It takes some work to truly feel the beauty of Norwegian fjords. To soak in the charm of this rugged land, you need to forgo the comfort of your car and venture out into the wild. Hiking in Norway is not only about vantage points and views, it also gives you a chance to connect with nature, leave behind the chaos of modern human life and see the world as it was meant to be.
However, before you start to head up that mountain, make sure you are prepared. Read our blog on What to pack for a Norwegian hike.
Here are the 3 most popular hikes in Norway. These are all within a few hours drive from each other and can be easily covered in a single trip. If you don’t have time to cover all three, I recommend Pulpit and to choose one between Kjerag and Trolltunga.
Quick Tip– All hiking trails in Norway are free and don’t require any permission. However, you will need to pay for car parking if you drive to the base. It is a good to carry cash, but we were able to pay by card at all car parks.
How to reach Pulpit Rock?
Getting there– The base of Pulpit hike is a 1.5 hours drive from the city of Stavanger. Hence this hike can easily be done as a day trip from the city. You can also take a bus from Stavanger to the pulpit base.
Where to stay– If you do not want to drive back and forth same day you can choose to stay in the Preikestolen Fjellstue Guesthouse located right at the base of Pulpit Hike.
Distance – 8.5 km / 5 miles round trip
Climb – 334 meters (1000 feet) elevation gain
Time – 3.5 to 5 hours for the round trip
Category – Easy
The Pulpit hike : difficulty and details
The pulpit rock towers 604 meters above the Lysefjord and gives you uninterrupted views of the complete Lysefjord valley. The hike to pulpit rock (or Preikestolen as it is called in Norway ) is the busiest of all the hikes in Norway. It is relatively a short hike, with well marked trail and is classified as an easy hike fit for people of all ages. This trail is considered to be easy as compared to other hiking trails in Norway. Hence, expect to get a lot of company on your walk. If you want to avoid the crowds you can hike before dawn and wait for the sunrise at the top to amaze you.
Even though it is considered easy, you need to be wearing good shoes and be prepared to climb up a lot of stairs. On a rainy day the trail can also be slippery and treacherous. Know that clouds and rain can kill the views from the top so it is not recommended to do this hike on a cloudy day. Check visibility before you go.
Our experience with the hike
Unfortunately weather gods were unhappy with us and we hiked Pulpit on a rainy and cloudy day. Though we had fun doing it, we saw no views from the top. We had an amazing weather at our Kjerag hike so it was not too disappointing. But know what to expect if you do decide to hike on such a day. In incessant rain and slippery condition, it took us 3 hours for the round trip. For parts of the hike, it felt like we were hiking up a waterfall. Note that being well prepared with proper hiking boots and gear helped us a lot in this weather. If you do not have proper hiking shoes and rain jacket, we would recommend against starting hike in bad weather.
How to reach Kjeragbolten?
Getting there– Kjerag is a 2 hours 30 minutes drive from Stavanger. But add some margin as closures on mountain roads can lead to long detours and affect this time estimate.
Where to stay-Down the valley from Kjerag base is the town of Lysebotn. You can find some guest houses here that have basic rooms with private bath and shared kitchen facility.
Where to eat – There is a nice restaurant at the base of Kjerag hike that offers both hot and cold food options. They also keep some vegetarian and vegan sandwiches.
Distance – 12 km / 8 miles round trip
Climb – 600 meters (1000 feet) elevation gain
Time – 6 to 8 hours for the round trip
Category – Medium challenging
The Kjerag hike: difficulty and details
KjeragBolten is the famous boulder wedged between the mountain crevasse that you might have seen in many Norwegian pictures. While getting a picture on that boulder is the main attraction for many, this hike also offers amazing views.
Hiking in Norway treks is generally rated as high difficulty level. Although the Kjerag is considered a medium challenging hike. It is 12 kms round trip with approximately 600 meters elevation gain. There are parts of the hike where you will need to grab on to a chain to climb up. I would still call it doable for first time hikers with decent fitness level, but make sure you have plenty of time at hand, and are well equipped.
The whole hike can be divided into 3 alternate sections of climb and descent. The first climb right at the beginning being the most daunting. This is the part where you are climbing up a granite wall and will often use chain assistance to pull yourself up. Once you get through this, it gets easier, you descent into a beautiful valley that you can easily walk across. After that you have 2 more rounds of climbing, similar but not as steep as the first part, and then you reach the top.
Stepping on the Kjeragbolten
You must have seen a lot of hiking pictures across internet where people are posing on a stuck up rock in Norway. Well they are from Kjerag only. Once at the top you get a panoramic view of the Lysefjord and after a little walk down you see the famous Kjerag bolt (Rock). It is almost amusing to think how that rock has been stuck there for more than 50,000 years. Daredevils step on the rock to get a picture, and while many people do it, let me tell you very clearly, it is not easy. There is no safety net, no chain, no support, and to get to the rock, you need to take a little leap of faith. The top of the rock is big enough to stand comfortably, but if you fall, you will go down a 1000 meters deep abyss.
The top of Kjerag is also a popular site for BASE jumpers,so If you are lucky you can see some jumpers diving off the cliff.
Our Experience with the hike
We hiked Kjerag on a beautiful summer day. The first climb was a little intimidating, and we were reconsidering our decision to start what could be up to a 6 hours hike close to 4 p:m, but once we dared past that it got better and the beautiful views all along kept us going. Walking through this valley made me feel like we were the members of Fellowship of the ring walking through the middle earth. (I know the movie was shot in New Zealand, but I let my imagination fly 🙂 The flock of sheep grazing in the valley added to the charm.
While hiking we also found a fresh water spring halfway where we refilled our bottle with fresh spring water, the purest form you can find in Norway. It was an exciting experience to drink water right off a natural source, and it tasted great.
The last 100 meters hiking was covered in snow slurry when we were there, which was totally unexpected given this was peak of summer in Norway, but I guess mountains have their own weather system.
About getting a picture on the Kjerag Bolt, I did not dare get on the rock and was happy with a pic on the corner but my husband did step on it. Decide for yourself, if you are bold enough to capture the bolt, I chickened out 🙂 .
How to reach Trolltunga?
Getting there– Odda makes the perfect base town for the Trolltunga hike. It is also possible to make Trolltunga a day trip from Bergen(4 hours drive each way), however that could be very tiring day and we would recommend against it.
Where to stay – We stayed at the Trolltunga Guesthouse in Odda and highly recommend it.
Distance – 22 km / 13.5 miles round trip
Climb – 900 meters (2000 feet) elevation gain
Time – 8 to 10 hours for the round trip
The Trolltunga hike: Difficulty and Details
Trolltunga means the trolls’ tongue, named after the unique flat shape of rock cliff hanging off the mountain over Hordaland county in Norway. This hiking trail is again a very popular one in Norway because of its very interesting photo op and panoramic view points. However it is also a strenuous hike, and not recommended for everyone. The round trip distance to Trolltunga is 22 kms, with a 900 meters elevation gain if you start from the regular car parking lot. Now there is an alternate parking lot located higher up that shaves off some distance and elevation but that can only hold 30 cars and you will need to get there real early to make it to that lot.
Even though we did stay in this region of Norway for a day we could not fit trolltunga in our itinerary, but we definitely plan to go back and cover it someday. If you want to know more about this hiking trail in Norway, here is a link to a very informative blog on the Trolltunga.