Long nestled in happy obscurity 85 miles north of Oslo, Lillehammer, Norway, was host to the 1994 Winter Olympics. Visitors can see the ski runs—there are two Olympic downhill ski slopes and more than 200 miles of marked cross-country trails—skating rinks and the Olympic village.

Lillehammer also has the Maihaugen Open-Air Museum, a living-history exhibit of 150 buildings - one of the country's best museums. You can spend hours browsing the old workshops—there's one for practically every occupation, from frame maker to gilder to gunsmith. Each is highly detailed: It's as though the craftsman had stopped in the middle of his work to get a cup of coffee. As you move through the centuries, you can taste local cheeses and potato bread, watch soap being made and be shown around meticulously decorated homes by English-speaking actors in period costumes.


If time permits, take a tour of the city's stave churches or explore the rock carvings in nearby Drotten. In the same region, between Lillehammer and Lom, the Gudbrandsdal Valley is called Peer Gynt Country (the legendary Norwegian folk hero is said to have lived there) and merits a day's drive to see beautiful pine-clad slopes, northern meadows and picturesque streams.


In addition to skiing attractions, Lillehammer also features summer activities such as the wheel-bob, a warm-weather version of the bobsled used in the 1994 Olympics. The under-two-minute ride is located in Hunderfossen, a mountainous area about 10 miles from Lillehammer.

The Hunderfossen Familiepark features a Fairytale Palace with costumed characters. Reinforcing the fairytale theme, a 45-ft troll presides over the attractions, which include rafting on a gentle artificial river, go-karting, swimming and visiting a children's farm. The park also offers a ropes course with four courses designed for children of various ages and heights.

About 15 minutes from Lillehammer is the Hafjell Alpine Center, which was built for the 1994 Games and remains one of Norway's largest ski areas. There are about 186 miles of ski trails, and the resort has a gondola and three chair lifts.

In summer, Hafjell offers 15 miles of mountain-bike trails, including dirt jumps, which attract some 6,500 bikers a year. Visitors pay to ride the gondola, but once you are at the top, there is no charge for biking or hiking.

Treasure hunts, a wooden climbing play area and a small Tyrolean Traverse zipline for children also are available, as are four small on-mountain restaurants open during the summer season.

Travel 42

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Courtesy of: Darla Logsdon

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