Vrådal – a winner even without a pair of skis under your feet

Text: Anne Bloksgaard Nielsen Published 20.03.2020

Telemark is often called the place where contrasts converge. Drive off the ferry in Langesund and head north-west for an hour and a half and you’ll discover why. Before long, you’ll find yourself in Vrådal.

The sight that greets you in the town of Vrådal stands in sharp contrast to the coastal culture down by the sea in Langesund. After all, up here there’s no doubt that you’re in the dense vegetation of inland Norway, where forests, fishing waters, marshes and mountain slopes form the landscape. Before you know it, you’ve reached the mountains. As simple as that. So it’s not surprising that when people mention Vrådal, we’re likely to think of skiing, snowboarding, snow-laden trees and a woolly hat pulled down over our ears. But the Telemark town in Kviteseid municipality has more to offer than just that – much more in fact.

Straand Hotel, an institution

If there’s anyone who knows more about Vrådal than most, it’s father and son Johan and Sigmund Straand, who own and run Straand Hotel as the fourth and fifth generations, respectively. The hotel has been in the family since 1864 – over 150 years!

Photo: visitsorlandet / Raisfoto

We visited the two Telemark natives one day at the end of September and saw with our own eyes how nature changed colour from one day to the next. The large Nisser lake is as smooth as a mirror on the surface but at its depths, 250 metres in the deepest spot, it’s far from still.

“There are great fishing conditions in the mountain waters here in the area, but Nisser lake is teeming with fish,” says Johan and presents us to the chef, Frank Schmidt. He’s originally from Switzerland, but has long since made his home in the heart of Telemark.

Foto: visitsorlandet / Raisfoto

“Switzerland is fantastic, but Vrådal is paradise,” says Schmidt, who truly appreciates everything that Norwegian mountain nature has to offer. He spends all of his free time fishing and foraging for mushrooms and berries. Autumn in Vrådal is his favourite season.

“Actually a lot of people come to Vrådal to fish and pick mushrooms and berries,” says Sigmund.

If you’d like to try your luck at fishing, you’re sure to find trout, perch and more at the end of your line. You can find out more about the fishing opportunities by calling Quality Straand Hotel & Resort at: + 47 35 06 90 00.

“We also offer to cook the fish in the hotel kitchen for our guests,” says Sigmund.

Vrådal – much more than just skiing

The experienced hotel and tourist expert has plenty to say about his beloved adopted hometown.

He talks about the many activities on offer just around the corner from Vrådal, from a skatepark, downhill cycle track and gondola to Tverrfjellet to the absolutely idyllic Vrådal golf course, located on a small island out in Nisser lake.

Photo: visitsorlandet / Raisfoto

A few years ago, Johan Straand also took on the task of repairing the old steamer ‘Fram’ and today the boat that was originally built in 1911 sails a regular route on Nisser.

A trip on the old ship gives you first-class panoramic views of the surrounding nature and you’ll even get the chance to experience the old sluices, which are still opened and closed by hand, a technique known as ‘spetting’.

Photo: visitsorlandet / Svein Straumsnes

Johan has nothing but praise and adoration for Vrådal and the neighbouring areas, but first and foremost it’s the location he wants to emphasise.

“From Oslo it takes maybe three hours and from Langesund just over an hour and a half by car. For Danes and Germans coming from the continent, it’s just perfect. They dock at Langesund at 1:30 p.m. and arrive here well before dark. That’s something I know that people who aren’t used to the winding Norwegian roads really appreciate,” says Johan.