When I said farewell to Alicia and Bryce in Mongolia I knew I’d be seeing them soon somewhere. And sure enough, five months later they turned up on my grandmother’s doorstep in Norway!
My grandmother lives in Bø, Telemark, which though boasting Norway’s biggest water park might not be the most exciting place for foreign visitors. Luckily, she also has a cabin in one of the single most exciting places in Norway (in my opinion): Hardangervidda. Well, actually her cabin is on the outer edge of Hardangervidda, near Vierli in Rauland.
My aunt Hege sweetly offered to drive us all up to the cabin and took a casual detour through Gaustatoppen, one of Norway’s most beautiful mountaintops. Like, no big deal.
I was too distracted to take photos on our drive up, so this one of Gaustatoppen comes via Visit Rauland
All I could think about on our way up Gaustatoppen was how positively insane my Bø relatives are. I mean, how could they possibly live so close to such a beautiful mountain and not go there everyday? If I lived in Bø I’d spend all my time driving up and down Gaustatoppen, for sure. It’s a wonder Norwegians ever manage to get any work done when they live in such a distractingly beautiful country.
(Update: now that I live in Trondheim I’m definitely having a hard time looking for work when all I want to do is explore Norway.)
One of my favorite things about hiking in Norway is that the tree line is so low here, so it’s really easy to climb above it, which makes for the most absurdly beautifully views. Plus, the ground above the tree line is usually covered in berry bushes and soft moss, which is a double win for anyone who likes to snack and is also prone to falling over.
I’ve written about my grandmother’s cabin before, but seriously, who ever gets tired of log cabins? I’ve requested that Dan build us one high up in the mountains one day, so hopefully he’ll get on that soon. I mean if Laura Ingalls‘ dad could build his family several cabins one shouldn’t be too hard, right?
We’ll roast hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire everyday and live happily ever after. And you’ll all be invited! In fact, maybe I should make it a crowd funded thing, because that seems to be a cool thing to do these days. Who’s in?!
Though I think I would like my cabin to actually be inside Hardangervidda not just on the edge of it, because that sounds much more impressive. You see, Hardangervidda is Europe’s highest plateau, plus it’s home to Northern Europe’s largest stock of reindeer! So living there would essentially make me the new Santa Clause.
Just kidding, guys, no one replaces Santa!
I’m also not sure if you’re allowed to build private cabins in national parks in Norway, but I am sure that you’re allowed to camp in them so maybe that log cabin will have to be a tent instead. It’s okay though, because there’s this thing called glamping and it’s supposed to be super fancy!
And let’s not forget the milk chocolate! As my cousin told me “You’re not a real Norwegian if you don’t bring chocolate with you on a hike.”
That totally looks like an ad for Freia chocolate so I feel like I need to say I have no affiliation with them, BUT in case they’re reading this, if they would like to pay me to eat chocolate and write about it I am 100% on board with that.
So, when are you going to plan a trip to the prettiest part of Norway?
And no, I’ve never driven on the Atlantic Road, stood on Kjeragbolten, or really been to any of the top tourist spots in Norway so maybe I’m not the most informed here. But don’t worry, as I’m sure Dan would be happy to tell you, I’m pretty much right about everything so there’s a high chance I’m right about Hardangervidda too!
But in all seriousness, if you’re looking for a beautiful getaway in the Norwegian mountains, Rauland is a great option. Plus if you’re there in the winter they have some amazing ski trails – both downhill and cross-country!
The Best Hotels near Hardangervidda and Gaustatoppen
In Rauland I recommend staying at Rauland Mountain Hotel
These mountain hotels have fallen a bit out of fashion, as Norwegians now prefer to stay in private cabins, but that actually means that they’re really good value, and also a bit frozen in time. It feels like what I imagine the Norwegian mountains were like in the 50s or 60s (though everything is updated and totally luxurious!). It also has a spa and an indoor swimming pool. Check current rates and availability here
In Rjukan I recommend staying at Gaustablikk
Gaustablikk was built in 1970 and something about the atmosphere does feel a bit frozen in time – which is impressive considering it was renovated last year. Every little detail in the hotel feels so utterly Norwegian, from the delicious Scandinavian breakfast buffet to the handcrafts and local artwork displayed on the walls to the people whizzing down the ski slopes at the hotel’s doorstep.
But my favorite part was the view out my bedroom window: Gaustatoppen, aka Norwegian nature at its finest!