Welcome to our guide on some of Norway’s most iconic hiking destinations: Besseggen Ridge, Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue), Romsdalseggen Ridge, Kjeragbolten, Aurlandsdalen Valley, Reinebringen, and Galdhøpiggen. Each of these hikes offers a unique adventure set against the stunning backdrop of Norway’s natural beauty, from towering cliffs and serene fjords to rugged ridges and the tallest peaks in Northern Europe.
The best time to embark on these hikes is during the summer months, from June to September, when the trails are most accessible, and the weather is generally favorable. However, certain hikes like Preikestolen and Trolltunga can be attempted year-round, with special considerations for winter conditions.
Prepare for hiking in Norway
Before setting out, it’s crucial to prepare adequately. This means having the right gear, including sturdy hiking boots, weather-appropriate clothing, and essential safety equipment. It’s also important to carry enough food and water, as facilities are limited or non-existent on most trails. Familiarizing yourself with the trail, understanding its challenges, and assessing your physical readiness are key steps to ensuring a safe and enjoyable hike.
Each destination has its own set of guidelines and tips. For instance, hiking Besseggen involves a ferry ride to the trailhead and presents a challenging ascent, making it important to start early in the day. Preikestolen offers a more family-friendly route, but its sheer cliffs demand caution. The long and demanding journey to Trolltunga requires early preparation and possibly a guide, while the vertiginous paths of Romsdalseggen and the thrilling step onto Kjeragbolten are for the more daring.
In Aurlandsdalen Valley, hikers can immerse themselves in history and nature, whereas the arduous climb to Reinebringen rewards with breathtaking panoramic views. Lastly, conquering Galdhøpiggen, Norway’s highest peak, is a feat that offers unparalleled vistas and a profound sense of achievement.
Besseggen Ridge, located in Jotunheimen National Park, Norway, is a renowned hiking destination attracting around 60,000 adventurers annually. This hike is famous for its dramatic and picturesque views, including the contrast between the deep blue Bessvatnet Lake and the emerald green Gjende Lake, separated by the striking Besseggen Ridge.
The journey to Besseggen is an experience in itself, often starting from Oslo and taking about four hours by car to Gjendesheim, the usual starting point for the hike. The trip offers magnificent views of Norwegian landscapes, including vast lakes and forested hills. The hike can be completed in 6–8 hours, depending on your pace and how often you stop to take in the breathtaking scenery.
Most hikers choose to walk from Memurubu to Gjendesheim, taking a ferry to the trailhead and then hiking back. This direction is preferred because it allows hikers to face the steep ascent rather than descending it, which can be more challenging for those with a fear of heights.
The trail is well-marked and navigable, with signs and trail markings along the route, ensuring hikers can easily find their way. Despite its popularity, it’s essential to come prepared with proper hiking gear, including solid hiking shoes and weather-appropriate clothing, as the trail involves a significant elevation gain and can be subject to rapid weather changes.
Facilities are limited once on the trail, so hikers need to carry sufficient food and water for the journey. There are toilets and a small shop at Gjendesheim where you can purchase last-minute supplies or enjoy a meal after completing the hike.
The highlight of the Besseggen hike is undoubtedly the unique view from the ridge, where the two lakes sit side by side at different elevations, offering a stunning natural contrast and a perfect spot for memorable photos.
Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock)
Preikestolen, also known as Pulpit Rock, is a natural marvel perched 604 meters above the Lysefjord in Norway, drawing over 300,000 hikers annually to its breathtaking vantage point. This iconic plateau, measuring 25×25 meters, likely formed around 10,000 years ago due to frost erosion, has become a bucket-list destination for many. Originally known as Hyvlatånnå, meaning “planer blade,” it gained popularity as a tourist spot around 1900.
The hike to Preikestolen, spanning 8-kilometer round trip, takes about four hours, including breaks, and features an elevation gain of 500 meters. Marked as a medium-difficulty trek, hikers should have some experience in rough terrain. The path is well-marked and maintained, leading through steep mountainsides and lush nature, with sections requiring careful navigation and even some scrambling. Despite the challenge, the hike is feasible for families with children and is accessible all year round, with sunrise and winter hikes being particularly popular.
