Telemark Canal Cruise
Three tours showcase the Telemark region and the historic Telemark canal cruises.
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7 days - Explore Southern Norway with boutique stays and fjords
Explore Norwegian fjords, mountains, villages and cities at your own pace. Drive from Oslo to the Telemark region, Norway's cradle of skiing.
Enjoy the trip along this canal from the deck on one of the historical canal boats M/S Henrik Ibsen & M/S Victoria - little has changed since it was done 150 years ago. Relax on-board as the historical landscape, steep mountains in the grand western fjords, narrow channels, open water and lakes pass you by. Continue to the Hardangerfjord and stay at the historic Ullensvang hotel. Explore the Norwegian fjords and mountains before arriving into Bergen.
This 7 day self drive exploration gets you to best of the Norwegian fjords and valleys, staying in boutique hotels with many meals included.
Car hire 7 days; Ford Focus (manual) or similar with free mileage and CDW
Day trip on the Telemark Canal on either MS Victoria or MS Henrik Ibsen, as well as the canal bus back to Dalen.
Accommodation in Oslo or Bergen, international flights, lunches and items of personal nature.
Pick up your car from central Oslo (or Gardermoen airport) in the morning, and drive to Rjukan (2h50m) in Telemark. Telemark is the heartland of modern day skiing in Norway and worldwide, where Sondre Nordheim pioneered in new ski techniques in the mid 1800’s.
At Rjukan you will stay at the magnificent Gaustablikk Hotel at the foot of Gaustatoppen (1883m). Rjukan is famous for the heavy water plant at Vemork held by the Germans during WWII, and which was sabotaged by the ‘Heros of Telemark’. The plant is now the Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum, and well worth a visit to gain some in-depth knowledge about the WWII events.
The morning is at your leisure in Rjukan, and we recommend either climbing Gaustatoppen, or taking the Gaustabanen - a unique cable car that goes inside the Gaustatoppen mountain. You can also venture to the other side of the valley and take the Krossobanen cable car up onto the Hardanger Mountain Plateau. Krossobanen is the first cable car to be built in Northern Europe.
In the afternoon continue your drive south to Dalen (1h30min) Stay at the historic Hotel Dalen built in a Swiss style in the late 19th century. The hotel is a landmark for Norwegian cultural heritage. Dinner is served in the hotel restaurant and is inspired by Telemark as a region with high quality products and long culinary traditions.
In the morning join either of the two historic canal boats MS Victoria or MS Henrik Ibsen on the famous Telemark Canal from Dalen to Ulefoss. Departing from Dalen you may always start your day with a delicious on-board breakfast. For guests having spent the night at the Dalen Hotel breakfast is included. You will pass 14 locks and arrive in Ulefoss in the early afternoon, from where the canal bus takes you back to Dalen. Overnight Dalen Hotel with half board.
Spend a free day in Dalen to explore the region by bike or on foot. There is plenty of beautiful nature and history in the area. You can also go canoeing, fishing or horse riding, or just relax at the hotel with a good book. Be sure to watch for beavers working hard in the lake close by. Consider adding a Sauna in this evening at the lakes edge Soria Maria Sauna.
Overnight Dalen Hotel with half board.
It's time to leave Telemark behind and head towards the famous fjords and Lofthus (3h20min). Part of your way will follow the Hardanger route, one of Norway's eighteen National Tourist Routes. Be prepared for a beautiful but slow drive with frequent photo stops, and take a refreshing break at the twin cascades of Låtefoss waterfall, where the spray from the plunging falls softly showers the road while it disappears under an old stone-vault bridge and onwards.
In Lofthus, you will stay at the historical Ullensvang Hotel, which dates back to 1846 and is owned and run by the same family to this day. The hotel is beautifully situated on the shores of the Hardangerfjord, with a magnificent view of the fjord, the mountains and the Folgefonna glacier. The hotel beautifully combines local traditions, history and modern comforts. Relax in the sauna with panorama views of the fjord and mountains, followed by a refreshing dip in the outdoors pool.
Overnight in Ullensvang Hotel with half board.
