In between Norway's many fantastic mountain peaks lies a number of beautiful hiking valleys. These are some of the best.
Leave nature as you found it
Norway is a country of outstanding natural beauty, with dramatic waterfalls, crystal clear fjords, majestic mountains, and spectacular glaciers. Preserving this landscape, and its communities and way of life, is essential for locals and visitors alike.
Leave as light a footprint as possible. Leave nature as you would like to find it — take only pictures, keep only memories.
Deep valleys and wide-open landscapes you can rest your eyes on. Paths meandering along roaring rivers, through steep canyons, and past small farms where you’ll think: Do people actually live here?
«It doesn’t always have to be about reaching the highest peaks. In the valleys, you’ll often go through beautiful cultural landscapes and along old roads, or past mountain farms with interesting histories», says Dag Terje Klarp Solvang, Secretary General of the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT).
The nature in the valleys is different from what you’ll find in the high mountains. As valleys are more shielded from the weather, a wide variety of flowers and plants will often fight for your attention.
«In many valleys, the season is longer than in the mountains, and you are more protected when you hike», Klarp Solvang points out.
Here is his pick of some of the most beautiful valley hikes in the country.
1. Aurlandsdalen in the Sognefjord area
This 20-kilometre hiking classic starts at Østerbø fjellstove (820 metres above sea level). It follows a marked trail down to Vassbygdi in Aurland by the Sognefjord, through magnificent scenery lined with more than 500 different plant species. Here, steep mountains descend into deep river gorges, and the trail passes old cultural treasures.
The hike takes seven to eight hours to complete. If you want some fabulous views, choose the trail down the steep Bjørnestigen. A hiking bus will take you to and from Østerbø and Vassbygdi from Geiteryggen, Aurland, and Flåm during the hiking season, which stretches from late May to the beginning of October.
Since you’re already here: Enjoy a slow-baked goat cheese pizza in the village Aurland, see quality craftsmanship in action in the Aurland shoe factory, and admire the fjord view from Stegastein viewpoint.
2. Husedalen in the Hardangerfjord region
The wild Husedalen valley in Kinsarvik by the Hardangerfjord has no less than four spectacular waterfalls. Hike from the town centre or park near the Tveitafossen waterfall. From there, it’s less than an hour to the Nyastølfossen waterfall, and another 45 to 60 minutes to the Nykkjesøyfossen waterfall. The fourth waterfall is also the most magnificent: Søtefossen. If you want to experience the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, you can continue to the self-service cabin Stavali.
It is approximately 15 kilometres from Kinsarvik to Søtefossen. The round trip usually takes five to six hours.
Since you’re already here: If you love water activities, the Hardangerfjord is the place for you. explore the world’s third-longest fjord in a kayak or on a fjord or RIB-safari, or simply go swimming. Experienced hikers will enjoy the trip to world-famous Trolltunga, HM Queen Sonja’s panoramic hiking trail, and the Buarbreen glacier. You can also go summer skiing at the Folgefonna glacier, or simply enjoy a glass of the best cider or apple juice you’ve ever tasted, made by the local farmers.
3. Utladalen in Årdal
As if axed into the landscape, one of Northern Europe’s deepest valleys stretches twenty kilometres from the Sognefjord into the Sognefjellet and Jotunheimen mountains. At the bottom, the river Utla roars, and majestic peaks tower more than 2,000 metres above the lush hillsides.
The hike takes you along the gravel road Folkevegen, which was built by locals in the 1970s. After about a kilometre, a steep trail leads you up to the charming Avdalen farm where you can stop for a meal, or even spend the night. Four easy kilometres further into the valley, Vetti gard turiststasjon offers the same. If you want, you can hire a packhorse to carry your luggage. From Vetti, a 1.5-kilometre hike takes you to the Vettisfossen waterfall, the tallest singular free-leaping waterfall in Northern Europe.
You can also proceed to the beautiful Stølsmaradalen valley, where you can spend the night in two different DNT cabins.
Since you’re already here: Drive the beautiful Tindevegen mountain road to Årdal from Turtagrø on the Norwegian Scenic Route Sognefjellet. And when in Årdal, why not go for a swim in the lido?
4. Innerdalen in Sunndal
Innerdalen is often called Norway’s most beautiful valley. The green paradise of Sunndal, not far from Sunndalsøra in the Northwest, is surrounded by wild mountains and glittering lakes where you can go swimming or rent a rowing boat or canoe.
Park at Ålvundeid and follow a fairly steep dirt road for 3.5 kilometres until you reach the charming Renndølsetra, where you can spend the night and eat delicious organic local food – or just stop for a few of their famous waffles. A little further in lies the cabin Innerdal turisthytte, which also offers dining and accommodation.
