Lykling Gold Mines in Bømlo; Norway’s Biggest Gold Mine

Most people are unaware of Norway’s history with gold mining, but there has historically been several big gold mines in beautiful Norway. One of the biggest gold mines is located in Lykling in Bømlø, and it’s been turned into an UNESCO protected site that’s an incredible tourist destination.

Lykling Gold Mine is now a popular hiking and recreational area with lots of incredible places to go for a walk alongside the old, abandoned gold mines. You have a pristine view over the amazing fjord right next to the mines, and it’s truly one of Norway’s most beautiful places.

Bømlo fjord
The Bømlo fjord. Photo by Vegard Økland / CC BY-SA 2.0.

What makes Lykling Gold Mines worth a visit

Lykling has grown to be a popular tourist attraction in the last decade, and the number one reason people visit are to see the amazing gold mines with their own eyes. But it’s not just the gold mine itself that appeals, but rather the fact that the gold mines are in an incredible area with unique nature.

It’s not just a big stripped area, but rather a big area where nature meet cave openings where old timers have mined for gold, and even gotten over 200 kg of gold from the ground.

You will find several mine entrances, and lots of stone rubble piles stacked all over the place. Some of these stones will likely have some gold in them still!

You are free to wander around the gold mining area to enjoy the beauty of the coastal climate mixed with rock formations that carry gold. The entire area is part the UNESCO Global Geoparks, which gives it a high protection against altering the nature there. So you are not permitted to move rocks or anything like that.

Some people enter the gold mining caves to explore, but this is not advised. Most are flooded, and they are generally not considered 100 % safe to enter, so do so at your own risk.

There are several tour guide companies that offer local guides in the area, giving you a detailed tour of the gold mining history in the area and shows you where most of the gold has been found.

Visiting Bømlo

While Lykling is just a small town in Bømlo that only has a few shops and some houses, the rest of Bømlo is also worth a visit when you are in the area. This municipality has many small, cozy coastal towns where you can really enjoy a warm summer day, and freely explore all these small towns have to offer.

You won’t find any big supermarkets or a bustling nightlife, but rather a few cozy towns with hospitable locals, lots of beaches and places to go for a swim, incredible and pristine nature areas, and many good hiking opportunities.

Mosterhamn in Bømlo
Mosterhamn in Bømlo.

It’s strictly illegal to mine gold at the gold mines!

You are under no circumstances allowed to actually mine gold in the Lykling Gold Mines, even if you find small old flakes sticking out of cave walls (yes, this still happens).

That is, unless you get permits to gold mine (we’ll get back to that just below).

There are reports of international tourists who have allegedly visited with the intent to illegally mine gold, but no one has been fined or sent to court because of this yet.

A group of school children found a big rock filled with gold a few years ago during a field trip, and the school was given exempt to the regulation, and allowed to keep the gold-rich stone. However, the local authorities are clear that they will not make a similar exempt for tourists or private citizens.

There are other places in Norway where you can legally mine for gold (including river panning), so I strongly urge you to rather chose one of those spots if you’re after gold, and rather visit Lykling Gold Mines for its natural beauty and historical significance.

Official gold mining days at Lykling Gold Mines

The only way to be able to legally gold mine at Lykling Gold Mines is to get the legal rights from the land owner (which in this case is Bømlo Gold Mining Company DA).

They generally have a few days every year where participants can pay a fee to pan gold, and keep whatever they find. The fee is typically 500 NOK per day, and allow you to keep gold pieces that are valued at less than 10,000 NOK (roughly USD $1,000).

Keep in mind that there are only a few of these public gold mining days per year, so you need to be a bit lucky to get a spot for it.

These gold mining days offer gold mining in the downstream rivers, not actual cave mining. The company responsible for this event is called Kystguiden, so check out their website for more information about this.

The history for Lykling Gold Mines

Lykling Gold Mines were founded in 1862 after a young shepherd found a rock that was filled with small pieces of gold. This quickly lead to local companies securing the mineral rights for the area, and beginning to create the gold mines.

The main gold mining caves opened in 1882, and was active until the last one closed in 1919. The gold miners found over 200 kg (some claim 250 kg) of pure gold in this 29 year time period before it was deemed to be too unprofitable to be kept open.

Several hundred young men worked in the gold mines when they were open, and people from all over Norway traveled to Lykling in the hopes of striking it rich in the mines.

How to get to Lykling in Bømlo

Bømlo is located on Norway’s incredible west coast, pretty much dead in the middle between Bergen and Stavanger.

The eastiest way to get to Bømlo (and especially Lykling) is to use a rental car. You can drive along E39 (north if you’re coming from Stavanger, and south if you’re coming from Bergen) until you get to Føyno. This drive is roughly 2 hours from both cities.

From Føyno, cross the Bømlobrua (Bømlo Bridge), and follow the signs towards Lykling. This final stretch is roughly 30 minutes.

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