Norway is a hiker’s paradise. Its pointy mountains, deep coastal fjords, glaciers, lakes, and cliffs are a delight for active visitors and outdoorsy people. Find out what it takes to set on an adventure there with this hiking guide of Norway and get ready to uncover the best hikes in Norway.
A few Norway facts you should know
- Norway is a long country and it takes about the same time to get from Oslo to Tromsø from Oslo to Rome.
- Norwegians go to Sweden to buy food, sweets, and beverages because it is way cheaper than in Norway
- The Christmas tree you see on Trafalgar Square in London is an annual gift to the people of Britain by the city of Oslo, as a token of gratitude for British support to Norway during the Second World War.
- Norwegians are very proud of their country, especially fjords, mountains and the Viking history.
Norwegian people love to be outdoors and use as much of their free time to get out in nature – going hiking, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing or randonee-skiing (hiking the mountains in winter time using particular skies).
Best time for hiking
Winter in Norway is usually long and mountains might be covered in snow until the end of May. The best time for hiking will be from the end of May until the end of September, depending on the region. Norway is known for several spectacular hikes, mostly because of the views you get on your way or reaching the top. You are lucky going hiking in Norway because there are some cool hikes in every part of the country.
Hiking in Eastern Norway
If you want to explore Eastern Norway you should arrive in Oslo. You can read my post on things to do in Oslo here. There are some excellent and easy hikes in the capital, and the best part is they are located within the city border.
One of the most known hikes in Eastern Norway is Gaustatoppen, located south-west of Oslo. This mountain is suited in Telemark fylke.
To get there, you can take a bus from Oslo or rent a car. It takes about 2,5 hours to get to Rjukan. Fra Rjukan you take a free mountain bus to Gaustadblikk. There is a mountain cottage at the top, which serves as a café during the summer season. Gaustatoppen is 1883 meters above sea level and is known as Norway’s most beautiful mountain. The easiest way to get up there is to start at the parking lot at Stavro, located between Rjukan and Tuddal, on 1100 meter above sea level.
The elevation is 700 meters, but the path is clearly marked, wide, and mainly rocks and stones. It is a very family friendly hike and you don’t have to be super fit to manage to get to the top.
There is a more demanding route if you want to challenge yourself a bit, which is from the North-West side. But there is also an even easier way to get to the top – by cable car Gaustabanen inside the mountain, which is open during summer season. There are also several layover options in the area.
Jotunheimen is Norway’s most famous National Park stretching over 3500 km2 located a few hours northwest of Oslo.
The National Park borders to Eastern and Western Norway and you can reach it from several cities. Here you will find two of the highest mountain tops in Norway – Galdhøpigen (2469 m above sea level) is Norway’s and Northern Europe’s highest and Glittertind (2466 m above sea level).
Here you will find activities all year around. You can reach the park by train, bus or car and there are many tourist lodges to stay in. One of the most beautiful hikes is Besseggen – this trail follows the edge of the mountains and is known for the spectacular views along the way.
Besseggen trail is 14 km long with an elevation of 900 meters. This trail is for people who are fit because you won’t get many chances to turn around. You can start the trail from two starting points – Memurubu and Gjendesheim. This is a one-way trail, which means you will not return to the starting point.
If you are in doubt of whether you will be able to finish the hike you should start at Gjendesheim, it will give you the opportunity to turn around at the top before reaching the edge. At Gjendesheim you can start your hike whenever it suits you.
Whichever end you will start from you will have to take a ferry one way. Many hikers prefer to take a ferry to Memurubu and hike back (going upwards). This means the trail will be going up, which is easier on your knees than going downwards for 14 km. Besides, you don’t have to worry about the ferry schedule as you won’t be needing it anymore. The downside is that you will have the views behind you and will have to remember to look back to see the beauty.
So, if you want to enjoy the views, have knees that work perfect, want start whenever you want, have the chance to turn around and want to avoid ferry and trail queues, you should start at Gjendesheim.
Hiking in Western Norway
Western Norway is known for mountains and fjords. The capital of Western Norway is Bergen and if you want to explore west part of Norway this is a perfect starting point.
Seven mountains surround the city and the most famous and highest is Ulriken. You can start your trail downtown, by taking a bus to Ulriksbanen. Or you can take the bus higher up and begin your journey from Montana. Follow the signs when you get to the parking lot, all trails from there are of the same length, and you will end up at the same spot.
It is an easy hike and will take you about 1,5 hour. The trail is steep but not challenging, and you will have great views following you all the way up.
On your way down you can take Ulriksbanen otherwise you can continue hiking further towards Fløyen – another mountaintop.
On the top of Ulriken, there is a restaurant Sky:Skraperen where you can have a meal made out of local ingredients and enjoy fantastic views.
Trolltunga – the troll’s tongue
This formation is one of the most famous in Norway.
You can reach the Trolltunga hike from Oslo, Bergen, and Stavanger by car, bus from Bergen and Stavanger and train from Oslo. You will start your hike in Skjeggedal. This hike is for more fit and experienced hikers, but it is worth getting fit for it.
