Hiking in Norway - A beginner´s guide
Walkers, hikers, ramblers and explorers, whatever terminology you prefer, Norway has something for you all with a myriad of mountains and forests, fjords and jagged coastlines.
Hiking in Norway is a revered national pastime with an extensive network of marked trails, good public transport connections, and ample accommodation options ensuring there are plenty of choices from short day-hikes to longer multi-day routes.
Norway has a reputation for stunning nature and breathtaking views. Instagram is filled with shots from hikes like Trolltunga, Preikestolen, Romsdalseggen Ridge, Besseggen Ridge and Segla. There are plenty of equally spectacular hikes, without the crowds, throughout the country. In this article, we will try to prepare you for your hiking holiday in Norway from a beginner's perspective.
Fail to prepare? Then prepare to fail!
A bit of planning goes a long way if you’re considering hiking in Norway. It’s a good idea to choose a trail based on your physical abilities, knowledge and equipment. It is important to note that great views don’t always require an epic expedition to reach.
Choosing a trail
When choosing a trail it’s a good idea to read up so that you have a good understanding of the terrain and difficulty. Do not get caught in the Instagram trap of seeing tourists in dresses and flip flops on top of mountain views and assume that the hike will be easy.
For example, many people don’t realize that Trolltunga and Besseggen Ridge are both quite demanding full-day hikes that require some preparation and hiking gear for a safe and comfortable experience. We have passed many people on these routes who are scarily ill-prepared in terms of footwear, food, water and clothing.
Trails in Norway are classified with a color according to reflect their difficulty.
- Green trails: Easy walks on fairly even terrain suitable for most people, but not always accessible to people with mobility constraints.
- Blue trails: Medium difficulty and require average fitness. They are usually less than 10 kilometers long but may have some steep sections.
- Red trails: Demanding hikes that typically cover longer distances but they can also be short and steep. It’s best to have some hiking experience and some routes may require a little rock scrambling. Correct footwear and clothing are a must. Some parts may be exposed to steep drops.
- Black trails: Are expert level and require mountain hiking experience. A typical black trail is a steep and exposed hike to a summit. If you have a fear of heights it’s best to avoid black trails.
Regardless of the trail you choose, keep track of how you feel, your supplies, and the weather. The Norwegian Mountain Code is a list of principles to keep in mind and remember that there is no shame in turning around.
Whatever your level, there are many great guiding services available in most parts of the country.
Keep your plans flexible
Weather and trail conditions are always a big factor to consider. There is a Norwegian saying that there is “no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” but it may be that you need to wait for some bad weather to pass until you get a nice day. Hiking in poor weather can prove dangerous if you are ill-prepared and it can of course affect the visibility of those stunning views you are looking for.
The weather will always do what it wants and can change in the blink of an eye with 4 seasons in a day, or even an hour sometimes. It is a good idea to wear layers of clothing in order to add more or strip off as the conditions demand. It is also recommended to carry something warm and dry that you can put on when you stop or finish to get out of anything wet.
Where to go hiking in Norway
Deciding where to go hiking in Norway depends largely on what kind of landscapes you would like to see. The classic Norwegian fjord experience of “Fjord Norway” in the west, Islands, and rugged coastline in the North or the tallest and most concentrated mountain peaks in Jotunheimen National Park in Central Norway.
Even a city break in Norway is a good opportunity to go for a hike. Do as the locals do and take one of the easily accessible trails around Oslo, Bergen, Ålesund, and Tromsø which lead quickly above the city for panoramic views. If you want to get an extra dimension to your hiking tour, you can combine a hike to Trolltunga or Pulpit Rock with a local food experience. Check our Hiking & local food tours here.
Western Norway (known locally as Vestlandet) is home to the country’s most famous fjords. The Sognefjord is Norway’s longest and deepest. One of its arms, Nærøyfjord near Flåm, is World Heritage-listed, as is the Geirangerfjord.
Throughout the region, trails lead up mountains and high above the fjords, through lush valleys, and past giant waterfalls. In summer the fertile fields grow delicious berries and apples that you can buy right at the farm gate (remember to have some cash on hand).
The land of the midnight sun, Northern Norway combines endless summer days with powerful nature and dramatic scenery. Traveling along the exposed coastline is an adventure in itself. Narrow roads and ferries connect islands and communities. Mountains leap from the cold ocean while the crystal clear water laps at white sandy beaches.
With a vibrant capital surrounded by easily accessible nature, Eastern Norway is a natural hiking destination. Whether it’s a short hike from the end of an Oslo metro line or a four-day trek through Jotunheimen, the network of marked trails and selection of tourist cabins is arguably the best in the country.
Two of the most popular hiking destinations are the Jotunheimen and Rondane national parks. Jotunheimen is home to the highest peaks in Norway as well as the incredibly popular Besseggen Ridge. Rondane was Norway’s first national park and features a multi-day loop with tourist cabin accommodation.
Tempted to go on a hiking trip in Norway? Check out all our fantastic hiking trips in Norway here