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.
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.)
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!
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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
Sleggveien - Roros
Idrettsparken Hotel - Roros
National Museum of Decorative Arts - Trondheim
Ringve Music Museum - Trondheim
Trondheim Museum of Art
Old Town Bakklandet - Trondheim
Nidaros Cathedral - Trondheim
Archbishop's Palace and Museum - Trondheim
Old Town Bridge - Trondheim
Kristiansten Fort - Trondheim
Sverresborg - Trondelag Folk Museum - Trondheim
Stiffsgarden Royal Residence - Trondheim
Medieval Church Ruins in the Library - Trondheim
Alesund and Sunnmore Tourist Office
Centre of Art Nouveau - Alesund
Fjellstua Viewpoint - Alesund
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.
Bergen Visitors Center - Bergen
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
Oslo Domkirke - Oslo
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 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” area. Read our Photographer's Diary story on Honningsvag here.