City of Skien (Telemark)

The city of Skien is included to the region Telemark and to the county Skien

Presentation of the destination

Skien, Ancient Norway

Skien, one of the oldest towns in Norway, is located in the south east of the country with a population of approximately 53,000. Skien dates back to the middle ages and is said to have been founded around 1000AD. Originally Skien was the site of a monastery,  however it received privileges as a market town from the mid 14th century, it became a sort of meeting place for farmers and sailing traders. Historically, as far as timber exportations are concerned, it was the most important town in Norway.   Aside from its trade history Skien was also the birthplace of playwright and author Henrik Ibsen, whose presence is still very much felt throughout the town today. The modern municipality of Skien was actually not created until 1st January 1838.   Although the town dates back to the middle ages you will probably only see a lot of turn of the century architecture. This is due to the fact that from the 17th century onwards the town was regularly destroyed by fires, the last big one being in 1886. The oldest surviving building in Skien is the Gjerpen church, which does in fact date back to the 12th century.

Points of interests / things to see


Brekkeparken is a large landscaped park in Skien – over 36 acres – which contains the Telemark Museum. The park itself dates back to 1815 and is laid out in a traditional English style. It is renowned for its floral displays, and has the biggest tulip park in all of Scandinavia. This year (2014) over 30,000 tulips will create a sea of red, white, and blue to celebrate the bicentenary of the Norwegian constitution.   The Telemark Museum opened in 1909 and has several different parts to it. Throughout the park there are buildings which were brought there from other parts of Telemark, these make up the open air part of the museum and show changes throughout time in Norway. There is even an old shop, old tea rooms, and an old post office, where you can experience times gone by first hand. The museum also showcases Telemark folk art, a history of fashion and style, maritime history, and church art.   However, the centrepiece of the museum is Søndre Brekke, a manor house which dates back to 1810. The manor house has been restored to its original Empire style and you can visit the house to experience what life would have been like. Sønde Brekke is also said to be haunted by the “Grey Lady” so make sure you watch out for ghosts.   Address Brekkeparken Øvregate 41 3715 Skien   Website   Email Address   Telephone +47 35 54 45 00   Opening Hours May to August 11:00-21:00   Entrance Fee Adults – NOK 60 Children – NOK 25

Bø Sommarland

Bø Sommarland is one of Europe’s biggest water parks; it has been open since 1985. Not only is it one of the biggest water parks in Europe, it is also one of Norway’s biggest attractions, over 200,000 people flood to the park every summer. It is no wonder it’s such a popular place, altogether there are over 20 pools and slides including some one-of-a-kinds. Bø Sommarland is home to one of the biggest water half pipes in Europe, it is also home to Flow Rider – the largest artificial surf wave in the world, and Mot i Brøset – the world’s first water roller coaster, which remains, to this day, the biggest in Europe.   Aside from the water park attractions there is also a playground for children, which includes climbing frames, electric cars, bouncy castles and mini golf, you can also take a canoe out on the lake. Bø Sommarland is situated in a forested area so you can even go for little walks around the park. There truly is something for everyone.   Address Bø Sommarland Steintjønnvegen 2 3800 Bø   Website   Email Address   Telephone +47 35 06 16 00   Opening Hours June to August 10:00-17:00   Entrance Fee Low Season Over 140cm – NOK 289 95-140cm – NOK 259 Under 95cm – Free   High Season Over 140cm – NOK 329 95-140cm – NOK 289 Under 95cm – Free

Gjerpen Church

Gjerpen church is one of the oldest churches in the whole of Norway and thus is considered a national treasure. It was built in 1153, and, naturally, has been restored many times as it is still in use today. The stone church was originally built with a tower over the western entrance, in the 19th century the church was extended to what you see today. The church has a Romanesque architectural style with a traditional cruciform plan and is dedicated to the apostles St Peter and St Paul.   The interior of the church which was all designed by Emanuel Vigeland includes; a mosaic entitled “Den bortkomne sønns hjemkost”, stained glass, the pulpit, the baptismal font, benches, lamps, and a bronze relief created in 1920. The church and its inventory are preserved by law due to its age and history. In 2003 the church was damaged by arson, someone started a fire from within the church, and it was almost completely ruined. However, it was fully restored and reopened in 2004.   It’s definitely worth a visit, not only is it one of the oldest churches in Norway, it’s the oldest building in Skien.   Address Gjerpen Kirke Håvundv. 5 3715 Skien   Website   Email Address   Telephone +47 35 50 63 30 Entrance Fee Free


Hvalfangstmuseet is a whaling museum located approximately an hour’s drive away from Skien in Sandefjord. It is the only museum of whales and whaling in Europe, and it first opened in 1917. The museum was inaugurated as a donation from Lars Christensen, the son of the man who led the first whaling expedition. Lars Christensen had wanted to create a museum to inform the public about the Antarctic, its fauna and animal life, and tell the story of the whaling industry.   The museum was expanded in 1981 and nowadays houses over 150,000 photos, animal and bird exhibits from the Antarctic and the Arctic, a full size model of a blue whale, and the Southern Actor – a whale catcher which was built in 1950 and now serves as a museum ship.   This museum is a place to visit if you have ever wanted to know about the history of whaling, in different cultures throughout time.   Address Hvalfangstmuseet Museumsgaten 39 3210 Sandesfjord   Website   Email Address   Telephone +47 94 79 33 41   Opening Hours May to June 11:00-17:00 June to August 10:00-17:00 September to October 11:00-16:00 October to April 11:00-15:00 (Monday to Saturday) and 12:00-16:00 (Sunday)   Entrance Fee Adults – NOK 55 Children/Seniors/Students – NOK 30 Under 6s – Free

