We decided to visit Roros, Norway while looking for a short couple of nights somewhere on our way from Trondheim back to Oslo for a flight home. Our reading seemed to indicated that the tiny mining town, which also happened to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, could offer a fun, off-the-beaten-path retreat.

Roros

Roros Sleggveien – 17th-Century timber homes on “Slag Way”

It didn’t hurt that Roros was on the north-south train line so a stopover was easy sans automobile. And, since it’s on a mountain plateau, the relatively treeless area meant cold and snow. Dog sledding was thus also on the agenda (which turned into a great adventure, too, with Alaskan Husky Tours! Click here to read about our dog sledding adventure.)

Roros snowy bridge looking into town

Visit Roros for its quaint, historic nature

With snowflakes falling, the 17th and 18th century buildings that make up most of the itty-bitty downtown were picture-postcard pretty. They are all from the town’s heyday as a copper mining mecca in the 1600s. The streets, old mine buildings, church, shops, craftsmen’s workshops and farms are so quaint you wonder if Walt Disney had a hand in the 1.27-square-mile town with a population of only a few thousand. Apparently the cold wind whipping across the treeless plains chases a lot of folks away. Not HI Travel Tales!

Roros streets at night.

Our short winter stay gave us a taste of the possibilities of this expansive mountain wilderness area as a home base for outdoor adventures or just plain relaxing. There are two national parks and the country’s third-largest lake too. And walks among the old buildings – some nearly 300 years old – are a photographer’s (or historian’s or sight-seer’s…) dream. Historic Roros managed to escape most of the fires that devastated many of Norway’s old timber buildings, which helped it achieve UNESCO status. And makes it all the more fascinating.

What to do in Roros, Norway

Really, this is a town where you want to wander, enjoy the history, talk to very friendly locals, shop if that’s your thing, and be a kid exploring the narrow streets. If you don’t speak Norwegian (and thus can’t read historic signs), your best bet is to pop into the Roros tourist office at Peder Hiorts Gate 2, a tiny and low-slung nondescript building practically next to the tiny train station. (“Tiny” is a word you’ll use a lot in Roros.)

Roros Church rises above "Malmpassen" square

Roros Church rises above “Malmpassen” square

At the tourist office, you can arrange a walking tour in English, and the super nice folks will bend over backward to take care of you. You can even email them at [email protected]. We received very prompt and helpful answers.

Visit Roros church.

Roros Church looking down on Roros town

What to see when you visit Roros?

  • The Roros Church (Kirke) in the center of town is a given. It looms high above the tiny (there I go again) town on a small hill.
  • The “Sleggveien” (Slag Way), just below the church, is the historic part of town with cottages, workshops and smelter’s huts feeling like an outdoor museum – until you realize people also live there. You can also trek over and around the “Slegghaugan”, or “slag heaps,” that some municipalities would call eyesores but here they take on an historic air. Doesn’t hurt when they are covered in powdery snow.
  • You can tour the “Smelthytta”, the building that used to house the main smelting works, to learn about production.
  • Poke around the “Malmplassen” in front of the smeltery building – the large open square where ore was delivered and where the smelter’s bell still hangs that would ring at the start of shifts.
  • You can also tour the Olafsgruva copper mine, but it’s not open in the winter so HI Travel Tales missed out on that.

Slag mountain in Roros ... visit Roros.

Therese atop the Slegghaugan or “Slag heaps”

Click here to download a PDF version of the tourist guide to Roros in English. And for such a small town, the tourist information website is very thorough and well done – and in good English!

And click here to find a little advice on maneuvering the Norwegian train system.

HITT Tip: There are some highly rated, lovely inns and bed & breakfasts in Roros since it tends to be a long weekend getaway for the “big city” folks from Oslo or Trondheim. They sounded lovely, of course. But we found a casual, very inexpensive hostel-like accommodation called “Idrettsparken”  (literally “sports park”) that we had nearly to ourselves for our off-season visit. Rooms are small and quite basic, but they serve tea and cookies all day in addition to breakfast, and there is a huge and comfortable living room and other lounge areas to hang out. Plus, great wifi. And no traffic noise. Per its name, this inn is next to the sport fields so be forewarned it can fill with teams and groups.

Visit Roros children walking the streets

School kids on a walk through downtown Roros

HITT Tip: Roros tourist folks work hard to create a destination in the middle of Norway, emphasizing sustainability. In fact, the town was the only Norwegian finalist for the National Geographic World Legacy Awards in 2015. You’ll find all kinds of special events if you visit Roros, such as the popular Roros Winter fair (Rorosmartnan) in late February — a tradition that dates back to 1854 that transforms the town into one giant marketplace. There is a also a Christmas Fair in early December, as well as other non-winter events including theater events, arts shows, athletic happenings, and crafts fairs.

