Deeply woven into Norwegian culture, quite literally, trolls are everywhere in Norway. When in Oslo you don’t have to go far to find them.
Your first encounter with a troll is likely to be in a tourist shop, where you will find miniatures, books, calendars, fabric designs and t-shirts dedicated to these fantastic beings.
You’ll learn that trolls come in all shapes and sizes; immense mountain trolls; moss covered forest trolls; terrifying three headed trolls and mischievous, gnome-like trolls.
Many a tourist shop and information centre will have a troll statue. It’s a guilty pleasure to snap a selfie with one of these.
However it’s when you’re in a dark Norwegian forest that, with a little imagination, you might encounter a troll and experience the essence of Norway.
Located just 20 minutes from Oslo, the Trollvann (Troll Water) is a high mountain lake in the beautiful Trollvann forest.
In winter the area is popular with skiers and ice-skaters, in the summer it’s a haven for hikers, swimmers and picnicking day trippers.
While accessible via the winding Grefsenkollveien road, in summer hiking to the lake through the Trollvann Forest’s pines and birches is the way to find trolls.
There are a multitude of well-marked walking and bike trails that wind through the forest and across the many ski runs on the mountain side.
These open slopes are dazzlingly bright as you emerge from the forest. Carpeted with wildflowers they offer stunning views over Oslo.
It is a particular joy to pick wild blueberries as you hike, as wherever the sun breaks the canopy the forest floor is carpeted with blueberry bushes. Many locals visit the forest especially to collect berries and if you’re lucky to stay with friends you may get to sample a Trollvann blueberry pie.
Under the forest shadows every moss covered rock formation, fallen pine trunk or crack in the mountain side suggests a slumbering troll awaiting nightfall to rouse itself.
Fires are permitted throughout the year so you’ll come across plenty of scorched fire pits – signs of a troll feast the night before?
When you reach the Trollvann you will find locals with portable BBQs cooking up sausages and swimming in the cold mountain lake.
End your troll hunt with waffles at the Trollvannstua restaurant beside the lake.
Like a mountain troll from an Old Norse tale, Holmenkollbakken ski jumping hill looms imposingly over Oslo.
The jump is visible on a clear day from much of Oslo, but it’s when the mountain is shrouded in mist that the giant structure takes on an otherworldly quality.
Norwegians have been skiing the hill since the late 1800s. Today Holmenkollen is Norway’s number one tourist attraction.
Take the Oslo Metro’s Holmenkollen Line to Holmenkollen Station, which is located within walking distance of the ski jump and stadium.
On the way you’ll pass the Scandic Holmenkollen Park hilltop hotel. Built in 1894 in the distinctive ‘Norwegian Dragon Style’ it summons images of a vast medieval Viking hall.
From the observation deck atop the 130 metre jump tower you will take in panoramic views of Oslo, the inner Oslo fjord and the surrounding mountains.
The vista of forest clad mountains marching into the distance under brooding skies perfectly conjures a shadowy world populated by trolls and other supernatural beings.
Inside the ski jump is the Holmenkollen Ski Museum offering 4,000 years of skiing history and Norwegian polar exploration artefacts.
Across the road in the forest opposite the foot of Holmenkollen you will find the Kollentrollet, The Holmenkollen Troll, via a short trial.
Approach with caution, lest everything that had been as immobile as stone begins to move.
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