Hike Norway - 10 Best Treks of the South

© Ute Koninx

Norway has some of the most spectacular backpacking in the world - and once travel restrictions ease, it's just a short flight away. Ute Koninx, author of a new guidebook, details her ten favourite routes in the south of the country, a land of fjords, forests and big bold mountains. Now here's something to really get your post-Covid planning juices flowing...

Hiking is a national treasure in Norway – almost more so than skiing. Therefore, the infrastructure for hiking is truly amazing, with more than 20,000km of marked trails alone and more than 550 mountain lodges, cabins and huts to choose from. The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) is an umbrella organisation of more than 50 local entities which together aim to help people enjoy the outdoors no matter where they live, their age or level of fitness.

Bridge over the Veo River, with views into Veodalen and Veotinden  © Ute Koninx
Bridge over the Veo River, with views into Veodalen and Veotinden
© Ute Koninx

Ever since the advent of 'tourists' in the late 18th century, visitors from Great Britain have travelled to Norway, keen to experience and enjoy the spectacular scenery of its mountains and fjords. Back then, most went out walking, fishing and hunting, while English mountaineers were among the first to take an interest in conquering some of the Norwegian peaks.

Norway map  © Cicerone

And just like it did 150 years ago, Norway holds a special place in the hearts of hikers from the British Isles. Most of those I met while researching the new Cicerone guide Hiking in Norway – South: The 10 best multi-day treks proudly showed me their copy of the Cicerone guide to walking in Norway by the late Constance Roos (first published in 1997). All reacted enthusiastically to the prospect of a new guidebook to hiking and trekking in Norway.

The new book covers the area between Trondheim and Kristiansand and includes the national parks of Jotunheimen, Dovrefjell and Rondane, as well as the national conservation area of Trollheimen and part of the Westfjords' areas of natural beauty.

Hikers in Fannåraken in Jotunheimen  © Ute Koninx
Hikers in Fannåraken in Jotunheimen
© Ute Koninx

This article aims to give a taste of the 10 routes covered in the new guidebook, as well as providing 10 top tips for hiking and trekking in Norway.

'As Sharp as a Scythe' – The Besseggen Route

A superb introduction to Jotunheimen

  • Difficulty: Challenging (note: for all treks, the difficulty is set by the most challenging stage)
  • Length: 3 days
  • Cabins: Fully serviced in summer

Hiker scaling the Besseggen ridge  © Ute Koninx
Hiker scaling the Besseggen ridge
© Ute Koninx

This short route is a wonderful introduction to hiking in Norway's most alpine national park, Jotunheimen. It offers spectacular views on the Besseggen ridge – one of Norway's must-do 'vertigo hikes'. The route gives you a taste of the best of Norway that will most likely have you come back for more.

On this trek, if you do it in the summer, you will be hiking between fully serviced cabins – which means you can travel light and need not take a tent or food. Just a few hours from Oslo by direct bus, it is an ideal trek if you are short on time or want to find out if this type of trekking is for you.

The Besseggen ridge hike (the first stage) is popular as a day hike, yet if you hike it westwards from Gjendesheim to Memurubu and you start reasonably early, you are likely to meet no more than a handful of people on the ridge itself – even on a lovely summer's day.

The next two stages take you along Jotunheimen's largest and most beautiful glacial lakes – Gjende and Bygdin – to the lovely cabin at Fondsbu. From there you take a boat across Bygdin lake, to the hamlet at Bygdin for the bus back to Oslo, or hike onwards into the wild Hurrungane mountains.

Trollheimen Triangle

A bucket-list trek for many Norwegian hikers

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 3 days
  • Cabins: Fully serviced in summer

Trollheimen national reserve is a much loved hiking destination  © Ute Koninx
Trollheimen national reserve is a much loved hiking destination
© Ute Koninx

Norwegians often meet up as a family or with friends in the course of the year to hike together. This route in Trollheimen, just south of Trondheim in central Norway, is on many a bucket list – and it's easy to see why, when you take in the expanse of pristine forest at the viewpoint in Skallen. Throw in an ascent of the triple-headed Trollhøtta, as well as a bit of storytelling, and you have the perfect recipe for a great short trek.

The intensive use of the waterways and lakes of Trollheimen for hydroelectric power generation has resulted in a drive to preserve the natural Scots pine forest and landscapes surrounding them. Today, this area is important for much environmental research due to its pristine nature.

The stages are long, but not technically difficult and therefore suitable for anyone with a good level of fitness. And Trollheimshytta cabin might win your heart; you would be forgiven for wanting to spend a couple extra days there – either scaling Snota, collecting berries or picking mushrooms (if you know what you are doing).

