Walking in Norway An introduction
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Norway is the country of mountains and coastline. Half of Norway by length is within the Arctic Circle, even if the bulk of the national parks are in the South. Go to Norway for the rugged waymarked paths, the vast open spaces and the simple hospitable huts.
Alpine Exploratory has operated walking holidays in the Alps since 2005. In 2016 we began to explore Norway and in 2018 we offered our first Norwegian treks, in the Jotunheimen. Here we set out the considerations involved in a Norwegian walking holiday and give inspiration to make the trip.
The DNT, Den Norske Turistforening, is the Norwegian trekking and travel association. The DNT runs many mountain huts and maintains information offices in Norwegian towns. We include the year's DNT membership with all of our Norway treks.The DNT's waymarked trails...
The DNT, Norway's trekking and travel organisation, runs the network of waymarked trails across Norway. This is a special feature of the country. A map is available from the DNT that, for the whole of Norway, shows every DNT trail. The trails tend to link huts with other huts and the key roads. On the ground, the local DNT organisation maintains the paths and their red 'T' waymarks and bridges. The Norwegian topo maps at 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 show these routes.... and the DNT's network of huts
The DNT maintains over 500 huts across Norway. Trekking hut-to-hut is ingrained in Norwegian outdoor culture. Many of these huts are catered and the daily life is simple yet highly civilised.The DNT's website
Norway's walking is on a huge scale. This is a landscape to move through steadily. The contrast is great with the Lake District (UK) as an example, where rocky and intricate hills form a jumble of shapes and colours. In Norway a whole day on trek could be spent in one huge valley, following it as it curves and leads you into the mountains.
When traveling around the country we might spend double the time of a typical Alpine journey. The national parks are often far from train lines. There is a sense of journeying into the wild.
Norway's two highest mountains are open to the mountain walker, albeit with challenges at the high end of our grading scale: Galdhopiggen (2,469m) and Glittertind (2,465m). A notable mountain Snohetta (2,286m) has great prominence as a massif. All three can be done from our treks, in Galdhopiggen's case by adding a day for the out-and-back daywalk.
Where to stay?
What is life like in a hut? Guests arrive, check in at reception and go to their dormitory or private bunk room. Showers are available at almost all huts and could be in a separate building. Dinner is typically a three-course meal starting with soup, served at big tables where you might be next to other trekkers: Norwegian, Swedish, British, American, Dutch and so on. The bar will be open for drinks at your table and afterwards.
In the morning, breakfast is a spread, often no less well provided than the better Norwegian hotels. Jams and bread could be homemade. Of great interest is the lovely Norwegian system of making your sandwiches from the breakfast ingredients and we love to see the creations loaded, perfected and wrapped up in the stylish DNT greaseproof paper.
Norway's hotel style is similar to that of Austria in being mostly modern, with a reference to the old wooden style here and there, and always with a superb breakfast. Two very reliable Scandinavian hotel chains, Thon and Scandic, have hotels in all the towns and excel in their breakfasts too. It is possible to have separate and lavish fish and meat courses as well as all the breads, cereals and juices. Ask us for our particular tip in Trondheim!
Our Norway walking holidays
City breaks after trekking
Norway has links worldwide from Oslo's new Gardermoen airport but of note is Bergen's connections to Boston and other Eastern US airports. From the UK, Norwegian and SAS fly from several airports to Oslo, Bergen and Stavanger. If you reach Aberdeen then the Wideroe flights to Bergen and Stavanger take an hour directly over the sea.
We welcome clients from the world over. We can advise about payments, postage and travel, and here are our initial suggestions:
Booking from overseas - it's easy!
Travel in Norway works beautifully but the key is careful planning. This is because many bus and train lines have one, two or three services per day as opposed to the hourly service typical of the Alps and UK. Without planning your train or bus to match your flight time, it is possible to lose a day. We advise in detail on getting to your trek the same day, plus the options for interesting overnight stops (Oslo, Lillehammer, Trondheim) if you have a day to spare.
Norway's long-distance bus networks are the public transport backbone of the country. They bring within easy reach the majority of mountainous areas that are not next to one of the few train lines, for example the Jotunheimen. Buses are best booked ahead, online, though it is common for people to pay the driver (with a card) on boarding. The seats are very plush and there is a toilet, plus usually wifi and a USB point.
Norway's trains book out, unlike the UK and Alpine countries where tickets are effectively unlimited even if you end up standing. Coupled with the infrequent trains on lines North of Lillehammer and to Bergen, it is essential to plan and book.
Oslo to Trondheim, Dovre line
(6 hours, via Oslo Airport, Lillehammer and Otta)
This is the line most relevant to our treks: direct trains run North from Oslo, calling at the main airport (Gardermoen) and reaching Lillehammer in 2 hours. Onwards, Otta is a key interchange for buses to the Jotunheimen and the Rondane.
For travel after your trek, these three lines are useful:
Oslo to Bergen
(7 hours, via Finse and Voss)
Being Norway's extra-scenic line and passing its highest station Finse (1,222m), this is a trip in its own right. Beyond the ski resort of Geilo keep switching side to side in your carriage - or try the buffet car - for the best views.
Oslo to Trondheim, Roros line
(6 hours, via Oslo Airport and Roros)
From Hamar to Storen a separate line goes up the East of the country. Roros is a popular old mining town and the general scenery of the line is forested with moose to be seen from the window.
Trondheim to Bodo
(9.5 hours, via Mosjoen and Mo i Rana)
Cross into the Arctic Circle at the 680m summit of Saltfjellet. With numerous passes and fjords this is surely the scenic equal of the famous Bergen line; its added benefit is demonstrating the scale of Norway.
Much general tourism in Norway centres on the fjords, including the Hurtigruten ship that plies the coast. We advise on journeying to the fjords on your way home from the Jotunheimen and Rondane areas, which is possible with clever combination of buses and ferries. You might then reach Bergen, a great way to finish. Alternatively by hiring a car all the ferries and coastal areas can be reached.
Trondheim's colourful wood-clad houses are a favourite urban Norwegian setting of ours. Bergen has a grand setting and more so than just its central harbour; still, Trondheim is our pick. Stavanger has elements of these coastal settings in a more compact town.
When it comes to Scandinavian capitals we would say that Oslo jostles with Stockholm. Recent new development has drawn the town to the harbourside - the walk-on-roof Operahuset and an imaginitive and popular boardwalk - but the hip Grunerlokka and smart Frogner districts are charming. Ask us for our tips for hotels on the hill.
If you're traveling onwards in Europe, please ask us for travel tips. Our clients from the US and Australia are often trekking as part of a longer trip.
City breaks after trekking - our suggestions
Our Jotunheimen Tour is our main trek in Norway. In 6 stages it covers a breadth of Norwegian scenery, tending towards the mountainous, and includes the dramatic Besseggen ridge. The huts are a good sample of the DNT and private cabins.
On gradually steepening terrain we offer a trip in the Rondane national park. For a shorter trip we offer the Rondane Tour. This is on easier terrain than the Jotunheimen Tour and is a great introduction to hiking in Norway.Ask us more
Please look at our holiday pages for more details. Our various Norwegian trips have differing types of terrain and other challenges. Please email or call us any time for more information.
Thank you. See you in Norway!
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