Let’s explore the best things to do in Skien
Skien, a historic lumber city in Telemark County in Southern Norway, is encircled by bodies of water, including lakes, fjords, and idyllic island locales.
Henrik Ibsen, a playwright and poet, was born in Skien and resided across the city until he was 15 years old. One of these residences, at Venstop, is a museum that delves deeply into Ibsen’s early years at a preserved early 19th-century building that still has the Ibsens’ bowling alley.
The Telemark Canal is a massive waterway that starts at Skien and extends more than 100 kilometers to the west to Dalen. A portion of the canal can be cycled or hiked, or you can take a heritage boat to relax while admiring the breathtaking mountain scenery and antique locks.
15 Best Things to Do in Skien (Norway):
- Telemark Canal
- Henrik Ibsen Museum
- Skien Kirke
- Skien Fritidspark
- Gjerpen Church
- Island-hopping on the Langesundsfjord
- DuVerden Maritime Museum and Science Centre
- Porsgrund Porcelain Factory
- Borgestad Church
- Ulefos Hovedgaard
- Adventure Factory
- Mersmak i Skien
1. Telemark Canal
This canal, which in the latter half of the 19th century made a sizable portion of Telemark County navigable, was unlike anything that had ever been seen.
The Telemark Canal, a living historical site, is made up of two waterways: the Norsjo-Skien canal, which links Skien to the Norsjo Lake, and the lengthier Bandak-Nordsjo Canal, which was completed 40 years later and extends all the way to Dalen, which is located 133 kilometers to the east.
On a stroll, drive, canoe or kayak expedition, or by renting your own boat, there are various opportunities to appreciate the canal and its magnificent upland scenery.
The MS Victoria and MS Henrik Ibsen, which navigate 18 locks like the flight of five chambers at Vrangfoss, are two examples of history boats. However, taking one of them is the easiest.
A historical building transfer from all across Telemark County has resulted in an outdoor museum at the hilltop Brekkeparken, close to the center of Skien.
You can peek inside the buildings, which range from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century and include farmhouses, mills, and workshops, to get a sense of the modest living conditions of the past.
A cafe, a duck pond, and vibrant flowerbeds are all located in the park as well. It also has beautiful views of the city.
Brekkeparken is decorated with hundreds of flowering tulips around the middle of May.
Seasonal exhibitions are also held at the grand manor home from the nineteenth century.
3. Henrik Ibsen Museum
You can visit the house where Henrik Ibsen resided from the age of seven to fifteen at Venstop, which is five kilometers north of Skien.
A farmhouse from 1815, a washhouse, a barn, living spaces for farm employees, and a storehouse are all present on the estate.
A bowling alley from the 1830s is located outside in the orchard, where Knud and Marichen Ibsen’s (Herik’s parents) visitors would have been amused approximately 200 years ago.
The exhibitions focus entirely on Ibsen’s early years and his time in school, exploring how these experiences influenced his writing.
Be sure to indulge in a piece of the cafe’s honey cake, which was Ibsen’s childhood favorite.
4. Skien Kirke
The neo-Gothic Skien Kirke, one of the biggest churches in Norway, was dedicated in 1894 after its predecessor was destroyed by fire.
The enormous size of the church results from the fact that it was constructed with the intention of becoming a cathedral.
But Skien Kirke has always been a parish church, with the exception of when the occupation government was in charge during World War II.
The interior is exquisitely decorated with murals of vine and fleur-de-lis patterns, and the choir, sacristy, and transept all include stunning stained glass windows.
The pulpit itself is a work of art, with glazed bricks around pictures of nine notable churchmen from Norway’s past.
One of the biggest organs in the nation, with 5,000 pipes, is located above the gallery on the west side.
5. Skien Fritidspark
The Skien Fritidspark, which was inaugurated in 2008, is a sizable recreation area with events for people of all ages throughout the year.
There is an outdoor ice rink open from November to March, and depending on snowfall, there is a slope for skiing and snowboarding.
You may follow Skien IK, the neighborhood ice hockey team, which plays its home games in the arena, during this current season.
While the indoor water park, spa, and fitness center of the complex are open year-round, curling is an activity that can be enjoyed at any time.
The outdoor ropes course, a round of minigolf, one of 24-hour frisbee golf, or one of the five tennis courts are all available in the summer.
There are also other sports available, such as beach volleyball, badminton, and indoor climbing, so you’re sure to find something you enjoy.
The Ibsenhuset, which was opened in 1973 and is named after Skien’s most well-known son, was Norway’s most modern cultural institution at the time. Ibsen’s works served as the inspiration for the names of each chamber.
There are 800 seats in the “Dovregubbens Hall,” the main auditorium, and 250 in the “Peer Gynt Hall.” Both offer a jam-packed schedule of events, including ballet performances, rock concerts, seminars, plays, and kid’s entertainment.
The Skien Art Association organizes art exhibitions in the foyer.
The Norwegian Ibsen Award event, which recognizes the top playwrights in the nation, is held at the Ibsenhuset in September.
