My wife and I are looking for a cute little mountain town in Norway to stay for a week. We would sightsee and hike. We are thinking of a place like Hallstatt or Gimmelwald when we ask this. Any thoughts?
The mountains in Norway aren't as dramatic in the same way as what you find in Gimmelwald and Hallstatt. They are more spectacular in the wide open views and feeling of remoteness. Compared to hiking in those places I found trail conditions more challenging in Norway. Typically there is more water, mud and rocks to deal with, so it's a slower and more technical walk.
One idea would be to stay at Rustadhotel.no. It's in the mountains above Lillehammer along a lake in the most popular place to have a cabin in Norway, Sjusjøen. A bus runs a couple of times a day down to Lillehammer, where there's Maihaugen outdoor museum, a shopping street and sites from the Olympics. I've only stayed there in the spring when there's still cross-country skiing, but I imagine there's plenty of opportunities to hike, fish or just relax up there in the summer. They have great food in the hotel and would pack a lunch for you if you wanted to take it out and about.
Another place to consider would be Beitostolen. You could do the (very long) Bessegen hike, which is one of the more popular hikes in Norway. Also there is the Preikestolen hike outside of Stavanger, which is another amazing one and much much easier than Besseggen.
What I would recommend, would be instead of staying a full week in one place, would be to do the Norway in a Nutshell, but instead of going straight through in one day, stay a couple nights in Geilo and then another couple nights in Balestrand.
One of the highlights of Norway as a destination is that even in Oslo it's quite easy to take the metro up to Holmenkollen to hike in Nordmarka or take the tram up to Ekebergparken where you can walk the wooded trails with sculptures, modern art and panoramic views over the city and Oslofjorden.
Consider either guided hit to hut tours or self-guided hit to hit walks using DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) mountain huts. The staffed huts that I stayed in provide bedding and offer meals and have hot showers.
Description of huts:
"Staffed lodges serve breakfast and dinner. Many have showers and electricity, either from the power grid or from a local generator. The staffed lodges are open only in certain seasons. Many staffed lodges have self-service or no-service cabins for accommodation out of season. The self-service facilities are not available when the lodge is staffed in season."
In terms of specific locations, I enjoyed ski touring several mountain areas.
Rondane National Park. We stayed 3 and 4 nights at Smuksjoseter on the edge of the NP and above Høvringen. Nearest rail station is Otta.
Jotunhiemen National Park. Again, no hiking but we did a DNT ski tour across the mountain of Giants. Easy to spend a week or more.
Jotunheimen (“Home of the Giants”) National Park (Norwegian: Jotunheimen nasjonalpark) is a national park in Norway, recognized as one of the country's premier hiking and fishing regions. The national park covers 1,151 km² and is part of the larger area Jotunheimen. More than 250 peaks rise above 1,900 metres (6,000 feet), including Northern Europe's two highest peaks: Galdhøpiggen at 2,469 metres, and Glittertind at 2,465 metres.
Hardangavidda National Park. For flatter hiking the plateau is dramatic in its vastness. Norway in the Nutshell goes across part of the Hardangavidda.
Thank you for these wonderful ideas! There is certainly plenty of good places to go and things to try. Daniel