Hiking in Northern Norway

© Bård Løken

Fantastic views of sea and mountains from a mountain top, untouched wilderness along the border mountains, panoramic tours along the coast and cultural trails near the settlement. The hikes in Northern Norway are beautiful, varied and suited for every shape.

Hiking around and above the Arctic circle seems like an extreme thing. It is, however, surprisingly accessible and safe. Some of the easiest hikes are found in Europe’s northernmost extremities, just remember a windproof jacket. Further south, the majestic peaks invite to all day …or all night… hikes with fantastic views. For trekking in untouched wilderness, go to the remote border mountains, like Nordlandsruta (The Nordland Trekking Trail).

The Finnmark coast means easier hiking with wide views

One would think that the northernmost hikes in Norway were also the most extreme. That is far from the case. The landscape on the Finnmark coast is lower and rounder, with soft, springy heather terrain. This makes the trips on the Finnmark coast easier and more accessible. However, the weather conditions are changing, so good hiking clothes are important. Here you can follow marked paths to viewpoints, to abandoned fishing villages and to striking cliffs and mountains. The sparse vegetation does not block the sea view, and the wind gust keeps the mosquitoes at a distance.

Coastal mountains make lovely summit hikes

The fantastic mountain, fjord and island landscape along the coast of Nordland and Troms invites to summit hikes. Some peaks are 2-300 metres high, and are taken in an hour. Others have over 1000 masl altitude difference, and will be a real day trip. However, the pattern is the same; you get a steep ascent through the birch belt and up on the barren rock. When you finally reach the top, it’s time to take a proper coffee break, change your sweaty shirt and admire the view of the fjord, mountains and sea. Then there will be a steep descent, usually the same way. Top hikes are hugely popular with locals, and there are a large number of marked trails.

Trekking? Go to the remote border mountains

The Nordkalott Route runs through the border mountains between Norway, Finland and Sweden. It crosses a border 10 times. It starts in Kautokeino, goes through national parks such as Reisa, Øvre Dividal and Rohkunborri (Ca. 500 km), where it meet The Nordland trekking Trail east of Narvik and follow the same track to Sulitjelma (Ca. 300 km). The route is well marked, but there is no infrastructure along the trail, and it is so far between the cabins that you have to carry a tent. Therefore, this route is only suitable for the most experienced.

Nordlandsruta and Okstindan take you to the highest peaks

The Nordland Trekking Trail (Nordlandsruta) runs from Bjørnfjell by Narvik 650 km to Børgefjell National Park, and largely follows the border mountains south in untouched wilderness. Here, too, the infrastructure is absent, but there is a large number of cabins. Okstindan is a particularly wild mountain area just south of the Arctic Circle. There are a number of cabins here, including the new Rabothytta, which makes the area a fairly accessible area with a lot of wild nature.

Finnmarksvidda is the endless upland in the far north

Finnmarksvidda is a vast area of rolling hills, rivers and lakes between the big fjords in the north and Finland. Few people live here, but hundres of thousands of reindeer graze here in winter. In summer, it’s all very quiet. Most people who move into the area do so for fishing. Moving in this area requires that you are used to hiking and able to bring tents and all equipment.

6 hiking favourites

Cultural trails

In the very lightest part of the scale are the cultural trails. They show archeological sites, remains of ancient settlements, war memorials, geology and botany. Most are easy to walk, and some have a universal design to suit wheelchair users.

Stay safe and reduce your footprint

Northern Norway is wonderfully accessible, you are allowed to hike almost everywhere. With freedom, however, there is responsability. Northern Norway is also surprisingly safe, but you should still take som precautions.

Svalbard – hiking in the high arctic pensinula

This archipelago between the North Cape and the North Pole is polar bear country. If you move outside the urban area in Longyearbyen, these predators are a danger. Therefore, all activity in the terrain must take place with rifles, which are only rented to those with documented shooting skills. Accommodation requires stumbling blocks around the camp, a polar bear guard all night and a number of other measures. Thus, hiking on its own is just an option for those with extensive experience from the Arctic. Fortunately, there are organized tours with an armed guide.

The hiking season is short and intense

The bare ground season begins in April on the sunny slopes on the Nordland coast. In June, it is fine to get up in most places in northern Norway, even if you walk over snow patches. Many people avoid forest and marsh areas in July due to mosquitoes. This is much less of a problem in coastal areas. August and September are great hiking months all over northern Norway. In the dog days of early August, you might be on a 1000 metre peak in shorts and t-shirt. In mid-September, you’ll love your wind-proof jacket when admiring the strong colours of the dwarf birches. The days in October are short, but you can usually go for a mid-day hike if the weather is good.