If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful hikes in Norway you can stop right there! The Besseggen Ridge Hike will leave you breathless from start to finish. And yes, I do mean that both literally and figuratively.
The Besseggen Ridge Hiking Trail is located in the Jotunheimen National Park and only 3 hours driving from Oslo. During this hike you’ll walk along the Besseggen ridge line, all while being surrounded by the most amazing views.
The Besseggen Hike is considered one of the must-complete hikes by Norwegians and it is said that once you conquer this ridge you can call yourself a ‘serious hiker’. An estimated 60.000 people walk the Besseggen ridge every year.
All of this of course means that this is one of the most popular and busiest hiking trails in Norway but in this guide I will tell you how you can avoid the crowds. And not just that, if you follow my tips you’ll get to experience Jotunheim National Park at its most beautiful!
Within this guide you’ll find all of the details that you’ll need to plan the perfect trip and my personal experience and retelling of hiking the Besseggen Ridge.
- Besseggen Ridge Hike Guide – The Best Hiking Trail In Jotunheimen National Park
- Planning your trip to Norway
- 🗺 How to reach the Besseggen Hiking Trail
- 🏨 Where to stay near the Besseggen Ridge Hike
- 🗓 When to hike the Besseggen Ridge Trail
- 🥾 Besseggen Ridge Hike Details
- 🙋🏼♀️My Experience on the Besseggen Ridge Trail
- 💸Norway Travel Insurance
- 🧳 Norway Hiking Packing List
- Other things to do in Jotunheimen National Park
- 📸 My Norway Camera Gear
- Photo Editing
Besseggen Ridge Hike Guide – The Best Hiking Trail In Jotunheimen National Park
Hiking the Besseggen Ridge Hiking Trail was definitely one of the highlights from our 2 week road trip through Norway! It was one of those trails where I couldn’t put my camera down and when it was securely stowed away in my back pack I kept on snapping photos with my phone.
Jotunheimen National Park is home to over 250 mountains of over 2000 meters in height and is rightfully called ‘Home of the Giants‘.
Once upon a time, according to Norse mythology, Jotunheimen was the place were the jotner (the trolls) lived. The entire National Park covers an area of 3500 square meters and is home to the two tallest mountains in Norway: Galdhøpiggen (2469m) and Glittertind (2464m).
Within Jotunheimen you’ll find an abundance of marked and unmarked hiking trails, going from easy strolls, demanding trails to multiple day hut to hut hikes.
Planning your trip to Norway
🗺 How to reach the Besseggen Hiking Trail
The Besseggen Hiking Trail is a point to point hike which starts in Memurubu and ends in Gjendesheim. But to get to Memurubu you’ll first need to take a ferry from Gjendesheim.
But I am getting ahead of myself! So The Besseggen Ridge Hike is located in the Jotunheimen National Park, which is only 3 hours driving from Oslo.
🚘 BY CAR
If you’re coming from Oslo follow the E16 until you reach Fagernes and then switch to road 51. You’ll be driving through the most stunning scenery and past emerald lakes on your way there. The ferry leaves from the boat terminal in Gjendesheim and there are two parking lots right in front of it. On the left there’s a parking lot if you’re staying less than 2 hours and on the right is a parking lot if you’re staying longer. It’s the last one where you’ll park your car before embarking on the ferry.
There’s also a large long term parking lot located 1,7km from the ferry from where a shuttle bus runs to bring you back and forth to the harbor. When we were there in September no one was using this parking but I can imagine that it can get very crowded during high season and that you’ll have to park here if you don’t take the first ferry out!
The shuttle bus between Reinsvangen and Lake Gjende runs all day, with the latest departure fifteen minutes before each ferry.
The shuttle bus is included in the cost of parking, and does not require any prior booking.
Parking fee for a full day is 150NOK for a regular car and 250NOK for a camper van.
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🚌 BY BUS
The Valdres Express. The quickest and easiest way from Oslo to Gjendesheim is the express bus Valdresekspressen via Fagernes with a connection to Gjendesheim. There are 2 daily departures from Oslo in the period June 21-Sep 7. You can check their timetables here.
Out of these two options I highly recommend either hiring a car or a camper van. We got our camper from WeCamp and thanks to its beautiful wooden interior it truly felt like our home away from home.
Now, once you’ve sorted how to reach Gjendesheim it’s time to hop onto that ferry to Memurubu. During our visit in September there were only 2 ferries per day, one at 10 and one at 4pm and neither of them was fully booked.
But if you’re visiting during high season (July or August) I highly recommend that you book your ferry ticket in advance! You can check the dates and timetable of the Gjende ferry here.
The Besseggen Ridge Hike can be done in two ways:
- From Memurubu to Gjendesheim – This way you first take the ferry from Gjendesheim to Memurubu and then hike your way back along the ridge.
- From Gjendesheim to Memurubu – If you’re choosing this option you need to make sure you arrive in Memurubu before the last ferry departs back to Gjendesheim. Otherwise you’ll be stuck or even worse, you’ll have to hike all the way back.
