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A Bibliophile’s Guide to 14 Must-Visit Literary Destinations in Norway

Norway is more commonly recognized for its magnificent fjords and midnight sun than for its literary prowess. But what if I told you that snuggled among these stunning natural wonders are libraries and bookshops that rival their surroundings in charm and inspiration?

From Oslo’s bustling city center to the quiet tranquility of Tromsø, Norway’s literary destinations offer more than just stacks of books. These bookstores and libraries offer a rare blend of historical riches, architectural mastery, and an unparalleled love for the written word.

Here is BookJelly’s guide to the top 14 literary destinations in Norway that every book lover should add to their ‘must-visit’ list. Let’s get started on this Nordic adventure.

1. The National Library of Norway, Oslo

Our first stop in Norway is the National Library of Norway in Oslo, the heart of Norway’s literary world. Founded in 1813, this bibliographic titan sits snugly in the heart of Oslo, inviting in passersby with its warm, bookish glow.

The National Library of Norway, Oslo is one of the Top Literary Destinations in Norway

It’s an architectural monument that captures the minimalist elegance typical of Nordic design. The facade is a delightful contrast to the antique manuscripts and volumes that it houses.

Enter its realm, and you will be welcomed by walls and walls of books, an adrenaline rush for every bookworm. With an astonishing collection exceeding 2.5 million books, the library is a trove of Norway’s printed works since the 17th century.

Reading rooms, National library of Norway, Oslo - top literary destinations in Norway

Yet, the highlight of this bookish haven is its commitment to digitizing every book in its collection. In a project that began in 2006, the library aims to make the Norwegian culture accessible to all, irrespective of geographical barriers.

2. Oslo Public Library (Deichman Bjørvika)

Established as early as 1785, Oslo Public Library relocated to its current location in 2020. Overlooking the city’s waterfront, the library looks like a temple of learning with its clean lines, expanses of glass, and open spaces.

Deichman Bjørvika - one of the top literary destinations in Norway

In contrast to the older libraries, which are large, open spaces filled with extensive bookshelves, this library takes a different approach. It is organized into various sections, each with a specific purpose, providing a more personalized experience.

Deichman Bjørvika reading halls - top literary destinations in Norway

The Oslo Public Library houses 450,000 books and holds resources ranging from children’s literature to academic research material.

With over 1,000 seats and spaces dedicated to studying, reading, and contemplation, it’s not just a library but a lively meeting place, too.

3. The Gunnerus Library, Trondheim

Founded in 1768, the Gunnerus Library is part of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). It is considered to be the oldest scientific library in Norway.

The identity of the original architect remains shrouded in the mists of time, but the library’s ageless charm is undeniable.

The Gunnerus Library

The library’s architecture is a testament to the old-world charm, with its ornate bookshelves, a high vaulted ceiling, and large windows allowing natural light to stream in.

Renowned for its extensive collection in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, the Gunnerus Library is a bibliophile’s paradise. It houses 60,000 volumes of books and nearly 3,000 manuscripts, some dating back to the Middle Ages.

The Gunnerus Library - the oldest scientific library in Norway
Image source: Åge Hojem/NTNU

This collection includes the rare botanical works of Johan Ernst Gunnerus himself, the library’s namesake.

4. University of Bergen Library

From the historic charm of Trondheim, let’s move to the scenic west coast city of Bergen. The University of Bergen Library is just a short walk from the city center and from key landmarks like the Bergen Museum, the Bergen Wharf, and the Bergen Byparken, a charming city park.

The library’s various branches are scattered across the city, but its main branch, the Humanities and Social Sciences Library is a sight to behold. At first glance, the modern and minimalist design blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape, a reflection typical of Scandinavian architecture.

top literary destinations in Norway

Inside, the light-filled, open-plan layout encourages exploration. The library hosts over 2 million books and a range of digital resources. In addition, it houses a variety of Latin American literature, a nod to the university’s dedication to diverse world cultures.

University of Bergen Library (Humanities)

Basking in the serene atmosphere of the library, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more inspiring place. For all book lovers, it’s a must-visit literary destination when in Norway.

5. Tromsø City Library

Our next literary destination brings us to the enchanting city of Tromsø, also known as the “Gateway to the Arctic”.

Since its inception in 1820, the library has gathered an impressive collection of books, films, and music, appealing to a broad range of tastes. However, the current building that houses the library was unveiled in 2005.