Scaling Snøhetta: Dovrefjell's Highest Peak

Wildlife and high-mountain views in Norway's heartland

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 3 days
  • Cabins: Self-service and fully serviced

Glacial lakes on Snøhettas northern slopes  © Ute Koninx
Glacial lakes on Snøhettas northern slopes
© Ute Koninx

It is undeniably cool to be able to step off a train and start your trek right there and then. Add to this the allure of scaling Snøhetta, which at 2286m is Norway's highest peak outside of Jotunheimen, and you are in for a great adventure.

The three huts around Snøhetta – Snøheim, Åmotdalshytta and Reinheim – give you various options for approaching the mountain, so you can make your plans according to the weather and the type of ascent you'd prefer. Snøhetta will be your prominent companion even after scaling it. Dovrefjell is a high plateau, and as a result you see Snøhetta beckoning from all directions.

Dovrefjell National Park holds a special place Norwegians' hearts. It is the only national park in Norway where wild reindeer roam and also where the wolverine – the reindeer's natural predator – is present. In addition, the tundra-loving musk ox was successfully reintroduced into the wild here, and it can often be seen by hikers. If fishing is your thing, take a rod with you (and buy a permit), and try your luck for tasty trout at Åmotsvatnet lake.

Rondane Summits: Getting High on the Tops

A route over and along the high peaks of Rondane National Park

  • Difficulty: Very Challenging
  • Length: 5 days
  • Cabins: Fully serviced

Waterfall in Langgluppdalen with Rondslottet mountain in the back  © Ute Koninx
Waterfall in Langgluppdalen with Rondslottet mountain in the back
© Ute Koninx

The landscape and landforms in this part of Rondane are unique in several ways. On the trek, you are essentially always above the tree line, and the low-nutrient base rock makes the landscape feel somewhat lunar, yet for that very reason also strangely appealing. Despite its lack of glaciers, the surroundings have a definite alpine character. This is due to the many glacial cirques, the steep and extended talus slopes, the rock faces, and of course the high peaks.

This strenuous five-stage circular takes in Rondane's highest peaks – Rondslottet (2178m) and Høgronden (2115m) – as well as Vinjeronden (2046m) for good measure. They are of course the pinnacles of Rondane and afford a close encounter with the park's high-alpine character – as well as marvellous views in good weather.

The stages are long. What might seem like low altitudes in comparison to other mountains should not be underestimated: the conditions underfoot and the steepness of the terrain make for a genuinely challenging experience. Not for nothing is the descent from Høgronden called 'the calf eater' in Norwegian hiking folklore.

Jotunheimen Classic and Jotunheimen Traverse

Immerse yourself in Norway's truly most alpine national park

  • Difficulty: Very Challenging
  • Length: 6 to 10 days, depending on route
  • Cabins: Self-service and fully serviced

Glittertinden summit, Jotunheimen  © Ute Koninx
Glittertinden summit, Jotunheimen
© Ute Koninx

Jotunheimen is without doubt the most popular destination for many hikers in Norway – both local and international. It is, after all, the 'Home of the Giants' – a name believed to have been coined by the Romantic poet Vinje, who enjoyed hiking here, as did many other artists, painters and musicians of his day.

Nothing much has changed since then; the Giants stand unmoved as generations of hikers marvel at their beauty and scale their heights. Galdhøpiggen (2469m) and Glittertinden (2457m) are on the Classic trek, and if you continue onto the traverse you'll end up at Fannaråken mountain hut on your last night.

Fannaråken is the Norwegian Trekking Association's highest mountain hut, at 2068m. Sunset and sunrise promise to awe you into silence here, with the Hurrungane mountain range and the large Smørstabbrean glacier making it hard to pull yourself away from the panoramas.

Trollheimen Traverse – Fells and Fjords

A route from fells to fjord: quintessentially Norwegian

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 3 days
  • Cabins: Self-service and fully serviced

Hanging valleys in along Sunndalen (Trollheimen)  © Ute Koninx
Hanging valleys in along Sunndalen (Trollheimen)
© Ute Koninx

It doesn't get much more Norwegian than this. With its combination of high fells and deep fjords, shaped by the forces of glaciers and ice, the route comprises fascinating and beautiful landscapes, history and cultural heritage, forming a true example of what Norwegians call friluftsliv – life outdoors.

The Gjevilvasshytta hut, in its idyllic location and with its long history, is the route's starting point. In summer, access to Gjevilvasshytta is easy: step off the train from Oslo or Trondheim at Oppdal and board the twice-weekly bus from Oppdal train station to the hut. This trek takes you to the enchantingly beautiful Innerdalen valley. Once under threat of being dammed for hydroelectric power generation, today it is one of the centres of rock climbing in Trollheimen. Not surprising, when you look around to the scraggy tops surrounding this narrow valley.

