"Rjukan - an extraordinary place" Rjukan by Saagar

Rjukan Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 19 photos

Rjukan - a town in the wilderness

Rjukan is an inland town about 4 1/2 hrs drive/public transport from Oslo. It is a hyper-industrial town, built up on an abundance of hydroelectricity and water resources. In the midst of what prior to 1911 must have been a pristine wilderness and perhaps a quaint collection of farmhouses (now shifted to a small community museum), a major town was built to produce ammonia, saltpeter, hydrogen, and a host of other stuff. So Rjukan is a town right out in nowhere, not so easy to get there (car, bus), with a lot of Norwegian industrial history. It is also a place of mountain history, being located in a deep valley right beneath Gaustatoppen mountain and at the edge of the Hardangervidda plateu. But most of all, Rjukan is famous for it's war-time history: the production of deuterium, or heavy water, one ingredient in the recipe for an atomic bomb.

Why visit Rjukan?

Rjukan isn't really on any well-used transit route, so you need to go there with a purpose. The location is unique, and its history is unique, and these are reasons enough.
The whole place is suggested put on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its industrial history, so there is a lot to see and learn at the buildings and museums depicting early hydropower development, fertilized industry and so on. Good for freaks. More of a broad appeal, perhaps, has Rjukan's war-time history, with the sabotage and attacks on the deuterium (heavy water) production that fell into the hands of German occupiers during WW2. The story has been filmed, most successfully perhaps in "Heroes of Telemark".
For the outdoors-oriented, there are a multitude of trails and slopes and mountains and lakes in the near surroundings, and Rjukan is a good starting or end point of long-distance hikes on Hardangervidda. In town you can recuperate in restuarants, pubs and soft hotel beds. Some good places to eat and drink, but nothng out of the extraordinary.

Rjukan - how to get there - and back

Rjukan is in Telemark county, about 4 hours out of Oslo. The road standard is being improved, so it may get even faster to reach there. Upon my visit, the tunnels along Tinn Lake west side where the main road goes were being upgraded, and I had to take the long way around the east side.
There are buses direct from Oslo, and bus connections from Kongsberg and Bø towns on the Oslo-Stavanger Railway (Sørlandsbanen). The terrain is rough, so you have a scenery to watch, but also fairly slow going by road.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:History, scenery, compact, definite things to do
  • Cons:Maybe not a place to linger too long?
  • Last visit to Rjukan: May 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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