The Norwegian capital has traditionally hosted the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony every year since 1901 with exceptional people being recognised for their contributions to world peace. Norway is also exceptional and merits a different kind of peace award, for its panoply of tranquil mountains, valleys and lakelands, made accessible to all by its longstanding right to roam laws.
Our Norway tours focus on two of the country’s greatest national parks, Jotunheimen and Rondane, which are delightfully distinctive from Alpine trekking elsewhere in Europe. On these walking holidays, Norway’s formidable fjords greet you on the other side of ridge climbs, you can trek across glaciers to gain panoramic views, or hike to glistening lakelands as a herd of wild reindeer watches on. On many of our Norway hiking tours, you also stay in Norway’s impressive network of mountain lodges, another institution that supports a beautiful thing – to go in peace.
Where to go
Jotunheimen National Park
Jotunheimen National Park is a protected mountain landscape with more than two hundred summits over 2,000m, with Galdhøpiggen the highest at 2,469m. You can summit this and others on our Norway hiking tours to the Jotunheimen Mountains, located about four hours north of Oslo. Every day of hiking in this region brings new inspiration, such as trekking over Besseggen Ridge which you access by boat across Lake Gjendebu. Or, taking a guided trek across a glacier to Uranostind at 2,157m. The Jotunheimen Mountains are called ‘the land of giants’ in Norse mythology, and its ravines, giant waterfalls, glaciers and jagged ridges are most certainly epic.
The King’s Road
This is an ancient 100km highway over the Filefjell Mountains, and less challenging than some of the other trekking routes in Norway. Dating back to 1793, it was the first route that people could use specifically for horses and carts, to connect the east with the west of the country, and also the two cities of Oslo and Bergen. It is divided into sections, taking you through beech forests, mountain passes and formidable fjord landscapes. As part of the trail borders the Jotunheimen Mountains, you can combine walking sections of the King’s Road with a hiking holiday in Jotunheimen National Park.
Rondane National Park
Rondane National Park is the oldest national park in Norway, established in 1962 to protect its prolific and perfect mountain terrain that stretches for 963km2. This is a landscape of peaks and plateaus, sprawling valleys and vistas, many of them sweeping down to windswept lakelands, such as the trio at Hårrtjønnin, Lake Høvringsvatnet or Lake Rondvatnet, the largest in the park. Our self-guided holiday in Rondane National Park is perfect if you are looking for Norway hiking tours that have all the punches when it comes to prettiness, but fewer when it comes to pushing yourself.
Things to do
- Hiking is to Norway what cycling is to the Netherlands, which means that there is a fine heritage of trails but also places to stay when you head off piste on our Norway tours, such as the Norwegian Mountaineering Association iconic lodges – also known as DNT lodges, an acronym for the association’s name, Den Norske Turistforening, founded in 1871. Ranging from traditional red to more earthy log cabins, there are 550 of them across the country. While hiking in the Jotunheimen Mountains, for example, you sleep at one of the oldest huts, on the shores of Lake Gjende, perfect for a wake up swim. Or when hiking on the King’s Road, stay at Fondsbu Lodge, on the shores of Lake Bygdin, a lodge that is particularly famous for its great local cuisine.
- Try some traditional food on our Norway hiking tours, from salt cod to smoked salmon, elk to reindeer. Lapskaus is a traditional stew made with beef, potatoes, carrots, Swede (the vegetable not the neighbour!) and leeks. Kjøttkaker meatballs are better than Swedes’, however, according to Norwegians, and raspeball (sometimes potetball) potato dumplings are sure winners after a day on the hills. Also made from potatoes, look out for the Norwegian alcoholic spirit, Akvavit, drunk neat by the brave, but also splashed into cocktails.
- With all these wild spaces, it’s not surprising that wildlife watching is a feature of all our Norway walking tours. Rondane National Park, for example, is celebrated for its herds of wild reindeer, with over 2,000 roaming the glacial slopes and valleys. You might also see elk, roe deer and musk oxen and, much more elusive, brown bears and wolves. There is no shortage of wildlife in Jotunheimen National Park either, with elk and reindeer up in the higher peaks and red deer in the forests or on the southern side of Gjende lake.
Responsible travel tips
- Whale meat is still on the menu in some places in Norway, going against international advice against commercial whaling. They have self-allocated quotas to keep the powers that be at bay, while still killing these precious cetaceans in their bays. Whaling is an ancient tradition here, albeit a dying one, but much of the whale meat is touted at innocent tourists, who go for trying something new on holiday. Please don’t, and shake your head at hvalbiff, or whale steak, on the menu. Read more about international campaigns to stop whaling at Whale and Dolphin Conservation and consider donating to their work.
- Norway may be set up with superb trails, but it’s vital to be a responsible walker while out in the wild spots of the Jotunheimen or Rondane National Parks on our Norway tours. The right to roam (allemannsretten in Norwegian) has been enshrined in law since 1957, and so please respect this while you roam too. This includes the obvious rules of leaving no litter, removing nothing, staying on allocated tracks and watching wildlife quietly and from a safe distance, respecting the fact that these spaces are their home.
- Be a safe hiker too, making sure you have all the required equipment as advised in your trip notes, first aid kit, water and so on, as well as a note of the emergency services at The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC). This is +47 51 51 70 00 for JRCC Southern Norway, which is where our Norway tours take place.
- On many of our Norway hiking tours, you will stay at DNT huts, and it’s worth noting that the foundations of these buildings are held up not only by seasonal staff but also by teams of volunteers. These volunteers carry out maintenance on the lodges, mark trails and do lots of year round support. These are people who really believe in the ethos of the DNT where, since its foundation in 1871, the mandate has been to “acquire means to ease and develop outdoor life here in this country”.