Innerdalstårnet, the mountain sometimes referred to as 'Innerdalen's cathedral', can be hiked without equipment if you are surefooted and have a head for heights. After a steep ascent out of the Innerdalen, with all the views you could wish for, you descend towards the village of Todalen and its fjord. It will be hard to figure out which way to look – back towards the glaciers and mountains you're leaving behind, or ahead to the glorious blue of the fjord.

Lysefjord Circuit – An Electrifying 'Fjord of Light'

A magnificent trek around the Lysefjord

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 6–7 days
  • Cabins: All types – unserviced, serviced and fully-serviced

Descending towards Flørli (Lysefjord)  © Ute Koninx
Descending towards Flørli (Lysefjord)
© Ute Koninx

This route was on my bucket list for a long time. It eluded me for quite a while as it is a tough one, with some long stretches, lots of elevation changes, and vertigo hikes. Completing it as part of my new book in my 'home' territory was very special.

The route includes three world-famous hikes: Pulpit Rock, Kjeragbolten, and the longest wooden staircase in the world at Flørli with its 4444 steps. There are sections of great interest, taking in the industrial heritage of Norway's hydroelectric power generation.

The route is 6–7 days long, but it can be divided into shorter sections – as can many of the longer cabin-to-cabin treks. On this journey, there is a ferry on the fjord that enables hikers to start and finish wherever they like, making this trek one of the most flexible in the book. The Lysefjord circuit includes steep and dramatic stretches, sometimes along, but also up and
down drops of up to 1000m.

Shattered in Rondane (Rondane Traverse) – Long and Steady

A brilliant valley route. Spice it up by scaling a few peaks

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 4 days (+3 days for optional day hikes)
  • Cabins: Fully serviced

Rondane National Park is one of the areas of Norway that receive the least precipitation. Its landscape is unique in that it has been shaped over thousands of years by innumerable cycles of frost and de-frosting, shattering its mountains and boulders into ever smaller rocks and pebbles.

Large glaciofluvial deposit near Rondvassbu mountain hut  © Ute Koninx
Large glaciofluvial deposit near Rondvassbu mountain hut
© Ute Koninx

The area seems at its core largely untouched by humans, and the epic timescale over which change seems to occur comprises the irresistible appeal of this often lunar-like barren landscape. In places it looks so inhospitable that one wonders why this area was so important in earlier times, warranting the long valley routes that cross it. The secret is the lichen, which is pretty much the only thing that grows on these otherwise nutrient-poor mountain faces. They are the main winter fodder for reindeer, which migrate here in winter due to the lower snow cover.

The base route does not include any of the high mountain tops, but by adding a few days to your itinerary they become accessible as day hikes, making this a great option for exploring Rondane according to your fitness, time and experience.

Dovrefjell Traverse - Norway's Heartland

A highly varied and challenging trek in the heart of Norway

  • Difficulty: Very Challenging
  • Length: 5 days
  • Cabins: Self-serviced, fully serviced (in season)

Hiking Dovrefjell high plateau, with Snøhetta mountain as backdrop  © Ute Koninx
Hiking Dovrefjell high plateau, with Snøhetta mountain as backdrop
© Ute Koninx

After a gentle first day, this route takes you up and over Snøhetta – at 2286m the highest mountain in Norway outside of mighty Jotunheimen. Exceptional views await on top and on the descent, taking in glorious glacial lakes, shimmering green against a (hopefully) bright sky.

Crossing the Dovrefjell high plateau is no mean feat; there are some challenging sections, involving long and arduous hiking at times. You then arrive at the geographically unique Åmotan, where five rivers thunder along and three waterfalls plunge into deep gorges created by ice and water. A true spectacle that is bound to imprint itself into your memory.

The trek ends at the border between Dovrefjell and Trollheimen in an impressive and again quite spectacular setting. This is the Sunndalen, with a multitude of hanging valleys inviting you to continue on into the 'home of the trolls'.

SignaTur Trollheimen - Looking Into the Troll's Eye

Circumnavigate Norway's troll country on this challenging trek

  • Difficulty: Very Challenging
  • Length: 8 days
  • Cabins: Self-service and fully serviced

The ‘eye’ of the Troll in the Trollheimen natural reserve  © Ute Koninx
The ‘eye’ of the Troll in the Trollheimen natural reserve
© Ute Koninx

This route is probably the most challenging in the guide. It takes the form of a large circle, starting from Gjevilvasshytta hut over the gentler profiles of the eastern ranges, continuing towards the wild and dramatic western areas, and returning through glacier-shaped valleys.

From Trollheimshytta – the cabin at the pristine heart of the Svårtamoen national reserve – a memorable hike scales the triple peaks of the 'Troll's Head' (Trollhøtta), its former glacial lake looking up at you as the 'Troll's Eye'.

With the Trollheimen mountaintops as a magnificent backdrop, this route also takes in some of what Norwegians consider to be their most beautiful summer pastoral valleys, such as Storlidalen and Folldalen – and of course Innerdalen.

