Telemark Canal– Eastern Norway's adventurous waterway

Text: Anne Bloksgaard Nielsen Published 01.11.2021

The Telemark Canal means great holiday experiences for the whole family. The area offers a pearl of natural and cultural experiences, guaranteed to give you memories for life.

The historic Telemark Canal is called by some "the world's most beautiful canal". With its picturesque surroundings, historic canal boats and a whopping 18 lock chambers, the 105km canal from Skien on the coast to the foot of Hardangervidda is the epitome of Norwegian idyll and engineering.

Here are four suggestions for getting up close and personal with the canal by land and sea.

Day trip with a historic canal boat

If you want to experience the whole Telemark Canal in one day, a day trip on one of the charming canal boats M/S Victoria or M/S Henrik Ibsen from Dalen to Ulefoss and back by bus is an obvious choice. Here you board the Valley and spend the day on the cosy boat as you are ferried past unique cultural history, mountainous scenery and spectacular buildings.

Afterwards, the bus will take you back to the car park in Dalen, giving you plenty of opportunity to enjoy the idyllic Telemark landscape from the country side.
Telemark lock system
If your holiday schedule doesn't allow for a full day along the canal, one of the 18 lock systems is worth a trip. The largest sluice system with a total of five lifting chambers can be found in Vrangfoss. Stroll along the fascinating lock before eating your packed lunch under the green canopy, overlooking the water of the locks as it carries canal boats, sailboats, canoes and kayaks over a total height difference of 23 metres– exactly the same way as when the canal was opened in 1892.
Telemark tour on two wheels
If you want to experience the Telemark Canal on two wheels, you can explore the area's numerous marked cycling routes. Routes come in varying lengths and levels of difficulty, so you're sure to find one that suits your needs, whether you're on a relaxing family holiday with young children or looking for a more challenging mountain bike ride.
The popular canal route along the entire Telemark Canal is a national cycling route with a good mix of nature, culture and history. If you don't want to bring your own bikes, there are plenty of places to rent them, such as campsites along the canal.
Canal idyll on the water
One of the most popular ways to experience the Telemark Canal is by canoe or kayak. As you move across the calm waters of the canal, you can get up close to the wildlife and almost become part of the beautiful canal landscape. A special experience you won't forget is a paddle through one of the historic locks, where you are lifted up or down in the lifting chambers simply by the force of the water.
It's also possible to combine a bike or paddle tour with a trip on one of the canal boats– then the bikes, canoes and kayaks are simply placed on the boat's roof while you rest until the next stop.