Oslo Main Train Station

Think of Norway train lines somewhat like an x-y axis – one major line goes north-south, and another goes east-west, both with a few offshoots or onward connections to, say, Sweden. Click here to download a PDF map.  Once you know this, it’s easier to get around. The Oslo main station, Central Station (more commonly known as Oslo S), has several departures/arrivals daily on the east-west Oslo–Bergen route, considered one of the most beautiful in the world. We took it from Oslo to Bergen on an early winter day and can confirm that the route is certainly gorgeous, not to mention convenient and affordable. Of course, there are frequent departures to all points in Norway from Oslo’s Central Station. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Bergen Main Train Station - Bergen

Myrdal Train Station

Flam Train Station

Gudvangen Ferry Terminal

Roros Visitors Center

National Museum of Decorative Arts - Trondheim

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Ringve Music Museum - Trondheim

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Trondheim Museum of Art

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Old Town Bakklandet - Trondheim

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Nidaros Cathedral - Trondheim

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Archbishop's Palace and Museum - Trondheim

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Old Town Bridge - Trondheim

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Kristiansten Fort - Trondheim

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Sverresborg - Trondelag Folk Museum - Trondheim

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Stiffsgarden Royal Residence - Trondheim

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Medieval Church Ruins in the Library - Trondheim

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Alesund and Sunnmore Tourist Office

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Centre of Art Nouveau - Alesund

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Fjellstua Viewpoint - Alesund

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Theta Museum - Bergen

Theta Museum — It was a secret room then and, for many, it still remains a secret museum and hidden room today. It is the itty-bitty Theta Museum, a minute 170-square-foot (16 square meters) low-ceiling room hidden away on an upper floor of the Bryggen wharf area in Bergen. The museum was the headquarters of the Theta Group, an important part of the Norwegian Resistance during WWII. Its hours are quite limited to plan around them to not miss this gem! Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Bergen Maritime Museum - Bergen

Bergen Maritime Museum — The Bergen Maritime Museum presents the history of shipping, its development and importance to Bergen and Norway. We loved the museum’s vast collection of ship models – including Viking ships. Getting There: The museum is situated 150 meters from Johanneskirken (the red church), in the middle of the University campus.. Admission is NOK 50 or free with a valid Bergen Card.  Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

University Museum of Bergen

University Museum of Bergen — Although the Natural History Museum is undergoing restoration and will not reopen until 2018, the History Museum is well worth a look, containing some of the largest cultural collections in Norway. Since it is adjacent to the Maritime Museum, time your visit to enjoy both on the same day. Admission is NOK 50, or free with a valid Bergen Card.   Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Bryggen - Bergen

Bryggen — This is what you likely think of when you think of Bergen. In 1360 the Hansas – a German guild of merchants – set up one of their import/export offices on Bryggen and dominated world trade for the next 400 years.  Though destroyed many times by fire, each time it has been faithfully rebuilt, on top of foundations that were created in the 11th century. Now on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, Bryggen is made for wandering, slowly. Meander through narrow passageways and enjoy the myriad of tiny shops, offices and artist studios.  Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Fløibanen Funicular - Bergen

Fløibanen Funicular — Do not miss the breathtaking view from atop Mt. Floyen, 320 meters (1,050) feet above sea level). Certainly one of Norway’s most-often mentioned attractions, the Funicular runs every 15 minutes from early morning until 11 p.m. The journey lasts approximately 8 minutes up or down. We watched for Northern Lights from the summit one evening during a recent visit, though swirling mist obscured a view of the sky, but not the twinkling lights below. Admission is NOK 85 round trip or NOK 43 one-way. Bergen Card is valid for a 50% discount May 1 through September 30 and gives you a free ride the rest of the year.  Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Bergenhus Festning - Bergen

Bergenhus Festning – A bit further up the road from Bryggen Historic District, take the time to visit the historic fort, Bergenhus. Here you will see the Rosenkrantz Tower, considered one of the most important renaissance monuments in Norway and, when open, offering an impressive view of Bergen. Plus, there is Hakon’s Hall, built by King Håkon Håkonsson as a royal residence and banqueting hall in the 12th century – granted you won’t need a lot of time there. Bergenhus Festning, 5003 Bergen. Admission to each is NOK 70 or free with a valid Bergen Card. Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Hanseatic Museum - Bergen

Hanseatic Museum — One of the best-preserved buildings in Bergen, the Hanseatic Museum shows how the German merchants from The Hanseatic League lived and worked. From 1350 to 1750 these merchants traded stockfish (chewy, dried fish) and grains from their office in Bergen. It is the only house on Bryggen that has kept its original interior. In summer, there are daily guided tours in Norwegian, German, French and English. Admission NOK 90.  Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Bergen Aquarium - Bergen

Bergen Aquarium – The Bergen Aquarium claims to house one of the largest collections of North Sea fish and invertebrates in Europe. The aquarium features indoor 60 tanks, a shark viewing tube, and two outdoor pools with seals and penguins. Cost – From March 1 to October 31, entrance runs NOK 200. A Bergen Card discounts that by 25%. The rest of the year, entrance is NOK 150 or free with a Bergen Card. Since the aquarium website is only offered in Norwegian, click here to find aquarium information on the official Tourist Information website, thankfully in English.  Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Det Lille Kaffekompaniet - Bergen

