A day on the boat from Skien to Dalen

Crossing 5 lakes and 18 locks in style while watching the landscape slowly passing by. A true pleasure from the past century.

Last update June 2018. One long day

Telemark - So worth a visit


When we started exploring Norway, the Telemark region did not strike us a region that we should visit immediately. Maybe because it is less dramatic than many other areas? However, since we have friends in Skien and drove a couple of times by car through various parts of it, we changed our mind. And the tour on the Telemarkskanalen by boat just confirmed that.

In fact so much, that we did the tour now already 3 times and enjoyed every time more.

A weekend in mid-August - and again in June

Our parents came to visit us mid-August, so we decided that this is a great opportunity  to do that together. We all embarked onto the old ship "Henrik Ibsen" (see box) at Skien on a Friday morning at 8 o'clock. The boat was maybe half booked so plenty of space for everybody.


We were quite lucky with weather, with sunshine and up to 21 degrees forecasted. In the morning, it was still pretty crisp and fellow travellers who went straight to the open sitting area in the front of the boat quickly picked up the blankets provided or went to the back side of the boat altogether where it was less windy.

The locks


To get pass the 18 locks at 8 locations takes 4 hours alone but is of course also one of the main attractions of the tour.


The locks are manually operated, but you see the same 2 guyes at all locks as they follow the boat by car. Most interesting is probably the Vrangsfoss locks with its 5 chambers, lifting the boat in total 23m.

With Henrik Ibsen through channels and locks


The next 10(!) hours of "boating" were just great, in particular the narrow bits of the channels of course and first and foremost the 18 locks (see box) our boat had to master.  Actually all of them so narrow that you could touch the stone walls from the boat - and that the boat bumped into them from time to time.

Otherwise it's just a pleasure to see the beautiful landscape and shore with lots of typical white wooden houses passing by. In the meantime, you sit either in the sun in the front or under the sun roof in the back with a glass of beer or wine of whatever you fancy. On board you get a small but decent selection for breakfast and lunch or snacks for the little hunger in between.

The last long stretch to the final stop at the Dalen hotel is to cross Flåtvatn, Kviteseidsvatn and Bandak which reminded us more of the fjord Norway again with its higher mountains and steep rocks dipping straight into the water.


Dalen hotel


Of course, finishing the great long boat trip with a stay, or at least a dinner, at the fantastic Dalen hotel is just the thing to do if the have the time (see entry on Dalen under "South tours").


Either way, you get by bus back to Skien in about 4 hours, with a short photo stop at the Eidsborg stave church if you have a kind bus driver as we had.


Henrik Ibsen (or Victoria) 


The M/S Henrik Ibsen is a historical 100 feet long passenger boat from 1907 sailing the Telemark Canal during the summer season. Originally and until 1970 the boat was operated in the area around Gothenburg, but then completely refurbished and used as a channel boat in Telemark since 1990. 


Distance from Oslo

  • 130 km / 1,75 hrs by car from Oslo to Skien, 10 hrs by boat to Dalen, 4 hrs by bus back to Skien



  • Scenic boat trip itself is the main highlight

  • 18 waterlocks at 8 locations make it very entertaining

  • A stay in the Dalen hotel as a perfect end


Overnight stay we can recommend

  • Dalen hotel

Our personal extra tip

  • Get off the boat before Vrangsfossen and walk 15 min to catch up with the boat and see it passing the 5 watergates


Points of interest close by:

  • When you manage to have your car available at Dalen, the way back to Oslo via Rjukan, Heddal and Notodden is of course a great alternative


More information





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