Imagine sitting down at a long table, discussing your day’s hike with fellow travelers while waiting for a hearty meal. Or preparing your own at a cabin hidden away deep in the forest. Whether you choose to stay at one of the Norwegian Trekking Association’s (DNT) staffed lodges or unstaffed cabins, you’re in for a typical Norwegian experience close to nature.
In this guide:
- About DNT
- Staffed Lodges
- Unstaffed Cabins
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I book a cabin?
- Do I need to book in advance?
- How much does it cost?
- Should I become a DNT member?
- How do I get a DNT key?
- When is the peak season for staffed lodges?
- Do staffed lodges cater for allergies?
- Can I camp by the cabins?
- Can I bring my dog?
- Are there any organized activities at the cabins?
DNT operates 550 cabins hikers can make use of all across Norway. Ranging from traditional huts to modern architectural delights, DNT’s cabins often have unique locations: perched on top of mountains, or located by lakes, rivers and forests. Along the coast and fjords, DNT has turned lighthouses, old farms and houses into spots where travelers wanting something different from the average hotel can spend the night.
When staying at DNT’s cabins, you support a non-profit organization with roots dating back to the 19th century. Since its foundation, DNT has promoted a sustainable outdoor life and worked to preserve the outdoors and the cultural landscape. Walking from cabin to cabin, along DNT’s marked trails, is an environmentally friendly way to soak up Norway’s stunning nature.
DNT runs three different types of cabins with accommodation: staffed lodges, self-service cabins, and no-service cabins. Besides these, there are emergency shelters and day-cabins. The age and standard may vary from any staffed lodge or unstaffed cabin. This guide provides a general overview of the cabins, how to access them, and tips for a pleasant stay.
The different cabin types are visually represented using the following icons with a red tint:
There are also private staffed lodges and unstaffed cabins around Norway. These may have higher or lower standards and prices than their DNT counterparts. Several of the private staffed lodges offer discounts to DNT members. To use unstaffed private cabins you need to make an agreement with the owner in advance. Private cabins are visually represented using the same icons as above, but with a blue tint.
A DNT membership grants access to the DNT standard key, which is required to access many unstaffed cabins. A membership also provides discounts on food and accommodation when staying at the cabins. A one-year membership for an adult costs NOK 695.
By joining DNT you help support the organisation’s nature conservation activities across Norway as well as their marking of safe trails in forests and mountain areas.
How to use UT.no
UT.no is a helpful Norwegian tool featuring information about all the cabins around the country. Unfortunately it is only available in Norwegian, so Google Translate is helpful. The term for cabin in Norwegian is “hytte”.
You can search by cabin name or area, or use the map to locate both DNT and private lodges and cabins. The cabin detail pages describe the cabin category, number of beds, opening times, booking information, and other important facts.
Staffed lodges are full-service cabins that offer room and board. An onsite team manages the day-to-day operations. The lodges are bigger than unstaffed cabins, and usually offer a bit more comfort overall. Staffed lodges are labeled as “Betjent” in Norwegian.
The communal dinners are a great chance to meet fellow travelers. Locally produced food has become an increasingly important part of the service at staffed lodges, and more and more of them are sourcing ingredients locally.
You only need to bring a sleeping bag liner and a towel to have a comfortable stay at a staffed lodge.
Staffed lodges usually feature single, double, and family rooms, as well as large dormitories. The rooms are simple, but comfortable. You’ll need a sleeping bag liner and a towel. Both items can be rented at the lodges if you don’t want to carry them or happen to forget.
The lodges normally have electricity and water. The shower rooms are often communal, much like a gym. Some showers run on a timer started with tokens. Some lodges don’t have plumbed toilets, however they are still quite comfortable and often located inside. Most lodges have a drying room for your wet outdoor clothing and shoes.
The social aspect is important at staffed lodges, and there are cosy communal rooms where you can socialize with fellow travelers.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available at staffed lodges. Snacks and drinks are also available to buy, including alcohol. The dining halls often offer unbeatable vistas of the surrounding nature. Vegetarian options are always available. Dishes for those with allergies can also be arranged, just mention it when booking and upon check-in.