Tromso City Library's facade - one of the top literary destinations in Norway

The swooping curves of the library’s façade evoke the waves of the surrounding sea and the large windows provide stunning views of the cityscape. The use of glass, wood, and metal accents in the architecture creates an inviting space that nurtures focused study.

It’s also one of the northernmost libraries in the world, a claim to fame that makes it one of the top literary destinations in Norway.

6. Lillehammer Public Library

Lillehammer. If that name rings a bell, pat yourself on the back for being a Winter Olympics aficionado. If not, no worries – you’re about to discover a literary destination nestled in the snowy arms of Southern Norway.

Located in the heart of the city, the Lillehammer Public Library is a testament to modern design and cultural preservation. This vibrant place was founded in 1933, though it moved to its present location in 1993. This shift marked a new era for the library with an innovative, eco-friendly design.

Lillehammer Public Library

The library’s collection is varied and comprehensive. From novels and non-fiction to multimedia materials and an impressive children’s section, it is a haven for curious minds. Special mention goes to its extensive collection of books on local history and culture.

top literary destinations in Norway

7. Stavanger Public Library

The Stavanger Library, known as “Sølvberget” or “The Silver Mountain,” is an appealing sight to behold.

The library, founded in the 1980s, beautifully embodies the spirit of Stavanger, the city often referred to as the “Oil Capital of Norway.” Its architecture is a nod to the city’s energy and vitality, with sweeping curves and reflective glass that echo the maritime surroundings.

Stavanger Public Library also known as Sølvberget

It is situated right by the city’s beautiful lake, Breiavatnet, and near the Stavanger Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Norway.

The library is a cultural hub, offering a calendar full of events, exhibitions, and seminars. It boasts a collection of around 250,000 books. Alongside the local literature, the library also hosts a wide range of resources in English, catering to the city’s international population.

top literary destinations in Norway

If you are a seasoned bookworm, the Stavanger Library is a must-visit when you’re in Norway.

Interested in exploring more such amazing Literary Destinations? Click here

Having feasted your eyes on Norway’s stunning libraries, it’s time to transition from the hallowed halls of libraries to the buzzing world of bookshops. Get ready to dive into the labyrinthine shelves of seven of Norway’s most enchanting bookstores.

Discover hidden gems, navigate with ease, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Norway like never before. Explore like a local with Lonely Planet – your ultimate travel companion.

Each one of these 7 bookshops is a testament to the nation’s deep-rooted love for the written word. Each offers a diverse array of reading material that could keep even the most insatiable of bookworms contented.

1. Norli Universitetsgata, Oslo

Tucked away in the heart of Oslo, just a stone’s throw from the imposing Royal Palace and the University of Oslo sits the Norli Universitetsgata – a veritable paradise for book enthusiasts.

The store’s minimalist glass facade reflects the city’s bustling rhythm. Step inside, however, and you’re instantly cocooned in a sanctuary of literature. The lofty interiors, polished wooden floors, and a labyrinth of bookshelves offer a testament to the Scandinavian knack for combining aesthetics with practicality.

Norli Universitetsgata, Oslo
Image source: Visit Oslo

Whether your passion lies in Nordic Noir or contemporary Norwegian literature, this bookstore has you covered. The store also boasts an eclectic collection of English-language books. For those interested in delving into the works of Norwegian authors, there’s a healthy selection of English translations available.

Make sure you don’t miss this literary destination when you’re in Oslo whether you’re a local, an expat, or a visiting bibliophile.

2. Tronsmo, Oslo

Less than a kilometer from the city’s iconic Karl Johans gate, you’ll find Tronsmo – a haven of independent literature.

Tronsmo Bokhandel, Oslo

From the outside, Tronsmo may seem unassuming. However, once inside, you’re greeted with an unexpected fusion of rustic charm and bohemian chic.

Established in 1973, Tronsmo was born from the heart of radical political movements and till today, retains an independent spirit. It is owned and maintained by its founders who fiercely resist any corporate assimilation. This spirit is evident in the carefully curated collection of books that defy mainstream boundaries.

Tronsmo Bokhandel, Oslo
Image source: Tronsmo

Tronsmo’s collection spans an extraordinary range of genres. It is celebrated for its specialized collection of political literature, philosophy, sociology, and activism. Its graphic novel section is the largest in Scandinavia. It also hosts an impressive range of English titles, both mainstream and alternative.

