nature through more than… Read more
Guided cave tour in Setergrotta - an exciting adventure (copy)
It's only a 20 minute walk up to coastal Norway's most famous landmark. The 160 m long, 35 m high and 15 m wide hole through the Torghatten mountain… Read more
Torghatten mountain walk
Mikaelshulen, or St. Michaelchurch, is a mountain cave in the steep mountain wall on the east side of Norsjø. Mikaelshulen is located in the middle of… Read more
Mikael's cave
Explore the mystical marble caves at Bergtatt! The caves are a result of mining operations since 1938. In other parts of the mountain, the mining… Read more
Visit the marble mines of Bergtatt
The Magic White Caves of Gudvangen One of the most popular things to do in Gudvangen is a tour through the Magical White Caves, which leads you… Read more
The Magic White Caves
Just outside the city of Bodø you will find the largest number of caves in Norway. Read more
Caves
Bjørneremshelleren lies 200 m obliquely up from Bjørnerem, by RV 668 road. The first people to settle in Romsdal probably lived in these… Read more
The Bjørnerem caves
The Trollkirka, Troll church, is no ordinary church as many may think, but an exciting marble and limestone cave in the mountains with underground… Read more
Hike the Trollkirka Caves (484 m.a.s.l.)
The horizontal potholes at Brufjell were created during the Ice Age some 20.000 years ago when the sea level was higher. The potholes lie horizontally… Read more
Hiking to the potholes at the Brufjell caves
The large cave is located on the southern side of Bremsneshatten mountain. Many finds from the almost 10,000-year-old Fosna culture have been made… Read more
The Bremsnes cave
Franskhelleren (the French grotto) is a grotto located about 4-500 m from the ferry landing at Dryna. French POWs fleeing from the Germans lived here… Read more
The French Cave
The cave paintings in the Solsemcave was the firstto be discovered in North Europe. Join in on a guided tour(1-1,5 t.). Read more
Guiding in Solsemhula (Solsemcave)
The caracteristic mountain Dollsteinen is situated at the most westerly point of Sandsøya, its steep sides facing the sea. On the south side,… Read more
Dollsteinhola cave
Hestnesfjellet cave is a tourist attraction and probably the most famous natural cave on Hitra. The cave is 10 m deep. Excavations in 1909 revealed… Read more
Hestnesfjellet cave
Illegal listening station for radio broadcasts fron London during World War II. Follow the signe to Høylandsbygd. Continue in the direction to… Read more
"Radio-cave"
A large rock cave. There is a marked path from Finnset to the cave and to the remains of a German battery from World War II. Large and deep mountain… Read more
Jutulholet Rock cave
Tjovhola (the thief’s cave) – Bygland, 385 m.a.s.l. The trail starts from highway 9; 500 metres south of Neset Camping. Adequate… Read more
Tjovhola (the thief’s cave) - return trip 1 km.
In a few thousand or one million years acidic water desolves marble which are washed away together with the porous media, while the hard… Read more
Aktiv i Lom | Cavewalking in Dumdalen
Skjonghelleren is situated on Valderøy in Giske municipality, and is an exciting cave 57 metres up in the mountain side. The cave has got a 100… Read more
Skjonghelleren
Hamsundhelleren cave is situated in Haram municipality, and here remains of weapons and tools from the Stone Age have been discovered. The cave was… Read more
Hamnsundhelleren
Join a tour into the dark and unknown. In the area around Flatanger we have exciting caves that can be explored. The most well-known is probably… Read more
Caving with Flatanger Adventure
Join us in an exciting trip through limestone caves! Mokk Farm is a traditional mountain farm, situated in scenic surroundings just below the… Read more
Caving at Mokk Farm
From Bodø in Northern Norway you find caves for both beginners and if you are looking for a more thrilling experience. Nordland is the area in… Read more
Caving Adventure in Northern Norway
Caving in labyrinthical, marble caves in the Dumma valley. Read more
Caving in Dumdalen
The Northwest region has several exciting caves, including limestone caves! The most known caves you can visit on your own are Trollkirka by… Read more
Caving in the Romsdal area
A challenging and unique adventure, suitable for everyone with a desire to explore - unless you suffer from claustrophobia. Read more
Caving | Go Rafting Sjoa
