We recently had the amazing adventure of walking the Norwegian Camino from Oslo to Trondheim. Based on our experience, here are our twenty top tips for walking the St Olav’s Way.
- One: Plan your route a day or two in advance
- Two: Book accommodation a day or two in advance
- Three: Have an idea of your “must-sees”
- Four: But leave room for flexibility
- Five: Take a swimming costume
- Six: Consider camping
- Seven: Take a larger backpack than normal
- Eight: But pack lightly
- Nine: Think creatively about food
- Ten: Prepare for all weather
- Eleven: Learn a little Norwegian
- Twelve: Read up on St Olav’s Ways
- Thirteen: Make time to see Oslo and Trondheim
- Fourteen: Train for hill walking
- Fifteen: Journal as you walk
- Sixteen: Consider your budget carefully
- Seventeen: Use public transport if you need it
- Eighteen: Carry some cash
- Nineteen: Expect a slower walking pace
- Twenty: Get a Norwegian SIM card
- Twenty One: Join the Facebook groups IA
One: Plan your route a day or two in advance
You don’t need to plan every single day of your Norwegian Camino, but it can be helpful to plan at least one or two days ahead. The main reason for this is that you will need to manage when and where you can buy food and supplies. Supermarkets are not always forthcoming, and unlike on the Camino de Santiago, you are not going to find cafes/ restaurants in the Norwegian Camino. Certainly not outside of the big cities anyway. It’s helpful to have the next few days mapped out, so that you can manage your supplies.
Two: Book accommodation a day or two in advance
Accommodation does not need to be booked well in advance, with the exception of accommodation in Oslo and Trondheim. However, it can be a good idea to book things one or two days in advance. The route does not tend to get busy, with an estimated 1,500 pilgrims walking each year, but in the height of summer it’s best to secure your place if there’s a particular place you really want to stay. Take note of the popular places to stay (listed here) as you may need to book these.
The other reason for notifying of your arrival in advance, is that the hosts are often not “full-time” hosts are hoteliers. Most are farmers, or normal Norwegians with day jobs. Therefore, it’s prudent to let them know what time you might arrive. There are also some self-serve places and campsites, where booking is not really necessary in our experience.
Three: Have an idea of your “must-sees”
The Norwegian route can be a complicated route to maneuver. Although it is very flexible, you will often have to think about managing your food and water intake and your walking pace. But, make sure you leave time to be a tourist and enjoy the cultural monuments on route. We recommend doing a little research before you go and having an idea of the sites or experiences that you really want to see, so that you can make time for them along the way and don’t have to miss them.
Four: But leave room for flexibility
All that said, we think it’s best to have a little flexibility in your plans. A few times when we walked the Norwegian Camino, we came across some awesome camping spots, but we had already committed to arrive at a campsite further on the trail. We recommend leaving your plans a little open so that you have the chance to seize the day, if you come across a place you really want to sleep. This is also helpful if you just need to take things easy for the day too! The walk can be challenging and it’s nice to know you can finish a day of walking early if you need to.
Five: Take a swimming costume
There are so many wonderful places to stop for a swim on the route from Oslo to Trondheim. If you don’t pack a swimming costume, you’ll regret not being able to take advantage of a quick dip to cool off! Plus, if you’re planning to wild camp (see below) then the swim may be your best way to take a quick wash too.
Six: Consider camping
It is true that the accommodation on the route is plentiful and good quality. But, camping on the Norwegian Camino gives you the ultimate flexibility. As you are legally allowed to wild camp in Norway, you can pretty much choose where you want to camp and when, if you have your own camping equipment. Want to pitch up beside river? Or in a quiet spot on the mountains of Dovrefjell? Go for it!
Seven: Take a larger backpack than normal
On a normal Camino, we would recommend taking a 30 or 40 litre backpack. However, this is not ideal for the Norwegian Camino. For this route, we would recommend that you consider a 50 or 60 litre bag.
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, if you are camping, you are likely to have camping equipment that will not fit comfortably into a smaller backpack. Secondly, you will often be required to carry a day or two of food and supplies. You should ensure that your bag has space to allow this.
Eight: But pack lightly
If you do take a larger bag with you to walk the Norwegian Camino, be careful not to over pack it. Firstly, as noted above, you need space to carry food and supplies. But secondly, the route is extremely undulating and excessive weight in your backpack will be torture!
We met a group of pilgrims on the Norwegian Camino who had backpacks weighing around 24kg (52 pounds)! Ideally, your backpack for long-distance hiking should not weigh more than 10 to 15% of your weight. So, 24kg is far too much! Our backpacks weighed around 10-13kg (22 to 28 pounds) (with water and food included.)
Nine: Think creatively about food
We calculated that we burnt on average around 3,500 to 4,500 calories per day when walking the Norwegian Camino. Meaning, we were hungry a lot of the time! It can be really hard to manage your food intake on the walk from Oslo to Trondheim, especially if you’re on a budget and still want to eat reasonably healthily. You may also not always have access to cooking facilities. Before you walk, we recommend considering a few “go to” meals that you might buy on the road.
