Hiking in Norway – Hemsedal mountains
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Norwegian mountains are beautiful! Sounds like a cliché? Might be! But besides being mighty, raw, and sublime, anyone can go hiking in the Norwegian mountains. Whether you are an experienced hiker who has walked all the famous trails in
Norway or an amateur who has never been in the hills, this post is for you. Norway is a gorgeous country with blue and green fjords, green valleys, and snow-white mountains. And you can hike in any area of Norway. Last years’ tourism has extended from day-trippers from cruise ships to hikers vacationing in tents and RVs all over Norway. But if you want to get off the tourist trails and human queues piling up you should visit Hemsedal. Hemsedal is one of the most popular mountain villages with Norwegians.
Not to sound super nationalistic, I do love many other countries too, and if you are into the same type of nature as in Norway, the Interlaken in Switzerland is a perfect place for you. Unfortunately, I haven’t been there myself yet, but it is high up on my bucket list. If, you want to know more about the place, check out Carolyn’s post from Holidaystoeurope on Interlaken by clicking on the link.
Best time to hike in Norway
The best time to hike in Norway is from the end of May and through September unless you are into skiing, downhill, and ice-climbing. The high season for hiking is from July to September. The Norwegians have summer holidays throughout July and the first two weeks of August. Many of us choose to spend our summer vacations in a cottage by the sea or in the mountains. The least crowded time for hiking Norwegian mountains is weekdays in May, July, the end of August, and September. During the high season, there are lots of activities you can do in the mountains, and some of the most popular are hiking, biking, rafting, running, fishing, etc. During wintertime snow activities are a huge deal. You can experience cross-country skiing, downhill, dog sledding, sleigh rides, snowshoes walks, etc. Many ski centers offer ski instructor hire. The snow season starts around the end of November, and artificial snow is made for both cross-country and slalom slopes. If you don’t want to travel far, you can do many of the summer and winter activities in Oslo.
Few facts about Norway
A few facts about the country I call home.
- A few years ago, we passed the population of 5.000.000 people.
- Norway is a long and narrow country (check the map, and you’ll see what I mean :)). It takes the same amount of time to go from Oslo to the northern point of Norway as it takes to go from Oslo to Rome.
- Norwegian people are the third happiest nation in the world behind Denmark in second place (2019). Finns (Finland) are the happiest.
- Oslo (the capital) is not in the top 10 most expensive cities in the world anymore (2020). So now is your chance to pay us a visit.
Norwegians er very proud of their country, especially its nature and landscapes. People love to be outdoors – hiking, skiing, biking, running, etc. Most of us leave big cities and move into suburbs when we get kids – to be closer to nature. Many of us own cottages or mountain huts and leave the town for the weekends as soon as possible. These charming cabins can be in the mountains, in the woods or by the sea. They can be brand new, or they could have been inherited through generations. The mountain huts can be everything from a modern apartment to an old wooden cabin with an outside toilet and no electricity. You can rent a cottage in the mountains, in the woods or by the sea and you can rent all the equipment you need for the activities on the spot at a ski resort.
Hiking in Norway – hut to hut
The Norwegian Trekking Association – DNT offers an overview of an extensive amount of trails and cabins, both with and without service. Many people choose to hike from hut to hut, planning their trip by the huts they can stay in. The association offers guided tours and planning tools. I suggest you check them out. Hut to hut hiking is a great way to see mountains but is an option for people who are used to walking in the mountains. If you are an amateur, a guided tour is a safe and great experience. You will find most of the huts and trails in the mountains between Oslo and Bergen. Hemsedal mountains are located 3,5 hours drive from Oslo and 4 hours drive from Bergen.