Spend a free day in Lofthus to explore the region. We recommend taking the hop-on hop-off Hardangerfjord Cruise (daily from mid-June to early August) on board a veteran boat to visit Aga, an authentic farm village dating back to 13th century and then continuing onwards to Utne and the Hardanger Folk Museum. For those who are fit and active, the starting point to the famous Trolltunga hike is only a short drive away from your hotel. The hike itself takes 8-10 hours and if you would like to do it with a local mountain guide, please ask us for more information. Alternatively you could visit one of the local fruit and cider farms or spend a relaxing day at the Ullensvang hotel.
At the hotel you have all the ingredients for a leisurely day out. The fjord garden is the place to be on a sunny day as situated directly by the water, you have beautiful views over the fjord from your sun chair. You could also explore the fjord with a rowing or paddle boat, available at the hotel in the summer months. To freshen up, a dip in the fjord or a swim in the Ullensvang Bath (minimum age 18) is recommended. Heated indoor and outdoor pools with a waterfall and Jacuzzi effects and panoramic sauna are perfect for relaxing after busy days on the road. For the whole family there is a brand new and Europe’s longest outdoor swimming channel (88 m) which ends up in an outdoor infinity pool. There is also indoor swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and Japanese foot massage pool which are open for the whole family. Entry to the swimming facilities is free of charge for the hotel guests.
Overnight Ullensvang Hotel with half board.
The stunning fjord-view drive continues today from Lofthus to Bergen, and here you can choose to either follow the main road via Voss (2h30min), or to continue along the tourist route (3h) and follow the road along the fjords and through the mountains to Bergen. Either way, allow some time for stops as both routes pass by stunning waterfalls and beautiful views.
All prices listed are per person, based on two people sharing a room. Prices are indicative due to the current uncertainty across Europe with increasing energy and volatile fuel costs.
For a greener option, please ask us about changing your vehicle to a 'green' car; either a diesel or a hybrid.
Please note that this trip can easily be shortened or lengthened. Call us for more options, as it is just such a lovely place in the world to explore.
Driving in Norway during the peak season (July - early August):
Europeans love driving in Norway and during the summer months, the more popular tourist roads becomes crowded with European vans. This can slow the roads down, as it can be difficult to pass these vans. Norwegian country roads are often quite narrow. Having said this, these roads are incredibly scenic and have lots of picnic & photo spots.
If you are going to be using ferries during your drive, depending on the size of the ferry, this might involve a wait to get on. The ferries are reliable and regular but you may need to arrive early to secure a spot in the line. On some of the ferries, we suggest considering catching a ferry outside of the peak times. Your accommodation hosts can help with suggestions for your following days travel with the most up to date local information.
Three tours showcase the Telemark region and the historic Telemark canal cruises.
Add a jazz festival, a world sporting championship or an extreme ski flying competition for extra sparkle on your holiday.
50 Degrees North wins 'Norway's Leading Tour Operator' at the World Travel Awards for the third year running. “We are very pleased with this award following a challenging years for the travel and tourism industry”, said Tietse Stelma, 50 Degrees North’s Norwegian founder and CEO.
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Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. The safety of our travellers, staff and operators is a major priority of 50 Degrees North. With an operational office in Norway, 50 Degrees North has access to an up-to-the-minute flow of information regarding the countries we work in. We are also in regular contact with the various operators we use. Their in-depth knowledge and understanding of their various areas is vital.
Norway has a few items that typically surprise travellers when visiting Norway for the first time. Alcohol and luxury items are heavily taxed and therefore prices are higher than you would expect. On the other hand, necessities such as bread and milk, are taxed low and therefore are great value.
We recommend that you bring all the alcohol you’re allowed to bring into the country when you arrive. There are many lovely parks and balconies where you can enjoy your duty free. However, be sure not to bring more than you’re allowed!
As of May 2014, the allowances according to Visit Norway are:
Minimum age: 18/ 20*
1 litre of beverages with more than 22% up to and including 60% alcohol per volume as well as 1½ litre with more than 2.5% up to and including 22% alcohol per volume or three litres with more than 2.5% up to and including 22% alcohol per volume
2 litres of beer with more than 2.5 % or other beverages with more than 2.5% up to and including 4.7% alcohol per volume.
This means that you may for example bring with you five litres of beer provided you do not have any other alcoholic beverages with you.
*For importing alcoholic beverages with more than 22% alcohol per volume the minimum age is 20.
It’s illegal to bring extra alcohol into Norway and can end up costing you. Another thing you should bring and not buy in Norway is razor blades. Good razor blades in Norway are expensive.
