Norway might be world famous for its fjords and its coastline, but the interior of the country has a lot to offer as well. Here’s our hostel guide to one of the most interesting regions in Norway: the Gudbrandsdalen Valley.
Gudbrandsdalen has it all: Norway’s highest mountains, most beautiful stave-churches, barren tundra and idyllic farmland, and some of the country’s best hikes, ski slopes and white water rafting. The valley lies roughly in between Oslo and Trondheim, and is about 230 km long. It passes along some of Norway’s best known mountain chains, like Dovre, Rondane and Jotunheimen.
Hostelling International has four hostels in Gudbrandsdalen. Moreover, the region is well-connected to the rest of the country by train. This makes Gudbrandsdalen a perfect destination for a low-impact train holiday from hostel to hostel.
The town of Lillehammer is the southern border of the Gudbrandsdalen Valley. Famous for hosting the 1994 Winter Olympics, the town is still a hot spot for ski sport. It has numerous slopes, cross-country trails, and even possibilities for bob sleighing and husky tours. The town itself has a cozy centre with some nice cafés and an open-air historic museum called Maihaugen.
Our hostel in Lillehammer is located in the same building as the train station. Many of the rooms are decorated in different “themes”. And make sure not to miss the café-restaurant downstairs!
From Lillehammer, take a northbound train towards Otta. Here, the landscape is getting increasingly mountainous. In a side-valley outside of the town, our Sjoa hostel is situated. Originally a farm, the hostel is situated in a beautiful authentic wooden building, and is surrounded by steep forested mountains. Sjoa is famous in Norway for having the best river for white water rafting. Excursions mostly take a day, and are a spectacular experience: Join one at the hostel!
Somewhat further up north, our Høvringen hostel lies high on a mountain side overlooking the valley. This hostel is a perfect base for exploring the Rondane Mountains. During summer, you will find endless possibilities for mountain hikes and biking tours, while during Easter, this is the perfect place to go cross-country skiing. The hostel is run by a sympathetic couple, who have put their hearts and souls into this place.
Taking the train even further northwards, you reach the town of Dombås. It’s one of the larger towns in the area, and the place where the spectacular Raumabanen Rail Road begins, which takes you down to Åndalsnes through the Romsdalen Valley. It’s one of the most spectacular train rides in Norway, make sure not to miss it!
Dombås is a perfect place if you want to do alpine skiing. Even more so because our hostel in Dombås is lying at the foot of one of the main ski slopes in town. Here, you can literally walk out of the door and start skiing! During the summer months, Dombås is an ideal base for exploring the Dovre Mountains and go on musc ox safaris.
Lying high up in the tundra near the Dovre Mountains, our hostel in Hjerkinn is the end point of our road trip through the Valley. Hjerkinn is surrounded by spectacular, wild nature, and is a beloved base for hikers and cyclists. Mount Snøhetta lies nearby, one of the most famous mountains in Norway. Hjerkinn is also a perfect place to go on safaris to find musc ox.
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text by Robin Van de Walle