Located in the centre of southern Norway, Gaustatoppen is considered to be one of Norway’s most beautiful mountains. It is a popular summit to climb at 1,883 meters which stands proud from its surroundings and the nearby town of Rjukan. When the visibility is good you get the best views in the whole of Norway! It is said you can see one sixth of the country, including the southern coast, and Sweden in the East. It’s a walk most people can manage.
Gaustatoppen is just over three hours’ drive from Oslo.
If hiking isn’t your thing, don’t worry you can take the Gaustabanen, a cable car which will take you up on an incredible journey up through a tunnel inside the mountain! The tickets for the journey, which takes around 15 to 20 minutes, don’t normally need to be pre-booked, and you can book one way if you wish.
The Gaustabanen was initially conceived as a tourist attraction but was built and financed in partnership with the Norwegian armed forces. It opened in 1953 but as the cold war developed tourism stopped and it became an important NATO station operated and later a weather and broadcasting station. It’s tourist merits were recognised again more recently and it has been in commercial operation again since 2010.
Gaustatoppen Tourist Cabin or Turisthytte
At the top of Gaustatoppen you can also enjoy a coffee and a waffle from the 100 year old stone cabin at the summit. It is open from mid-February until mid-October and check out the Norwegian Trekking Association website for opening hours. From there, there is a short narrow ridge to the final summit, which is not for the feint hearted when it is windy!
Gaustatoppen in winter
Gaustatoppen is particularly beautiful in the winter when the whole area is covered in snow making the view from the top especially magical. Experienced skiers like to ‘freeride’ or ‘off-piste’ down the mountain, but this is totally at your own risk and you also need to be aware of avalanche risks! The safest route is called Langefonn and is marked.
If you are planning to hike it is worth remembering the Norwegian winter days are short, so plan you journey carefully as walking down in the dark is dangerous and definitely no fun!
Winter activities in Gaustatoppen
The Gaustablikk ski centre and ski passes
At the foot of the Gaustatoppen, you will find the Gaustablikk ski centre which is popular with downhill and cross country skiers alike. There are 35 km of downhill pistes and 85 km of cross country ski that can be accessed from the Gaustablikk ski centre. The ski area has 12 lifts, 3 childrens areas and 2 parks.
Check out the Gaustatoppen website for details of opening times and ski passes.
If you fancy trying something different from downhill skiing, there is also a huge network of cross-country skiing tracks all around the area, which are groomed daily and light up at night!
Gaustatoppen in summer
The best months to climb Gaustatoppen are June, July, August and September when the weather is better and the days are longer. Summer activities in Gaustatoppen and the Hardangervidda National Park include:
Hardangervidda National Park Centre
The Hardangervidda National Park Centre is located near Skinnarbu and lake Møsvatn and it runs in partnership with the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre South. A brand new exhibition about these fascinating creatures has been running there since 2013. The exhibition covers a range of topics including; ecology, roaming pattern, locations, management and research and the threats from the modern world.
The Krossobanen was the first cable car to be built in northern Europe and takes you from Rjukan to the foot of the Hardangervidda National Park. At the upper station you get the most fantastic views and it is worth a trip whatever time you year you visit. From the top of the Krossobanen you can take a 20 to 25 minute walk up onto the Hardangervidda plateau where you can explore its natural beauty. If you wish you can bring your bicycle or skis in the cable car.
The Krossobanen was originally conceived as a way to enable the towns’ people to see the sun during the winter months but more recently another sun project has taken place:
The Rjukan Sun Mirrors
Rjukan is also now famous for a pioneering sun project using mirrors. As the town sees little or no sun during the winter months, a Norwegian engineer called Sam Eyde pushed forward an one hundred year old idea to use enormous mirrors on the mountainside to reflect the sun into the town square. Eyde’s dream became a reality in 2013 and uses a combination of hydro and solar power to control the mirrors.
Gaustatoppen food and local cuisine
If you are planning to visit Gaustatoppen and want somewhere to eat there are plenty of options in the nearby town of Rjukan. There is the Gvepseborg Panorama Café which is at Krossobanen’s upper station and has fantastic views of the mountains and valley. There are also a number of hotel restuarants in the town and the Kalhovd Tourist Cabin, which is a cosy cabin on the shores of lake Grytefjorden. If you are looking for natural and authentic Norwegian fare then try the Rjukan Fjellstue which is 11km west of Rjukan. They are well loved for their local dishes including Rømmegraut, a type of sour cream porridge, as well as trout, salmon, reindeer and deer. They also have a great selection of waffles and pastries.