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Glittertinden
Panorama on the approach to Glittertinden (Jotunheimen)

How to choose a trek in Norway

Ute Koninx
By Ute Koninx
6 minute read

You are the happy owner of the brand-new Cicerone guidebook to Hiking in Norway and have been inspired by the great selection of routes. So how to choose? Guidebook author Ute Koninx has this advice.

How do you choose which trek to do in Norway? What if you have limited time? Maybe you want easy transport options, prefer to hike in solitude with fewer hikers on the trek or you are keen to summit tops?

If Norway is a novel trekking destination for you and you would like to get a taster before committing for a longer summer holiday, you might prefer a shorter route.

Similarly, you are short on time and still want to go for a trek and feel away from it all. Or you might be mixing different activities into your holiday and want to include a shorter route for that reason.

Jotunheimen
Blue skies, blue water, blue glacial ice (Jotunheimen)

There are a few options in the Hiking in Norway – South guide that you could consider, fitting this brief.

  • The three-day trek around Snøhetta Mountain in Dovrefjell is a great teaser for all those who don’t know if hiking hut to hut in Norway is for them. The second day of this trek takes you up to Snøhetta, the highest peak outside Jotunheimen, and lets you hike the very typical Dovrefjell high plateau landscapes on the other two stages. You experience both a fully serviced mountain hut at Snøheim, while Åmotdalshytta and Reinheim huts are so-called self-serviced huts, where you are part of running the place - making sure there is enough water for cooking, wood is chopped for heating and the hut is kept tidy.
Snøhetta
Views from the northern slope of Snøhetta (Dovrefjell)
  • A second fantastic option would be the Jotunheimen Besseggen route. This one will be busier than Dovrefjell and the huts visited here are fully serviced. That gives you more time to enjoy the outdoors and relax around the hut as you are treated to full board if you so choose. The Besseggen Ridge is one of those unforgettable Norwegian vertigo hikes and this trek combines the Ridge hike with two more days in Jotunheimen’s beautiful valleys around its two largest lakes, Gjende and Bygdin.
Bygdin lake
Whatever your choice of route, ensure you take time to enjoy the views (Bygdin lake - Jotunheimen)
  • A third option would be to head up further North and complete the Trollheimen Triangle Trek, which is very much on many Norwegian hiker’s bucket list. This trek is phenomenal and far less know than the other two. It takes you into the very heart of Trollheimen, offering incredible views from the escarpment at Skallen on the first day. The second day is very flexible with three options, that you can choose depending on weather and fitness level. The third stage brings you back to your starting point, hiking through reindeer country.
Vassendsetra
Approaching Vassendsetra at the end of Gjevillvatnet lake (Trollheimen)

And if you are keen to get a feel for the different landscapes than you could do worse than combine these three treks into a holiday by itself. With a bit of planning they can all be done by public transport from Oslo or Trondheim as the main entry or exit points into the country.

If you are a collector of peaks, and enjoy the high mountain terrain, or have a soft spot for vertigo hikes, there is also plenty to choose from!

  • Head to Rondvassbu in Rondane and complete the Rondane summit trek with extensions and you will have scaled five peaks over 2000m. The trek takes you over Rondeslottet, ‘The castle of Rondane’ and Høgronden, the ‘calf eater’ in local Norwegian hiking folklore. The tops of Veslesmeden and Storronden could be yours in one and the same day and the fifth peak Vinjeronden is on the way to Rondslottet itself, so you get ‘two peaks for the price of one’ so to say. Rondane is a much-loved destination in Norway, and you are likely to meet many more locals than in Jotunheimen, which has the higher international reputation.
Rondslottet
Impressive cairn on the top of Rondslottet (Rondane)
  • But then Jotunheimen’s Classic Route will have you scale Norway’s highest peaks, Glittertinden and Galdhøpiggen. Standing on top of Scandinavia, hopefully with fantastic views, is a very enticing proposition indeed. Throw in the renowned Besseggen hike, with its ‘knife-edged’ ridge between two beautiful lakes and it is hard not be tempted by this route. The attractiveness of this trek is completed by the beautiful valley walks along Visdalen and Leirdalen, that enclose the Galdhøpiggen massif itself.
Glittertinden
Panorama on the approach to Glittertinden (Jotunheimen)
  • While all the treks in the book ‘Trekking in Norway - South’ require a head for heights at times, the Lysefjord Circuit offers the highest density of famous vertigo hikes in Southern Norway. Of the famous five Norwegian vertigo hikes, four are part of treks in the book and three of them are in the Lysefjord. Here, you get to walk up the longest wooden staircase in the world at Flørli, and be tempted or spooked by Kjeragbolten boulder. You complete the route with hiking up towards world-famous Preikestolen, the Pulpit Rock. You are unlikely to be there by yourself, but for many of the other hours of hiking in between, you will be wondering where everyone is. Be warned though, Norwegians describe the terrain in Ryfylke where this trek lies as ‘kupert’, which literally means ‘hilly’, but that doesn’t really capture the many ups and downs encountered on this trek. Together they add up to the highest vertical distance on any trek described in the book, making it a challenging endeavour despite not being located in a high alpine area.

While it is likely that you will have flown into Norway, as it is often the most economical and fastest option to arrive at a major city, you might choose to travel by public transport thereafter. Every effort was made to choose routes with start and end points that could be reached by public transport and in all but one case this has been achieved. In that sense almost all routes will satisfy this choice, but some require a little more planning than others.

  • In terms of ease of access nothing beats the Dovrefjell traverse. You can literally step out of the train at Kongsvoll station and start the 5-day traverse of its national parks. This route ends at the edge of Trollheimen with bus transport back to the town of Oppdal connecting to the train back to wherever you first arrived from, on the Trondheim/Oslo train line.
  • The three routes in Jotunheimen are almost as easy to get to. The Valdresekspressen bus takes you from the bus terminal in Oslo directly to Bygdin (take the boat here to Fondsbu) or Gjendesheim from where you can start both the Besseggen Ridge route as well as the Classic Route. All the finish points in Jotunheimen are designed to get you to public transport with ease.
Dovrefjell
Autumn colours late in the season (Dovrefjell)

And in case you are looking for that epic trek, Hiking in Norway – South has you covered.

  • String together the Rondane and Dovrefjell traverse routes with the Trollheimen SignaTur and you are in for an exciting and challenging trek that takes you across an incredibly diverse set of landscapes and panoramas, in almost three weeks of solid hiking. You can choose to go along the valleys or scale all available peaks, thereby tailoring this epic adventure to your wishes and stamina.

In fact, all of the routes in the book could be done in one long summer of hiking. Start in the South in Ryfylke, with the Lysefjord Circuit. Here the hiking season starts earlier in mid to late June, due to the milder coastal climate. Starting earlier in the season has the advantage of quieter trails and huts in this popular destination. Then move north towards Jotunheimen, Rondane, Dovrefjell and Trollheimen and you will experience an unforgettable summer with mighty glaciers and rugged peaks, fjords and fells, meadows, marshes and mountains!

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