Some of the items in Norway that are inexpensive and easy to eat on the go include Avocados, Fruit, Salad, Bread, Pasta and sauce, Eggs, Soup, Cold Cut Meats, Tinned Fish, Brown Cheese and Porridge Oats. Get creative when it comes to your meals on the Norwegian Camino! For example, we sometimes hard boiled eggs in the evening, put them back in the egg box and ate them for lunch the next day.
Ten: Prepare for all weather
We were extremely lucky, or perhaps unlucky, to walk the Norwegian Camino from Oslo to Trondheim during a heatwave. We had very hot weather, up to 30 degrees C (86F) on some days. It was so hot that there was even a fire ban in place. We even experienced hot weather in the mountains of Dovrefjell. But, it’s certainly not always like this. You can normally expect a little rain, potential for storms, some sun and some cold weather, even in the summer.
Eleven: Learn a little Norwegian
OK, it may not be the easiest language to learn. But we would suggest learning a few words, such as please, thank you, hello and goodbye. It may also help to learn how to say “do you speak English?” That said, Norwegians speak excellent English, so you will have no problem communicating. But we always think that it’s nice to have a few words!
Twelve: Read up on St Olav’s Ways
The history of St Olav’s Ways is really interesting. There are some great information sources along the route, with many notice boards providing historical information. But we recommend reading a little before you go so that you can get the most from your experience.
Thirteen: Make time to see Oslo and Trondheim
You will of course have heard about Oslo and if you haven’t visited before, we recommend taking a day or two to see the city. But, we had heard less about Trondheim and we weren’t initially sure if we would get time to see the city. Luckily, we were able to claw back a day at the end of the walk and had a chance to explore Trondheim before we left Norway. We really recommend spending a day or two in the city if you can.
Fourteen: Train for hill walking
Let’s just be up front about this, Norwegians love hiking hills! The Norwegian Camino from Oslo does not fail to deliver in this area. There are very few days of the walk that do not involve hill climbing. And don’t forget the 1300m climb up to Dovrefjell!
We recommend training to walk hills during your training walks for the Norwegian Camino. You can also consider yoga as a great way to tone up glutes and legs ready for hill climbing – find our bespoke yoga for hiking course here.
Fifteen: Journal as you walk
I always love to keep a journal when I’m on a long distance hike. On the Norwegian Camino, you’ll have such a peaceful experience, that you may want to take the time to journal in the evening and record your thoughts from throughout the day. You can also record your adventures, including where you walked and who you met on the way.
If you’re interested in a journal specifically for this route – you can find one we’ve created and tried and tested here.
Sixteen: Consider your budget carefully
Norway can be an expensive country. Most pilgrim accommodation is deliberately as affordable as possible, but it is still more expensive than walking the Via Francigena or the Camino de Santiago. We recommend considering your budget before you walk the Norwegian Camino and having a good idea of when and how you can spend money along the way.
You can find our more about the cost of accommodation in our guide here.
Seventeen: Use public transport if you need it
The Norwegian Camino can be a really demanding route. There may be times when you are pushed beyond your limits, particularly if you are not used to climbing hills. We met a few pilgrims who were walking and using occasional public transport. Don’t be ashamed to do this if you need to. It’s probably more common than you think! Buses and trains are relatively easy to come by on the route. And if you have a phone with data (see tip 20) you’ll be able to navigate this quite easily.
To note, there may be times when you cannot cross Dovrefjell depending on weather. In this case, you will have to rely on the train to pass the mountains.
Eighteen: Carry some cash
Although Norway is largely a cashless society, however you will need some cash to pay for hostels and farm/ home stays. Most hosts do not have card payment facilities. ATMs are not that frequently found on the route, so we would suggest getting at least 3,000 NOK at the start of your walk from Oslo to Trondheim on the Norwegian Camino.
Nineteen: Expect a slower walking pace
When we have walked the Spanish Camino or the Via Francigena before, we normally average around 5km per hour of pace. This is around 3 miles per hour. On the Norwegian Camino, we were closer to 3km (2 miles) per hour on most days. So, if you plan to walk 30km and it would normally take you 6 hours, expect it to take closer to 10 hours on the Norwegian Camino.
This is due to undulating terrain and narrow footpaths. There are very few bits of the route where you can “coast” and gain a little speed. The fourth stage of the route, from Oppdal to Trondheim may be the exception, as there are a few sections of road walking there.
Twenty: Get a Norwegian SIM card
You are not likely to find much access to WiFi on the Norwegian Camino from Oslo to Trondheim. For this reason, we strongly recommend purchasing a Norwegian SIM card. If you go for a data only sim, be sure to install a VOIP app so that you can use your data to make phone calls. We use E-Sims whenever we travel and this Norwegian one lasted us for the entire walk.
Twenty One: Join the Facebook groups
There are Facebook groups both for Pilegrimsleden (the overall body that manages the routes) and Gudbrandsdalsleden (the route from Oslo to Trondheim.) We recommend joining both groups – here and here. This means that you can get the most up to date information on the route. There may be route closures or important updates that you need to know about.
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How to walk the Norwegian Camino: Oslo to Trondheim on St Olav’s Way
Norway Travel Guide by World Citizen
Lonely Planet Norway
Rick Steves Scandinavia
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