7. Gjerpen Church
One of Norway’s oldest churches was built by Skien’s Borsesjo lake in 1153, less than a century after the country’s official conversion to Christianity.
Gjerpen Church is a beloved example of Norwegian history and one of the country’s few remaining medieval structures. It is in high demand for weddings and christenings.
The square western tower and the tiny, semicircular window apertures serve as visual cues that the majority of the construction is Romanesque.
Vidkun Quisling, the leader of the seized government, was buried in the nearby cemetery in 1959, 14 years after his execution as part of the legal purge.
8. Island-hopping on the Langesundsfjord
The Skien River enters Friefjord, a smaller arm of the larger Langesundsfjord, just south of Skien and after Porsgrunn.
This fjord is easily accessible from the city and is embroidered with tiny islands. You may spend a happy day or two jumping from one island to another, dining at cozy restaurants, biking through meadows and woodland, and bathing in natural pools.
Nine islands are altogether connected by ferries that depart from Helgeroa, Brevik, and Stathelle Langesund.
A rich forest and gently sloping hills can be found in Sandoya, a trekking paradise, which is only ten minutes from Brevik.
9. DuVerden Maritime Museum and Science Centre
The small town of Porsgrunn, which lies five kilometers to the south, has a scientific and maritime museum housed in an asymmetrical structure on the riverfront.
With the use of cutting-edge interactive stations, the center integrates Porsgrunn’s maritime and industrial past and encourages kids to learn by doing.
They are able to experience what it’s like to steer a container ship, make a small storm using an unique weather turntable, use a crane, test their response times, and view 3D movies about the International Space Station in the amphitheatre.
10. Porsgrund Porcelain Factory
In Porsgrunn, Norway’s only china factory was founded in 1885. The German ceramicist Carl Maria Bauer and the shipowner and businessman Johan Jeremiassen collaborated to create the Porsgrund Porcelain Factory.
The firm fired its first set of excellent china in less than two years, and 130 years later, it still employs the same manufacturing process.
Porsgrund provides china to the Norwegian royal family, and visitors to the plant can observe the fire and painting procedures firsthand while mingling with the workers.
You might find it difficult to leave the store without purchasing a piece of this “white gold” because there is also a tiny museum displaying extraordinary items from the brand’s history.
11. Borgestad Church
As a place of rest for his daughter, who died in 1902 at the age of 16, the Norwegian Prime Minister Gunnar Knudsen founded this church in 1907. The structure will initially appear to be considerably older due to its crenellated tower and ogival arches.
The church was created by architect Henrik Nielsen, and the 24 stained glass windows were created in 1918–19 by renowned artist Emanuel Vigeland. These depict biblical stories like the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree, and as you leave, you can glance up to the gallery to see a joyful angel playing a harp while dancing in the skies.
12. Ulefos Hovedgaard
This mansion, erected in 1807 as a vacation home for landowner and businessman Niels Aall and his wife Christine Johanne Blom, is a must-do excursion.
The Ulefos Hovedgaard in an English park is regarded as Norway’s best example of Empire architecture and décor.
The palace is perched on a rise with a far-off view of the sea and is crowned by a massive dome.
The great hall, the Havesalen, is the highlight of the visit and is managed by the Telemark Museum.
Between spectacular murals of Norwegian waterfalls—two of which were created by a Swedish prisoner of war—this has pilasters with a marble-effect finish.
13. Adventure Factory
A place where children between the ages of 1 and 13 can run amok and expend energy by climbing, jumping, playing games, and completing puzzles.
This tiny universe of slides, ball pits, and soft obstacles is the biggest indoor play area in all of Scandinavia.
Children between the ages of one and three are welcome to climb in the Adventure Factory’s authorized area.
On the other side, parents can relax for an hour or two while eating in the restaurant, watching television on one of the large screens, playing pool or table tennis, and using the free Wi-Fi.
The Skagerrak strait is not far from Skien on the coast, and the southernmost point of the Langesund Peninsula has a natural park just over 20 kilometers to the south.
But what makes this region so fascinating is that during the Second World War, it served as the location of a German coastal fortification.
The Norwegian Home Guard and Coastal Artillery later took over the fortification before it was finally decommissioned in 1993. The peninsula is still dotted with bunkers, covert tunnels dug through the rock, and gun emplacements.
The peninsula is one of the best spots in the area to see migratory seabirds, and the chalky soil and temperate climate have given home to a variety of unusual plant species.
15. Mersmak i Skien
The Mersmak I Skien culinary festival will be taking place the last weekend of August if you happen to be in Skien around that time.
A big organic breakfast is served on Saturday morning, competitions, how-tos, and evening performances are all part of the festival, which is now in its tenth year.
Children aren’t left out either; there are workshops where they can learn how to prepare fish and another where they can create and preserve their own confections.
At the waterside market, where you can also try different types of street food from around the world, manufacturers from all over the nation put up stalls if you’re interested in some stockfish or sweet Norwegian cheese.