A Weekend in Lillehammer, Norway

Lillehammer, most known for hosting the 1994 Winter Olympics, is only a two-hour train ride north of Oslo. That makes it a great option for a day trip, though, of course, the four-hour round trip would be a bit much to take on. It is still possible to see the highlights in that short amount of time, but my wife and I opted to stay overnight just so we wouldn’t feel rushed.

The main thing we wanted to see was Maihaugen, Lillehammer’s open-air folk museum (and supposedly Norway’s biggest). However, if you’ve already seen the folk museum in Oslo, then this one isn’t going to wow you:

The stave church in the Maihaugen open-air museum

That said, the setting in Maihaugen is prettier overall, since the museum grounds are built around a series of ponds and lakes:

Looking across a lake at the Maihaugen open-air museum

The visitor center also shares space with the Olympic Museum, which you might be tempted to do for no other reason than the discount you get when buying multiple museum tickets in Lillehammer. Unfortunately, we thought this museum was fairly disappointing. It only has a few interesting memorabilia on display and can be fully experienced in less than 30 minutes.

The third and final museum we visited (the next day) was the Art Museum. The main collection was kind of bland, but I enjoyed the special exhibits (as of June 2023).

Actually, my favorite thing in Lillehammer wasn’t even any of these museums but rather the Mesna River that runs through town. From Maihaugen, we had hiked to Finna Bridge, which was a very scenic spot with lots of small waterfalls:

A wooden bridge stretching across a small waterfall

After Finna Bridge, you can hike farther up the mountain to Collets Bridge, with more views of waterfalls along the way. We weren’t fully prepared for such a hike, so we bailed halfway to Collets, but I do think it would be fun to visit Lillehammer again and hike the full length of the river, bottom to top.

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