The Gudbrandsdalen valley offers a myriad of cultural experiences and activities in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Get an insight into Norwegian history, culture and local food traditions along Gudbrandsdalsvegen. Travelling from Lillehammer in the south to Rondane National Park in the north, you will drive through a vibrant cultural landscape with farms clinging to the mountain sides and picturesque villages along the way.
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In Gudbrandsdalen, people live in harmony with the nature that inspired Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt. Other renowned authors, such as Sigrid Undset and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, also found inspiration for their literature and poetry in Lillehammer and Gudbrandsdalen. Furthermore, this beautiful landscape has been a popular motif for many renowned Norwegian painters. Harald Sohlberg, Adolph Tidemand, Hans Gude, Henrik Sørensen, Erik Werenskiold and Jakob Weidemann are some of these artists.
The famous composer Edvard Grieg used elements of local folk music when he wrote his masterpieces such as the Peer Gynt Suite.
Just like in Peer Gynt's time, you can see wild reindeer on the mountain plateaus and the impressive elk hiding between the trees in the forest. Gudbrandsdalen has a vast network of country lanes and trails providing easy access to a world of vibrant old mountain farms and soothing flowing rivers – whether you explore the valley by car, by foot, on bicycle, on horseback or in a canoe. A world in which you can enjoy peace and tranquillity in beautiful surroundings.
Gudbrandsdalsvegen from Lillehammer to Rondane National Park is approx. 104 km long, or some 1 hour and 40 minutes by car. For the first 60 km to Ringebu, the road is wide and of good standard. Then it narrows, but as long as you follow the main roads standard is reasonably good through all of Gudbrandsdalen. The side roads to the mountain areas Rondane in the east and Jotunheimen in the west are more winding and hilly, but mainly tarmac. Some side roads are gravel.
ATTRACTIONS ALONG THE ROUTE
For families with children, the first recommended stop is Hunderfossen Family Park – renowned for its 14 m high troll which is visible from the E6. Hunderfossen is Norway's third largest family park, and offers numerous activities and attractions inspired by Norwegian folk legends. Inside Hunderfossen's large troll, you will find Trollsalen where you can enjoy a good meal in the company of even more large trolls.
Approx. 60 km north of Lillehammer, you will reach Ringebu Stave Church. It was built around 1220, and is the largest of the 28 remaining stave churches in Norway. The village of Ringebu is also home to Annis Pølsemakeri – a butcher selling award-winning sausages and meat products. A visit to the other speciality shops and cafés in this friendly, rural centre is also recommended.
Drive north for approx. 15 min., and you end up at Dale-Gudbrands Gard and its Pilgrim Centre. Set in an idyllic location with views of river Lågen, this farm has a history dating back 1300 years and features in the saga of Olav the Sacred. It has several burial mounds, and is also home to one of the five pilgrim centres along the Pilgrims' Trail from Oslo to Trondheim. The pilgrim centre has a small farm shop with a selection of local food products and souvenirs.
North of Dale-Gudbrand (approx. 10 min. by car) you will find the medieval farm hotel Sygard Grytting – a distinguished building with a history dating back 700 years. The hotel is among Norway's most beautiful and best preserved of its kind, and is as taken out of a folk legend. Guests stay in farm buildings dating from 1650 to 1860, and can enjoy traditional dishes prepared with fresh ingredients from own vegetable and fruit garden. The hosts at Sygard Grytting are the 16th generation owners of the farm.
Close to Sygard Grytting, you will find the art installation “Flokk” (Herd) – a spectacular sight in the cultural landscape. “Flokk” comprises 21 tall, narrow bronze figures looking out over river Gudbrandsdalslågen. The sculptures were erected in 2011, and are the work of the artist Gitte Dæhlin.
WORLD OF PEER GYNT
Travel further north in Gudbrandsdalen, and you will enter the world of Peer Gynt. During the first half of August, this famous play by Ibsen is staged by lake Gålåvatnet – an enchanting theatre experience with the dramatic scenery as backdrop. Peer Gynt has been considered a masterpiece in world literature ever since it was written in 1867. The play touches on existential questions in life, and inspires thought and reflection. Its music has been composed by Edvard Grieg.
For a high-mountain treat, a detour to Spidsbergseter Resort or Venabu Mountain Hotel at Venabygdsfjellet can be recommended. These hotels enjoys a beautiful location by the foot of Rondane National Park, and offers spectacular views of this enormous mountain plateau with over 10 peaks towering 2000 metres above seal level.