Reading material for those who love the camping life

Text: Sven Furuly, photo: Stian Lunn, Dampsaga Drift AS and Ian Brodie
Caravan and Caravan magazine, No. 3 June 2020

Lillehammer Camping: Beach in the middle of the city

Norway has a number of cities with opportunities for recreation and bathing life in close proximity to the city center. Then most people probably think of the coastal towns in our elongated country, even inland towns like Lillehammer can tempt bathing tourists in the summer.

Norwegian heat records are usually set innlandet, the weather can be stable for long periods, and the heart rate is often lower in summer in areas that are typically associated with winter and skiing. The city of Lillehammer is one such place. The city, which with its 28 thousand inhabitants at the northern end of Lake Mjøsa, forever entered Norwegian history as the host city for the Olympic Winter Games in 000. An event that at the closing ceremony received the certificate "The best Winter Olympics ever", by then-IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch. A highly deserved tribute to Lillehammer and the neighboring municipalities for their efforts.

Olympic memories

Thirty-five years later, there are still a number of memorials associated with the big folk festival and as a winter port, Lillehammer is a popular destination. But Oppland is also a vibrant tourist county in the summer, and Lillehammer in particular has a number of attractions to offer. From the beautiful beach at Lillehammer Camping to the Sandvik Collections at Maihaugen and Lysegårdsbakkene. In addition, it is a vibrant and pleasant little inland village full of charm and important cultural monuments. A city that is also an excellent starting point for visiting many sights in the neighboring municipalities.

Camping Partnership

Lilllehammer Camping is part of the Norway East West collaboration, where eight campsites in the most central part of Norway collaborate in a number of areas. These represent an exciting diversity, but all have the proximity to beautiful nature and recreation as their core values. This also applies to Lillehammer - although on arrival we wondered a bit if this could really be the case. The access road goes through the "Strandtorget" business area - which must be the largest and most visited shopping center in the whole of Oppland. But the signs showed the way, and suddenly a large and spacious campsite appeared. A typical "city campsite", we thought.

Modern and contemporary

The campsite was established in 1994 and, with the help of skilled investors, has since 2013 developed a modern and contemporary facility. The location down to the shores of Lake Mjøsa offers unique opportunities, but also a number of challenges. Year after year, Gudbrandsdalslågen becomes extra large in the spring, and then the water in Lake Mjøsa rises. Nearby facilities and installations must either be raised to a safe level, or made flood-proof. As it is done at Lillehammer Camping. The other major challenge lies on the environmental side. Enormous resources were used throughout the 1980s to clean Lake Mjøsa, and today everyone is concerned about good environmental protection in order to maintain Norway's largest lake as a natural gem. This means that camping operations must take place in a wise and sustainable manner. Not least when it comes to handling septic tanks from motorhomes and caravans.

Two roles

Lillehammer Camping surprisingly plays two different roles - just like the city itself. Stian Lunn, general manager, tells Bobil & Camping Magasinet that for many users this is a "transit place" on the way between east and west, or south and north, in Norway. The location near the E6 is convenient, the large shopping center nearby makes it easy to stock up, and at the same time seek out services that include everything from car repair to haircuts. Therefore, the campsite has a large number of guests annually who fall into this category. It is especially the motorhomes that choose accommodation that have a central location in relation to the main roads. The site is open from Easter and has its absolute busiest period in July, when the proportion of caravans can reach 35-40 of the visiting guests. Thanks to an online booking up to 24 hours before arrival, it is easy to reserve a place for a quick stay - even during the busiest periods.

family Camping

The other side of Lillehammer Camping is "the place where people settle down". With its approximately 300 pitches - where everyone has electricity and a large part of these are now laid with a permanent asphalt surface - and both playgrounds and the swimming area a few meters away, it has become an attractive family campsite. Here, families like to camp for 3-4 days, while Lunn often sees that adult couples are more interested in exploring the city - where a short walk takes you from the campsite to the pedestrian street - the very heart of Lillehammer. Here you will find museums, galleries, handicrafts, and not least a number of good restaurants. Lillehammer is also the northernmost port of call for Skibladner - the steam-powered wheelboat that has been in regular service on Lake Mjøsa since 1856. It now runs in tourist traffic two months a year, from around St. Hans in June, to the end of August.

Many attractions

Lillehammer Camping also offers 120 beds in several cabins and apartments in the area, where the large service building provides space for various activities. It is good to have access to kitchens, large living rooms and TV rooms if the weather is not the very best - and swimming and sunbathing must be put on hold. A new and fast WiFi network is also in place. When the weather is nice, the traffic is heavy and the guests many. Bicycle lending is a popular offer, making it easier for tourists to explore the city. Lunn tells Bobil & Camping Magasinet that for a while they also tried to offer rental cars - for those who wanted to leave their own motorhome parked for a few days - but the interest was small. The idea was good, for many attractions in the area are 20-30 minutes drive from the campsite. Hunderfossen Family Park, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson's home Aulestad, or beautiful hiking areas such as Mesnalien, Balberg or Hafjell are easiest to reach by car. 

Quiet and charming

The campsite has also gained a good reputation abroad. Many German tourists who just wanted a quick overnight stay on the road between Svinesund and Nord-Vestlandone, discovered what Lillehammer had to offer, and a German motorhome magazine has named Lillehammer Camping Norway's best campsite. It is contemporary and modern, is close to the E6 and has a large capacity, but is nevertheless a surprisingly quiet and charming campsite that manages to embrace two different groups of guests in an excellent way.

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