Norway, perhaps most famous for being a less affordable travel destination is quite possibly one of the best places we’ve been. We visited in February 2017, but really want go back during the summer to experience the valley buzzing with wildlife. Norway has such a wide range of activities on offer, from world class cross country skiing and ice climbing during the winter and amazing kayaking in the fjords in summer.
We travelled by air from the UK into Oslo’s southern airport (TORP Sandeford) and caught the train into Oslo Central station. As the airport does not have a dedicated train station, there are regular free buses from the airport to the local train station located in Stokke. The train line follows the coast north to Oslo, offering some spectacular views during the day. The trains are well maintained and cleaned.
We Airbnb’d our nights in Oslo, a cheap alternative to many of the hotels. Before settling down for the night, we headed down to the waterfront and walked up the Opera House roof providing some good views across the harbour.
Knowing we were coming back to Oslo at the end of our trip, the next day we caught a bus out of Oslo to the small village of Rjukan. The attraction of nearly 200 waterfalls that drew Sam Eyde to the town in very early 1900s is the same reason that hundreds of people still visit this village. Now it is perhaps more common to go during winter, when the falls are frozen and provide a huge selection of roadside ice climbing routes. Rjukan is not only famous for its ice climbing, but also for its lack of sun. The valley sides are so steep and at such an orientation that for much of the year that direct sunlight is not experienced in the town. In 2013 the inhabitants decided to install sun mirrors to reflect sunlight down the valley onto the town square.
Being based in the Old School Hostel, a cheap but extremely friendly hostel frequently used by climbers and skiers, we spent a few days Skiing in Gaustablikk before attending an ice climbing course. In our free time we visited the two main heritage attractions in the valley, the Krossobanen cable car (Northern Europe’s first cable car) and Norsk-Industriabeidermuseum in Vemork (the first commercial produce of heavy water). There are public buses running along the valley but keep an eye out for the timetables. Locals will sometimes give lifts to hitch hikers if you miss the last bus!
Having spent almost a week in the Rjukan Valley, we headed back to Oslo and filled a couple of days exploring the city. On one day we took a walk around the city, visiting a number of landmarks before finding our to the waterfront and following some informative signs back to the centre of the city. On the other day, recommended by our Airbnb guests, we headed just north of the city to Frognerseteren (T-Bane) by metro. The views over Oslo from the top stop were incredible, with ski or toboggan options for the part of the journey back. There is also a huge ski jump, also offering great views of the city and coastline.
We then headed back via the same route to Oslo TORP airport and sadly returned home, knowing that we’d be coming back to explore Norway during summer.
Check our route here