Getting to Preikestolen is straightforward, with buses departing daily from Stavanger to the Preikestolen parking area during the high season. For those looking for a more structured experience, guided hikes are available, offering the advantage of expert guidance and added safety.
The pinnacle of the journey is the unparalleled view from the top, where hikers can gaze out over the Lysefjord and its surrounding landscapes. The striking contrast between the deep blue Bessvatnet and the emerald Gjende, visible from Besseggen Ridge, is absent here, but Preikestolen offers its unique spectacle: the vast expanse of the fjord stretching out below, making it a favored subject for photographers and nature lovers alike.
For those not inclined to hike, Preikestolen can also be appreciated from the fjord itself. Cruises offer a different perspective, allowing visitors to look up at the formidable cliff face from the comfort of a boat. This alternative provides a more accessible option for experiencing the majesty of Preikestolen without the physical demands of the hike.
Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue)
Trolltunga, also known as the Troll’s Tongue, is a rock formation that has captured the imagination of adventurers worldwide. Located in southern Norway near Hardangerfjord, it’s a challenging hike that rewards you with one of the most breathtaking views Norway has to offer. The trail to Trolltunga takes about 7-12 hours to complete, depending on your starting point and pace.
The journey to Trolltunga isn’t just about the destination. The hike itself is an experience, with every step bringing you closer to what feels like a mythical kingdom. The rock formation, standing at 1,180 meters above sea level and jutting out about 700 meters above the lake Ringedalsvatnet, is a sight to behold.
People are drawn to Trolltunga for various reasons. The sheer beauty and uniqueness of the rock formation, the physical challenge of the hike, and the opportunity to capture that perfect photo standing on the cliff edge, overlooking the stunning Norwegian landscape. However, it’s essential to be well-prepared for this hike. It’s a long and demanding walk that requires good physical condition, proper equipment, and planning.
The hike is well-marked and passes through beautiful, lush nature, including steep mountainsides and fantastic steps built by Sherpas. Despite the challenging nature of the hike, it’s generally considered safe, though the wind on the plateau can be daunting. The actual plateau is wider than it appears in photos, offering some leeway for those brave enough to step out onto it.
For those considering the hike, it’s advisable to start early in the morning to avoid hiking back in the dark. There are no facilities along the route, so hikers need to carry all necessary food, water, and emergency supplies. Being mindful of changing weather is crucial, as conditions can quickly turn challenging, especially when hiking on raw granite in the rain.
Hiking Trolltunga with a guide is recommended for those unsure about completing the hike alone. Guides offer not just companionship but also preparation help, emergency kits, and assistance if there are any issues with equipment or physical condition. For many, the peace of mind that comes with guided hikes, especially when tackling such a demanding trail, is invaluable.
Romsdalseggen Ridge, located near Åndalsnes in Norway, offers one of the most scenic hikes in the country. This challenging trek is not just about conquering heights but also about immersing oneself in the breathtaking views of fjords, mountains, and waterfalls. The hike spans about 10 kilometers, with an elevation gain of 970 meters, and typically takes 7-8 hours to complete. There are different routes available, ranging from easy to extreme, catering to various skill levels.
The journey begins at the Vengedalen parking lot, where hikers can catch a bus from Åndalsnes to the trailhead during the peak season from late June to late September. The trail is well-marked and offers several rest stops, including the Rampestreken viewpoint, which provides one of the most stunning views before descending back to Åndalsnes.
Hikers are advised to be in good physical shape as the trek involves steep ascents and descents, and parts of it run along narrow ridges. It’s recommended for children over ten years due to its demanding nature. The trail also includes sections where scrambling is necessary, with chains installed at the steepest parts to aid hikers.
