How to plan your
cycling holiday in Norway
...and pack like a pro!
What do you need to bring on a cycling trip and how do you plan the ultimate holiday on two wheels in Norway? Cycling expert Øyvind Wold shares his best planning tips.
Embark on an adventure and get close to Norwegian nature on a bike holiday. The fjords. The mountains. The charming coastal towns. Kilometre upon kilometre of gravel trails through an almost undisturbed wilderness await, especially in Eastern Norway.
Whether you choose to cruise down some of the most beautiful roads in Norway or follow a scenic cycling route, you still need to plan your trip. If there’s one person who truly knows how to do that, it’s Øyvind Wold. He works for the Norwegian Cyclists’ Association and has biked all over the country. In addition, he has written several books about cycling in Norway.
Here are his tips on how to plan and pack for your Norwegian cycling holiday.
Epic cycling routes
From road cycling through lush valleys and winding roads along the fjords to mountain biking – Norway is a paradise for biking enthusiasts. And you don’t have to be as fit as the stars of the Tour de France to experience it.
“No, not at all! Several of the national cycling routes in Norway are suitable for everyone, including those who don’t have much experience with biking. The Numedal route and the Coastal route between Horten and Tønsberg are some examples,” says Øyvind.
Many of the most popular cycling routes can be enjoyed by everyone.
“If you want an easy trip, bike the famous Rallarvegen. Take the train to Finse and follow the road eastwards to Haugastøl. It’s thirty kilometres of mainly flat terrain and gentle hills.”
Many popular biking destinations in Norway offer bike rental and e-bikes as well, making scenic bike rides even more accessible. Just remember to book in advance.
Find the perfect base
“If you don’t have much experience and feel unsure about both distance and how much equipment you need, it’s a good idea to find a base and plan your biking trips from there. Your base could be a hotel or a cabin.”
Øyvind says this is a smart solution because you won’t need to bring that much stuff along on each ride. It’s also an excellent way to travel as a group.
“When you have a base, the group can split up. Some can go for a long trip, while others can choose an easier route. Then everyone can meet up again later in the day.”
If you want to spend a night or two in nature, you can still do that by bringing a tent or a hammock. Bike to a camping spot and sleep there for a night, then head back to your base the next day.
Cycling trips with children can be amazing. And with a bit of planning, the whole gang will have a great time.
“Go for an area that you know. That way, you’ll know where to find the charming roads, the top beaches, and the best camping spots,” Øyvind suggests.
That will also make it easier to find places that motivate the kids, like farms, lakes to fish in, or places that serve delicious food. Family-friendly nature adventures can spice up your trip, including paddling, glacier hikes, via ferrata climbing, and more.
Also make sure to include the little ones in the planning.
“If you tell them about the trip before you go, they get involved and know what to expect.”
Last but not least, have a plan B. Even though the grown-ups need to know basic bike repair, it’s nice to be prepared if something can’t be fixed. Or if the weather gets too bad.
Another option is to have 'micro-adventures'.
“It’s easy to be blinded by all the exotic destinations, but it might be just as exciting to bike to the nearest lake or forest," says Øyvind.
In Norway, long cycling trips can offer everything from the spectacular scenery in Northern Norway and Fjord Norway to popular routes in the mountains, like the Tour de Dovre and Mjølkevegen. But where should you go, and how far can you bike each day?
“The most important thing when planning a long trip is to know yourself and your bike. That way, you’ll be sure to have the right equipment, and it’s easier to calculate the distance for each leg.”
It’s also a good idea to take a closer look at the route and the hills along the way, as this will affect both speed and distance, which is crucial when deciding how long to bike each day.
Øyvind explains that if you exercise regularly, but aren’t used to biking, you shouldn’t aim for more than 30–45 kilometres per day. People who are quite fit can cover a stretch of around 70–90 kilometres in a day.
“But remember that this is just an estimate. How far you’re able to cycle each day will also depend on the surface, the number of hills (and how steep they are), the wind and weather, and whether you have a lot of luggage.”
Google Maps might come in handy as a trip planner since it shows you suggested routes, distances, altitude in metres, and approximately how long the journey will take.
The Norwegian tour operation Discover Norway specialises in biking trips in Norway. It offers several incredible bike trips with luggage transport.
How to pack for cycling trips like a pro
In addition to the most obvious things, like toiletries and the necessary bike equipment, there are a few more essentials you should always take on a cycling trip, according to Øyvind.
“If we use a family trip as a basis, the number one priority is to bring enough food and drink. High-quality rain gear is also nice to have, since getting wet and cold can put a damper on the experience.”
Other things to pack for your cycling trip include:
- an old-fashioned map (it never runs out of batteries)
- plasters, gel plasters to treat blisters, mosquito repellent
- power bank
- toilet paper
- coffee (obviously)
- cycling gloves (protects your palms if you fall off your bike)
- cycling glasses (protects your eyes from road dust, wind, bugs, and, to certain extent, rain)
- thin woollen clothes (can be used for more than one day before they need to be washed)
- lightweight sportswear
- compact and lightweight tent and sleeping pad
- camping stove and cutlery
Bicycle repair equipment is also a must on a longer trip, such as a patch kit and a spare inner tube. But that’s not all.
“Bring an inflatable pillow. It can do wonders for the quality of your sleep, which is very important on trips like this.”
The list of things to pack for your cycling trip does include quite a few things, so how do you bring everything without a car?
“You can use panniers to carry luggage on your bike in combination with a bicycle cargo trailer. You should avoid packing everything in a backpack.”
But one size does not fit all. When packing for a long cycling trip, people rarely get it right the first time, according to Øyvind. “You need to try and fail. That way you can figure out what worked and what didn’t – and learn something for the next trip. That’s half the fun when going on ‘expeditions’!”
Weather and climate
When you’re planning a cycling holiday in Norway, it's important to know that the climate and temperature can vary a lot in the different parts of the country.
In Southern Norway, Eastern Norway, and Fjord Norway, spring usually arrives sometime in April or early May, and the cycling season stretches all the way into October. Temperatures vary from hot (25–30 degrees Celsius) to quite chilly (10–15 degrees Celsius).
Above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway, you may not experience true spring until late May or early June, but by then the long and bright summer days have already started. Here, you can cycle under the midnight sun until the end of July, and the season ends in September/October.
Note that both Northern Norway and mountainous regions are colder than the rest of the country. Make sure you bring warm clothes.
When cycling in Norway, you need to be prepared for rainy days, so do bring along rain gear.
Read more about the seasons and climate in Norway.
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