Bergen is made to get lost in on foot because it’s so compact and so walkable, albeit hilly. Explore narrow side streets, particularly those around the base of the funicular’s lower terminal off Lille Øvergaten. Just follow your nose. Take the time to sit and enjoy a coffee and delectable in one of the many small cafes you will encounter … we loved Det Lille Kaffekompaniet in the Lille Overgaten. Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Skottegaten - Bergen

Bergen is made to get lost in on foot because it’s so compact and so walkable, albeit hilly. Explore narrow side streets, particularly those around the base of the funicular’s lower terminal off Lille Øvergaten. Just follow your nose. Also worth exploring is the hilly area all around Skottegaten just west of the main part of the old town and between there and the Hurtigruten terminal. Your nose and your feet will be your guides. Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Hurtigruten Terminal - Bergen

Shipping and ferry services are Bergen’s connection to the outside world as well as much of Norway. You will arrive or depart from here by ferry for part of the Norway in a Nutshell tour, if you choose that version. And this is also where the well-known Hurtigruten (the Coastal Express) ferry tours depart daily for trips up to Kirkenes in the far north (stopping in numerous Norwegian coastal towns and villages along the way). Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Hurtigruten Terminal - Kirkenes

Hurtigruten Terminal - Trondheim

Vigeland Park - Oslo

Don’t miss the Frogner neighborhood and the Vigeland Park with its spectacular lineup of Gustav Vigeland’s works. If the weather is nice – remember, this is Scandinavia – the park is a popular destination for jogging, walking and picnicking. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Royal Palace - Oslo

Take the time to wander down Karl Johans Gate, starting at the Central Station. Karl Johans Gate is the main street in central Oslo and features a tree-lined promenade bordered by restaurants, cafes and upscale stores. There is, naturally, great people watching and at the end of the walk you will find yourself at the Royal Palace, home of the Norwegian royal family. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Old Aker Church - Oslo

Old Aker Church – The church is and old medieval building and is listed as the oldest remaining building in Oslo dating back to the 11th century. Admission: Free. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Oslo Domkirke - Oslo

Oslo Domkirke (cathedral) — This is considered the most important church of Oslo where all the royal ceremonies have been held for centuries. It has a delightfully rich interior. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Edward Munch Museum - Oslo

Edward Munch Museum — Edvard Munch – probably best known for modern painting known as “The Scream” — has a unique position among Nordic painters and is considered a pioneer in expressionism. The Munch Museum’s collection, left to the city of Oslo by the artist, consists of paintings, graphical prints and drawings. By constantly changing the exhibitions, the museum presents the variety in his life. Be sure to visit the museum website prior to planning your trip as the museum does close for short spans due to exhibition changes. Admission: NOK 100. Free with valid Oslo Pass. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Norwegian Museum of Cultural History - Oslo

Norwegian Museum of Cultural History — Located on Bydgoy next to the Viking Ship Museum the Museum of Cultural History is a large open-air museum that is full of wonderful replicas of traditional Norwegian buildings throughout Norwegian history. The most famous building is the intricately carved stave church – which is truly stunning. Admission is NOK 80 or free with a valid Oslo Pass. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

The Viking Ship Museum - Oslo

The Viking Ship Museum — The Viking Ship Museum presents historic Viking ship discoveries discovered during excavations at Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune as well as other finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord. Most significant are the displays of the world’s two best-preserved wooden Viking ships, built in the 9th century. Admission is NOK 80 or free with a valid Oslo Pass. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Akershus Fortress - Oslo

Akershus Fortress — Akershus Fortress, located in the city centre overlooking the Oslo fjord, is a great place to take in wonderful views of Oslo as well as the surrounding fjord. The building of Akershus Castle and the fortress began in 1299 under King Håkon V. The medieval castle, which was completed in the 1300s, was strategically located at the end of the headlands overlooking the fjord. King Christian IV (1588-1648) modernized the castle and had it converted to a royal residence. Admission is free. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Resistance Museum - Oslo

Norway’s Resistance Museum — The Resistance Museum is located in a 17th century building on the grounds of Akershus Fortress, right adjacent to the memorial for Norwegian patriots executed during the war. It is a fantastic museum – plan on a couple of hours (or more depending on your passion) to view the displays covering five years of occupation recreated with pictures, documents, posters, objects, models, original copies of newspapers and recordings. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion

Honningsvag

Honningsvag is a small fishing port far up the northern coast of Norway, nestled in a pocket among islands and fjords north of Tromso. From the Hurtigruten ship heading north, the town is uber-cute, hugging the base of a hill. Aside from fishing, it is the capital of the “North Cape” areaRead our Photographer's Diary story on Honningsvag here.

Heads up! This information on Roros was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.