A trip on one the canal boats is an experience of ancient cultural history and spectacular nature. The canal consists of 18 lock chambers, lifting the boats from 0 – 72 metres above sea level during the 105 km long journey from Skien to Dalen. When the canal was finished it was promoted as the most spectacular waterway in Europe. The canal is also awarded the Europe Nostra gold medal for conservation and preservation.
The two nostalgic canal boats M/S “Victoria” and M/S “Henrik Ibsen” sail in regular routes between Skien and Dalen from May to September. The somewhat newer M/S “Telemarken” regularly sails between Akkerhaugen and Lunde. The canal boats offer trips from 2 to 11 hours and canal busses bring travellers back to their cars.
A range of Telemark’s cultural treasure lie a stone’s throw from the Telemark Canal: Morgedal – the cradle of skiing, the tourist centre of Vrådal, the stave churches at Heddal and Eidsborg, Rjukan with its war history, Ulefoss Manor House, Ibsen’s birthplace in Skien, Norway’s only porcelain factory – Porsgrunds Porselænsfabrik and the fairytale Dalen Hotel with its dragons and spires.
Cycling along the Telemark Canal
Telemark is an exciting area for cyclists, and there are a number of different routes to choose from. One of the most scenic routes follows the Telemark Canal, which stretches 115 km from Ulefoss to Dalen. The route follows the canal most of the way, and shows a great variety of landscapes and cultural sights. The stretch is very steep in places. Between Ulefoss and Dalen the road is marked with bicycle signs, and there are also a number of additional routes from the Telemark Coast, Skien/Porsgrunn and Vestfold. The route goes along roads with little traffic, in some places car-free roads.
The Canal Bicycle Route can be combined with a pleasant cruise onboard one of the canal boats.
In your own boat
The Telemark Canal allows you to spend your holiday in your own boat. You can take a refreshing morning dip, and reel in your dinner over the side of your boat if you wish. You can spend the night in your own little bay, or moor at one of the guest piers along the canal. With Langesund as a starting point you should calculate three to four days to Notodden and back, and a week to Dalen and return.
By canoe on The Telemark Canal
To canoe along the canal is a fascinating experience, and here you can choose the distance according to your needs, whether you have small children or want a really challenging trip with friends.. You can start at Dalen and Notodden if you wish. For families we recommend the stretch from Kviteseid to Ulefoss.
One can hire canoes and kayaks with or without touring equipment. You may also bring your canoe on board one of the canal boats. Transportation and collection of equipment by car along the canal be can be arranged from Telemark Kanalcamping in Lunde.
To the Canal in your own car
The Canal can also be enjoyed from land. All the locks can be reached by car. Here you can enjoy the busy life around the locks, which are operated in the same way as for 100 years ago. The locks in Ulefoss, Vrangfoss and Lunde are the busiest. Here the boats meet frequently and many passengers enter or disembark from the boats. You can also enjoy the peace of the beautiful parks that are laid beside some of the locks. In Vrangfoss and Lunde you can combine a visit to the Canal with a pleasant meal and refreshments.
Telemark offers a variety of marked trails – from easy Carwalks to tougher walks on the Hardanger mountain plateau. The local tourist office will provide you with maps and information about the walking facilities in the area.
A new breathtaking path in Dalen is “The Lårdal path” (Tougher than Besseggen) that can be recommended for the enthusiastic walkers. This is a fantastic footpath between Lårdal and Dalen. A large part of the path follows the mountain edge up to 800 metres above the Telemark Canal. You can admire the old scenery and historic sites. Total length is ca. 15 kms, and it is a long day walk or you can make it a 2 days trip if you bring your own tent. This walk can also be combined with a return trip by boat from Lårdal on the Telemark Canal.