In the center of Lom, Stavkyrke (tel. 97-07-53-97) dates from 1170 but was enlarged in 1635 when it was restyled in a cruciform shape. In 1667, two naves were added. The church is admired for its early-18th-century paintings and Jakob Saeterdalen's pulpit and chancel from 1793. Charging NOK45 ($9/£4.50) for adults, but free for children 14 and under, it is open June 15 to August 15 daily 9am to 8pm, August 16 to September 15 daily 10am to 4pm.
An even more impressive sight is the Fossheim Steinsenter (tel. 61-21-14-60; www.fossheimsteinsenter.no), with Europe's biggest and most varied exhibition of rare and stunningly beautiful rocks, along with gems, minerals, and fossils, plus jewelry on sale. Part of the museum is devoted to exotic geological specimens gathered from all over the world. The owners take pride in the national stone of Norway, thulite, which was first discovered in Lom in 1820 and is now quarried. (Manganese gives thulite its reddish color.) Admission is free, and the center is open mid-June to mid-August daily 9am to 8pm. In the off season, hours are Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm.
Norsk Fjellmuseum in Lom (tel. 61-21-16-00; www.fjell.museum.no) is the visitor center for Jotunheimen National Park . The center has a dual role as a museum filled with intriguing exhibits about mountaineering and an information center for hikers in the park. Exhibits relate both the culture of the mountain people and the park's natural history. A 10-minute mountain slide show is also presented. Admission is NOK50 ($10/£5) for adults and NOK30 ($6/£3) for children under 14. It is open mid-June to mid-August Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 7pm. Off-season hours are Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm, Saturday and Sunday by appointment only.
Jotunheimen National Park: "Home of the Giants"
Norway's greatest national park is dominated by the towering peaks of Galdhopiggen and Glittertind. It is a land of glaciers, mountains, lakes, and waterfalls. It has more than 60 glaciers and is crisscrossed by valleys that split it up into ridges and high plateaus.
A heavily frequented area since 1813, it has become one of the best-developed wilderness tour areas in the north of Europe, with its "linkage" of hotels, tourist huts, and private cabins lying along well-marked trails. It attracts both the neophyte and the more advanced mountain hiker, along with the glacier and rock climbers who descend upon the park in summer.
The beauty of the park, especially its wildflowers in spring, has inspired some of Norway's most famous composers and writers, including Edvard Grieg and Henrik Ibsen. Although its wild reindeer have departed, flocks of tame reindeer are kept on farmsteads by farmers in Vågå or Lom. Fishermen come to the park to catch red char or mountain trout.
First-timers like to take the high and panoramic Sognefjellet, a road linking Lom with Lustrafjorden. Built in 1939 by unemployed youth, this is the best access to the northern tier of the park. The road peaks at 1,434m (4,704 ft.), making it the highest mountain road in the north of Europe. In fact, the elevation is so high that the snow doesn't melt until early July. It can even snow here during the hottest period of the summer.
In all, the park encompasses 3,900 sq. km (1,521 sq. miles), with an amazing number of towering peaks, some 200 of which rise to 1,900m (6,232 ft.). Norway's highest waterfall, Vettisfossen, is also found in the park, with its 275m (902-ft.) drop. The waterfall lies a short walk from the Vetti Lodge on the western frontier of the park.
The most popular hike in Norway is along the Besseggen Ridge towering over Lake Gjende. The trail links the mountain lodges of Memurubu and Gjendesheim. One of the most famous lakes in Norway, Gjende appears in the writings of Henrik Ibsen. The author had his Peer Gynt tumble from the ridge into the lake on the back of a speeding reindeer. The lake is 18km (11 miles) long and 146m (479 ft.) deep. Its emerald-green waters are fed by glaciers. In summer, you can rent boats along the lakefront.
Obtain complete and detailed maps from the tourist office before setting out into the park, and know that the weather can change at a moment's notice. You can also arrange with the tourist office to hire a guide, which is highly recommended.