20 Norwegian Hiking Tips You MUST Know For Your Next Hike
It is rightly said that “the best way to experience Norway’s beauty is by hiking through it”. Thanks to glaciers, rugged mountains, dizzyingly-high cliffs, plunging waterfalls, and rewarding landscapes, every hike in Norway becomes a unique adventure and an experience of a lifetime. As a result, hundreds and thousands of people visit Norway to do popular hikes like Trolltunga, Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), Prest and Kjeragbolten.
To help people stay safe in Norway’s mountains, the Norwegian Trekking Association charted out The Norwegian Mountain Code (Fjellvettreglene) in 1967, which consists of nine guidelines covering planning and safety tips for hikers.
Whether it’s a day hike or a mountain summit, preparing for it makes sure you reach your destination safely. If you are visiting Norway, we highly suggest going for at least one mountain hike (Prest is one of our favourites, and inspired our very own Prest1478 collection). Even bigger cities like Oslo and Bergen have several hiking opportunities in their vicinity, such as Mount Ulriken just outside Bergen.
Inspired by the Norwegian "Fjellvettreglene", we have put together this list of Norwegian hiking tips to help you complete your hike safely.
Norwegian Hiking Tips
1. Know your hiking route
It’s important to know the trail you are planning to hike, your destination and the requirements of the hike. For example, how long is the hike? How much time will it take to the summit and return? Am I physically fit enough for the hike? Do not start the hike unless you have answers to all these questions.
Hiking trails in Norway are classified with colours based on difficulty levels, which should hopefully make it easier for you to answer these questions. So, there are green trails (reasonably easy), blue trails (medium difficulty), red trails (Difficult), and black trails (Challenging/Strenuous). Whichever trail you select, read up on it so that you have a good understanding of its terrain and difficulty. Ut.no is a great Norwegian resource for hikers, with some information in English as well.
2. Let someone know where you are
Let someone in your family or friends (or even the staff at your hotel reception) know what trail you have chosen to hike and the time/day you plan to hike. Give them an idea of how long it should take you to return. This might seem unnecessary, but if something happens, a rescue mission can be planned based on your whereabouts information.
This is especially important if you are hiking alone. However, if you are hiking in a group, fix some meeting points along the trail where the group should know to meet back up.
3. Start early
When planning for a hike, factor in lots of time to rest during the hike and for time lost in case you go off-track. Also, it’s always best to get home before it starts getting dark. For this, it’s very important to start early. You wouldn’t want to turn around before reaching your destination just because it’s getting dark and you are running out of daylight.
If you have chosen a popular hike in summer, starting early is even better for another reason; the later you leave, the more crowds there will be.
Luckily, it hardly ever gets dark in Norway during the summer, but if you are hiking in Norway during the Autumn or early Spring, keep in mind that it may get dark earlier than you are used to.
Read more: 12 Reasons to Visit Flåm and Myrkdalen in Autumn
4. Hike in a group or consider a guided hike
If you are a beginner, it’s always advisable to hike in a group or at least with one other person who knows the area. If you don’t have company, there are tons of Meetup groups that go hiking together. So, you can just tag along with them and make friends.
Guided hiking tours are organised on the most popular hiking trails in Norway, such as Trolltunga and Pulpit Rock. It’s best to join one such tour, be rest assured, and enjoy your hike rather than worrying about logistics and pouring over maps and trail directions.
5. Do not ignore the weather
Respect the weather. Check for any avalanche warnings or bad weather forecasts before leaving for your hike. Along the way, monitor the development of weather conditions. If in doubt, it’s better to delay or postpone your hike to another day. Of course, you wouldn’t want to go for the hike and have all the views covered with mist due to bad weather.
Factor in two days at the destination of your favourite hike. Hiking in poor weather conditions might turn dangerous if you are inexperienced or ill-prepared. And, it ruins both the fun and the photo-op.
6. Wear proper hiking clothes
A typical mistake hiking beginners make is wearing regular clothes like jeans and casual cotton t-shirts. These tend to get wet with sweat and thus become heavy (and eventually cold). Instead, wear wicking sportswear that is designed to stay active. Opt for work-out leggings or trousers, polyester t-shirts, hiking socks, and breathable base layers.
Wear several layers depending on the weather and terrain. Layers help you regulate your body temperature as you feel hot and cold at different points of your hike.
Read next: 5 Important tips for choosing Hiking Clothes
7. Carry extra clothes
Weather in the Norwegian mountains can change in an instant. It’s possible that you start hiking in the shining sun and eventually find yourself in a snowstorm. So always bring extra clothes and layers, even during summertime. Pack a water-resistant jacket, a warm fleece, a pair of wool socks, and an extra pair of a thermal base layer.
It may sound unnecessary, but it’s better to be prepared than to shiver in the cold or get sick. We also advice carrying a hat as both the sun and the wind at the top of mountains can be brutal.
8. Hike with proper footwear
It’s very important you choose the right pair of footwear depending on the weather conditions and the terrain while hiking in Norway. Waterproof hiking boots/shoes are the way to go for most Norwegian trails. They provide good ankle support and have a good grip.
