The best time to go hiking in Norway is from July through September. In July and August, the days are long and the weather is warm, making it the most popular time to hike. In September, pretty autumn colours and quieter trails make up for the cooler weather.
In low-lying areas by the coast, the hiking season is a bit longer, beginning as early as May and lasting into October. Check individual destinations and trails to identify the best time of year to go.
The true beginning and end of the seasons varies depending on snowfalls and general weather conditions. The Norwegian national weather service provides detailed weather reports and forecasts in English.
A bit of planning goes a long way if you’re considering hiking in Norway. It’s a good idea to choose a trail based on your abilities and equipment–great views don’t always require a tough hike. Weather and trail conditions are always a big factor and if you’re travelling outside the high season (July and August) accommodation options might be limited.
Choosing a trail
When choosing a trail it’s a good idea to read up so that you have a good understanding of the terrain and difficulty. For example many people don’t realise that Trolltunga and Besseggen Ridge are both quite demanding full-day hikes that require some preparation and hiking gear for a safe and comfortable experience. Trails in Norway are classified with a color according to their difficulty.
- Green trails are easy walks on fairly even terrain. They are suitable for most people, but not always accessible to people with mobility constraints.
- Blue trails are medium difficulty and require average fitness. They are usually less than 10 kilometers long and may have some short steep sections.
- Red trails are demanding hikes. They are typically longer day hikes, but can also be short and steep. It’s best to have some hiking experience. The terrain can be challenging with possibly some scrambling. Hiking boots/shoes are recommended. Some parts might be exposed with steep cliffs.
- Black trails are expert level and require mountain hiking experience. A typical black trail is a steep and exposed hike to a summit. If you have a fear of heights it’s best to avoid black trails.
Regardless of the trail you choose, keep track of how you feel, your supplies, and the weather. The Norwegian Mountain Code is a list of principles to keep in mind and remember that there is no shame in turning around.
If you’re a hardcore planner, try to build in some flexibility to your itinerary, especially if you’re super excited about a specific hike. It may be that you need to wait for some bad weather to pass until you get a nice day. Hiking on a crappy day is rarely worth it, especially if you want views as the visibility can be pretty bad. That said, the weather can change fast so a cloudy morning can turn into a sunny afternoon.
Hiking in Norway can take you off the beaten track and to some pretty isolated places. It’s important to pack for changing weather and any unforeseen circumstances. You can easily begin a day hike in 20 degree sun and end up on top of a cold windy mountain. Dress in layers (pack what you don’t need in the beginning) and take more food and water than you think you need.
If the worst happens and you hurt yourself, you may need to stay in the same spot for several hours or move quite slowly. In times like that you don’t want to get cold and hungry. Alternatively you might meet someone else in need and you’ll be prepared to help them.
Cabins and camping
If you want to stay at the tourist cabins around the country, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the system in advance. The cabins are run by the Norwegian Trekking Association (known as DNT in Norwegian). There are three types of cabins, ranging from very basic accommodation to full-service lodges. Depending on how many nights you plan to stay in the cabins it might be worth becoming a member.
The right to roam is a well-known concept in Scandinavia and wild camping is a popular way to travel while keeping costs down. There are some basic rules to follow, but mainly it’s important to show consideration for nature and the local residents. If you like some basic comforts, campgrounds are generally of a high standard and not terribly expensive (around 200 NOK/night for two people and a tent).