Sørlandet Blogg
Susanne loves Southern Norway.

It’s easy to tell how much Susanne loves Southern Norway. She’s visited over 45 times and has become fluent in Norwegian. These days, Susanne Hegenscheidt brings her family on visits and includes both her mother and three children. So what do Susanne and her three-generation family experience when visiting Southern Norway?

Visit Sørlandet: You frequently visit Southern Norway with your family. What are the ages of your group and what makes Southern Norway an ideal place for a family?

Susanne: We have five. Grandmother is 79. I’m 45. We have a beautiful girl who will be 13 in October and then two little ones. A girl of 4 years and a boy of 3 years.

In Southern Norway, people are always welcoming you and your family with open arms and kind words. They’re very patient. They have very good ideas how to entertain kids in a nice and simple way. For example, the best idea I’ve ever seen for kids was in the northern part of Setesdal there is a town called Hovden, a famous ski resort. In the summer you can go hiking there and you can take a chair lift up the mountain. I thought we would take the lift up the mountain and walk down again. My kids are quite young and for the little ones they were worried we would have to go downhill again.

The best surprise ever was that there was a trampoline halfway up the mountain. Who on earth would have this idea to put up a trampoline on a mountain in the middle of nowhere just to entertain kids? It made it easy for families to have this hiking experience. It made a great spot to have a break, have something to eat and the kids can hop on a trampoline.

Susanne and her kids at Hovden. Photo Susanne Hegenscheidt.

Susanne and her kids at Hovden. Photo: Susanne Hegenscheidt.

Another time we attended an automobile show in Rysstad. That was something for automotive enthusiasts but not really for kids. Of course, the Norwegians had waffles and sausages but they also had mini-tractors for kids. We came, we visited and the little kids got bored but then we found mini toy tractors just for them. They could go around on these toy tractors while I could look at the beautiful cars. It was a simple idea and family friendly-idea. That is something you wouldn’t find in Germany.

Visit Sørlandet: You and your family live in Germany. What makes Southern Norway an ideal spot for a German family?

Susanne: It’s ideal place because it is so close by. From northern Germany it’s just about 10 hours and you are there, including the ferry ride. You can go there just for one week and you don’t have to travel miles and miles and miles. The Color Line ferry is excellent with good service.

When you get to Norway, you can be free there. The kids can roam around the nature. It’s so beautiful. The people are so kind to families and kids. With a family you go to Southern Norway and you step on the Norwegian ground there and breathe out and feel good. It feels like home. You’re so settled in Southern Norway. It’s a great feeling.

It’s so nice for Germans because we are not as big of a country as Norway but we have so many people around. Everywhere there are people. {In Norway} You have a remote place where you can have your peace and quiet for yourself, where you can go outside and feel so relaxed and free. It’s so wonderful. They are friendly, nice, and warm-hearted. It’s a good feeling.

Update: In 2018 Susanne and her family MOVED to Setesdal in Southern Norway – we love it!

Visit Sørlandet: When you bring your family to Southern Norway, where do you and your family stay?

Susanne: We always rent a “hytte” or a little summer house. From there we do our daily trips. We always come back in the end of the day due to my mother’s age and my little childrens’ age. That’s why we are usually in Setesdal. We go on adventure trips daily.

Before my younger kids were born, I went with my elder kid and my mom. We went to Lista, a peninsula. It’s the very southern part of Norway. It’s the first part after the ice age to become free of ice. It’s a very special place with sandy beaches. Usually, you don’t have sandy beaches in Norway but you have it in Setesdal as well as at the river Otra. There you have fine sandy beaches, which are excellent for kids. You don’t have to go to Florida you can go to Southern Norway and have sandy beaches there. It’s really nice.

Visit Sørlandet: You have taken you family to Southern Norway dozens of times. What other activities would you recommend for travelers with children?

Susanne: Bygland beach. It’s a very nice spot. There you have a glassmaker where you can watch people make glass. They have waffles and souvenirs there. Right next to it is a wonderful sandy beach. A great spot for families. They also have steam ship there. It’s called Bjoren. That’s a great experience to go with that ship on the fjord. That is always a highlight for kids.

Another spot is Hovden Aqualand and Spa. It’s a swimming pool in Hovden and a great place.

In Rysstad there’s a local history museum called the Setesdal Museum. I’ve been there six times already because I simply love it. In Rysstad there’s a shop where there’s a little playground for kids. They just put up a climbing playground for kids and it’s another wonderful Norwegian idea. You go there and mom can do the shopping while the kids can go on this huge climbing playground. The Norwegians always have these nice ideas for kids. As a parent you can relax. You know everywhere you go with your kids you are welcome and everywhere there is something little and nice for kids. Kids love nice little things.

Something we want to do when our kids are older is tree climbing. There’s a climbing park in the trees in Evje. That’s something I would like to do along with river rafting in Evje. Also some more hiking!

Visit Sørlandet: When was the last time you visited Southern Norway and what is your best memory from that trip?

Susanne: The last time I visited was four weeks ago. That was in July. We went to Setesdal to Åraksbø. We went there for the fifth time. We know all the places around very well and we have great fun there. The best thing we did was something new. The Elgtun park. It’s an Elk Park in Bygland in Setesdal. I can really recommend it. They have two big elk there and just as we went back to Germany they got two little elks. I have pictures of them and they’re so cute. Next year we will definitely go back again and visit all the elks! That’s my best tip for a family trip to Setesdal.

The family visiting Elgtun elk park in Setesdal. Photo: Susanne Hegenscheidt.

The family visiting Elgtun elk park in Setesdal. Photo: Susanne Hegenscheidt.

Visit Sørlandet: Where does your family of five eat when visiting Southern Norway?

Susanne: Waffles with blueberries! Everybody is selling waffles in the summer in Norway. Even at the Petrol stations or shops, there will always be some very nice people selling waffles and coffee. Where there is a tourist attraction there’s someone selling waffles and coffee. They’re so nice to children to families. It’s great.

Visit Sørlandet: When are you visiting Southern Norway again?

Susanne: I’m always dreaming of visiting. We hope to go in the winter for one week to see the elk in Elgtun and go cross country skiing in January.

Visit Sørlandet: Describe Southern Norway in three words.

Susanne: Best place ever.

This blog was originally published in 2015 as part of the #LoveSouthernNorway campaign. As our #LoveSouthernNorway Ambassador, Susanne received Color Line ferry tickets to visit Southern Norway 5 more times.


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