The Village of Holmsbu, Norway Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Village of Holmsbu, Norway

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Picture this:

You are on a small beach sometime in the middle of July, the temperature is somewhere between 25 and 30°C. Behind you, not far from the shore, the beach is fenced in by little white houses with small gardens. The gardens are full of fruit trees, roses, and lilacs. To your right, sheer pink cliffs rise out of the sea and youngsters crowd to these cliffs to jump into the water from various heights ranging between one and nine metres.

You get up, and walk to your left along the beach, then up a small side alley. After practically no time at all you are in the middle of another bay - this one, however, is lined with some 40-50 boats. This is the town centre. All around you, white houses contain shops and cafés that offer a nice place to cool down with a pint, an ice cream, a basket of strawberries, or perhaps some prawns and white bread. Whatever you choose, you'll find it here. You return to the beach, take a bath in the water, which is nice and cool, probably around 22°C.

You then return to your cabin or hotel room to enjoy a nice quiet sunset...


The above description is of course dependent on nice weather, but it is a quite accurate description, nonetheless, of Holmsbu, a small village hidden away on the western side of a Norwegian peninsula named Hurum. Holmsbu has been marketing itself like this for some time now, and the success of this is best seen in the enormous growth the population experiences every summer. The population figures literally explode, from a modest 350 inhabitants to approx. 80001. The village is situated about an hour by car from both the Norwegian capital, Oslo, and the town Drammen. The climate is warm in the summer, when temperatures are as high as 30°C - however, the winter can be cold, with temperatures falling well below -20°.


Apart from the relaxed life you'll find on the beaches, Holmsbu can also offer you the opportunity to take a look at the paintings by the well-known Norwegian artist, Henrik Sørensen. Sørensen, along with a lot of other artists, sought out the locations of Holmsbu and Rødtangen2. This is because of the special light that can be found there as an effect of the water in the two fjords, Oslofjorden and Drammensfjorden, meeting and mixing. Before he died, Sørensen took the job of decorating the local church, which you may visit every Sunday. A gallery has been built in the forests between Holmsbu and Rødtangen, where you may see many of the original paintings made by the now deceased Sørensen.

Also, local artists usually hold an art display in Støa every summer, where you can see some interesting paintings, normally of the beautiful landscape found all over Hurum.


Scientists have estimated that the first people came to Hurum around 10,000 years ago - however, the first sure signs of a settlement near Holmsbu are the ancient graves found in the forest not far from the village. These graves indicate that humans have occupied the area since 1500 BC. The first real historical mention of a farm in the area, Holm Gård, dates from approximately 700 AD. It is assumed that the people have been living here since then. In those early days, the people living there got their money and food from fishing. The traces of this industry have not yet been fully wiped from Holmsbu, and there is still one professional fisherman fishing outside Holmsbu, selling his goods directly from his own boat in the town centre.

Another industry of some importance in Holmsbu was timber. In the seventeenth century, shipping timber to other countries turned out to be a fine way of getting rich quick. The main product was oak, which sold at a high price in Europe. The timber industry burst into life with the introduction of a sawmill capable of sawing long planks of wood - these were usually up to 20 metres. Similar changes occurred in Drammen, where a lot of the citizens got their riches from timber. This industry came to an end a long time ago, when the Danish king3 found out that he could earn money by taxing the whole business so outrageously that only two of the many sawmills in Hurum survived, and these two mills were not in close vicinity to Holmsbu. Before the industry ground to a halt, however, Holmsbu had managed to become an almost self-sufficient society, with blacksmiths, bakers, and saddlers.

Holmsbu Today

Today, Holmsbu supplies its locals with an income which comes mainly from tourism. As is the case with most things in Norway, all services are relatively expensive. As a result of this, Holmsbu tends to attract more affluent tourists - thus, one of the facilities that can be found in the area is a twelve-hole golf course.

Accommodation - Where and How

As mentioned before, Holmsbu is a relatively expensive place. If you wish to stay comfortably, and you are willing to pay a lot to do so, then you may visit Holmsbu SPA - reservations can be made through their website.

For those who are not all that well-off, Holmsbu offers some reasonably-priced accommodation as well. If you travel to Rødtangen, you can camp there with your tent, or you may rent a cabin. Otherwise, you can stay at Holmsbu Bad, a small hotel/restauramt which has ten rooms capable of housing 27 people. You may also try Knattvold Camping - this is a bit further from Holmsbu, but has a very nice beach. The main way of getting a stay in Holmsbu, however, is by owning or borrowing one of the many cabins or summerhouses in the area. There are loads of these, and very few of them are ever sold. Most of the cabins stay in the ownership of the same family for generations, so if you don't know anyone who happens to own a cabin there, you will have to reserve one well in advance.

If you can afford it, the village is well worth a visit.

1A wild estimate, but nonetheless, the actual figures are likely to be higher.2A small settlement a couple of kilometres further south, with a kiosk and a campsite.3Norway was in union with Denmark at the time.

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