Written by Jayde Kincaid, who married a Norwegian, and was happily (albeit with some hesitation) introduced to a world of Norwegian every day food habits.
At 50 Degrees North, we want to encourage our travellers to try local Norwegian food & drink. This may seem difficult in Scandinavia in general without a large budget, and in particular Norway. Some of the more remote villages you might visit have limited restaurants or cafes, some of which can be pretty expensive. There is certainly no street food! One way to get about sampling local food is by self-catering. You will find plenty of friendly locals in the small town grocery stores and supermarkets who will be happy to help you picking out local ingredients. Just don’t be shy – ask! And, don’t rush – make your local small town shopping part of your holiday experience. Read the local notice boards, and enjoy an ice cream out the front when you have finished. It is what the locals do!
Note: Statoil cups - a good idea to save money as you drive around Norway: purcahse a Statoil (petrol station) metal cup and you get free refills of coffee, tea and hot chocolate at the Statoil stations.
Norway has an extensive range of grocery stores, and in most small villages you will find at least one, if not two or three grocery stores. However, they do have limited opening hours, and except for ‘Bunnpris’, they are all closed on Sundays. You will see the weekend hours shown in brackets on the store sign out front. If you are arriving in a larger town, we do suggest you stock up with some staples before you head out into the mountains or on a coastal drive.
A few tips:
• Plastic bags are NOK1-2 and you will always need to pack your own shopping.
• You can recycle your bottles and cans for a receipt that you can cash in. Recycling points are found in all stores.
• Alcohol sold in food stores (mainly beer and cider) is restricted by government regulation to certain hours. This varies slightly, but on weekdays alcohol sales stop at 8pm regardless and on Saturdays at 6pm. Outside these hours and on Sundays you can only buy alcohol in licensed restaurants or bars.
• Any alcohol over 4.7% can only be bought at special government controlled liquor store (Vinmonopolet). These are very rare in smaller remote towns and villages, so stock up before you leave the city.
Meatballs or “meatcakes’: these come in all shapes, sizes and quality. They are generally really tasty and a bit better than what you find at IKEA. Also pick up a packet of dried ready-made brown sauce that goes with them. Be on the look out for Lingonberry sauce/jam, or even fresh lingonberries that you can use to make a fresh sauce (little red circular berries). Don’t add too much sugar, they are served quite tart.
If you want to try to make this brown sauce yourself, buy some ‘brunost’ (brown cheese), the required creams and follow the recipe below.
Hotdogs: known as ‘pølse’ in Norwegian, hot dogs are abundant in Norway. Cheap and cheerful – pølse is THE fast food of Norway. They are sold at service stations, newsagents, corner stores and fast food outlets. Pølse come with a dazzling variety of toppings and bread. Some of the pølse highlights would be the bacon wrapped ones, sprinkled with dried onion, mustards and mayonnaise. You will also find them wrapped in waffles (mostly in and around Fredrikstad) or the Norwegian pancake, ‘lompe’.
Note: there are strict requirements by the Food Safety commission for traditional pølse to be of the highest quality and they have even set requirements for what types of ingredients are allowed.
Like Norwegian beer, you will find seasonal pølse – Christmas pølse (Julepølse) is obviously found only in the lead up to the celebrations.
If you are planning to eat Norwegian style, use boil pølse on the stove and add to meals with potatoes and stew.
Note; steer away from tinned cheap pølse and meatballs.
Fish cakes: these also come in lots of variation and are generally served with a white sauce and lots of parsley. The Norwegians also use a basic white sauce on broccoli with cheese on top. These fish cakes are often found in fish shops, fried or steamed, ready to eat. A great fast snack.
Reindeer: we strongly suggest you try reindeer meat when you are travelling in the far north. It generally comes frozen, so look for finely cut reindeer meat in the freezer section. It is a more expensive option, but absolutely delicious albeit quite gamey. Be sure to get mushrooms, a small amount of brown cheese and rømme (crème fraiche). Fry it all up in a pan - a bit like a beef stroganoff. Serve with boiled potatoes or rice.
Mushrooms: if you are travelling in the chanterelle harvest season (mid/late August), be sure to try them. They are the yellow mushroom found in autumn. Or better still, have a look around the pine forests and pick some. Be sure to image search them before you head out so you know what to pick. They are really delicious with the brown cheese sauce and reindeer.
