Jotunheimen is the perfect playground for avid hikers in Norway. The national park is home to the country’s tallest mountains, the most popular hiking trails, and just incredible nature. If you’re not sure which hikes in Jotunheimen are worth it, this guide is all you need to read!
From the iconic Bessseggen Ridge trail to ascents on Norway’s tallest peaks, this guide covers all the best hiking trails in Jotunheimen national park. The trails featured here vary in difficulty, so there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran hiker!
Besseggen Ridge is the most popular hike in Jotunheimen national park but it’s suitable only for experienced hikers. The usual hiking season for this trail is between June and October when there are boats running on lake Gjende. However, it’s important to note that it’s not unusual for there to be snow at the ridge even in June, so keep that in mind.
The starting point of the Besseggen Ridge hiking trail is near the Memurubu pier. From there, you’re pretty much just hiking uphill, ascending one mountain after another, admiring the mesmerizing nature. The trail continues even after you’ve reached Besseggen Ridge, descending into Gjendesheim, where you can ride a boat back to Memurubu.
The Besseggen Ridge hike is as challenging as it is rewarding. The terrain is difficult with an elevation gain of more than a kilometer during the 6-8 hours that it takes to complete this exciting hike. Snow, strong winds, and muddy terrain can all slow you down, so be sure to have all the appropriate hiking gear.
Svartdalen translates to the black valley, and it’s often called the most beautiful valley in the Jotunheimen national park. The trailhead is at Torfinnsbu pier, which can easily be accessed by boats from Eidsbugarden and Bygdin. This adventurous hike is popular for fishing, backpacking, and wild camping, plus the magnificent panoramic views.
The point-to-point trail is about 15 kilometers long, and it usually takes between 5 and 6 hours to complete the hike. The total elevation gain is about 650 meters above sea level with a fairly gradual ascent to the top. Once you reach the Black Valley, the terrain mostly flattens out for approximately 8 kilometers, but that’s followed by an extremely steep descent to Gjende lake.
You’ll also experience fabulous views of Gjende lake, the birch forest, and some of Norway’s tallest mountains. This hiking trail isn’t quite as popular as some others in the Jotunheimen national park, so there shouldn’t be huge crowds on the trail.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that the Svartdalen hike will take you pretty much to the trailhead for the Besseggen Ridge hike. If you have several days in the Jotunheimen national park, you should definitely do this hike first, rest for a night, and then continue exploring Jutonheimen’s best hikes the following day.
Galdhøpiggen is the highest mountain peak in Norway. It’s the perfect challenge for experienced hikers who want to conquer Norway’s tallest peak, and it’s not an easy mountain ascent by any means. Galdhøpiggen remains covered with snow the entire year, so you will need adequate hiking gear.
The shortest route to Galdhøpiggen is the most popular one, but it can’t be done without a guide because it includes a glacier crossing. There are other, longer routes to Norway’s tallest mountain that can be done without guides and are slightly easier than this one, so consider them if you would rather hike without getting a guide. Also, it’s worth noting that you need to book guide weeks or months in advance if you want a guaranteed spot.
The trail itself is not dangerous, but the ascent is long and steep. It includes some scrambling just above the glacier, plus there are lots of rocks and snow on the ground. It’s entirely worth it since the 360 views of Jotunheimen national part from the top of the mountain are absolutely magical.
Another thing worth noting is that you should pay close attention to the weather forecast. Fog can sometimes obstruct those panoramic views, so if you want to be certain that you’ll be rewarded for this challenging hike, try to do it on a day without fog.
Rising to an impressive 2465 meters above sea level, Glittertind is Norway’s second tallest mountain. It’s a popular hiking destination in the Jotunheimen national park, and a great trail to attempt if you’re a bit intimidated by the Galdhøpiggen route.
There are multiple trails that lead to the top of this mountain, but the most popular one is from Spiterstulen mountain lodge. This is Jotunheim’s largest tourist cabin with some 230 beds, and it’s popular because of its location halfway between the country’s two tallest mountains.
The ascent to Glittertind from Spiterstulen is challenging, but not dangerous. There’s a total elevation gain of 1,451 meters, and the ascent is gradual. There are some steep parts on the trail, but it’s not as rough as on the Galdhøpiggen trail.
It takes between 4 and 5 hours to complete this point-to-point hike, and that only accounts for the time you need to reach Glittertind. You can return the same way you can, or you can continue hiking to Glitterheim and discover even more stunning nature in this area.