The recommended season for hiking to Trolltunga is from the middle of June until the middle of September. This trail is 27,5 km long, both ways, and the journey will take 10-12 hours. Remember to pack your backpack with sandwiches and water.
Hiking in North-West of Norway
Mountains in the North-West part of Norway are known as Norwegian Alps and called Sunnmørsalpene. Here you will find one of the most beautiful tops in this mountain chain – Slogen. Despite the elevation, this mountaintop is quite easy to reach.
You can start your hike from three different points, which all take approximately the same time of 4-5 hours each way, making suitable for a day’s hike. After 2-3 hours you can sop at the lodge Patchelhytta.
The starting points are Øye, Engeset, and Urke. You can reach these from Ålesund and Ørsta. The Patchelhytta lodge is not served by anyone and is owned by the Norwegian tourist association. This means you can stay the night for very little money, but there are some rules apply.
This hike is not for new-beginners. And if you are tempted to walk the snow/ice trails on your way down, don’t do it unless you bring your ice ax with you. Several serious accidents happen every year on these snow trails.
From the top of Slogen you can look down to the beautiful green valleys on each side of Hjørundfjorden.
This is another stunning trail in the North-West of Norway. On your way, you will have the view of some of Norway’s rather known mountain tops, the city of Molde and the Norwegian Sea. The trail takes about 5-8 hours and is 10,8 km. This trail is not for people with the fear of heights and new-beginners, but if you think you can overcome your fear the views will be worth it.
The hike starts at a parking lot at Vengedalen. There is an alternative route starting at Åndalsnes going opposite direction. If you take this route you will have the chance to turn around if needed.
To get to Romsdaleggen you have to take a bus from Åndalsnes. You should book bus tickets upfront. To get to Åndalsnes you can fly into Molde, Ålesund or Kristiansund.
Hiking in South-West of Norway
The two of the most famous hiking trails in this part are Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) and Kjerag. They are both located in Ryfylke in Rogaland. You should fly to Stavanger and start from there.
You can get to Preikestolen trail’s starting point by car, ferry and then a bus from Stavanger. The hike is quite easy – only 7,6 km both ways, and takes about 4-5 hours.
The main attraction of the hike is the Pulpit Rock – Preikestolen. It is basically a 25×25 meters rock plateau overlooking Lysefjord and one of the best hikes in Norway.
Kjerag is located on the highest point over Lysefjorden. The best views are from the highest points and this is not an exception for Kjerag. However, there is another attraction that makes it so popular – the Kjeragbolten – a huge round rock stuck between to mountain tops. Kjerag is super popular for mount climbers and base-jumpers.
The hike to Kjerag and back takes around 5-6 hours and is around 10 km long. The hike starts from Øygardstøl, by Lysevegen at Lysebotn.
To get here, you will have to take a ferry and then a car, or by car via Sirdalen. Alternatively, you can take Tide Reiser Buss from Stavanger.
You can experience Kjerag and Preikestolen from a ferry on the Lysefjord and if you are lucky you might see some base-jumpers.
Hiking in Northern Norway
Lofoten archipelago is one of the most famous areas of Northern Norway, due to its stunning nature. There are a few trails in Lofoten that will reward you with some amazing views.
Ryten and Kvalvika beach trail are located on the North-West side of Moskenesøya. Mountain Ryten is 542 meters above the sea level and has an amazing view to Kvalvika beach’s white sands, turquoise ocean and mountain formations of Lofoten archipelago.
Vesterålen is an archipelago located just north of Lofoten. The landscape is mountainous and you can go hiking on any of the largest islands. The mountains are not as high as on the mainland and hikes are not as challenging.
Mountain hiking rules
Before going hiking in the mountains, there are rules of conscious you need to follow. Mountains, woods, valleys, and rivers are commonwealth in Norway and anyone can use it. Norwegians are environmentally conscious and would like to preserve this natural heritage for many generations.
Mountain rules for hikers of all levels:
- Plan your hike well and make sure someone knows what route you are taking
- Adapt planned hike to your abilities and skills
- Consider weather and the avalanche warnings
- Be prepared for quick weather changes and unstable and cold weather even on short hikes
- There is no shame in turning around
- Use a map and a compass
- Choose safe routes and be aware of unsafe ice and avalanche terrain
- Conserve your energy and seek shelter if necessary.
Essential hiking gear
- Hiking boots – not totally new – you don’t want to get blisters. You should have used the boots at least a couple of times before.
- Wind- and waterproof jacket and pants
- Wool underwear and sweater
- An extra pair of socks
- A hat, scarf, and gloves
- Enough food and drink for the whole hike
- A fully charged phone in a plastic bag to avoid water damage
- A flashlight
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- First-aid kit and blister bandages
- Map and compass
- Pocket knife
You can go backpacking Norway and hike on the trails mentioned in this post between May and September. If you want to experience these places outside this season some guides offer guided hikes.
These trails are just a tiny amount of the trails and hikes Norway has to offer, but these are definitely some of the coolest.
I hope you will have great hikes in beautiful weather and with amazing views! Enjoy Norway!