Dinners are generous and served family-style. There are one or two sittings depending on the size of the lodge and number of guests. Dinner is three courses: a soup, a main course with meat and vegetables, and dessert with tea and coffee. Buy other drinks from staff during dinner.
Breakfast is a buffet with cereal, bread, and a spread of typical Norwegian toppings. Coffee, tea and juice are available.
You can pack a lunch for your day’s travels from the breakfast buffet. You can also fill your thermos with coffee or hot water. A small selection of lodges also offer a small à la carte menu during the day.
Note that it’s not possible to use the kitchen facilities to cook your own food at staffed lodges.
Most staffed lodges are open in summer from June through mid-September. However, their seasons may be longer or shorter. Some are open in winter from the end of February through late May, while most open during the Easter period.
Many staffed lodges offer self-service or no-service accommodation during the off-season. These facilities are not available when the lodge is staffed.
Important: Lodges put out walking bridges when they open at the start of summer. It can be difficult to pass rivers without these bridges.
For a more independent and secluded experience, consider an unstaffed cabin. They’re much smaller in size compared to staffed lodges. These cabins may have up to twenty-five beds, so you still need to be prepared to share with others.
There are two types of unstaffed cabins: self-service and no-service. The key difference is that self-service cabins have a larder where you can buy food. Both types of cabins have cooking equipment and tableware.
The cabins rarely have electricity, but are equipped with firewood and wood-burning stoves for heating and gas stoves for cooking. Most of the unstaffed cabins have no plumbing, so there are outside toilets and no showers. Pillows and duvets or blankets are available, but remember to bring a sleeping bag liner or a sleeping bag.
At unstaffed cabins, you organise everything yourself, from fetching water to chopping wood and cleaning. At some cabins, during the high season, wardens assist in organising the different tasks.
Self-service cabins have a larder with provisions such as rice, pasta, tinned goods, instant soup, crispbread, coffee, and tea. These are all available to buy while staying at the cabins. This means that you can enjoy your hike without having to carry a backpack stocked with provisions. Self-service cabins are labeled as “Selvbetjent” in Norwegian.
Tip: It’s a good idea to keep a list of the items as you take them. You need to record what you have taken at check-out, and a list will make the process easier.
No-service cabins usually have the same size, standard, and equipment as self-service cabins. The difference is that there is no larder, so you’ll have to bring all of your own food. No-service cabins are labeled as “Ubetjent” in Norwegian.
There are some simpler cabins where you may need to bring a sleeping bag and some equipment. Some cabins may not have water close by. It’s a really good idea to review the cabin information on UT.no and use Google Translate to make sure you’re fully prepared.
How to Use an Unstaffed Cabin
A stay at an unstaffed cabin involves a basic protocol. A good mindset is to leave the cabin in better condition than when you arrived. Here are some tips for a smooth stay.
You don’t not need to make a booking in advance when planning no staying at an unstaffed cabin. However, an increasing number of cabins are becoming available for pre-booking online.
Unstaffed cabins are usually opened with the standard DNT key. You need to be a member of DNT or of an affiliated association in another country to get access to the key.
In some regions, such as Stavanger and Trøndelag, unstaffed cabins do not use the standard key. Keys must be fetched in advance from the local trekking association. It’s a good idea to check the cabin’s locking arrangements on advance on the UT website.
Register your visit upon arrival by entering your details in the cabin register. It’s important to specify your membership number to claim your discount. You need to register before you have the right to use the cabin.
Sum up the price for accommodation and food (if staying at a self-service cabin) upon departure. Fill out a payment form and drop it into the designated box. You’ll receive a link for credit card payment or an invoice after your stay.
Before departure it’s necessary to clean up. Wash, dry, and put away the dishes, wipe the countertops and mop the cabin floors.
Remember to shut off the gas, fill the bucket with firewood and lock the cabin as you leave.
Tips and cabin etiquette
- If it’s cold, make firing up the stove your number one priority. You’ll find firewood in a bucket next to the wood-burning stove and in the woodshed. Remember that the overnight temperatures can dip quite low in the mountains and a warm cabin will help you stay comfortable.
