Lillehammer: olympic feeling in the heart of Norway

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The small Nordic town of Lillehammer offers numerous adventures and attractions in both summer and winter: Located in the heart of Norway, it snows heavily here in winter, while in summer the mountains, rivers and Lake Mjøsa glow in lush green and blue. Lillehammer is the perfect place for an active holiday with the whole family.

What is Lillehammer known for?

The town of Lillehammer is located in the region of the same name in the Gudbrandsdalen valley in eastern Norway. It borders Lake Mjøsa, the largest lake in Norway. From Oslo, Lillehammer is about a two-hour drive, or around 200 kilometres. Lillehammer is primarily known as a Norwegian winter paradise and attracted worldwide attention when it hosted the XVII Winter Olympics in 1994 .

However, the Norwegian-American series “Lilyhammer”, which was created between 2012 and 2014 in a collaboration between Netflix and the Norwegian TV channel NRK, also made the city famous beyond Norway’s borders. Lillehammer is also a UNESCO City of Literature, a city that makes a major contribution to world literature, and has been certified as a sustainable travel destination.

The annual Christmas market in Lillehammer is also very popular.

Sights and activities in Lillehammer

In Lillehammer you can experience numerous adventures in nature – whether hiking, rafting, mountain biking or a canoe tour in summer or an elk safari and a horse-drawn sleigh ride in winter. The three national parks of Rondane, Jotunheimen and Langsua are also nearby.

Olympic venues

The venues of the 1994 Winter Olympics can still be found in Lillehammer today. These include the Lysgårdsbakken ski jump, which is located on Lillehammer’s largest mountain. Visitors can take the chairlift up and enjoy the view over the city and Norway’s largest lake, Lake Mjøsa.

Lysgårdsbakken facility ski jumping
The ski jumping hills of the Lysgårdsbakken facility

The Olympic bobsleigh and luge track in Hunderfossen, around 15 kilometres away, is the only one of its kind in Scandinavia. Competitions are still held at both locations, but they can also be used by visitors.

Afterwards, you can find out more about the history of the Olympics at the Olympia Museum. There are interactive stations that tell the story of the Olympic Games from ancient times to the present day. These are accompanied by original exhibits, such as sports equipment and medals.

Winter sports

But you can not just read about winter sport in Lillehammer: five of Norway’s most popular ski resorts (Hafjell, Skeikampen, Kvitfjell, Sjusjøen and Gålå) are only around an hour’s drive from Lillehammer. Here you can get active yourself and let off steam on skis and snowboard.

cross-country ski trails Lillehammer
The famous cross-country ski trails in Lillehammer

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are also very popular. The trails of the Birkebeineren Ski Stadium, which served as the arena for the Olympic cross-country skiing and biathlon disciplines, can also be used by visitors.

Amusement parks: Hunderfossen and Lilleputthammer

Lillehammer is particularly suitable for families with younger children, as both the Hunderfossen family theme park and the Lilleputthammer theme park are nearby. Hunderfossen Park is located 10 kilometres north of Lillehammer and is one of Norway’s biggest tourist attractions. Rafting, go-karting and the high ropes park are all about adventure and fun.

Lilleputthammer is the place to go for younger children aged 1 to 8. It is located around 15 kilometres from the city centre.

Museums and stave churches

stave church Ringebu
The stave church in Ringebu is a popular historic site close to Lillehammer.

Anyone interested in history should not miss the Maihaugen open-air museum. There are over 200 historic Norwegian buildings here. The highlight is Garmo Stave Church from the 12th century, which was rebuilt on this site.

Around 60 kilometres north of Lillehammer is the Ringebu Stave Church dating from 1220, which is located in a cemetery with an impressive mountain panorama and can be visited during the summer season. There is also an art museum in Lillehammer.

Travelling to Lillehammer

The most flexible way to get here is of course by car. You can travel via Denmark and Sweden or directly by ferry from Denmark to Norway.

However, there is also the option of flying. Oslo Gardermoen Airport is around 200 kilometres from Lillehammer. You can either hire a car here and drive on to Lillehammer or take the direct bus connection between Oslo Airport and Lillehammer.


Hotel in Lillehammer

In Lillehammer you are sure to find a hotel to suit your needs – whether centrally located by the railway station or close to the cross-country skiing area or with a wellness area and sauna.

Holiday homes in Lillehammer

There are also numerous cosy holiday homes around Lillehammer, right in the Norwegian countryside. In the surrounding tourist region of Oppland, there is more accomodation.

Campsites in Lillehammer

If you are travelling as a camper, there are several campsites near Lillehammer. Lillehammer Camping, for example, is located directly on Lake Mjøsa, about a 25-minute walk from the city centre.

Lillehammer: weather

The fact that Lillehammer is a popular holiday destination in both summer and winter is not least due to the weather. While winter temperatures are slightly below freezing and it often snows, summer temperatures are mild at between 15 and 20 degrees. However, it also rains on some days in summer.

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