Hemsedal – going from Oslo
Hemsedal area is located approximately a 3,5 hours car drive westbound from Oslo. It is situated about halfway between Oslo and Bergen. You can also reach it by train from Oslo to Bergen and get off at Gol station. You can get your tickets online from VY (Norwegian Railway) here. Alternatively, you can take a bus, and get your tickets online here. The area is trendy for both young party people, families with kids and couples. Hemsedal has trails and peaks for any levels and skills for summer and autumn, as well as slalom slopes for a different level of skills in winter. Hemsedal top 20 hiking peaks is a very popular activity during summer months. The hikes are ranged by the difficulty level and hike’s length. Some of the trails are so easy that you can push a baby stroller while others are very demanding. You can read more about it here.
Hemsedal offers many different ranges of accommodation from a high-class hotel, modern cottages, and apartments, to the more authentic and straightforward mountain huts and lodges. The most popular mountain huts are the ones with ski-in-ski-out and close to “after ski.
Mountain ranges in Norway are different, and their heights, amount of snow, accessibility, and popularity would depend on the area. We never travel further than 4 hours away and prefer our mountains to be high (to some degree).
Not every trail is spectacular and nor should it be. Norwegian people love to be outdoors. Going for a slightly pulse-raising walk for a few hours is just as good and satisfying as going over Bessegen. It all depends on what your heart and soul desire.
When going with families and kids hiking is more about spending time together. We bring a storm kitchen, which is a cooking stove for hikers, and pre-made pancakes batter. Kids will usually look for blueberries for the pancakes while parents lit up the bonfire. We also bring hot dogs and marshmallows that we grill over the bonfire.
Few hours of hiking to get to a viewpoint is a terrific way to spend your time. The feeling of satisfaction after walking for a few hours and being rewarded with beautiful views is the best in the world.
I have never been outdoorsy, and I am still not, but I love a few hours of a good hike, preferably with some climbing. I always enjoy comfort and luxury and haven’t slept in a tent for 25 years, but I can settle for something in between.
Returning to the cottage after walking for many hours, lit the fireplace, have a glass of red wine, and enjoy a view like this gives the ultimate feeling of peace and satisfaction. The mountain air is fresh, and nature is quiet, and it always brings me serenity and peace. The only thing you hear is the sound of burning logs in the fireplace and sheep outside.
The mountains can be moody, and Norwegian weather is not always ideal. It can change in seconds.
But even foggy mornings with moisture or frost are more welcoming than the CO2 of the city. Although the crispy air will bite your lungs, the quietness and closeness to nature will fuel your soul. The meaning of “nature is the balm for your soul” really makes sense here.
Places like Hemsedal are off the tourist trails, and unless you know someone who can tell you about it or take you there, you wouldn’t even know about it. If you have seen Trolltunga, Kjeragbolten and Preikestolen I hope you choose something less touristy next time you are in Norway.
Winter season in the mountains is filled with skiing, joy, and parties 🙂 This is the best season to go to the mountains with friends. “After ski” pubs are crowded with young adults, the slopes are glittering in the sun, and the prices for rentals are skyrocketing 🙂 The closer to the slopes you want to stay -ski-in/ski-out, the dearer it is.
Suggestion: If you are not a skier and want to visit the Norwegian mountains during winter you can read my post about mountain village Beitostølen and 5 things not to miss if you don’t ski.
Other Famous outdoor Mountains and activities in Norway
My dream and goal are to visit every state (fylke) in Norway. Every one of them has some unique landmarks, peaks, and hikes. You have probably heard about Trolltunga, Pulpit Rock, The Seven Sisters, etc. which are located in different parts of Norway. Well, you can imagine it will take some time to tick them all off my list.
If you visit Norway in spring, summer, or autumn and want to go hiking, you can find all kinds of mountain trails at DNT.NO. You don’t have to be experienced and have the best equipment, but you have to respect nature and the weather.
When coming to Norway for hiking or a vacation where you can tour the country up and down, remember to bring your wool sweater and a raincoat 🙂 I would also suggest carrying a backpack, or at least to pack a small backpack with you. The backpack I use and love is Osprey Axis 18 This one is perfect for both short hikes and commuting in the city.