In comparison to routes of a similar nature in Jotunheimen, you will find far fewer people hiking in Trollheimen. A good level of fitness and stamina is needed to complete the long stages, with their considerable ascents and descents on sometimes arduous terrain. It is for that very reason, of course, also a highly rewarding route.

Hiking in Norway - Top 10 Tips

You can combine, shorten or lengthen most of these treks. You have the option of travelling to your destination by public transport, and you can overnight in mountain huts. Thus, you can hike these treks with only 8–12kg on your back. All you need is some hiking experience, a good level of fitness, and basic navigation skills. Waterproof and breathable gear and good boots are a must, and a head for heights is useful on occasion. Otherwise, these treks are not technical and are therefore open to a wide range of hikers.

Olavsbu hut  © Ute Koninx
Olavsbu hut
© Ute Koninx

To make the most of your hikes, whichever you choose, here are my top-10 tips for hiking in

1. Invest in DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) membership. By the fourth night, if you stay in huts, your outlay will have paid for itself. Go to to sign up online, or do it via the app – see next tip.

2. Download some useful apps – e.g. to set up DNT membership and payments, or to access weather information or emergency response. They can make a significant difference to your comfort and safety. (Want to know more? Click here)

3. There are excellent quality maps available for the whole of Norway. Hikers ideally need maps at a scale of 1:50,000, with trails included. You can order these maps at (they ship worldwide), or you can buy them from your preferred retailer.

4. All in all, the DNT maintains more than 550 mountain huts, cabins and lodges in the country. Many of them are accessed using the DNT universal key. Make sure to order or pick up your key in advance. Click here to find out more.

5. The DNT huts provide duvets and pillows for hikers' comfort. For hygiene reasons it is compulsory to sleep inside a sleeping bag liner. You'll need to take (or rent) one, and I'd advise taking a pillowcase as well, for added comfort. In addition, earplugs and eyeshades increase your chance of a good night's sleep in shared accommodation and on short summer nights.

Camping is possible either near huts (for a fee) or in the wilderness  © Ute Koninx
Camping is possible either near huts (for a fee) or in the wilderness
© Ute Koninx

6. I never travel or hike without my flask, even in summer. Having a hot beverage on the trail is a source of comfort on rainy days and a great way to enjoy an extended lunch break on warm, sunny days. Serviced huts offer flask fills of coffee, tea or hot water; and you can boil your own brew in the other huts.

7. Try the chocolate – seriously! My all-time favourite is Walters Mandler from Freia: chocolate with salted roasted almonds. Kvikk Lunsj is the classic Norwegian hiking snack, having been around since 1937. Simply great, both of them.

8. My top tip for budgeting is to take your own tea bags – you'll save a lot when staying in the self-serviced huts, as they charge by the tea bag taken from the pantry. Plus, you get to drink the brew you like. If you want to know more about budgeting for your hiking trip in Norway, check out this post.

9. Leave the car; go by bus or train. It really is possible. Many routes and treks can be reached by public transport – some hikes start directly at a train station. It will take a bit more planning, but you will feel more connected travelling with the locals and doing your bit for the environment.

10. Buy the book (of course!) Planning, preparing and getting inspired for your hiking adventure in Norway should be part of the fun, and hopefully the new guide to Hiking in Norway – South will help you with these things.

Hiking along Visdalen valley (Jotunheimen)  © Ute Koninx
Hiking along Visdalen valley (Jotunheimen)
© Ute Koninx

Hiking in Norway – South

The 10 best multi-day treks

by Ute Koninx (Cicerone)

Norway South  © Cicerone

This new book describes 10 hut-to-hut treks showcasing southern Norway's wild natural beauty, with highlights including Galdhøpiggen - Norway's highest peak at 2469m - and the iconic Pulpit Rock and Kjeragbolten on the Lysefjord. The routes range from 3 to 8 days (although many can be adapted or combined to create longer or shorter routes) and cover Jotunheimen, Rondane, Dovrefjell, Trollheimen and Ryfylke. They are suitable for experienced hikers with a good level of fitness and can be walked from mid-July to the end of September.

Clear route description and mapping are provided for each trek. Stages are graded according to difficulty: although all of the routes follow waymarked trails, some cross remote and challenging terrain which may include exposed sections calling for a sure foot and a good head for heights. However, in many instances, alternatives are provided avoiding the most demanding
sections. The guide also offers comprehensive advice on public transport access and accommodation options, and background notes on each of the featured mountain regions.

Ute Koninx  © Ute Koninx

About Ute Koninx

Ute is a practised world traveller and outdoor enthusiast. She fell in love with the Norwegian outdoors whilst living in the country from 2009 to 2015. Hiking in Norway – South is her second guidebook about Norway, and on her website you can find much more information on practical aspects of hiking in Norway.

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