Gentle family rides or challenging routes for dedicated cyclists – Norway presents numerous options for all levels of cyclists. Cycling brings you closer to nature, whether you choose to explore the farmland and deep forests of Eastern Norway, the mountain plateaus of Central Norway, or the ever changing coastline with its increasingly jagged landscape as you approach Northern Norway.
Cyclists will also appreciate the long, light summer days. In June and July, there are 17-20 hours of daylight in the southern parts of Norway, and 20-24 hours in the northern parts. This allows for more riding – or just more time outdoors.
Where to go
If you ride a standard touring bike, the coastline is a good place to start exploring Norway. The majority of the population lives by or near the sea, and the varied scenery makes the cycling trip interesting. The total length of the Norwegian coastline is an incredible 100,000 kilometres and includes numerous fjords and inlets, thousands of islands and a number of picturesque villages.
An ideal starting point for cycling tours is around the Oslofjord. From Oslo you can follow the inland national bike route 7 southwards to Moss (65 kilometres), and from there continue further south along national bike route 1, the Coastal Route from the Swedish border at Svinsund, around the Oslofjord, along the coast to Bergen. The route along the eastern coast to the old fortress city of Fredrikstad is easy, passing through flat farmlands.
On the western side of the Oslofjord, the national bike route 1 starts in Horten. This route goes through a couple of towns and passes several fine beaches on the way to Larvik.
From Larvik, the national bike route 1 gets a little more hilly, and more suited for the fit rider. Along the way you visit many small coastal towns, which are very lively during the summer. It would take an experienced touring cyclist four or five days to go from Horten to the city of Kristiansand in southern Norway. This route includes a few short trips by ferry, which saves time and helps you to avoid major roads.
West of Kristiansand the terrain is mountainous, and parts of the route to the town of Egersund are really challenging. Those who continue all the way to Stavanger will be rewarded – the last part of the national bike route 1 passes through Jæren, close to the ocean and along some of Norway's longest beaches.
Recommended starting points and destinations
The lakes of Telemark offer many interesting bike trips. In the inner parts of this county traffic is minimal and you can enjoy the silence and the scenery.
From Vrådal, ride southwards around Lake Nisser via Treungen and the Fjone, where you see the giant grind rock surfaces of the mountains on the west side. There are several beaches and bathing spots south of Fjone. The distance is approximately 80 kilometers.
A shorter daytrip of around 46 kilometres is to cycle around Lake Vråvatn, west of Vrådal.
From the village of Bø, you can spend a day riding around Lake Seljordsvatnet (62 kilometers). Take a rest at Seljord village or at one of the idyllic camping grounds on the south side of the lake.
The islands of Fjord Norway are great for cycling, with plenty of routes that are suitable for day or half day trips in a peaceful atmosphere.
Øygarden west of Bergen is a string of islands, connected by bridges. The road from Kolltveit at Sotra Island takes you northwards through several quaint villages to Hjemle church at Seløy.
Northeast of Bergen there is the large island Osterøy, surrounded by narrow fjords. The roads at Osterøy are fairly hilly, but it is worth the extra effort – Osterøy is an interesting place with traditional farm houses and dramatic views.
The archipelago of Sula, at the entrance of the Sognefjord is well-known among kayakers. The tranquil atmosphere and the rugged landscape also make it an attractive area to bikers. There are no round trips available here, but there are a few options for detours along the 33 kilometers long main road.
Other places of interest for bikers is the Lindås peninsula north of Bergen and the Stadtlandet peninsula, famous for its beaches and giant waves.
Bodø is the biggest city in the county of Nordland and a fine starting point for both day trips and touring.
An interesting place to visit is the old trading post at Kjerringøy, 39 kilometres north of Bodø. Today you will find a visitor centre with a museum, a café and a beautiful park here. On the road to Kjerringøy, make time for a short side trip to the white beaches of Mjelle (3 kilometres), located directly underneath tall rock walls. Mjelle is a great place to see the midnight sun from early June to early July.
Bodø has a unique archipelago with thousands of islands. Some of these are served by express boats and ferries and island hopping is a fun way to explore the region by bike. The best islands for a bike ride are Sandhornøy and Landegode, and the smaller Nord- and Sør-Arnøy.
There are several easily accessible viewpoints within just a few kilometres of the centre of Bodø. Going north, there are roads leading up to Rønvikfjellet (160 metres), Junkerfjellet (283 metres) and Keiservarden (366 metres). On a clear day you can enjoy a magnificent view of the mountains of the Lofoten archipelago, 80 kilometres to the northwest.
Stavanger Norway’s bustling oil capital
Stavanger provides easy access to the best parts of the national cycle route 1 – the flat Jæren area, windswept beaches and country roads lined with miles of handmade stone-fences. The cycle route also passes several lighthouses and ancient monuments. Going north from Stavanger, the ferry across the Mosterfjorden brings you to the many islands in the Haugesund and Stord areas.
Fredrikstad is the best preserved fortress town of Norway and is well worth a visit. The country roads on the west side of the town are cycle friendly with picturesque farms, camping grounds, recreational areas, small settlements and bathing spots.
Northeast of Fredrikstad you can ride the cycle path Glommastien (34 kilometres) around the Glomma River between Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg.
Perhaps the most interesting cycling excursions from Fredrikstad are made going south on fv. 108, through the string of islands called Hvaler. Fv. 108 is far from traffic-free and it is a good idea to bring your bike by bus and explore the idyllic side roads instead. A special attraction at Hvaler is the great amount of slick rock formations and slick rock islands. There is a steep tunnel between Asmaløy and the biggest island Kirkøy. Cycling is not allowed in the tunnel, but you can take your bike through by bus.
Hamar, north of Oslo, is located by Norway’s largest lake Mjøsa. From Hamar you can cycle through a landscape of rolling hills and some of the best farmland in Norway. South of the city you can make a roundtrip on the small roads of Stange via Ottestad, Såstad and Fjetre. There are lovely rest areas down by the lake at Sandvika and Gillundstranda.
North of Hamar you will find the cycle route Mjøstråkk that goes along the shore of Mjøsa and passes outdoor museums, campsites and recreational areas. When you reach Brumunddal (15 kilometres) you can continue along Mjøstråkk to Moelv, or explore the small roads of the peaceful Nes peninsula with several manors, cafés and outlets selling local farm products.
For a trip into the wilderness, go north on the Troll cycle route to the hills north of Hamar. The Troll route takes you to the river in the Åsta Valley, and from there to the mountain areas and dairy farms of the Gudbrandsdalen Valley.
For a three- or four-day ride, follow the signposted Mjøstråkk around Mjøsa (265 kilometres). There are plenty of accommodation options along the route.
Horten, south of Oslo, is a good starting point for national cycle route 1, the coastal route on the western side of the Oslofjord. This part of the cycle route is flat and offers easy cycling with short distances between towns and plenty of attractions along the way. The distance to Tønsberg is 20 kilometres, and to Sandefjord 45 kilometres. At Skallvollbukta and Ringshaugbukta, you will find some of the best beaches in the county of Vestfold. The cultural heritage site of Oseberg, just north of Tønsberg, is where the world famous Oseberg Viking ship was excavated (now on display in Oslo).
Suggested roundtrips from Horten are around Borre Lake (29 kilometres) or further west via Våle, Svinevoll, Revetal, Ra and Åsgårdstrand. The route through the forest from Åsgårdstrand to Borre is particularly scenic.