Salmon, prawns & fish: always be on the look out for a chance to buy fresh fish. Yes, it is possible to smooth talk a fisherman at the harbour. Or look for the local fish-kiosk or fish-shop. Be on the look out for small signs pointing you in the direction of fresh fish sales – ‘reker’ (shrimps, not prawns) or ‘fersk fisk’ (fresh fish) are the words you need.
Norwegians are very proud of their shrimps – and of course completely justified. Their shrimps are small and tasty and harvested from the cool North Sea. Norwegians traditionally serve them with mayonnaise and lemon. Peel them and pop them on a fresh white slice of bread. Mayonnaise is layered on top with dill, pepper & salt.
Smoked Salmon: Norwegian smoked salmon is the best in the world hands down. Be sure to try all the different varieties you see – often, in larger supermarkets or delis, you can try before you buy.
Tubed ‘kaviar’ (caviar): this is a must try. It is cheap and perfect for the travellers pantry. This is what my husband craves like an Australian abroad would crave vegemite.
Norwegian pre-made dips and salads: the Norwegian supermarkets have a large range of premade salads and dips. They last quite a while and are good fillers for sandwiches. Our favourite are the cubed beetroot salad and the potato salads. They come in easy-to-carry and pack-up containers – perfect for picnics. Tubed mayonnaise is also handy for picnics.
‘Leverpostei’ (liver pate) in many variations can also be found in the supermarket. This pate is normally served on brown bread then topped with sliced red onions or sweet pickles. Protein rich and very tasty if you like pate – it is found on most Norwegian breakfast tables.
Yoghurt: now – this is an interesting one. Norwegian yoghurt comes in a variety of styles - some can be very runny, sour and low fat. There are varying names/codes for each sort. You might like to check with a local when you are buying yoghurt to be sure you are getting what you want. Some of the yoghurt comes as though it is milk, in normal milk cartons - sour runny yoghurt is NOT nice in your coffee.
Bread: the Norwegian supermarket bread generally comes un-cut. You can either cut it in the shop – ask for help the first time you do it. They have industrial bread cutting machines near the bakery section. The bread can be quite plain in the main supermarkets so be on the look out for boutique bakeries in the larger towns if you enjoy fancy bread. Also keep an eye out for the Norwegian flatbread, Lefse, which is similar to Mexican tortillas. Usually served with butter and sugar, sometimes cinnamon too. Occasionally made with potato.
Waffles: Norwegian waffle stalls are similar to the sausage sizzle or hot dog stand. It is the most common fundraising or community building food product. Don’t expect sickly sweet jams or whipped cream – you will find these fresh chewy waffles served with sour cream and home made tart berry jams. Never go past one!
Chocolate: we recommend that you try the ‘FREIA’ milk chocolate during your stay. It melts in your mouth.
Berries: if you travel in early autumn (mid/late August) this is berry season. Forest berries that is. Ask a local and head up into the hills or forest in search for berries. You may find; blueberries, lingonberries, rasberries and if you are up north or in the central mountains; the rare yellow cloudberries.
On a self-drive journey, always be on the look out for small farm shops or stands along the road. Things you cannot drive past:
Strawberries: if you are travelling in the strawberry season – you MUST try Norwegian strawberries. They are seriously amazing. Grown in the nutritious earth that has the chance to rejuvenate through a long winter.
_And if you go past a self-pick strawberry farm, put everything else on hold and enter! Norwegians wait all year for this event. _
New potatoes: be on the look out for new season potatoes – they are often sold in little stands beside the road. Often on an honesty basis; i.e. grab a bag and put the money in an allocated tin.
Basic Brown Cheese Recipe – can be used with meatballs, reindeer, with added mushrooms.
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3⁄4 cup light cream
• 1⁄2 cup chicken broth (optional - just use water if you cannot find this)
• 1 cup shredded gjetost or brown goats cheese
• 3⁄4 cup rømme (crème fraiche)
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh dill
Using the meat dish that has been browned off, remove as much oil from the pan as possible and blend in butter and flour. Remove from heat and blend in light cream. Add chicken broth, bring to boil, stirring and cooking until thickened. Mix in Gjetost cheese. Turn heat low.
Blend some of the sauce into the rømme (crème fraiche), then return all to sauce. Add chopped parsley or fresh dill.
Happy shopping and cooking!