Ice caves
Dogsledding to an icecave. A unique adventure! Travel with your own dogsled to the magnificent icecave,which can only be reached by dogsled. We enter… Read more
Dogsledding to ice cave - Green Dog Svalbard
Join us on a beautiful trip into an ice cave. A rare opportunity to explorer one of the worlds frozen wonderlands. Be a glaciologist for some hours… Read more
Icecavetrip with scootertransport - Arctic Adventures
Go deeper and explore the ice cave where everyone else turns around! We'll take you down to the ice cave's melt water canals with ice axes and ropes… Read more
Ice Cave Challenge: Glacier hike and climbing in an ice cave - Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions
Our glaciers hold a special secret during the cold months of winter. With a guide, uncover the magical blue world under the Nigardsbreen glacier.… Read more
Blue-ice caves
50 meters into the ice. 7000 years back in time. Insights for a lifetime. Guided tours all summer. Read more
Climate park 2469 - Norway´s coolest classroom
According to your ambitions, weather- and snow conditions we choose an ice cave to visit. Together with our 45 eager huskies we will travel though the… Read more
The ultimate Svalbard experience - combine dog sledding with a tour in an ice cave - Arctic Husky Travellers
Under the glaciers at Svalbard you find a frozen world: A world filled with ice that have been shaped during summertime by melting ice and snow… Read more
Ice Cave: Hike to explore the ice cave - Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions
Mines
Folldal mines is an old mining community. It was built around the copper mine from 1748, and comprises 70 buildings as well as mine galleries, slag… Read more
Folldal Mines
The remains of the copper mine are 8-9 km east of Yset in Kvikne. The road is only open in summer time. The first ore was found here in 1629. As… Read more
Kvikne Copper Mine
At Røstvangen you will find the remains of the mining community which existed for 17 years from 1904 until 1921 and resulted in the biggest bankruptcy… Read more
Røstvangen mines
oin in an exiting emerald hunt, where yot get to keep any emeralds you find. Read more
Byrud gård, Emeraldmines
Towards the end of the nineteenth century the Lykling gold mines were at the centre of a gold rush that is unrivalled in Norwegian history. Hundreds… Read more
The Gold Mines at Lykling
Blåfjell Mines were operated during the period of 1863 to 1876. The ore from the mine was shipped from Rekefjord. Railroad tracks were built between… Read more
Blåfjell Mines
Exciting copper mine in a small community built upp due to mining. Read more
Åmdals Verk Mines
Have you ever been in a coalmine before? Join us today and dig deep in the history of Longyearbyen, the miners, all the coal dust and their life in… Read more
Coal Mine 3
When you have driven down the gulley on the main road (Rv 30) from Tynset to Tylldalen, just where the road crosses the bridge over the small river… Read more
Grøtådalen Mines in Tylldalen
Iveland is known for its mines and quarries with quartz, feldspar and rare minerals. Read more
Ivelandgruvene mines
The Knaben Gruvemuseum "mining museum" displays history of the mine and its involvement in the First and Second World Wars. Visit the old mine with a… Read more
Knaben Mining Museum & Mine Tour
There was an active molybdenum mine at Gursli from 1915 to 1919. Molybdenum is a metallic element whose most important use is to strengthen and harden… Read more
Gursli mines
Join us for an hour's walk through 300 years of mining history. The guided tour takes you through the Nyberget mine dating from the 17th century and… Read more
Røros Museum Olav’s Mine
The Glaser mine is the first mining project of Fossum iron works, and the earliest dated iron ore mine in Norway, completed in 1543. Read more
The Glaser mine, SKIEN
Remenants of the old mining operation from the 1800s in the old Malså mines are still visible today. Malså mines was the… Read more
Malså Mines in Verdal
Participate in a guided and adventurous trip to the copper mines from the 1700s at Mokk Farm During the tour, the hosts will convey the history… Read more
Guided trip to copper mines at Mokk Farm
One hour from Oslo lies a museum measuring eight kilometres in length, which combines art, culture and outdoor activities Read more
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