Hiking in Jotunheimen – 10 important things to know

In Norway, fixed multi-days hiking itineraries are rare: Rather the tradition is to look at a map and design your own route. However, as the marked trails through any of the National Parks are limited, people do tend to stick to the same routes.
Accordingly there is no official route through Jotunheimen, though I wonder if this would not increase both the recognition and possibly visitors: The Kungsleden Trail in Laponia in Northern Sweden is repeatedly hailed as one of the top hikes in the world, while the Jotunheimen hiking trails are rarely mentioned despite Jotunheimen being at least, if not more spectacular than Laponia.

Typical scenery close to Leirvassbu

10 important things to know about hiking in Jotunheimen

  1. Jotunheimen is a National Park, also known as The Roof of Norway, located between 900-1400 meters above sea leve..
  2. In Norway, 2000 m defines a high mountain and climbing “a 2000 meter peak” is often a goal. Around 200 peaks in Norway exceed 2000 meter, most of these are located in Jothunheimen.
  3. The hiking trails in Jotunheimen are incredibly stony.
  4. Apart from walking on the stones, which often are slippery, the main challenge are the snowfields, which often linger until August, and some of them never melts.
  5. Hiking poles are highly recommended as they help crossing rivers (not all have bridges in place) and navigating snowfields. Most bridges are removed in September and re-installed in late-June.
  6. Weather may change without warning at any time and snow is not uncommon, even in summer.
  7. The snow seem to melt quite late, especially around the Central Jotunheimen area Leirvassbu (check the webcam in place), where snow may lie until late July.
  8. Pitching a tent is free and allowed anywhere, this is a cornerstone of Norwegian outdoor culture called  “allemandsretten”.
  9. Almost all huts in Jotunheimen are “full-service” lodges offering full restaurant services as well as snacks to be bought. Tenters may pay a fee to access the facilities. In Central Jotunheimen, Olafsbu is the only non-serviced hut, with food for sale and cooking equipment.
  10. Now, busses go directly from Oslo to Gjendesheim and Leirvassbu.Gjendesheim is an incredibly touristy place, mainly due to the proximity of the Besseggen hike.

    Camping near Fannaråken in West Jotunheimen

I spend 3+ weeks in Jotunheimen August 2016, walked a Jotunheimen Circuit and a West Jotunheimen hike as well as climbed Galdhøpiggen and Kyrkja.

Personally I prefer the central Jotunheimen are around Leirvassbu and Olavsbu as well as Utladalen (valley) with Avdalen Gard, an old mountain farm and now a tourist lodge.

Suggested Jotunheimen Itineraries:

The Circuit: Gjendesheim-Glitterheim-Spiterstulen-Leirvassbu-Olafsbu-Gjendbu-Memurubu (via Bukkelægret)-Gjendesheim (via Besseggen).

West Jotunheimen hike: Leirvassbu-Kyrkja summit-Bridge over Utla-Fannaråken-Styggedalsbreen-Skogadalsbøen-Utladalen-Avdalen-Øvre Årdal.

Summit hikes: Galdhøpiggen and Kyrkja.

Information at: DNT,, Jotunheimen National Park Site, Visit Jotunheimen

Click for photogallery of the above hikes including summits in Jotunheimen, August 2016 on flickr.

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