The main reason I wanted to go to Norway was for the beautiful landscapes and hiking opportunities.. and boy it did not disappoint!! I completed 3 main hikes during my trip to southern Norway that I highly recommend. They were Kjeragbolten (Kjerag for short), Preikestolen (aka Pulpit Rock), and the infamous Trolltunga. All 3 of them were beautiful and had a specific rock as an ending point (hello amazing photo ops!) yet all 3 hikes were very different from one another in terms of length, location, difficulty, and popularity. I will explain each individually below ↓
- Distance: 10km roundtrip (6.2 miles)
- Length of time: Trailhead sign says 5 hours roundtrip. Took us 2 hours to get to the boulder, and a little less than 2 hours to get back + time spent at the boulder.
- Parking: cost 200NOK per vehicle, cash only.
- Location: Located in Lysebotn. The trail honestly isn’t located close to any large town… use Google Maps to type in “Kjerag parking” and it will direct you right to the parking lot.
- Your closest option for lodging is to camp in a tent at a campground or hostel which are 5-20 minutes from the parking lot. We stayed in the closest and only hotel about 35 minutes away from the parking lot called Sirdal Commune. Otherwise, the towns of Jørpeland (2.5 hours away) and Stavanger (3.5 hours away) are your best bet to take a bus/car/ferry to the lot.
*Description & Pictures: Kjerag was the first hike we completed in Norway. Perhaps it’s because the weather was windy and rainy, but this was the most difficult hike of them all.. even though it’s not the longest one. It is very steep. It has 3 main steep ascents and descents followed by a higher altitude rocky flat walk when you get close to the boulder. Some of the steeper parts have a wire you can hold to help you climb up.
The boulder itself sits 3,228 feet in the air! Most crazy places I’ve stood on are wider in real life than they appear in the photo.. but not this time. I assure you this boulder is just as small and high as it looks in photo. I usually like to jump or do a cartwheel or something fun in my photos but there was no way I was doing anything but standing on my feet there.
The Kjerag hike had the least amount of people on it compared to the other 2 hikes on this list.. probably because of the difficulty, maybe because of the rain that day. But there was about 15-20 other people maximum at the boulder while we were there. Definitely 100% recommend doing this hike!!
2. Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock)
- Distance: 7.5km roundtrip (about 4.7 miles)
- Length of time: about 3 hours (Took us 1.5 hours to get there and 1 hour to get back+ time spent on the rock).
- Parking: costs 200NOK per vehicle, via card or coins.
- Location: Just outside the town of Jørpeland
- We stayed in an AirBNB in Jørpeland, which was a 10 minute drive to the starting point of the hike. There are a few hotels near there as well. Otherwise, tour companies/buses will drive you to the parking lot from further main cities such as Oslo, Bergen, or Stavanger.
*Description & Pictures: This was the shortest hike we completed on this list, but that does not mean it was easy. It was basically like walking on the stair stepper at the gym the whole way there. If you are not used to incline or unable to walk up rocky stairs for extended periods of time, it may be difficult for you. Definitely burned my thighs. However, this hike was the only one that there was multiple children completing. So it is your best bet for a family friendly hike.
It is also the most popular hike on this list, meaning it had the most people on it. It is the only hike on this list that had multiple tour buses in the parking lot filled with people. Pulpit Rock itself was very wide which provided for chances for jumping and cartwheels for the photo op :p Despite there being so many different languages being spoken, everyone stood in a line on the back of the rock and were respectful about giving everyone a chance to get their photo without anyone else in it.
- Distance: 26km (16.1 miles) roundtrip from lower parking lot, or 20km (12.5 miles) roundtrip from the upper parking lot
- Length of time: Depends where you start. If you are fortunate enough to park in the upper lot like we were (read more in description below) it took us 3 hours each way, so 6 hours roundtrip + time spent at the Trolltunga rock. If you start from the lower parking lot, it is 4-5 hours each way, making it up to 10 hours roundtrip + however long you stay at Trolltunga.
- Parking: costs 500NOK/vehicle in the upper lot and a little less than that to park in the lower lot.. paid per hour.
- Location: Just outside of the town of Odda
- There are multiple hotels in the small town of Odda about 20 minutes away from the parking lot. There are a couple of basic AirBNB’s located directly next to the parking lot of the trail which will alleviate the parking lot fees and allow you to be one of the first people on the trail in the morning.
*Description & Pictures: This was the longest hike on this list. It took us the longest amount of time. However, I didn’t find the trail to be difficult. The majority of the trail is on uneven rocky terrain where you always have to watch your step, but it is not very steep… except for the beginning. The first half a mile or so after the upper lot is flat land which is then follow by 2 miles or so of the hike are the most difficult, and that’s because it is entirely uphill. After that it is basically smooth sailing with beautiful views… enjoy them!
Some people choose to camp at the Trolltunga rock once they are there instead of making the hike back the same day. It gets really cold at night, so pack accordingly if you choose to do so, remembering you have to carry it while you hike. It was definitely do-able to hike both directions in the same day, which is what majority of hikers do.
***The parking situation at Trolltunga is new. There used to only be 1 parking lot which made the hike 26km no matter what. However, they recently built a parking lot higher up the mountain that cuts off 3km of hiking each way (6km total). Making it shorter is definitely a benefit because those 3km that are cut off do not have any pretty scenery to look at. In fact, you literally walk up a paved road for those 3km… so you do not miss out on anything at all by parking in the upper lot. The downfall to the upper lot is it is pricey (500NOK/vehicle) and it is limited to the first 30 cars per day. They then shut the lot and you must start from the lower lot. If you arrive by bus or on foot, you also must start at the lower lot as their is no shuttle to the upper lot. The upper lot sign says they open at 7am, but we arrived at 5:50am and they let us in… so GET THERE EARLY! You don’t want to start late in the day anyway if you want to be able to hike there and back in the same day.***
We started hiking around 6am and were one of the first people at the rock with little to no line for the picture… However, 30 minutes later there was 30+ people in line to take a picture on the rock… Starting early always has its benefits 🙂
Other info pertaining to all hikes:
- All 3 hikes are marked with red T‘s to make sure you are headed in the right direction… the T’s make it very hard to get lost on any of them.
- The best time to go on these hikes is from May to September… after that it becomes very rainy, windy, cold, and much less enjoyable/safe hiking conditions.
- Make sure to bring a backpack with plenty of water, snacks, a raincoat and waterproof cover for your backpack (it rains on and off all the time in Norway), first aid kit, and a good camera!
Whether you’re familiar with Norway or not.. get your butt there 🙂 I know a lot of people that asked me why in the world I was going to Norway (because they didn’t know anything about it) and then after seeing my pictures said they were adding it to their bucket list…. You won’t be disappointed! 🙂
Don’t hesitate to contact me with any specific questions.. and look out for my next blog that will contain all the basic info you need to know before traveling to Norway… Until then, Happy hiking! 🙂
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