Lillehammer is a favorite destination for Norwegians and for those with a passion for outdoor sports. Popular with tourists is the exhilarating luge ride down the Olympic grade toboggan track. Other exciting activities are visiting the ski jumping arena or bobsledding and cross-country skiing in the Olympic Park.
For those with time between outdoor activities, the exhibits at the Maihaugen includes the Norwegian Olympic Museum that features the extensive collection of Olympic memorabilia, especially the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer. The museum also highlights the history of the people that provides a fascinating insight into the Norwegian traditions and culture.
Overlooking the museum is a beautiful Stave Church. This iconic church has played a communal role in the rural countryside since medieval times.
Lillehammer is just over two hours north of Oslo. On the way to Llllehammer is Norway’s biggest lake Mjøsa, which is even longer than the Oslo fjord. Along its shores lie rolling hills with forests and farmlands. Lillehammer is situated on a river with mountain surroundings that distinguishes this town as a top destination for both sport and culture.
The snow-covered mountains provide plenty of options for both alpine and cross-country skiing. Hafjell Alpine Center (https://g.co/kgs/ouZSBN) is a popular destination of Norwegians who love outdoor experiences. Skiers can have an exhilarating day riding the gondola and lift for great views from the summit. Skiers can find further challenge on the Olympic slopes at Kvitfjell (www.kvitfjell.no) for ski-in and out access from the main hotel to the slopes.
For a more aesthetic experience, visiting Sjusjøen is not to be missed as it Is considered the best cross-country ski location in Norway. As outdoor enthusiasts interested in a Nordic experience, we choose to cross-country ski at the family-owned Rustad Hotel (www.rustadhotel.no) to experience some of the best snow conditions around Lake Sjusjøen. The scenery along the lake is superb and the scenery captivating. At 830 meters above sea level, we even spotted a white peace dove perched high in the trees.
First Hand Experiences
We discovered an excellent choice in our accommodations at Scandic Victoria Hotel (https://g.co/kgs/HHKe1C) in the town center. The hotel proved to be at a high, consistent standard as the staff was very attentive to our needs. The hotel provided a great breakfast offering a wide assortment of Norwegian breakfast favorites.
This recently refurbished hotel features rooms with a modern decor that are nicely furnished and comfortable. The personable and high level of hotel service made our stay pleasant and relaxing.
For entertainment, we found Hunderfossen Adventure Park (https://hunderfossen.no), just on the opposite side of Hafjell, which turned out to be a major highlight on our trip. The live theatre and animated displays of Norwegian fairy tale characters delighted both children and adults alike. Tucked inside a giant looming troll, we wandered passed colorful exhibits to view the fascinating creatures of Norwegian fairy tales. These tales come alive and reveal the deep cultural roots of Norway through oral storytelling. A special attraction is the ice cathedral that dazzled us as we walked through the beautifully sculpted ice creation. For the grand finale, fireworks filled the sky, marking the end of an enchanting evening in the adventure park.
Apart from enjoying sports and other activities, Lillehammer is known for its cafe life. A popular spot is Nikkers that includes a restaurant, sports bar and nightclub, just off the bustling main street. The restaurant offers not only great service, but also a fun atmosphere for enjoying special Norwegian entrees like freshly-cooked cod and moose burger. The casual ambiance attracts a lively crowd who comes for the wonderful food and camaraderie. Strolling along the main street, we also discovered a number of high-end restaurants, cafes and bars that specialize in a variety of cuisines, as well as an array of Norwegian dishes.