Follow the trails further into the valley or up to the Trollheimen mountains, or hike to the foot – or top – of the legendary 1,452-metre-high Mount Innerdalstårnet.
Since you’re already here: Take a tour of Tingvoll, where you can buy the world’s best cheese Kraftkar. If you want to keep hiking, both the popular trail to Mount Skåla and the beautiful Trollheimen mountains are nearby.
5. Sautso / Alta canyon in Alta
Northern Europe’s largest canyon has steep walls that are 300–400 metres high, so there are no trails here. But you can admire the stunning view from several viewpoints in Alta, like the Gargia mountain lodge or Beskades. It is also possible to explore the canyon from a riverboat or a canoe, or on a guided tour.
Since you’re already here: In Alta, you can experience the Sami culture up close. A visit to the Northern Lights Cathedral is a must, and you should also check out the UNESCO listed rock carvings in Hjemmeluft under the midnight sun. And just so you know: Alta is often surprisingly hot, sunny and dry in the summertime!
6. The King’s Road through Lærdal
Kongevegen, or the King’s Road, was the first road to connect Eastern and Western Norway in 1793. The most beautiful stretch starts at Vang in Valdres and takes you across the Filefjell mountains to Lærdal by the Sognefjord. Spend five to six days on the whole trip, or hike only the last part.
On a short stretch along the Vindhellavegen road from the stave church Borgund, you can experience the fascinating old road construction. If you want a longer hike, continue down to the fjord and along Øygardsvegen, and even further past rivers and waterfalls through Galdane. From there you can take a bus to the old town Gamle Lærdalsøyri, or stop for the night before you continue on nature trails and roads through lush Lærdal the next morning.
Since you’re already here: Explore the small gem Gamle Lærdalsøyri and its protected wooden houses by the fjord. You can also go kayaking, visit the Norwegian wild salmon centre, and drive a Norwegian Scenic route across the Aurlandsfjellet mountain to Aurland. Stop at Stegastein viewpoint for a breathtaking view!
7. Døråldalen in Rondane
Walk on landmasses that have travelled here from the equator over millions of years! In the Døråldalen valley, ice, weather and wind have uniquely shaped the surroundings. You can drive all the way to the two cabins Øvre and Nedre Dørålseter, where you can stay overnight.
From the parking lot, follow the river into the 10-kilometre-long Døråldalen valley, or hike to the top of one of the beautiful peaks that surround it. Explore the peculiar Skranglehaugene, with moraines and kettles formed towards the end of the Ice Age. You can also embark on a cabin to cabin hike through the Rondane mountains.
Since you’re already here: Spend some time driving or cycling the Norwegian Scenic Route Rondane, and make sure to stop at the Sohlbergplassen viewpoint. Take a fun train ride into the old mine in Folldal or go horseback riding in the mountains nearby.
8. Junkerdalsura at Saltfjellet
Close to Storjord just north of the Saltfjellet mountains in Northern Norway (the closest city is Bodø), you’ll find the entrance to Junkerdalsura nature reserve – a huge but narrow canyon which digs its way in between the tall mountains.
Due to its sheltered location and calcareous soil, the Junkerdalen valley is a botanical paradise filled with a wide range of plants, including orchids.
From the parking lot by the Nordland national park centre, you can follow a pram-friendly road 2.5 kilometres into the valley to a picnic area. There are also many hiking opportunities in the Junkerdalen national park, or you can enjoy the view from Mount Solvågtind.
Since you’re already here: Stop by the Nordland national park centre, and have lunch at the nostalgic guest house Storjord hotel. On the other side of the road, you’ll find some beautiful forest paths and exciting suspension bridges.
9. Jutulhogget in Røros
Experience Northern Europe’s largest gorge in Alvdal in the Østerdalen valley. Jutulhogget is 2.4 kilometres long, and in some places, the rock walls extend 240 metres upwards. Park by Rv3 and enjoy the view from here before you embark on the trail down into the ravine. Check out the incredible echo and marvel over the plants you won’t find anywhere else in these mountains.
Since you’re already here: Visit the UNESCO listed mining town Røros and take a boat trip on Lake Femunden.
10. Molladalen in Sunnmøre
Molladalen lies like a giant horseshoe on Sunnmøre, surrounded by rugged peaks that reach up to 1,400 metres above sea level. The valley is as magical in the sunshine as when the mist drifts mysteriously in between the mountains. See if the fish are biting in one of the many lakes or hire a mountain guide and climb the pinnacle Bladet or one of the other steep Molladalstindane peaks. You can also go on both easy and tough hikes here. Drive the toll road from Barstadvika to your starting point at Melbøsætra.
Since you’re already here: Molladalen is close to the art nouveau town Ålesund and beautiful hiking possibilities around the Hjørundfjord. The area offers plenty of unique hotels and restaurants, as well as the world’s most stunning swing!
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