The views from the top of Glittertind are incredibly stunning. You get to experience a 360° view of the surrounding peaks and lakes, and it’s definitely one of Jotunheimen’s best hiking routes.
The hike from Tyinholmen Høyfjellstuer to Falketind is a popular hike in Jotunheimen national park. There are multiple trails that will take you to the top of Falketind mountain, but the route hiked by the pioneers (Pioneer-ruta) is the most popular one.
The trailhead is at Tyinholmen Høyfjellstuer, and the route passes through Falkebree and Stølsnobree glaciers. There is some climbing involved and adequate equipment is necessary to successfully complete the hiking route.
It’s not recommended to do this hike without guides because of the challenging glacier terrain. Also, the trail is suitable only for experienced hikers in great shape, so don’t attempt this trail if you haven’t got hundreds of miles under your hiking shoes.
After you’ve ascended Falketind, the route trail to Morka-Koldedalen Valley, a beautiful valley with stunning panoramic views. The trail slowly descends after the valley, and once you’ve completed the loop around the mountains and start heading back on the same route you came, the terrain is mostly flat.
Knutshøe is kind of like Besseggen Ridge’s younger brother. It’s also a mountain ridge offering some incredible views, but it’s not quite as popular as Jotunheimen’s most famous hiking trail. Knutshøe mountain is also not as tall as Besseggen, and the trail is generally a bit easier and friendlier for less-experienced hikers.
That being said, we don’t recommend that less-experienced hikers attempt this route on their own. The terrain is rocky, some stages of the hike include scramble, and there’s usually snow on the ground.
The trailhead is near the Vargebakken car park, and it’s worth noting that there’s also a bus station here. The first four kilometers or so of the trail are very steep, and this is where most of the elevation gain happens. There’s a slightly steep descent after the ridge, but the final 6-7 kilometers of the trail are mostly on flat terrain.
The views from Knutshøe ridge are incredible. You can see the lakes, the surrounding peaks, and the stunning mountainous landscape that make the hike entirely worth it.
Kvitskardtinden is a mountain right above the Svartdalen Valley in Jotunheimen. It’s accessible from Svartdalen and Langedalen, so you have a couple of options when it comes to hiking routes. The most popular route starts at Torfinnsbu and goes through Langedalen Valley.
This is a challenging hiking trail, but it’s not as difficult as some others in the national park. It includes some light scramble towards the mountaintop, but that’s the hardest part of the route.
From Torfinnsbu, head through the Langedalen valley and towards Langedals lake. Then follow the Northwest ridge and walk towards the peak. You’ll pass through glacier remains, but you can easily keep to the left of it and avoid the inaccessible terrain.
The views from the top are incredible and definitely make the 6-hours hike totally worth it. Also, it’s worth noting that a guide is not recommended for this hike, so it’s safe to assume that even some less-experienced hikers can attempt it, as long as they’re accompanied by some veterans.
The ascent to Synshorn mountain is a moderately difficult route that includes a via ferrata, so it’s perfect for hikers who want to combine hiking and rock climbing for a few hours. This is a short trail that can usually be done in about two hours, and it’s great if you don’t have too much time in Jotunheimen national park.
The trailhead is in Bygdin, and it can easily be accessed by boats and buses. The ascent to Synshorn is quite steep, but the trail is well-marked and easy to follow. You will need rock climbing gear to complete the ascent – if you don’t have any, it’s best to look for a guided tour that will provide you with all the equipment you might need.
Rising to 1457 meters above sea level, Synshorn offers incredible views of Jotunheimen and Bygdin. The wonderful views along the way can be overshadowed by the challenges of via ferrata, but once you arrive at the top of the mountain, it all becomes worth it.
Out of all the fabulous attractions in Norway’s national parks, the Vettisfossen Waterfall is truly one of the most impressive. It’s one of the country’s tallest waterfalls, boasting a single drop that is nearly 275 meters tall.
The hiking trail to this mesmerizing waterfall is moderately challenging, and it’s one of the better options for hikers who aren’t extremely experienced. The out and back trail is some 13 kilometers long and it takes approximately 5 hours to complete, so it’s 2.5 hours in each direction. The total elevation change is 743 meters, which isn’t too bad for such a long trail.