The highest point of the hike is Mjølvafjellet at 1222 meters, offering panoramic views that are hard to find elsewhere. The descent involves a long walk back to Åndalsnes, with a steep section of stone steps built by Nepalese sherpas making up part of the journey.
For those looking to capture a piece of this magnificent landscape, the Rampestreken viewpoint is a must-visit. Hanging off the mountain face, it provides a spectacular backdrop for photos, although there might be a queue.
Accommodation options are available in Åndalsnes, with wild camping also a popular choice for those who prefer to stay closer to nature. The Vengedalen Valley, in particular, is a recommended camping spot, offering beautiful surroundings and a serene atmosphere.
Kjeragbolten, a spectacular boulder wedged in a mountain crevice on Kjerag mountain in Norway, is an adrenaline-pumping destination for hikers and thrill-seekers from around the globe. Located in Rogaland county, near the village of Lysebotn at the edge of Lysefjorden, this 5-cubic-meter glacial deposit sits suspended above a 984-meter abyss, offering a unique and heart-stopping photo opportunity.
The hike to Kjeragbolten is a challenging yet rewarding adventure. Spanning about 11 kilometers, the round trip can take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours to complete and requires hikers to be in good physical condition. The trail involves an elevation gain of 800 meters and includes sections where hikers must use wires to pull themselves up or slide down, making it a demanding trek even for the experienced.
The most thrilling—and for some, terrifying—part of the hike is stepping onto Kjeragbolten itself. The boulder is accessible without climbing equipment, but reaching it involves crossing a very narrow path that leads to the rock. Despite the apparent risk, the boulder is considered safe, and there have been no recorded tragedies.
Getting to Kjerag involves a journey to the base of the Kjerag mountain, typically starting from the city of Stavanger. From there, a 2.5-hour drive brings hikers to the trailhead near Lysebotn. The trailhead at Øygardstøl is well-marked and features a parking area and service building. The drive itself, particularly the road to Lysebotn with its 27 hairpin bends, is an experience in its own right.
The hike is divided into three ascents and two descents, with the initial ascent being the steepest and most physically demanding. Chains are installed in the steepest areas to aid hikers, and the trail is marked with red “T” signs to guide the way.
Given the length and difficulty of the hike, it’s crucial to come prepared. Hikers should bring plenty of water, food, and suitable clothing for unpredictable weather, including waterproof outerwear and sturdy hiking boots. The best time to undertake the hike is during the summer months, from June to September when the trail is usually free from snow and the weather conditions are more favorable.
Galdhøpiggen, standing at 2,469 meters (8,100 ft) above sea level, is not only Norway’s highest peak but also the tallest in Northern Europe. Nestled in the heart of Jotunheimen National Park, this mountain is a central figure in Norway, situated almost midway between Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim.
Hiking to Galdhøpiggen’s summit is a popular activity, offering breathtaking views on clear days that span nearly a quarter of southern Norway. The journey to the top is an adventure many hikers and nature enthusiasts undertake, drawn by the mountain’s sheer size and the stunning vistas it offers.
There are two main routes to conquer Galdhøpiggen. The first begins at Juvasshytta, situated at 1,850 meters above sea level, just 5 km from the summit. This route takes about three hours to ascend, including time to prepare for crossing the Styggebreen glacier. It’s a relatively easy climb, but requires a guide for the glacier crossing. This path is accessible from around April/May to September, depending on the weather and snow conditions.
The second route starts from Spiterstulen lodge in Visdalen, offering a longer and more physically demanding climb of about 1,300 meters (4,300 ft). It takes roughly four hours to reach the top and two hours to descend. Unlike the Juvasshytta route, this path does not involve glacier crossing, so a guide isn’t necessary.
The summit hosts a small cabin where hikers can find snacks, drinks, and simple souvenirs during the high season. This cabin also serves as a shelter in case of sudden weather changes. The peak is particularly busy during the summer months, especially in July and August, when hundreds of people might visit on sunny days.