- Dry your wet clothes and shoes by hanging them above the stove.
- While some cabins have mains or solar panel electricity, most have candles or kerosene lamps for lighting. Take care not to spill kerosene when filling the lamps.
- You’ll find a notice with the location of the nearest water source in the cabin. You may need to melt snow in winter. Use the stove and save gas for cooking.
- The cabins have propane burners for cooking and propane is provided. Turn the gas control valve to the “Open” position before lighting the burner, and remember to turn it off when you’re finished.
- After using outside toilets, pour in some of the provided sod or bark.
- A sleeping bag liner or a sleeping bag is required when sleeping in the bunks. Bring a headlight if you like to read in bed.
- You’ll have to give away your bed after one night if the cabin becomes full. However, due to safety reasons, it’s crucial that anyone coming to a cabin is given shelter, regardless of whether all the bunks are taken. Staffed lodges operate with the same principal.
- Show consideration for your fellow travelers. Some may wish to go to bed early and others may want to sleep in.
Unstaffed cabins are often open all year round. However, there are periods when some cabins are closed, such as during the coldest periods in winter, the reindeer calving time in May and June and during the hunting season in spring. Check the opening times (“åpningstider” in Norwegian) on the UT website.
Emergency Shelters and Day Cabins
Sprinkled through the mountains and forests are emergency shelters, small unlocked huts. They usually contain firewood and a gas stove for cooking. At some emergency shelters there are bunks so that you can spend the night if you have a sleeping bag and ground pad with you.
Day cabins are small unlocked cabins where you can rest, warm up, and eat your packed lunch. Emergency shelters situated near civilization are normally used as day cabins.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I book a cabin?
Book a staffed lodge by contacting the cabin directly, either by calling or by sending an email. Some staffed lodges have online booking.
Book an unstaffed cabin online with DNT (Norwegian only). With the name of your chosen cabin and your dates, plus some help from Google Translate, you should be able to make a booking. At least one person in your group must be a DNT member and have access to a DNT key. If you’re planning to visit more than one cabin, you can book everything in one reservation. You need to cancel your booking at least ten days in advance in order to get a full refund.
Specific booking information about each lodge or cabin can be found on the UT website.
Do I need to book in advance?
You don’t need to make a booking in advance to stay at a DNT cabin. Everyone who comes to an open cabin will be provided a place to sleep. If all the beds are taken, there are always extra mattresses available. It’s always a good idea to check whether the cabin is open prior to arrival on the UT website.
It’s possible to book many unstaffed cabins in order to guarantee yourself a bed. More and more cabins are becoming available to book online and it is highly recommended for the Oslo area.
If you’re planning on staying at a staffed lodge for two nights or more, it’s wise to book in advance. Members can book stays for up to three nights, except in the high season when the lodges are crowded.
How much does it cost?
When staying at a staffed lodge, you can choose between full board or lodging only. Full board includes a bed, three-course dinner, breakfast, self-packed lunch (four slices of bread), and a shower. When booking three nights or more at the same lodge, sleeping bag liners are included as well. Prices listed below are an indication only, and for adults.
View the official price list for Oslo and surroundings.
Full board costs about NOK 1190 for non-members and about NOK 930 for members per night, if staying in rooms with one to three bunks. It’s about NOK 50 less per night to stay in a room with four to six bunks. Dormitories are the cheapest option, with prices at about NOK 1000 for non-members and NOK 790 for members per night.
Full board-prices are slightly higher during Easter.
If you choose lodging only, it’s possible to buy meals, sandwiches, coffee, and tea separately. Remember that it’s not possible to cook your own meal at a staffed lodge.
You can expect to pay about NOK 460 per night if you’re a non-member and about NOK 360 if you’re a member when staying in rooms with one to three bunks. As with full board, it’s about NOK 50 less per night to stay in rooms with four to six bunks. It costs about NOK 290 for non-members and NOK 215 for members per night in dormitories.
There are reduced prices for children (born 2007-2015) and youths (born 2001-2006). Full board is free of charge for children born in 2016 or later.