My recommendation is to chose the first option to be totally relaxed during your hike.
🏨 Where to stay near the Besseggen Ridge Hike
During our trip we visited Jotunheimen National Park not once but twice and both times we spent the night at theBesseggen Fjellpark AS. Their facilities are clean and the camp site itself is beautifully located and only 2 minutes driving from the ferry.
I speak of wild camping since this is allowed in Norway but only in designated places. So no, you can’t park for free on someone’s driveway for instance. At some parking lots there will be clear signs that you can’t camp and good to know is that often these rest stops don’t come with a toilet.
Another option is to go for one of these hotels in the area, none of them are too far and only a short drive from Gjendesheim itself.
🗓 When to hike the Besseggen Ridge Trail
In a normal season the Gjende boat runs from mid June until the middle of October. Between October and June the ridge is covered in ice and snow and it’s actually dangerous to attempt this hike alone.
The busiest months on the trail are certainly July and August and at times it may even feel like you’re moving in columns along the ridge.
One of the things I hate the most are crowded hiking trails! I hate it when people are breathing down my neck, making me stressed about having to speed up my pace. And I hate it even more when people are super slow in front of me.
I think it’s very important that you listen to your body and that you can hike at your own pace.That’s why we chose to visit Norway in September and it was the best decision we could have made! The vibrant fall colors were already there and were in beautiful contrast with the turquoise water. Not to mention there were only like 30 other people completing the hiking trail that day which made it such a peaceful experience!
When planning your itinerary in Norway do take the weather into account. The Besseggen Ridge Hiking Trail involves climbing over boulders and shouldn’t be attempted when it’s pouring rain or during strong winds.
🥾 Besseggen Ridge Hike Details
Hike Distance – 14.5km (9 miles)
Hike Duration – 6 to 8 hours. We completed the hike in a little over 6 hours and we stopped a lot of times to take photos that’s for sure :p.
Route Type – Point to point hike
Difficulty – Moderate to hard. If you start from Memurubu then the first few kilometers are a real calve burner. After that it goes up and down for a while until the last ascend. Here you’ll have to climb up with hand and feet onto the ridge which is exposed on both parts. It looked a little scary in the beginning but the trail is clearly marked and I actually found this part less hard on my legs than the start of the hike. If you’re very scared of heights this part can be scary. The best tip I can give you is to focus on the trail and have someone with you to guide you through it.
Elevation – 1073m
Location – Gjendesheim, Norway
The entire trail is marked with the typical red T that you find everywhere in Norway and every kilometer you can find a small sign that indicates your position on the hiking trail and how far you still have to go.
You can refill your water bottle during the first 2km but afterwards there are no natural streams to use so make sure to bring plenty of water with you when you start the hike!
🙋🏼♀️My Experience on the Besseggen Ridge Trail
I always prefer starting a hike in the early morning but since it wasn’t high season anymore the Gjendes ferry only ran twice a day and the earliest departure time was 9.30am. On the other hand, this meant that we could sleep in a little and slowly get ready for what would be a super exciting day!
To be completely honest with you I was a little nervous that morning. It was the first time ever I would go on a ridge hike and I had read that this hike could be pretty demanding. But no turning back now! We had booked our ferry tickets the day before and the Gjende boat was about to leave at 9.30am! There were about 40 other hikers on our boat that day, all of different ages. After sailing for 30 minutes we arrived to Memurubu where a big sign was waiting for us.
There are actually several hiking trails that leave from here but the most famous one definitely is the Besseggen Ridge Hike. As you can see on the image above the hike is listed as red according to Norwegian standards, which means it’s considered hard and that you need to be in excellent condition.
So off we went! I had already been peeping through the window of the ferry like crazy and I couldn’t believe how beautiful this place was already looking! We were only halfway through September but Fall had already arrived in this part of Norway!
And even that my legs were already tired from all of the hiking the days before I was feeling ready to tackle this hike! The first path slowly led us up the first part of the ridge. The trail had some small switchbacks and went up through the yellow and orange trees. Every once in a while I looked behind me to catch a glimpse of the turquoise Gjende lake just to ease the burn a little in my calves. I don’t know about you but if I have to hike up a steep hill they tend to burn like crazy!
After the first 2km the incline was easing up and we had arrived above the tree line and the views were absolutely insane. We were standing in the middle of a vibrant yet moon-like landscape, looking down on one the most beautiful lakes I had ever seen and from every angle we were surrounded by other ridges and mountains.
Next up were a couple of small hills but nothing too strenuous. We stopped regularly just to take in the views, drink some water and have a snack.
We kept on hiking and it wasn’t until kilometer 8 that I realized we would have to climb one final hill. A steep ascent was rising up before us and I quickly realized my trekking poles weren’t gonna cut it on this one! We would have to scramble up using both our hands and feet. At times it was a little scary because the ridge was exposed on both sides. But the trail was well marked and every few meters there was a big rock or ledge were it was safe to stand on.
