Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Lillehammer?
Why visit Lillehammer for adventure?
Without the 1994 Winter Olympics Lillehammer might not even be on the map. It’s a small, cosy Norwegian town of approximately 25,000 inhabitants, two hours by train from Oslo’s main airport Gardermoen.
Today Lillehammer is a home and holiday destination for families, adrenaline junkies and weekend warriors in search of adventure on land, snow and water. With most activities easily accessible by public transport. As there are activities for all seasons and budgets, Lillehammer is the perfect hub for outdoor adventures, all through the year!
Outdoor Activities in Lillehammer
Making the most of SNOW
Lillehammer is the town of not one or two, but five ski resorts, all accessible with one single ski lift pass. The mountains here are not tall and angular like the Alps, but they have their own charm without the crowds of the Central European resorts. If travelling long distance is more your thing, there are hundreds and then again hundreds of kilometres of cross-country ski tracks criss-crossing the mountain plateau.
Getting to the ski resorts
The most convenient of the ski resorts to public transport is Hafjell, just 15 kilometres north from Lillehammer. Regular shuttle buses from Lillehammer run to the ski centre every hour. Cross-country skiers can take the gondola up to the top of the ski hill for access to the Nordic-skiing tracks, or the free Hafjell shuttle bus straight to the mountain plateau.
In the summer the ski resort turns in to a downhill bike park, which has hosted the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
One day ski pass / adult: 370 NOK (approx. 50€)
Return on gondola / adult: 90 NOK (approx. 12€)
Find out more information about the five Lillehammer ski resorts on the Lillehammer tourism website, and check out also the Hafjell ski centre’s website for the latest news on the snow conditions. If you are up for some speedy biking, head over to the Hafjell Bikepark’s site.
Hiking in Lillehammer
If the Norwegian prices are making you cringe, the best, and one of the cheapest adventure activities to do in Lillehammer, is to pack your backpack and head to the mountains by foot.
Your accommodation doesn’t need to cost a penny either. According to the “Right of Access” also known as everyman’s rights, in Norway everyone has the unrestricted right of free access to the countryside. This means that you can pitch your tent anywhere for a night, as long as it is at least 150 meters from the nearest house or cabin, and not on a cultivated field or a lay-by.
Getting to the mountains
There are many alternative locations to start your hike from and it all depends on what you are planning to do. Getting to Hafjell and taking the gondola up to the top is one of the available options.
FREE! With priceless views.
DNT, The Norwegian Trekking Association has tons of route suggestions and information on their website.
Getting wet on the WATER
For kayakers, Norway is a paradise. While there are some local white water runs very close to Lillehammer, the better destination for experienced kayakers, and for those wanting to try out either kayaking or rafting is the Sjoa valley, just 100 kilometres north from Lillehammer.
Getting to the rivers
To get to the village of Sjoa, you can catch a bus from Lillehammer to the petrol station in the village. Alternatively, a train to the nearby town of Otta is also a good option. Both options take about 1,5 hours.
Kayaking with own equipment – FREE!
Rafting from 750 NOK (approx. 100€) per person.
Beginner’s 1-day kayaking courses from 1200 NOK (approx. 160€) per person.
There are several rafting companies in the Sjoa valley of which the largest ones are Sjoa Rafting and Heidal Rafting. Both companies also offer accommodation. For white water kayaking courses visit Sjoa Kajakksenter.
Best time of the year to visit Lillehammer for adventure?
It all depends on what you want to do. For snow-based activities the most reliable snow conditions are from January to March, but this winter we were already skiing in the end of October. For hiking and kayaking the season starts when the snow starts melting, but when it comes to the weather, June-August tends to be the most settled.
Alternatively you could do as us, and move to Lillehammer for all year around access to adventure!
Finally, the reason I love Lillehammer for adventure is because…
There is something to do in all seasons. For sure, in the dark autumn months before the arrival of snow I’d often rather head to warmer destinations, but still, you can easily hit the outdoors even then.
Originally from Finland, I’m an eternal nomad who couple of years a go got happily stuck in Norway after testing out the waters and what it would be like to live around Europe and the States. With a job in the travel industry and the passion to travel at all opportunities, I do get around and out of the country regularly, most of the time trying to smuggle skis, snowboard, kayak or a mountain bike on a plane.