The stave churches are a unique part of the architecture and culture of the middle ages, and there are still several stave churches that survived for hundreds of years and can be viewed in all their beauty. These are unsurprisingly one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Norway, but they are mostly scattered all around the southern half of Norway.
Most of the stave churches in Norway are far away from Oslo, but there are a few options if you are visiting Oslo and also want to see a stave church with your own eyes.
The stave church that is easiest to get to from Oslo is Gol stave church. This is because the entire stave church has been moved to Oslo, and is now part of the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. There are also 3 other stave churches near Oslo: Heddal stave church, Flesberg stave church and Høyjord stave church.
So if you just want to see a stave church in Norway close to Oslo, just head to the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. This museum is on Bygdøy, very close to the center of the city.
Gol stavkirke was originally found in Gol, about a 2 hour drive from Oslo, but was moved down to the capital in 1800s to be part of the museum.
Gol has since gotten a replica church you can see(called Gol nye stavkirke), but the original is still in Oslo. The original in Oslo is beautiful, and a great way to see a stave church with your own eyes, but for some people it might feel a bit wrong to look at one in a museum.
So, let’s take a look at the other stave churches that are close to Oslo, and how to get to them!
Heddal stave church
Heddal stave church is the biggest stave church in all of Norway, and my personal favorite to recommend tourists to visit if they want to see one of the Norwegian stave churches.
This is such a breathtaking church, and it’s pretty close to Oslo, especially if you drive a car. I don’t really see any reason not to pick this stave church if you are staying in Oslo and want to see a beautiful stave church, other than if you are going to be driving close to one of the others at a later point.
It is definitely worth the drive from Oslo to Heddal stave church if you want to see the biggest and best middle age church architecture!
How to get to Heddal stave church: Drive towards Kongsberg, then head for Notodden. The stave church is just a ten minutes drive from Notodden city center. Total drive time is around 1 hour and 45 minutes from Oslo. You can take the train to Notodden, but you will have to take one of the local buses there to get to the church (unless you want to walk for 1 – 2 hours).
Høyjord stave church
Høyjord stave church is the southernmost stave church in Norway, and it is located close to Sandefjord and Tønsberg, a short while south of Oslo. The church is located pretty far away from any big city, but it’s a nice place to visit if you are interested in this special type of architecture.
You can easily see that Høyjord stave church is a bit less architecturally complex than Heddal stave church, but it’s still a nice and traditional stave church that makes for a beautiful sight.
Visit this stave church if you are driving south from Oslo towards Vestfold and want a quick stop to see a big stave church along the way.
How to get to Høyjord stave church: It is easiest to get there by car, and the drive from Oslo is about 1 hour and 12 minutes. Just follow E18 south until exit 30, then follow the signs towards Høyjord.
Flesberg stave church
Flesberg stave church is less grandeur than many of the Norwegian stave churches, and is far from the tourist attraction that many of the other stave churches are. This is actually not that strange, because this stave church has been rebuilt several times, and the modern church is nothing like the original that was build in the middle ages.
The only original part is the spire, but even this has been changed from wood to bricks. The architecture is still the same for the spire, but the rest of the church is completely different.
Flesberg stave church is not a complete stave church in my opinion, and I don’t think I would recommend anyone to visit this if you want to see the beautiful stave churches, but it’s still considered to be a stave church by the government. The church is located just a short walk from Flesberg city center.
How to get to Flesberg stave church: You can either drive a car (1 hour 40 minutes) by driving to Kongsberg, then drive up towards Numedal. To get there by public transport, take the bus to Kongsberg, the change to a bus that is headed towards Geilo and exit at Flesberg stop.