During the past years where we have been living in Denmark, we have all the while been talking about going hiking in Norway, which is ‘just’ a ferry ride away. But somehow, we always ended up going south, heading for the Dolomites or the rest of the Alps. Due to the covid-19 situation, however, going south did not seem like a great option when summer was approaching, so we thought that Norway would be a better choice this year.
Hiking holiday in Bortelid, Norway: Overview
- Where is Bortelid located?
- How to get to Bortelid?
- Where to stay in Bortelid?
- What to do in Bortelid (besides hiking;-)?
- Where to shop groceries around Bortelid?
- Where to eat in Bortelid?
Where is Bortelid?
But where to go in Norway – the longest country in Europe, stretching more than 1700 km (1000 miles) from south to north and positively filled with good hiking possibilities? Since we now have a daughter, who was around nine months at the time, we knew that we wanted to go by car and thus by ferry from northern Jutland. I of course investigated the option of taking the ferry all the way up to Stavanger or Bergen to come close to ‘instagrammable’ destinations such as Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) and Trolltunga (‘Troll’s Tongue), but it would entail a very long ferry ride and several hours of driving in complicated terrain.
As our daughter MK is not the greatest lover of driving while awake, we instead opted for a destination with maximum two hours of driving from the ferry. Furthermore, we thought it might be a good idea to steer clear of the most known and crowded hiking destinations exactly due to covid-19. We ended up choosing Bortelid, which is located in the Agder county and operates as a ski destination during the winter. As you will see from the upcoming trail posts, it offers a handful of family-friendly hikes, and it is located less than 100 km (62 miles) from the ferry terminal in Kristiansand – the closest destination from northern Jutland. It turned out to be the perfect destination for our little family to go on a five-day hiking holiday.
How to get to Bortelid?
If you want to go to Bortelid for a hiking holiday like us, you should aim to arrive in southern Norway. Kristiansand is the obvious choice as it both has a ferry terminal for those who are coming by car from Denmark or Sweden, and an airport for those coming by plane. You can, however, also come by ferry to the more eastern ports of Langesund, Larvik or Sandefjord – the latter is connected to Stromstad in Sweden, the former to northern Jutland. If you are arriving from any of these ports, you should drive along European route E18 to Arendal, and then follow regional road 42 to Evje. Just a kilometer south of Evje, in the village of Dåsnes, you will reach a roundabout at the Joker supermarket (yes, that is what it is called).
Here you take the second exit onto the regional road Fv302 which after approximately 20 kilometers turns into Fv353. After following this road for about eight kilometers, you come to a T-cross where you should turn to the right on Fv351, following the sign for Bortelid, and then drive for ten kilometers. You will have reached the village when you start seeing lamp posts along the road. If you are driving from Kristiansand, you should take main road 9 towards Evje, and then follow the instructions from the roundabout as described above. You can, however, also reach Bortelid with bus from Kristiansand. Use the website for Agder public transport to plan your trip.
Where to stay in Bortelid?
Fortunately, there are no huge hotel concrete blocks in Bortelid. Instead it offers various holiday homes in the shape of ultra-charming wooden huts, and one beautiful wooden hotel with holiday flats just next to the lake. We chose a cute wooden hut close to the lake with a big terrace for relaxing. For just 295 NOK (32 $) per night we had a well-equipped kitchen, big living room and no less than four bedrooms all to ourselves. There was also a fireplace and plenty of wood, but due to the high temperatures heating was not really a necessity – quite the opposite! Be aware, though, that very varm weather is relatively rare in Norway, and thus that air condition is equally rare.
What to do in Bortelid (besides hiking;-)?
While we were in Bortelid (end of June), the weather was extraordinarily warm and sunny with temperatures just below 30⁰C (86⁰F). It was therefore obvious to go swimming in the clean Norwegian lakes in the area. Bortelid itself is placed at a small lake called Bortelidtjønna with a narrow sandstrip in one end, serving as a beach, and you can rent both SUPs, kayaks and canoes for a surprisingly low price. We did, however, prefer the nearby Rundatjønna lake where we went swimming towards the end of the Gjuvvatnet hike (will be posted in the near future). I should mention that the water, in spite of the high air temperature, was rather ‘refreshing’ so it might normally be too chilly for those sensitive to cold. Luckily, there are plenty of other outdoor activities around Bortelid – such as biking, paddling, fishing, roller skiing, climbing, bouldering, mini- and discgolf. Read more on Bortelid’s tourism website which is largely available in English.
Where to shop groceries around Bortelid?
In Bortelid itself there is a tiny convenient store with quite limited opening hours – at least we didn’t manage to shop there even once during our stay. It might have even more limited opening hours outside the summer and skiing season, so be sure to check its Facebook page to see if it is open. Instead of relying on this shop, we recommend doing like us and making a big round of grocery shopping closer to civilization. The closest options are Joker Dåsnes and Rema1000 in Evje. You might find prices in the former a bit cheaper than Rema1000, but prices are very high in Norway in general, so don’t get a heart attack when you see your credit card bill!
Where to eat in Bortelid?
At home! Besides a few hotels with dining options in the neighboring valleys, the closest restaurants are located more than 40 km (25 miles) away in Evje down south. So, do plan to cook on your own for the most part of your stay. The accommodation available in Bortelid reflects the need for cooking on your own as all rentals feature a more or less fully equipped kitchen with all the utensils you might need for cooking up your own feast. In the supermarkets mentioned above you will also be able to find national staple foods like brunost, pickled herrings and smoked or fresh trout.