As a bibliophile, I can’t emphasize enough why you should visit Tronsmo. There’s something quietly rebellious about the bookstore that makes it irresistibly attractive.

3. Eldorado Bokhandel, Oslo

Not far from Tronsmo is another independent literary haven – the Eldorado Bokhandel.

Encased in an impressive Art Nouveau building dating back to 1929, Eldorado stands as one of Scandinavia’s largest bookshops. Skylit atriums create an ambiance of grandeur while cozy reading nooks lend an air of intimacy to this monumental space.

Eldorado Bokhandel, Oslo - top literary destination in Norway

The sheer scale of Eldorado’s collection is awe-inspiring. From contemporary Norwegian authors to beloved classics of world literature, it has it all. The poetry section, in particular, occupies a generous space that is rare to find in most bookstores. And yes, the store hosts a rich selection of English books, too.

4. Damms Antikvariat, Trondheim

In the picturesque city of Trondheim, amidst the colorful, wooden townhouses, sits an unassuming gem: Damms Antikvariat.

Located in an old Norwegian townhouse, the rustic charm of this secondhand bookstore is apparent. With its exposed wooden beams, antique furniture, and hardwood floor, the bookstore is a step back in time.

Damm's antiquarian bookstore, Trondheim

Founded in 1894, Damms Antikvariat has been a cornerstone of Trondheim’s literary world for over a century. It is owned by the enthusiastic and knowledgeable Lasse Damm, a third-generation bookseller.

The shop specializes in out-of-print and rare editions that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. It holds an enchanting selection of English books, too. From vintage Agatha Christie novels to hard-to-find historical treatises, English-speaking bookworms are in for a delightful surprise.

5. Bok & Blueshuset, Notodden

Notodden happens to be a charming municipality located in the South-east corner of Norway. Here lies a truly unique bookstore that effortlessly marries two art forms: literature and music. Bok & Blueshuset, as the name suggests, is a book and blues house.

Bok & Blueshuset was founded in 2012 and is a municipal enterprise owned by Notodden municipality. This cultural powerhouse brings together a public library, cinema, concert venue, and indeed, a bookstore under one roof.

Bok & Blueshuset, Notodden - open library

The bookstore’s collection is impressive, hosting an expansive selection of genres. A highlight of the collection is a substantial section dedicated to music, specifically the blues genre, aligning with Notodden’s status as a UNESCO City of Music.

Leaving Bok & Blueshuset with a newfound book or two, you can find a quiet spot near Heddalsvannet Lake to start your reading. You can’t ask for more, can you?

6. Outland, Tromsø

If Tromsø library fails to satiate (unlikely, though) your literary appetite, then there is another marvelous literary destination in the town – Outland.

Outland is a stone’s throw away from the iconic Tromsø Cathedral. From the outside, the store blends seamlessly with the surrounding buildings, but step inside, and the brightly colored displays immediately grab your attention.

Image Source:

The shelves here are packed to the brim with graphic novels, manga, fantasy, and science fiction books. For fans of genre fiction and pop culture, this place is a paradise. What sets Outland apart from other bookstores on this list, is its fusion of literature with pop culture merchandise.

7. Tanum Karl Johan, Oslo

Tanum Karl Johan, in the heart of Oslo, is a grandiose testament to Norway’s deep-seated love for literature. Founded in 1879, this legendary bookstore is an integral part of Oslo’s cultural history, having borne witness to the city’s transformation over the centuries.

Image source: Arch Daily

The bookstore impresses not just with its architectural allure but also with its expansive collection of books. It boasts a rich selection of Norwegian literature and an equally impressive range of English books.

An entire section of the store is dedicated to children’s literature, making it a family-friendly destination.

Throughout the year, the store hosts literary events, book signings, and author discussions, providing a platform for literary exchanges.

Finally, as we reach the end of this enlightening journey, it’s clear that Norway’s breathtaking landscapes and thriving cities serve as a fitting backdrop to these literary havens.

This Nordic nation offers more than stunning vistas. From the silent aisles of libraries to the dynamic energy of urban bookshops, literature holds a prominent place in Norway’s cultural identity.

The true beauty of these literary destinations in Norway lies not only in the institutions themselves but also in the stories they offer and the sense of wonder they cultivate. A journey through these sites is more than a trip. It’s an immersion into Norway’s vibrant literary scene.

So, the next time you visit Norway, remember, there’s much more to explore than just fjords and Northern Lights. There’s a world of stories waiting in its libraries and bookshops.

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