Are you an experienced cyclist, determined to see Norway with its many fjords and mountains from the seat of your bicycle? In that case, the national cycle routes may be just the thing for you.
Many countries, including Norway, have national cycle routes – a network of long distance cycle routes meant for those who seek a proper challenge. When we say long distance, we really mean it – some of these routes are for adventurers and experienced cyclists only.
If you’re not in the cycling shape of your life, you can still enjoy parts of a longer route, and though some of the routes are quite demanding, others are shorter and well suited for anyone who can ride a bike.
The national cycle routes guide you between cities and regions in Norway, avoiding most roads with heavy traffic. You can cycle along fjords, through forests and valleys and even across mountains. On the way, you can visit exciting cultural and historical sites, as well as small towns, scenic locations and interesting attractions. Bring your fishing rod or eat your way through the local food culture.
Svinesund – Kristiansand – Bergen – Trondheim – North Cape – Kirkenes
The coastal route is the longest of the national cycle routes and is not for the inexperienced. It is, however, not the steepest, but follows the long Norwegian coast from the east to the south, through Fjord Norway with the most famous fjords, and all the way up to the northeast, to Kirkenes on the Russian border.
Please note that the many fjords on the way make ferries, bridges or under sea tunnels the only ways to avoid long detours around each fjord.
Porsgrunn – The Telemark canal – Dalen – Stavanger
The canal route takes you right across Southern Norway, from Porsgrunn via Skien and The Telemark Canal, which was etched into the mountain more than 100 years ago and known as “the eight wonder of the world” when it was finished, to Dalen and all the way to the coastal city of Stavanger. Though it crosses the country, this route is actually one of the shortest national cycle routes.
Kristiansand – Setesdal – Hardanger – Kristiansund
Starting in Kristiansand in Southern Norway, this route visits Hardanger and crosses the Sognefjord before terminating in Kristiansund in the northwest. The craggy mountains and deep fjords of Fjord Norway are the focus of this route, which leads through some of the most scenic parts of Southern Norway and inland Fjord Norway.
Bergen – Finse – Oslo
Originally a transportation road from the construction of the Bergen Railway, part of Rallarvegen (“The navvies’ road”) is now one of the most popular bicycle routes in Norway, and offers both a historical and a close-to-nature adventure. But this national bicycle route stretches far beyond Rallarvegen and takes you from Bergen via Voss to Finse. From Finse, the highest point on the Bergen Railway, it’s more or less all easy downhill cycling to Oslo.
Halden – Oslo – Nidaros (Trondheim)
Halden, near the Swedish border in Eastern Norway, is the starting point of the pilgrim route, which takes you through Norway’s capital Oslo and along the old pilgrim route past the lake Mjøsa and the ruins of the Hamar cathedral, and northwards all the way to Trondheim, where you will find the Nidaros Cathedral, Norway’s national sanctuary.
Oppdal – Molde
The Trollheimen route is one of the shortest of the national cycle routes and will take you from the small inland town of Oppdal through the valleys and mountains of Trollheimen – one of the most dramatic and picturesque areas in the country – to the city of Molde on the western coast.
When cycling on the roads in Norway, the same traffic regulations and road signs apply to you as to cars and other vehicles: Keep to the right, give way to those coming from your right, and don’t drink and bike.
You may cycle on the pavement, but adapt your speed. You may not cycle on motorways and dual carriageways. Always wear a helmet when cycling. A high visibility vest is a good idea, especially on busy roads. Only children under the age of 10 may be carried as passengers.
In darkness and poor visibility make sure your bike is equipped with a white or yellow light in the front, and a red light in the back. You also need a red reflector in the rear and white or yellow reflectors on the pedals.
Make sure your bike has two brakes that work independently of each other and a bicycle bell.
Cycling in Norway equals tough mountain biking trails and big events like the Arctic Race – but also gentle rides through quaint villages and magnificent nature.
Thor Hushovd is considered the greatest Norwegian cyclist of all time. Among his merits are winning The UCI Road World Championship and several stages of the Tour de France. He takes a rare break to talk about his preferred rides all over Norway that feature what he loves the most: untouched nature.
The growing interest for road cycling in Norway goes hand in hand with the popularity of cycling as a sport, fuelled by successful cyclists like Thor Hushovd.
Go mountain biking in Norway for that tremendous sense of freedom you get from scraggly forest trails, or just take your bike out into the open country.