Sustainable Destination: Setesdal

Setesdal is a valley in Southern Norway filled with scenic villages rich in culture and folklore. It is one of Norway’s certified sustainable tourist destinations.


For holiday destinations across the world, the environmental and social impact of tourism is huge. While the influx of tourists presents multiple opportunities for local value creation and employment, it also has negative impacts. These include increased pollution, damage to the landscape and disturbance to local communities.

Sustainable Destination certification scheme

“Sustainable Destination” certification is awarded to destinations in Norway that are working systematically to reduce the negative impact of tourism. In order to be certified, a destination must preserve local nature and culture, strengthen social values, demonstrate political commitment, have effective management, and be economically viable. Each of these five criteria has sub-criteria and indicators that make it clear which actions to take. Read more about sustainable tourism in Norway.

Local culture and open nature

In Setesdal, the landscape varies from flat countryside to wild and beautiful mountains. Large areas are protected to preserve a continuous mountain area with its fauna and flora, and cultural treasures.

A particular cultural treasure in Setesdal is the unique folk music scene. To keep the local scene alive and vibrant, Setesdal has established "Kulturpatrulja", a group of young, talented musicians and dancers. During the summer, the group gives free concerts and performances at various spots in Setesdal. Read more about the free concerts here.

Outdoor activities in the valley include the “Via Ferrata”-style climbing route on Straumsfjellet and the moose park Elgtun, as well as several other nature routes.

Kulturpatrulja Setesdal

Climate-friendly transport

Located in the heart of Southern Norway, Setesdal is a natural stop on route between Oslo in the east and the fjords in the west.

To facilitate green transport links in the region, a “corridor” of charging stations for electric vehicles has been established. It runs from Oslo in the east, through Setesdal, to the southern and western coast of Norway.

The ubiquitous charging stations on the main road mean that tourists can easily travel all across southern Norway in electric vehicles. Charging stations are even powered by local hydropower, meaning transport in the region is virtually carbon free.

Tesla Setesdal

Concrete benefits

Tourists are increasingly choosing tour operators that focus on sustainability. Tour operators can recommend any Norwegian destination certified as sustainable, secure in the knowledge that the destination is working continually to advance sustainability – economically, socially and environmentally – while providing an excellent experience.

Market potential

Setesdal is increasingly recognised as more than a stop on the route to Norway’s fjords. It is an end point in itself with family activities, cultural appeal and activities close to nature. As a certified sustainable destination, it appeals to socially and environmentally conscious visitors.

Photos from top: Stine Prytz Jørgensen, Kulturpatrulja, Kirsten Leira

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Hovdetun, 4755 HOVDEN I SETESDAL, Norway

+47 37 93 93 70

At a glance

  • Lasting cultural traditions, including folk music and silversmithing

  • Easy access to nature across countryside and mountains

  • Abundant charging stations for electric vehicles along main roads

Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals