The Norse word Jotunheimen means "The Home of the Giants" – and there is a good reason for that. It is a mountainous area of roughly 3,500 square kilometres in Southern Norway and is part of the long Scandinavian Mountain range. The 29 highest mountains in Norway are all in Jotunheimen, including the very highest - Galdhøpiggen (2,469 metres).
The Jotunheimen area contains the Jotunheimen National Park, which was established in 1980 and covers an area of 1,151 square kilometres. The mountain range Hurrungane is also inside the national park with the sharpest peaks in Jotunheimen. Adjacent to the national park border is Utladalen Nature Reserve which covers the valley Utladalen and the mountain Falketind, amongst others.
Jotunheimen is incredibly popular amongst hikers and climbers, in particular the famous Besseggen-trail, and the Norwegian Mountain Touring Association maintains a number mountain lodges in the area, as well as well-marked trails that run between the lodges and others up to some of the peaks. Learn more about hiking in Jotunheimen here.
The Hardangervidda is a mountain plateau in the Hardanger region of western Norway, and is the largest such plateau in Europe. It has a cold year-round alpine climate and is the site of one of Norway's largest glaciers - Hardangerjøkulen. Much of the plateau is protected as part of Hardangervidda National Park; it is a popular tourist and leisure destination for many outdoor activities.
The great polar explorers Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen, both used Hardangervidda to plan and prepare their many expeditions, and there is an abundance of well-marked routes for walking, hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing. Learn more about hiking in Hardangervidda here.
Rondane National Park is the oldest national park in Norway, established on 21 December 1962. The park contains 10 peaks above 2,000 metres (6,560 ft), with the highest being Rondeslottet at an altitude of 2,178 metres (7,146 ft), and the park is an important habitat for herds of wild reindeer.
Rondane National Park is smaller and not as wild as Jotunheimen National Park. However, it offers a good challenge for those who like the feeling of wilderness and roughness of high peaks combined with the possibility of exploring rounded and friendly moorland. You can learn more about hiking in Rondane here.
The Lyngen Alps
These unique and untouched alpine mountains lie on a peninsula, and are popular among experienced mountain climbers and extreme skiers, and provide an absolutely stunning scenery against the blue fjords.
Here you will find mountain peaks rising more than 1,000 metres directly from the fjord, blue glaciers, cascading rivers, gleaming mountain lakes and deep ravines. And in this region, over 300 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle, there are also incredible natural phenomena to experience depending on the time of the year you visit – northern lights to midnight sun.
Unlike the more southerly Alpine regions of Europe, snow conditions here are colder and often it is possible to start skiing from sea level, skiing all the way to a summit before an exhilarating and peaceful descent back to the sea. Explore The Lyngen Alps here.
The Dovrefjell mountain area is the home of the musk ox and the barrier between the southern and central regions of Norway. Much can be said about Dovrefjell, but it is no coincidence that it inspired Edvard Grieg to write Dovregubben in Peer Gynt. It has even been referenced in the 1814 Eidsvoll Oath in relation with the Norwegian Constitution; "United and loyal until the mountains of Dovre fall". It is a symbol of eternity, and it is simply awe-inspiring.
Although it is a harsh environment, Dovrefjell is an excellent area for spectacular hiking and cycling during the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. The area is also good for fishing, canoeing, climbing and snowkiting. However, due to rather long distances between mostly unstaffed huts, great areas without huts and trails and unstable weather conditions, the area is first and foremost recommended for the experienced and well-equipped only. You can learn more about hiking in Dovre here.
The Lysefjord is located in Ryfylke, near Haugesund and Stavanger and is known for Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock) and Kjerag.
Preikestolen, the most famous tourist attraction in Ryfylke, towers an impressive 604 metres over the Lysefjord. This flat mountain plateau, approximately 600 square metres was most likely formed with the melting frost 10,000 years ago.
Preikestolen Fjellstue (mountain lodge) is located near the main road (RV13) south of Jørpeland and can be reached by car or, in the summer, by bus from Tau. From here, there is a trail to the Pulpit Rock, climbing 350 metres through somewhat uneven terrain. Along the trail, there are picnic areas and excellent bathing spots.
While Preikestolen is a wonderful hike with an amazing view, if you are after something more special, and something more challenging, you need to look at Kjerag. At 1,084 metres above the fjord, Kjerag towers above the other peaks along the Lysefjord. Huglely popular amongst the fittest hikers, it is possible to get there in less than 2 hours, even when carrying a 50lbs backpack. And from the plateau, it is even possible to continue the hike onto Blåfjellenden, for example.
Most people are happy just to enjoy the view of the Lysefjord from the plateau itself, but for some hikers, the ultimate climax of the excursion is to be photographed on the Kjeragbolten, a round rock wedged solidly in a mountain crevice. Kjerag has also become a popular attraction for mountain climbers and base jumpers. Learn more about Lysefjorden right here.
For those who enjoy gentle mountain hikes, the national parks Rondane, Dovrefjell, Forollhogna and Gutulia are the ideal choice. If tranquil and beautiful forest walks are more to your liking, then Trysil, Femundsmarka National Park or Finnskogen are fantastic to explore.
A visit to Jutulhogget between Rendalen and Tylldalen is a unique nature experience. Allow a few hours to explore the canyon or the edge of the cliff. Experience the amazing feeling of standing on the edge of the abyss with butterflies in your stomach.
Hemsedal is a small town in Norway with about 2,000 inhabitants. Hemsedal is scenic located in South Norway, right between Oslo and Bergen. The town is surround by high mountains, similar to the Alps, and has a river, Hemsila, going through the valley. Hemsedal is best known for its large alpine skiing area, which is one of the best rated and the second largest in Norway, but is also a great place in summer with many activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, horse back riding and more.
Last summer more than 20,000 people from 56 different nations signed the books at the 20 mountain tops. The hikes are graded from easy green and blue to more demanding red and black tours. Learn more about the 20 Hemsedal-tours here.
The spectacular snow-capped summits rise nearly 2,000 meters right up from the sapphire blue fjords. From February to June (!) these mountains are perfect for off-piste skiing. Thankfully, there are also gently sloping hills ideal for hiking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, even dog sledging. You can also go fishing in fjords, lakes and rivers teeming with fish.
The hike up Slogen (1,564 metres above sea level) is rated among the top ten mountain walks in Norway, largely due to its beauty, view and the fact that it rises directly up from the Norangsfjord. You can learn more about Sunnmørsalpene here.
Trollheimen (Home of the Trolls) is a mountain range in Møre og Romsdal and Sør-Trøndelag counties in central Norway, and is often considered the most varied and most beautiful of all the mountain ranges in Norway, for several reasons. It is surrounded by the valleys Surnadal, Rindal, Sunndal and Orkladal and features pinnacles up to 1700 metres high. It is scarred by a number of high mountain valleys with a wealth of large and small lakes with the finest trout.
The mountains in the western part is alpine, with pointed peaks and typical river valleys. The mountains in the east is less pointed with more rounded shapes, and the valleys are wider and bear the hallmark of being created by glaciers. The climate differs from the more oceanic climate in the west to a considerably drier, continental climate in the eastern valleys, sheltered by the mountains.
Trollheimen is perfect for hiking, where the most famous route is the "Triangle" between the three mountain lodges Gjevilvasshytta, Jøldalshytta and Trollheimshytta, each a fairly long hike of some seven to nine hours. It is possible to choose a route covering the three peaks of Trollhetta, a spectacular (but long) hike comparable to the more famous Besseggen route in Jotunheimen. The hike to the peak of Snota is often considered one of the most beautiful in Norway.
Even more information can be found on the main page for Mountain Hiking in Norway.