Lillehammer On a BudgetMost people know the name Lillehammer because it is the city that hosted the 1994 Olympics. While it's obviously a beautiful travel destination during the winter months when it's covered in snow and winter sport opportunities are abundant, it is also a lovely travel destination in the summer. It's a surprisingly small town with a population of around 25,000. It's streets are lined with quaint, wooden houses that date back to the 19th century. The town is located on the banks of Lake Mjosa. There's a nice shopping street that's called Storgata and cuts through the middle of the old town. It is pedestrian only, giving it a charming atmosphere and making it an enjoyable place to walk around. The town also has nice galleries and museums that are worth a visit.
Lillehammer region has a great ski terrain and plenty of winter sport facilities. Close by you can go to Nordseter and Sjusjoen where you'll find a great network of cross country ski trails that cover more than 350 kilometers. There is a great ski center at Hafjell, about fifteen minutes away, that has a nice mountain village atmosphere and ski in, ski out accommodation.
Lillehammer's climate is relatively dry although there is plenty of snow. Winters are cold and summers are warmer. You can expect the ground to be covered in snow between the months of November and April.
SightsSpecific sights in Lillehammer are often geared around the Olympics. Most of these sights are found in the commemorative Olympic Park. There's an Olympic Museum that is interesting to visit as well. You can also visit the ski jumping arena. It has a chairlift to the top and once you reach the top, the view of the city is excellent. You could also climb the 954 stairs to the top if you don't want to take the chairlift. If you've seen enough from the Olympics then there's also the Lillehammer Art Museum, or Maihaugen, which is Northern Europe's largest open air museum. It has 200 buildings that highlight traditional Norwegian styles and includes the Garmo stave church.
NeighborhoodsLillehammer itself is quite small. The surrounding region also has a lot to offer travelers. Gudbrandsdalen is the valley that falls between Lillehammer and Dovrefjell. There are several other towns that are located within the valley. Rondane National Park was the country's first national park. It was opened in 1962 and it has mountains, plateaus and valleys, making it very dramatic to visit. Jotunheimen National Park also has many good walking trails. There are great facilities with plenty of tourist cabins and marked trails in some areas, while other areas remain almost completely untouched.
ActivitiesJust outside of town you'll find wonderful places for both downhill and cross country skiing. Lillehammer has been a wonderful winter sports destination for years, well before it hosted the Winter Olympics. During the summer months there are also some great places to go hiking.
If you're interested in shopping then you will enjoy walking around the city's main shopping street, Storgata. This literally translates to mean "Big Street" and it is a pedestrian-only street that has many wooden houses, unique boutiques, and interesting restaurants along it.
Sports clubs around town include the Lillhammer Ice Hockey Club, whose team competes in Norway's major hockey league, the Lillehammer Orienteering Club, the Ski Club, and the Speedskating Club.
Food and DiningThere are a small handful of restaurants and hotels or hostels around town. They cater to budget, mid range, or luxury travelers alike. If there is a festival or event in town then it is best to make reservations ahead of time as the limited facilities may fill up.
For a budget food options, check out Oylsund Kafe, which serves kebabs and fish dishes. Mid range options include Kanten Kro and Egon Restaurant. Kanten Kro has a great view that overlooks the city. Egon Restaurant has pizzas and a variety of other reasonably priced dishes. If you're looking for a fine dining experience, head to Paa bordet. This gourmet restaurant has good food and a great wine cellar.
TransportationThe best prices for buses and trains in Norway can be found on Omio (formerly GoEuro). They let you search across all train, bus, and plane routes throughout Europe.
The closest airport to Lillehammer is in Oslo, which is connected to the city by a train that leaves hourly and takes just shy of two hours. Some people choose to drive between Oslo and Lillehammer, but do keep in mind that this is often a longer option because there is frequent construction and road work. Once you arrive in Lillehammer you can walk almost anywhere. There are buses that cover the distance to outside destinations, so it is not necessary that you have access to a car.
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