Hiking in Norway
Norwegian mountains are beautiful! Sounds like a cliché? Might be! But seriously, have you seen Norway’s landscapes?
Norway is famous for its landscapes and fjords and we have so many incredible places that everyone visiting Norway should see. But if you have done all that incredible but touristy stuff, I would recommend you GO TO THE MOUNTAINS.
Few facts about Norway
Norway hasn’t always been my home country, but it has been exactly that for the past 22 years. So let me give you 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.
Norwegians er very proud of their country, especially its nature and its landscapes. People here 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 and many of us own cottages or mountain huts. These charming cabins could be in the mountains, in the woods or by the sea. They could 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. We don’t have any cottage, so we usually rent one. Another great thing is that you can rent all the equipment you need for the activities on the spot at a ski resort.
Hike like a Norwegian
At least twice a year we go to the mountains. Our favorite time is winter and autumn, but summer can be amazing as well. During summer or fall, people go hiking, biking, rafting, running, fishing etc. During winter time snow activities are a huge deal. We like slalom the most, while many others do cross-country and snowboarding. The snow season starts around the end of November and artificial snow is made for both cross-country and slalom slopes. Check out Hemsedal on TripAdvisor for activities during different seasons.
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).
When hiking we bring our storm kitchen, which is a cooking stove for hikers, and pre-made pancakes batter. Usually, we also bring some hot dogs which we grill over a bonfire. Few hours of hiking just to get to a viewpoint is amazing. The feeling of satisfaction after walking for a few hours and be rewarded with beautiful views is the best in the world.
I have never been outdoorsy, and I am still not. However, lately, I have been getting this urge to go out in nature and explore – especially mountains. I still love comfort and luxury and haven’t slept in a tent for 25 years, but I can settle for something in between.
If you haven’t been to Norway
My dream and goal are to visit every state (fylke) in Norway. Each and every one of them has some special landmark. You have probably heard about Trolltunga, Pulpit Rock, The Seven Sisters etc which all are located in different parts of Norway. And I will be honest with you – I haven’t been to any of these places.
Well, back to Norwegian mountains and places I have been. Here is one of my favorite mountain areas – the famous Hemsedal.
How to get and where to stay in Hemsedal
Located approximately a 3,5 hours car drive westbound from Oslo. It is actually located approximately half way between Oslo and Bergen. You can also catch a train from Oslo to Bergen and get off at Gol. Alternatively, you can take a bus. The area is very popular for both young party people, families with kids, couples – well everyone. There are many slalom slopes for a different level of skills. In Hemsedal, you can find a high-class hotel, modern cottages, and apartments, or the more authentic and simple mountain huts. The most popular mountain huts are the ones with ski-in-ski-out and close to “after ski”. You can book your accommodation here. But all of the above are probably the reasons why Hemsedal is one of the most famous and popular mountains areas in Norway.
If you come in spring, summer or autumn for hiking you can find all kind of mountain trails in here. You don’t have to be experienced and have the best equipment but you have to respect the nature and the weather.
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 air is so fresh and it is so quiet, and 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 so ideal. It can change in seconds…
But even mornings like this – with fog and frost, are so different from what you see in the city or at the beach. There is so much more nature in the mountains and you feel so much more alive and in peace with your self. The meaning of “nature is a balm for your soul” really makes sense here.
Winter season in the mountains is filled with skiing, joy, and parties 🙂 This is the ultimate season to go to the mountains with friends. “After ski” pubs are crowded with young adults, the slopes are crowded and the prices for rentals are skyrocketing 🙂 The closer to the slopes you want to stay -ski-in/ski-out, the dearer it is.
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.
Whether you are considering doing some hiking in Norway or come for a vacation where you can tour the country up and down remember to bring your wool sweater and a raincoat 🙂