Check the famous ridge off your bucket list
- Destination Jotunheimen
- Season June–September
- Difficulty Demanding
- Distance 13.1 kilometers
- Elevation 1,100 meters
- Duration 7–9 hours
Besseggen has a special status among Norwegians and hiking the ridge is considered a rite of passage, no matter your age. The iconic view is characterized by the Gjende and Bessvatnet lakes. Gjende is a stunning emerald color and very long and narrow. Bessvatnet is a deep blue and among Norway’s clearest lakes. In fact, it’s said you can see up to 30 meters below the water. There's also a plethora of great peaks that rise up above the landscape in all directions. Rarely will you see landscape more beautiful.
Hiking the Besseggen ridge is very demanding. It takes roughly 6 to 7 hours to complete the ridge hike, not including breaks. Despite the challenging route, during the short hiking season from the end of June to mid-September, more than 30,000 hikers complete the trip making Besseggen one of the most trafficked hiking routes in Norway. The trail becomes extremely difficult in rainy weather, so make sure to look at the forecast and talk with locals and fellow hikers before embarking on the trek. Due to the short season, the trail is often very crowded. To avoid the masses, aim to hike on a weekday in September. July is the traditional month for Norwegians to take summer holidays.
The closest stop is the “Gjendesheim” bus stop, located right in front of the Gjendesheim tourist lodge. If you are traveling from Oslo, it’s easiest to take the NW161 Valdresekspressen.
Type “Gjendesheim” into your GPS. There is paid parking to the right of the tourist lodge.
West to east
The most popular route involves taking the Gjende boat from Gjendesheim to Memurubu, and then hiking east over the ridge, ending at Gjendesheim. The boat leaves frequently but sells out regularly, resulting in long lines and little control over when you leave.
This is not a flat or leisure hike. During the first hour, the trail rises steeply. Once you reach the plateau, turn around to see the view of Gjende and Bessvatnet. Some rock scrambling is necessary, but it’s a safe route that anyone can do if it’s taken easy. You’ve reached the ‘peak’ when you see the pile of rocks. From there the route is almost all descent.
East to west
By choosing to start from Gjendesheim, you’re completely independent of the morning boat ride and avoid long lines to secure your seat onboard. You’ll also see the wonderful view of Gjende and Bessvatnet in front of you for almost your entire trip. One downside is that you need to make sure you reach the last boat and ensure you have a ticket, or reserve a stay at The Memurubu Lodge.
- Kiosk near the boat port in Gjende
- Public toilets at Gjendesheim Tourist Lodge
- Toilets for Memurubu cafe guests. For non-guests, there is a small fee.
Where to Stay
Gjendesheim Tourist Lodge is a very popular place to stay before and after hiking Besseggen. It’s located just a 2-minute walk from the boat and 10 meters from the bus stop.
The Memurubu Lodge is located 10 minutes from the docks in Memurubu. Stay here after hiking from Gjendesheim, or spend the night before your hike to avoid morning boat lines.
With the freedom to roam, you are able to camp anywhere for free as long as you follow some basic guidelines.