Henrik Ibsen Museum

The world famous playwright Henrik Ibsen was born in Skien,and the museum (which forms part of the Telemark Museum) introduces you to some of his work, focussing on his childhood, which he spent in Skien. There are three Henrik Ibsen museums in Norway; this one is located in his former childhood home Venstøp, where he lived with his three brothers and his sister from age 7 to 15.   The farm at Venstøp was turned into a museum in 1958. Venstøp consists of the farmhouse, washhouse, farm labourer’s quarters, the barn, and the storehouse. Within these buildings there are several different exhibitions about his life and early works, including an audiovisual presentation. Children can even play dress up in the barn and try their hand at acting! In the orchard they have recreated an 1830s style bowling alley, where you can play, just as the Ibsen’s guests would have done back in the day.   Address Henrik Ibsen Musuem Venstøphøgda 74 3721 Skien   Website   Email Address   Telephone +47 35 54 45 00   Opening Hours 18th May to 31st August 11:00-17:00   Entrance Fee Adults – NOK 70 Students – NOK 50 Children – NOK 30 Under 5s – Free


  The Telemark Canal was carved into rock over 100 years ago; the canal was actually finished in 1892. The canal connects the coast of Telemark with the interior of the region, and consists of two waterways – Skien < > Dalen, and Skien < > Notodden. The canal is still in use today and you can experience it by ferry, charter boat, your own personal boat, canoe, kayak, or by car, bike, or on foot.   However, the canal is set in such a beautiful landscape and with such still waters it would be a shame to turn up the chance to see it by boat. The canal is currently run by three boats in the tourist season: the M/S Telemarken (built in 1952); the M/S Victoria (the Queen of the canal, built in 1882); and the M/S Henrik Ibsen (built in 1907 and renamed after the famous playwright when it came to Telemark).   Address The Telemark Canal Skien   Website   Email Address   Telephone +47 35 91 70 00   Opening Hours May to August departures daily from Skien at 08:10   Entrance Fee Prices vary depending on the journey you choose, check online for more information.

Heddal Stave Church

The Heddal Stave Church is located approximately one hour’s drive away from Skien, although it is worth the drive as it is the largest stave church in Norway. At one time Norway was home to over 750 stave churches, now only 28 remain, and many of those are in ruins, so a visit to Heddal Stave Church could really be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The church was built in the 13th century and is still in use today. The interior of the church contains a Bishop’s chair and incense vessels which date back to medieval times, as well as rose paintings which are from the 1600s. Aside from church services the church also offers guided tours, and there is an exhibition on the history of the church in the vicarage barn.   Address Heddal Stavkyrkje Heddalvegen 412 N-3617 Notodden   Website   Email Address   Telephone +47 35 02 04 00   Opening Hours Church May to June 10:00-17:00 June to August 09:00-18:00 August to September 10:00-17:00 Sundays from 1pm   Museum 15th June to 15th August Entrance Fee 20/05 – 14/06 NOK 60 15/06 – 15/08 NOK 65 16/08 – 10/09 NOK 60


The Ibsenhuset is the cultural centre of Skien, it opened in 1973, and, at the time, was the most modern culture centre in Norway. The centre was, of course, named after local playwright Henrik Ibsen, and every room inside the building is named after one of his works. The building houses several facilities for concerts, theatre performances, opera, exhibits, conferences, courses and meetings. The main concert hall seats 800 people. Every year the Ibsen Award is presented to an up-and-coming playwright at the Ibsenhuset.   Address Ibsenhuset Lundegate 6 3724 Skien   Website   Email Address   Telephone +47 35 58 13 30   Opening Hours The schedule depends on the shows or exhibitions, check online for more information.   Entrance Fee Admission fee depends on the shows or exhibitions, check online for more information.

Skien Church

Skien church is the main church in the town; it is a relatively modern church, having been built in 1894. The church was designed by Martin Hagbarth Schytte-Berg in a neo-gothic style. It is a large church, as would be expected for the principal church, it can seat 1200 people. Skien church is quite plain, although it is decorated with stained glass windows and there is ornamentation on the walls. It does have one claim to fame – it has one of the largest organs in Norway.   Unfortunately Skien church was built under the guise that it would become the bishop’s seat and a cathedral, however that never happened.   Address Skien Kirke Amtmand Aalls Gate 1 3717 Skien   Website   Email Address   Telephone +47 35 58 90 80   Opening Hours Sunday Mass is at 11am   Entrance Fee Free  

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Local time and timezone in skien

Skien time
UTC +2:00 (Europe/Oslo)
Summer time UTC +2:00
Winter time UTC +3:00


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Surrounding towns

  • Porsgrunn ~9.0 km
  • Brevik ~21.6 km
  • Stathelle ~22.5 km
  • Siljan ~14.8 km
  • Herre ~18.8 km
  • Langangen ~20.0 km
  • Steinsholt ~27.1 km
  • Fjeld ~24.2 km
  • Herøya ~12.7 km
  • Åfoss ~7.4 km

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How to get there ?

Getting There and Getting Around

Getting There   Road You can easily drive to Skien from Oslo just take the 32.   Water You can also arrive to Skien via the Telemark Canal   Rail There are two railway services which serve Skien – Vestfoldbanen and Bratsbergen, both are operated by Norges Statsbaner.   Air Skien Airport has domestic flights to Bergen and Stavanger, and Trondheim.   Getting Around It is easy to drive around Skien, and you should have no problem walking around the town itself. To travel further afield you can choose between the train, the canal, or taking the car.

Skien city hall

City hall address
Rådhusplassen 2, 3724 Skien, Norway
City hall phone number
+47 35 58 10 00
City hall location
Web site

Skien twins towns, sister cities

Discover the skien's international relations with partnership cities and friendship cities.

Hotels in Skien (Telemark)