For those planning to take on Galdhøpiggen, it’s crucial to be well-prepared. The weather can be unpredictable, and even during summer, conditions can quickly turn wintry. Hikers are advised to wear proper gear, including sturdy hiking boots and warm, waterproof clothing. It’s also recommended to carry spare, dry clothes and enough food and water for the journey.
Reaching Galdhøpiggen is a significant achievement in the hiking community, offering not just incredible views but also a sense of accomplishment. The hike itself showcases the pristine mountain ecosystems of Norway, making it a magical experience for anyone who loves the outdoors.
Aurlandsdalen Valley, often hailed as Norway’s answer to the Grand Canyon, is a breathtaking and historic hiking trail that used to be a key route between eastern and western Norway. This stunning area is known for its wild and dramatic landscapes, rich in plant and animal life, cultural treasures, history, and geological features.
The valley extends nearly 50 kilometers from Finse to Vassbygdi in Aurland, winding through some of Norway’s most spectacular natural beauty. The hike through Aurlandsdalen Valley is considered challenging due to its steep terrain, and it’s recommended to join a guided tour, especially because of the potential danger from avalanches and landslides. The trail is usually open from July to mid-September, but this can vary depending on the weather, temperature, and snow conditions in the mountains.
The most popular section of the hike stretches from Østerbø to Vassbygdi, offering hikers incredible natural impressions from start to finish. The route starts gently and then splits, where hikers can choose between climbing up via Bjørnstigen for phenomenal views or continuing along the river for a gentler path. The journey is filled with spectacular natural phenomena like Vetlahelvete, one of the country’s largest giant’s kettles, created during and after the ice age by rivers bringing gravel and stones into circulation, cutting out round caves in the rock over time.
For those seeking the full Aurlandsdalen experience, the trek can begin at Finse, requiring three full days of walking. The route from Finse to Geiterygghytta offers breathtaking views over Gausta, Hardangerjøkulen, and parts of Jotunheimen, making it a memorable journey through diverse landscapes. The trail from Geiterygghytta to Østerbø, stretching about 22 km, can be divided into two, with an overnight stay at Steinbergdalshytta, allowing hikers to fully immerse themselves in the valley’s serene beauty.
Reinebringen, standing at 448 meters above sea level, offers one of the most iconic views in the Lofoten Islands, Norway. Despite not being one of the tallest mountains in the region, its summit provides a breathtaking panorama of the fishing villages of Reine, Sakrisøy, and Hamnøy, set against a backdrop of dramatic peaks and the serene waters of Reinefjord and Kjerkfjord.
The trail to the summit, known for its stone Sherpa steps, starts near the southern end of the Ramsvik tunnel. The construction of these steps, completed in late summer 2021, was initiated due to the trail’s popularity and the resultant erosion and danger of rockfall. Climbing these 1978 steps can be physically demanding, with the repetitive motion proving more strenuous than regular hiking trails. It takes about an hour to reach the peak, where stone benches along the way offer spots to rest.
Parking can be a challenge due to the hike’s popularity, with designated areas at Reine Outer Harbor and Reine Kultursenter among the options. The hike is not recommended for young children or in winter due to safety concerns, including slippery steps and the risk of avalanches and rockfalls.
The summit offers several viewpoints, each presenting a unique perspective of the Lofoten Islands’ majestic landscape. The best time to hike Reinebringen is from mid-May to the end of September, with July and August being the busiest months. To avoid crowds and enjoy a more serene experience, early morning or late evening hikes are recommended. The Midnight Sun, visible from late May to mid-July, adds a magical quality to the already stunning vistas.
For those planning to hike Reinebringen, practical tips include preparing for unpredictable weather, wearing sturdy shoes, bringing plenty of water, and not stepping off the trail to protect the fragile vegetation. Camping on Reinebringen is prohibited, and due to the steep and exposed sections, the hike is not suitable for those with a fear of heights.
In summary, Reinebringen’s challenging ascent rewards hikers with one of the most spectacular views in Norway, making it a must-visit for those exploring the Lofoten Islands.
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