Trek shoes or boots, whichever you select, remember not to hike in fancy footwear. If your hiking footwear is new, make sure to break them in before hiking in Norway.
9. Hike with the necessary equipment
You might need to carry special equipment for your hike, especially if it is a multiple-day hike or a challenging trail. Therefore, it’s advisable that you pack smart and only carry what’s necessary. The packing list can be different for different trails but generally includes a first-aid kit, a headlight, trekking pole, sleeping bags, foldable tents, gaiters, crampons, and a hydration reservoir.
10. Bring a comfortable backpack
A good hiking backpack is a must for hiking in Norway. You can choose a smaller or larger backpack depending on how long your hike is. If your budget allows, we recommend a high-quality, sturdy, practical backpack, as they come with a warranty and last longer.
The backpacks for longer hikes should ideally have chest and hip straps, padded shoulders, a hydration reservoir compartment, a harness system, and an expansion option for extra room.
11. Pack enough food
Needless to say, you won’t find any shops/ snack counters on your Norwegian hiking trails. So, bring enough food and high-energy snacks with you. Always carry a bit more food than you think you actually need to be on the safer side.
Remember to pack food that supplies instant energy to your body. Norwegians love packing KvikkLunsj – it is an ultimate local snack (chocolate & cracker bar). In addition, bring sandwiches, bananas, or at least one nutritious meal.
12. Bring enough water
Bring a reusable water bottle to keep yourself hydrated during a hike. A thermos bottle is even preferable if you are hiking in winter. Water reservoirs are great for longer hikes. These can be placed in the backpacks and are super helpful as you don’t need to stop to sip on water.
You can totally refill your water bottles from flowing streams, waterfalls, or melting glaciers on your Norwegian hike. If you are sceptical, pop a purifying tablet in water, and you are ready to go!
13. Carry a map and a compass on long hikes
Your mobile phone connectivity may or may not work while hiking. Also, mobile phone batteries tend to drain quickly if the weather is cold. So, relying on the phone GPS is a big mistake. Instead, always carry an old-fashioned map, even when you are hiking on a marked trail.
In the Norwegian mountains, things don't always go as planned. A compass will help you navigate in the right direction if you lose your way.
14. Don’t take risks
The mountainous landscape of Norway is largely made up of huge rocks and moss, which makes for a slippery combination. Though the landscapes are stunning, and you will get a great picture if you climb that rock, no view or epic photo opportunity is worth risking your life.
The winds are harsh and strong on mountain tops. Do not stand on a cliff edge where there is a drop on the other side. It can knock you off your feet.
15. Turn around if the situation demands
The ninth Norwegian Mountain Code says, “Turn back in time. Sensible retreat is not a disgrace”. If you feel the weather is worsening at any point during your hike, turn around and return. If you are unable to reach your destination and it is getting dark or cold, don’t be ashamed to turn around and reach home safely.
It’s better to give up the hike if you are too exhausted to move any further. Remember, you will get plenty of other opportunities in the future.
16. Consult locals
Online information regarding your hiking trail may often be hard to find, or websites may not be updated. So instead, look for a local tourist information centre and find all the updated information from them. You can even consult the staff at your hotel or accommodation regarding your hikes and collect valuable tips and recommendations from them.
Norwegians are passionate hikers, and they enjoy talking about the hikes. They will be happy to help you and will appreciate that you consulted them.
17. Seek shelter if necessary
If you are tired, rest. Eat and drink frequently, and adjust your hiking speed to reach your destination in time. Seek the nearest shelter before you are exhausted. Norwegians have built hundreds of public hiking cabins across several trails for your use. Some are fully staffed huts, while others are self-serviced.
The self-service cabins set up by the Norwegian Trekking Association have fully-equipped kitchens, beds, mattresses, and other provisions. You can stay and enjoy food here, and then simply sign the receipt with details, and the bill will be sent to you.
18. Pack the right accessories
Variations in altitude, and therefore the temperature, make carrying the right accessories a key aspect of any Norwegian hike. A beanie is a must when it gets cold or when you camp during the night. A neck gaiter is another great piece of clothing that can also be used to cover the face and nose as you breathe in the cold mountain air.
For the colder segments of the trek, you will need to protect your extremities, especially your hands. A thick pair of gloves can keep you warm.
19. Leave no trace
We are pretty confident we do not need to emphasise this point, but there's no harm in mentioning it. You do not need to record or mark your presence everywhere you go. Do not litter or leave anything behind in the mountains. Bring all your trash back with you to the base. In fact, we have seen many hikers carrying a garbage bag and bringing back all the waste they encounter on their way on the trail.
20. Remember to enjoy your hike
Stop and take in the beautiful landscape surrounding you. Maybe even take a photo. Listen to the silence. There’s no point talking about work or politics while in the mountains. Calm down, relax and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Remember, one key aspect of hiking is getting away from the rat race.
If you are prepared for the hike, there’s a higher chance of you enjoying it, no matter what nature throws at you. If you have any other hiking tips, please share them with us in the comments section below.