An overnight stay at an unstaffed cabin costs about NOK 375 for adult non-members and
NOK 275 for members. As with staffed lodges, there are reduced prices for youths (born 2001-2006) and children (born 2007-2015) sleep for free. Children born in 2016 or after sleep for free, regardless of membership.
You pay a smaller fee for day visits, to use a cabin’s communal rooms or kitchens. For families who are members, the maximum fee for day visits is NOK 70. The price is NOK 90 for non-members.
You don’t need to pay the day-visit fee if you’re only buying provisions from the larder. You then pay per item, and price lists can be found in the cabins. Payments are made at the cabins.
If the cabin is available for pre-booking, the price is clearly displayed during the booking process.
Should I become a DNT member?
A DNT membership is compulsory to get a DNT standard key, which is required to access many unstaffed cabins. This means at least one person in your group must be a DNT member. One exception is that members of the national trekking associations in Sweden, Finland, and Iceland can get a key without becoming a DNT member.
The other main benefit DNT members receive are discounts on accommodation when staying at cabins. There are also discounts on meals at the staffed lodges, and provisions at self-service cabins. Each person must be a member to receive a discount. Members also receive priority on bunks when staffed lodges are crowded.
If you’re going to spend more than two nights at a staffed lodge with full board, a membership will save you money. If you plan on staying in unstaffed cabins, you’ll have to spend more than six nights to save the cost of the membership.
You can join DNT online or when you arrive at a staffed lodge.
A one-year membership for one adult costs NOK 695. Memberships are available at reduced rates for children, youths, and seniors. If you live together with an adult, youth, senior, or lifetime member, you can get a household membership for NOK 380. There is also a family membership for NOK 1,250. If you really want to support DNT it’s even possible to get a lifetime membership for NOK 17,375 (twenty-five times the annual adult membership).
How do I get a DNT key?
Many unstaffed cabins are locked with the DNT standard key. You need to be a member of DNT, or the national trekking associations in Sweden, Finland, or Iceland, to get access to the key.
Once you’re a member, you can get a key by paying a NOK 100 deposit. There are many places in Norway you can pick up a key, including Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, and Trondheim. You can also order the key online. Remember to have your membership number at hand.
You can keep the key as long as you’re a member. Return the key at staffed lodges, DNT offices or a partner office and your deposit will be refunded.
When is the peak season for staffed lodges?
The busiest season for most staffed lodges is from mid-July to mid-August. Weekends in September can be hectic too. However, it does depend on where the cabin is located, and whether you go there for skiing or hiking. For example Finsehytta, situated on the Hardanger Plateau, is busy in winter, while Gjendesheim, in Jotunheimen National Park, has its peak season in summer.
Do staffed lodges cater for allergies?
Yes. Notify the staff of any allergies or dietary restrictions when booking and again during check-in.
Can I camp by the cabins?
Some staffed lodges and unstaffed cabins have designated camping areas. At cabins without designated camping areas, the normal public right of access applies.
Prices vary from cabin to cabin, but it costs about NOK 80 (members) and NOK 100 (non-members) per person to use the camping areas at staffed lodges. This fee includes access to communal rooms and bathrooms. Children (born 2007-2015) pay half price.
At unstaffed cabins you can pay a day fee for access to communal rooms, kitchens, outside toilets, and showers where available. For families who’re members of DNT, the maximum fee for day visits is NOK 70. The price is NOK 90 for non-members.
Can I bring my dog?
At staffed lodges, there are a limited number of rooms where dogs are allowed. It is a good idea to contact the staff prior to arrival to check whether they have rooms available.
About 200 of DNT’s unstaffed cabins are suitable for dogs. Dogs sleep either in dog crates or in designated rooms. Out of consideration for allergy sufferers, don’t take dogs into communal rooms or bedrooms.
The price is usually around NOK 100 for dogs per stay, both at staffed and unstaffed cabins. Check whether a cabin allows for dogs (“hund” in Norwegian) using the UT website.
Are there any organized activities at the cabins?
Some staffed lodges arrange various types of courses and activities, such as guided hikes. It’s also possible to rent gear such as bicycles, skis, or canoes at several staffed lodges and unstaffed cabins.