Norway is a hiker's playground, with mountain ranges and coastlines that beg to be explored. If you're planning a trip, here are the very best of Norway's countless hiking trails.
Picture this: you've got 47 national parks to choose from, each with its own set of rugged mountains, long, winding coastlines, and enough space to pitch a tent where you please.
It's not about dramatic descriptions here; it's the simple fact that Norway's outdoors is genuinely inviting. The locals live by this, embracing the outdoors lifestyle or “friluftsliv” as they call it, year-round.
When summer and autumn roll in, the trails light up with activity. You'll find paths well-trodden by boots of all sizes, leading to shelters and cabins that look like they've been lifted from a storybook, offering a cozy night's stay.
These trails aren't about the walk; they're about what you'll see along the way. From a chance encounter with a herd of wild reindeer to the sight of diverse birds you won't find in the city, and the kind of panoramic views that make you stop in your tracks, it's all available for free.
So, let's get down to it and walk you through seven of Norway's most talked-about hikes, where the views are as real as it gets.
Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock)
The Lysefjord, a gem among Norway’s fjords, has been lauded as the most picturesque by poets and artists alike. The hike to Preikestolen, with its panoramic fjord views, may hold the secret to the fjord’s acclaim.
The flat mountaintop became a global sensation following its feature in the blockbuster film “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” although it was already a favourite among hikers.
Annually, the trail sees over 300,000 visitors who undertake the 8 km trek from the Preikestolen Fjellstue mountain lodge to the summit. The trail involves an elevation gain of 500 metres.
Despite its popularity, hikers should not underestimate the trail’s moderate difficulty. You should allow up to four hours, and should come prepared with appropriate attire and sturdy footwear.
If weather permits, guided tours run daily between April and October. You could even take one of the trips that combine the relaxation of a scenic fjord cruise with a strenuous hike.
Alternatively, if you want to be on the cliff without the crowds and for the often magical sunrise, start your walk in the very early hours. You could also start later in the day to avoid the crowds, as long as you're fine with getting back late.
But wait, we're not done with the Lysefjord just yet. Located high above the fjord is the Kjerag boulder (Kjeragbolten), a glacial boulder wedged in a mountain crevice, and suspended above a 1,000 metre drop.
The breathtaking view, thrill of standing atop the boulder, and of course the photo opportunity, combine to attract a multitude of visitors from across the globe. Yet this is no walk in the park.
The 11 km roundtrip hike is demanding, with an elevation gain of 800 metres. It can take up to 8 hours to complete the roundtrip. It is a trail meant for the seasoned hiker, offering a test of endurance and courage.
Kjeragbolten is also a seasonal hiking destination because of accessibility and mountain weather.
Before the road between Sirdal and Lysebotn opens (usually mid-May), the hiking trail requires a qualified tour guide and specialist equipment. Snow will be deep and snowshoes or skis will be needed.
The hiking season ends when the road closes for the season due to snow conditions. This varies from year to year, but is usually sometime in October or early November.
Trolltunga (The Troll’s Tongue)
Trolltunga is a tongue-shaped rock formation that juts out nearly 2,300 feet above the Ringedalsvatnet lake.
It is a striking natural wonder that has captured the imaginations and adventurous spirits of hikers from around the world, thanks mainly to the countless shared images on social media in recent years.
The trail to Trolltunga is not for the inexperienced. This is raw Norwegian mountain territory. The full trail is a 27 km roundtrip hike, requiring an entire day, although it is possible to shorten the hike to 20 km by taking the shuttle bus to an alternative trailhead.
Although the condition of the Trolltunga trail is excellent, anyone planning to undertake the hike must be in very good physical shape. Physical endurance is important, and previous mountain hiking experience is essential.
Starting the hike early, preferably before 8 am, is more than just a tip to beat the queues. It's about experiencing the trail when the light begins to play on the mountains and the mist lifts off the lake, revealing the full grandeur of the landscape.
Within the heart of Jotunheimen National Park, Norway’s tallest mountains rise, and among them is the trail of Besseggen.
Known for its distinctive view where the deep blue of Bessvatnet lake contrasts with the green of Gjende lake, Besseggen’s ridge offers a hike that is as visually stunning as it is exhilarating. National Geographic has recognized it as one of the world’s top 20 hikes.
Annually, tens of thousands of experienced hikers challenge themselves on this ridge, which takes 6-8 hours to traverse.
The most convenient starting point is Memurubu, accessible by a ferry that often fills to capacity during peak season, making planning–and preferably an early start–a necessity.
The town of Åndalsnes, nestled in the Romsdal valley and flanked by the imposing Trollveggen, is Norway’s mountaineering hub.
The Romsdalseggen hike offers a memorable panorama of both Åndalsnes and the Troll Wall. The ascent is strenuous, and even for the experienced hiker, it can take around 8 hours to complete the 10 km hike.
You can choose between an easy, medium, or extreme route, the latter requiring a mountain guide. All routes are well marked. Whichever trail you choose, expect an elevation gain of 970 metres.
Because part of this hike is along a mountain ridge, anyone who is afraid of heights should give this one a miss. A shuttle bus from Tindesenter (Norwegian Mountaineering Centre) to the trailhead is available throughout the season.
Looking out across Norway from a height of 2,469 metres is a unique experience. No-one else in the country will be higher than you, aside from those travelling on an airplane.
Surprisingly, the ascent to Galdhøpiggen, Norway’s tallest mountain, is relatively accessible. The main trailheads start from high-altitude mountain lodges, reachable by road. However, the trails are not for beginners.
The shorter route from Juvasshytta takes about three hours up and includes a glacier crossing that necessitates a guide. This is a fun option, but does require some planning.
The alternative route from Spiterstulen, while not requiring a guide, is a six-hour roundtrip on a challenging and often slippery path.
The Lofoten islands in Northern Norway are a dramatic landscape of mountain peaks, offering trails for casual walkers and seasoned climbers alike.
Reinebringen, though not the highest peak, offers a summit view of the town of Reine and much of Western Lofoten that is nothing short of spectacular.
A recently constructed stone staircase by Sherpa craftsmen has made the ascent easier and much safer. But easier doesn't mean easy. The trail is very steep, and parts can be demanding. Make use of the rest areas on your way up.
With increased accessibility, the trail is expected to attract more visitors, making early morning or late evening hikes advisable, especially in summer when the midnight sun illuminates the path.
As with many hiking trails in Lofoten, parking has become a major issue as the hikes become more popular. Drivers should park in Reine itself, where you'll need to pay a day rate of almost NOK 200 for parking. Hourly parking is also available.
Embracing Hiking Culture in Norway
As you prepare to explore these trails, remember that hiking in Norway is more than a physical activity; it’s a cultural immersion.
The trails are not just routes to be conquered but paths that lead you through the heart of Norway’s natural splendour and cultural ethos. Each step taken on these trails is a moment to connect with the environment and a chance to understand the Norwegian spirit of adventure.
Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a nature lover seeking to experience Norway’s famed landscapes, these trails offer a journey through some of the most stunning and diverse terrains on the planet.
So lace up your boots, pack your gear, and set forth on an adventure that promises to be as enriching as it is exhilarating. Norway’s trails await to offer you the hike of a lifetime.
Have you tried any of these scenic hiking trails in Norway, and if so, which is your favourite? We'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments, below.