Rjukan’s history – a travel guide to a World Heritage site

Rjukan, the town in the valley below Gausta, was 2015 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015. The enormous growth of Norsk Hydro during the 20th century led to the transition of Rjukan, from a small village to a small industrial city.

This resulted in a unique environment where the drama of the spectacular landscape met with early industrial architecture and the characteristic wooden residential houses.

Do you want to experience Rjukan as a World Heritage site? Here are some activities that will take you back to the fascinating 20th-century history.

Town walk in Rjukan

Rjukan is a typical workers’ town, much of which has been built thanks to Norsk Hydro. On a short walk through Rjukan you can experience many of the areas and buildings that are important to Rjukan’s history and world heritage.

Read more: Town walk in Rjukan

Visit Vemork

The impressive industrial building Vemork was the world’s largest power station when it opened in 1911. Built It was built to make generate electricity from the impressive Rjukanfossen waterfall. Today Vemork hosts is home to the Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum. Yet, most visitors are like to probably come for the Second World War- exhibition The Heroes from Telemark. Telling The exhibition tells the story of how the Norwegian resistance, with aid from aided by England-Britain, performed carried out the famous heavy-water sabotage that put an end to Hitler’s developing development of an atom bomb.

Read more: vemork.no

Hike the Saboteurs’ trail

The Saboteurs’ trail Trail is part of the route a group from the Norwegian resistance used during the Second World War II, the night they were to blow up the heavy- water plant in Rjukan. The hike starts at Rjukan Fjellstue, about 11 km from the center of Rjukan.

Read moire: Hike the Saboteurs’ trail

Rjukan Line

The railway and the two ferries D/F Ammonia and M/F Storegut were used to transport goods from Rjukan to the rest of the world. This is also where DF Hydro was sunk on 20 February 1944 – which became the last act in the fight for heavy water. The industrial transport network was closed down in 1991, but the Rjukan Line has found a new lease of life as a museum railway.

Read more: Rjukan – Line a historical journey

Rjukanfossen waterfall

Explore the great waterfall that put Rjukan on the map in the 19th century. Today most of the water is diverted down to Vemork power station, which means the waterfall can seldom be seen in all its glory. Rjukanfossen is released only on rare occasions – sometimes once a year, at the Marispelet pageant in late July.

Read more: Rjukan waterfall


Just a four-minute ride with the gondola and you’ll find yourself almost 1000 m above sea level with a spectacular view of Gausta. Krossobanen is the fast and easy way to go from Rjukan up to the entrance to Hardangervidda national park. Krossobanen was built as welfare measure to bring the population into the sun during the winter. Today Krossobanen is a tourist attraction that is open daily.

Read more: Krossobanen

Download the Gausta-app

Plan better, explore more safely, and discover more. The new Gausta app has 3D maps, SOS functions, opening hours, and other useful information ahead of your stay at Gausta. Download the app from the App Store or Google Play today!


Sights & excursions