Me personally, I loved this part of the hike! I felt so adventurous while doing it and I found it way less strenuous on my legs than the first part of the hike.
Make sure to take a breather and take in the views cause the higher you climb the better the view over the ridge becomes!
But once you’ve reached the top and reach the 9km mark you’re pretty much done with ascending! You’ve reached the top of the Besseggen Ridge Hike and from here you can simply take in all of the crazy views and slowly start descending towards Gjendeheim.
From here the path is more rocky and I can imagine that if these stones were wet it could get very slippery. That’s why I want to mention again that you shouldn’t attempt this hike during or right after it has been raining.
The final descend towards Gjendesheim can be pretty tough on the knees so if you’re like me and you don’t have the best joints those trekking poles will come in very handy!
When I first read about this hike I had read multiple times that there were parts were you had to pull yourself up with a chain. This was one of the things that made me nervous for it but as it turns out this is just one small part towards the end of the descend to Gjendesheim and it was purely there so it was a little easier to get down.
After what felt like a little over 6 hours we arrived back at our camper van! It was time to freshen up, refill our water bottles and head towards our next destination, the Dovre National Park!
💸Norway Travel Insurance
I highly recommend you to get a travel insurance before your trip cause the risks are never worth the costs. If you’re going on a more adventurous trip you can always get yourself injured! So far I have sprained my ankle in Jordan, got food poisoning in India, turned snow blind in the Dolomites and have fallen multiple times during many hikes. It’s always best to be safe than sorry in such cases and with a good travel insurance you don’t have to worry about medical bills piling up.
I personally love World Nomads, their prices are affordable, their coverage is great, and they also offer 24/7 on-call customer service! When I got super sick in India they even covered an extra night for me at the hotel that I was staying it and rearranged my flight home at no extra cost!
🧳 Norway Hiking Packing List
Hiking shoes – You will definitely need a pair of these. Even that some attractions are located right next to a parking lot you’ll pretty much always have to hike over a rocky terrain. I love my Meindl Mountain Trail Boots for longer hikes and my Danner Mountain Light Boots for daily wear and shorter distances.
Trekking poles – These will especially come in handy cause a lot of the hikes in these guide can be rather strenuous on the joints. I used the Leki Adventure Light trekking poles for all of my hikes in Norway!
Back Pack – You’ll want to bring a back pack with you to carry your camera, some snacks and your refillable water bottle. I love the Kanken No. 2 back pack from Fjallraven and pretty much take it with me everywhere I go.
Refillable Water Bottle – The water in Norway is some of the freshet in the entire world so there’s no need at all to buy plastic bottles. Simply find the nearest stream to fill up your bottle and you’re good to go.
Another option is to use a back pack which has a water reservoir built inside of it. For instance this 3L Hydration Bladder is leak proof and can be stored inside a back pack.
Trail Leggings – I love hiking in leggings and have lately been loving the Abisko Trail Tights from Fjallraven.
Fast Drying Shirt – When hiking you tend to sweat, especially when climbing a mountain. One of the best things to wear is a shirt that quickly dreis so you don’t get cold high up the mountain.
Insulating Jacket – Depending on the temperature you’ll either want a thicker or lighter jacket. If it’s pretty cold outside I always go for my Fjallraven Vidda Jacket. Otherwise I go for their High Coast Light Jacket which is super light weight.
Woolen cap – The perfect accessory to protect your ears from the cold and to cover your hair after a few days without a shower.
Protein Bars – Make sure you have a couple of these stowed a way in your back pack to boost up your energy level during the hike.
Sunscreen – Make sure to re apply to your face regularly cause pretty much all of the hikes that we did in Norway were exposed most of the time. I love this one by Neutrogena which feels like a face mist but also provides SPF 50 protection!
Merino Wool Socks – My go to brand has always been Falke and I love how fast they drive after a long day of hiking. Plus since they’re made of merino wool they don’t smell and can be worn ofr a couple of days.
Other things to do in Jotunheimen National Park
- Hike up Knøtshoe -Often overlooked but this beautiful hike is definitely a must if you’re planning to stay in the area for a couple of days! Knøtshoe is considered the little sister of Besseggen and also offers stunning views over the area. If you’re lucky you can even see some hikers scrambling up Besseggen on the other side of the Gjende lake.
- Spot reindeer 🦌 – You might even get lucky on the Besseggen Ridge Hike and encounter a reindeer or two but if not you can always take your chances at Valdresflya.
📸 My Norway Camera Gear
- Canon EOS 6D Mark II – My go to camera body for the past 3 years
- Main Lens – Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II
- Zoom Lens – Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6
- Wide Angle Lens – Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III
- Tripod – Manfrotto Tripod
- Drone – DJI Mavic Mini 2 Fly More Combo
Every photo in this article was edited with the help of my Minimal Preset Pack
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