The hiking route is quite scenic. It passes through Utladalen, a beautiful river valley known for teeming bird life, rich fauna, and stunning flora. It’s a well-marked trail that’s easy to follow, and it passes near four other waterfalls on the way to Vettisfossen. The trail can be slippery, so be sure to wear appropriate hiking shoes with a lot of grip.
In the mood for a short and exciting hike that offers spectacular panoramic views? Take the ferry to the Gjendebu, the oldest mountain cabin from the Norwegian Mountain Touring Association. You can ride the ferry from Gjendesheim to the area, or you can get here via other hiking trails in the national park.
Gjendetunga is a mountain that towers over the area of Gjendebu. The trail to the top of the mountain is moderately difficult and pretty easy to follow, rewarding hikers with beautiful views every step of the way.
The mountain is very close to the Gjendebu cabin and ferry port, so this is a rather short hike. The terrain isn’t too challenging either, making this one of the best options for people who want to hike to a scenic picnic spot. It’s also worth noting that the Gjendetunga from Gjendebu hike is one of the hidden gems in the national park and you shouldn’t encounter too many other hikers on the trail.
Nørdre Kalvehølotinden is one mountain peak over 2000 meters in a chain of more than 10 of them. The hike to the top of Nørdre Kalvehølotinden is moderately challenging, but it should be suitable for most fit people. This happens to be one of the most rewarding hikes in the entire national park, so it’s definitely worth checking out the trail.
The mountain can be most easily accessed from Torfinnsbu, by a 4-kilometer trail. It’s a steep ascent and some parts of the trail require climbing, but it’s nothing you can’t handle if you have experience hiking on mountainous terrain.
Most hikers are able to complete this trail in about 4 hours, but that doesn’t account for any time spent enjoying the views. Just make sure you’re back at Torfinnsbu pier in time for the last boat transfer, otherwise, you’ll have to spend the night in the mountain cabin.
Hikers who want to discover the craziest unique landscapes of Jotunheimen National Park will absolutely love the Svellenosbreen Glacier Hike. The trail allows you to explore one of the most beautiful glaciers in Norway and see all sorts of crazy ice formations.
This hike is supposed to be done with guides because of the challenging terrain. You need all sorts of winter hiking equipment to be able to hike on a glacier, and you’ll get everything you need if you sign up for a guided tour at Spiterstulen Mountain Lodge.
The hike from Spiterstulen to Svellnosbreen glacier takes about 2.5 hours, at most. Guided tours usually stay on the glacier for an additional two hours, so there’s plenty of time to explore and take photographs. The return time is also about 2.5 hours, so the total excursion takes about 7 hours.
Ridderspranget is a hike intertwined with history and local tales. Legend has it that a love-struck knight on a horse leaped over the Ridderspranget gorge, in an attempt to escape with the woman he loved from his enemy. That’s why the palace is also known as Knight’s Leap, and why it’s a popular destination in Jotunheimen NP.
The small gorge on the river Soa is a beautiful sight but you really shouldn’t try to jump over it. The terrain is slippery and jumping is considered extremely dangerous – accidents have happened in the past, so this is an important warning.
Ridderspranget is one of the shortest and easiest hikes on the outskirts of Jotunheimen National Park, so it’s definitely a great idea if you’re looking for a short but sweet trail to explore. You’ll reach the gorge after about a 30-minute walk from the parking lot, which is just off the main road.
The best time to go hiking in Jotunheimen is in July and August. That’s when the trail conditions are at their best, and the weather is pleasant enough even for longer hikes. June, September, and even October can be a good time for hiking at Jotunheimen national park, but it mostly depends on the weather and the amount of snow on the trails.
If you want to be able to explore any of the hiking routes in the NP, plan a summer hike. That’s the official hiking season in Jotunheimen, and you will experience the absolute best conditions for hiking in Norway. Visiting the national park earlier or later in the year might mean that certain trails are inaccessible, especially the taller peaks where the snow never melts.
Wind can also be an issue, so be sure to keep track of wind speed. Low to medium winds in the mountain foothills translate to very strong gusts of wind at higher elevations, particularly on exposed terrain. Pay attention to the weather forecast, and try to arrange your trip so that you have a window of a couple of days for the hiking, in case you have to wait for better weather.
So, even if you’re planning on hiking in Norway in July, you might still need good waterproof boots and winter coats. Especially if you plan on ascending the national park’s tallest peaks, which remain snow-capped throughout the year.