Rjukan in Telemark - an all-road cyclist's haven

Rjukan in Telemark is a small pearl of a place. It offers a range of attractions and activities that people come here to visit. To name a few; you have the famous industrial worker museum at Vemork, the sun mirror in the town centre, the still-running 1920’s gondola Krossobanen, the most beautiful peak in the country (*according to many), the biggest national park in the country, and the skiing and mountaineering. There are many things to do here, and the UNESCO Notodden-Rjukan Industrial Heritage Site is home to many fine findings as you can see. But, what else? You can ride your bike here too, of course

Rjukan, the company town

In the beginning of the 20th century, the valley was inhabited by a hundred of persons. But the business man and inventor Sam Eyde saw potential in the natural resources that was found here, especially the huge waterfall Rjukanfossen (translated to English as ”the smoking falls”) and the idea of bringing the flooding into electricity was born. In 1909 the valley had been transformed from rural farming grounds into an industrial factory town with Eyde's Norsk Hydro plant and 12 000 workers moving in. The town of Rjukan was built in a few years and became the hub of innovation, industry and money in Norway.


The Route

1. Hardangervidda  (Suited for F/AR and F/GR) 

One of the classics in the area is to ride up from the valley and onto the mountain plateau. It starts with a trip with Northern Europe’s first gondola Krossobanen. From the top at 886 m.a.s.l. your ride continues northward into Hardangervidda, on winding gravel roads, passing small ridges and tarns along your way. After 30km you’re at the tourist cabin Kalhovd. Here you can enjoy a nice pause by the lake with a coffee and waffle. Hardangervidda is Scandinavia's biggest national park and is quite accessible by bike - don’t miss out!


Fara Cycling Adventure
The route is a well kept dirt road but we still recommend a minimum tire of 35mm
you will have to take the Krossobanen to get on the plateau.
Fara Cycling Adventure-65 2000s
View on Gaustatoppen from The top of the Krossobanen.


2. Gausta Mountain (Suited for F/AR and F/RD) 

From Rjukan up to the southern mountains of the valley, you have the Gaustablikk area with the majestic Gaustatoppen, throning at 1800 m.a.s.l. The notorious climb from Rjukan to Gaustablikk (Svineroivegen) is a classic among Norway’s serpentine roads, along with Trollstigen and Stalheimskleivi, and has an abundance of hair pin turns and and straighter sections with great views to the valley and up to the mountain.


"First came great artists like IC Dahl and Johannes Flintoe and painted the two nature giants Gaustatoppen and Rjukanfossen, then the upper class came from the big European cities to "inspect this natural beauty" and then Rjukan became "the cradle of modern tourism in Norway". Gaustatoppen is really mighty with its almost 1600 meters and a clearly marked height in the landscape.

Thousands come to climb to the top every year. There is no cycle path all the way up there, but Svineroivegen takes you up 1000 meters with 10% ascent. At the foot of the top you can grab a waffle, and then lay down towards the forest roads in Tuddal. Through Hjartdal it is a bit busy, but you will find peace and joy in the winding and magical Åmotsdalen. After six tough miles up to 1000 meters altitude, you can play through the roller coaster along Møsvatn and in the serpentine turns past Rjukanfossen and Vemork.

Then you are back in Rjukan. You have cycled around Norway's most beautiful mountains and been over one of Norway's highest mountain passes." - Vegtur.cc 

Fara Cycling Adventure
As a reward, the landscape suddenly opened after the steep Climb from Rjukan on the Fv3430 road.

After cycling visit: Vemork, once the biggest power plant on the planet


Today the Vemork power plant (where the water in the fall becomes electricity) is part of the Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum and is also where the Saboteur's Trail ends - an inspiring hike in the footprints of the 1943’s resistance heroes, that bombed the Nazi controlled heavy water factory at that time. Riding over the classic suspension bridge and the switchbacks up to the plant is a short but thrilling climb, and that takes you back in time.


Great coffee?


- Kalhovd tourist cabin, Gvepseborg Panorama Café, Hardangervidda Visitor Centre at Skinnarbu, Kinokafeen and the local crêpes café Rjukan Varelager.


The Rjukan area is tempting because of all of the above. This makes it a perfect haven for a weekend retreat of all-road cycling. So, finally; Rjukan and surroundings offers both historical and cultural happenings together with fantastic gravel cycling, majestic climbs and divine views. You’re welcome.


Picture by Even Skår, Seb Mamaj and Emil Nyeng