Just one hour and 15 minutes by train from Oslo, to the west of Norway, lies the city of Kongsberg. Its name means “the mountain of the King” and if you’re starting to feel like this is the beginning of a Tolkien novel, you’re not entirely wrong. Kongsberg is home to the Silver Mines, where all the silver was mined to produce coins for the whole country — and the whole city has an eery energy that brings Middle Earth to mind. If you want to explore a destination that combines raw nature with rich history and quirky places to hang out, then hop on the first L12 train because you’ll want to be seeing and doing the below things.
Quite literally, as a tour of the Silver Mines will leave you in awe. Kongsberg’s Mining Museum is actually five museums in one (all housed under the same roof), so with just the price of one ticket you’ll get to wander the Silver Mines, see one of the biggest raw silver collections in the world in the Mining Museum, learn the history of coinage at the Royal Norwegian Mint Museum and even brush up your knowledge on Norwegian minerals, industry, even skiing.
Kongsberg Brygerri, a small microbrewery hidden in an alley, used to have a sign declaring that they serve “beer as cold as your ex’s heart”. Although we cannot attest to the coldness of your ex’s heart, we can tell you with certainty that the cool beer selection here is not to be missed. If you’re a big group, then you should definitely arrange a beer tasting, so that you can sip a bit of everything and also learn a few things about the brewing process. By the end of the session, you might even get your answer as to who has the coldest heart.
Kongsberg’s Kino is not like most cinemas: it’s part of a cultural center that’s also a part of a university — so going to watch a movie feels like you just stepped on campus. But you’ll be pleased to know that when it comes to your viewing experience, Krona Kino delivers just as professionally as any cinema would; 4D movies, latest releases and all.
If the weather is nice, you can bring your swimsuit with you
Kongsberg has many “badeplasser” (“bathing places”), mostly lakes, and they’re very happy about the community using them. Every spring, there’s even a ceremony that involves ribbon-cutting and, sometimes, the Mayor of Kongsberg being thrown in the waters as a friendly prank. You can find more information about badeplasser here.
…And if the weather isn’t nice, you can still bring your skis
Kongsberg loves skiing — they’ve even created a museum about it (see the paragraph about the Silver Mines). The Kongsberg Skisenter is quite impressive: it has a brand new snowcross area which includes a halfpipe, funboxes, quarterpipes and big jumps. The lifts will take you 1,600 meters up into the mountains where there’s also a café-restaurant, a well-stocked equipment rental centre and, of course, breathtaking views.
The river here is so important, it has its own museum
Kongsberg is basically cut in half by the river Lågen. The river has had numerous important roles to play throughout the town’s history, from timber production to being utilised for electricity later on. In the Labro museum, you’ll find a well-documented account of all this, as well as other interesting displays. Just don’t tell the river they made a whole museum for it. It’s bursting enough as it is.
You will probably find your new home here (which also serves coffee)
Kongsberg has a lot more for you to explore: from a bridge full of coins (you can even find coins from the Nazi era, which is not something you see very often), to numerous galleries and yoga places, this little town will definitely keep you coming back for more. But to do that, you’ll need a haunt, a home away from home — and there’s no better place for that than Kåre João Café & Bar. What looks like someone’s living room furnished with mismatched furniture, is actually the coolest place in town; open in the morning for coffee, desserts and warm bites, it slowly evolves into a place where you can have a beer and enjoy live music from local artists. Soon, you’ll be a local too.