Central Norway’s epic National Park of Jotunheimen is known as the ‘Home of the Giants’ – and for good reason. Boasting the largest concentration of mountains higher than 2,000m in Northern Europe, Jotunheimen is a dream destination for any hiking, mountaineering or photography enthusiast. Unbelievably, within Jotunheimen’s refuge are over 250 mountains taller than 2,000m, including the 2469m high Galdhøpiggen, proving that this is the peak of Norway’s nature in more ways than one. As well as the obvious climbing activities on offer inside the park, there are plenty of opportunities for hikes, cycling and even skiing – All within the boundaries of magical mountain vistas. The highlight of the Park is undoubtedly the famous hike over Besseggen Ridge – A remarkable trail that dissects the colourful lakes of Gjende and Bessvatn. Whether you want to drink in the views of Norway’s most dramatic national park or set out on hikes amongst the wilderness, here are a few things to consider during your time in Jotunheimen…
Jotunheimen National Park hosts one of the finest walks in Norway, and the path from Memurubu to Gjendesheim across the Besseggen Ridge is as good as trekking gets anywhere in the world. Apart from that, there are countless hikes and trails around the park, ranging from those taking a few hours to full on 7 day, hut to hut adventures.
The National Park is home to several enormous glaciers, which provide a breathtaking backdrop alongside opportunities for some unforgettable adventures. Notable are the ice sheets of Jostedalsbreen and Smørstabbreen, with the latter representing the largest mass of ice in the park at over 152km in size. Most glaciers can be visited, either independently or with a guide, but it’s worth checking local weather reports upon your arrival to judge how much assistance you may need.
As you’d expect from a National Park boasting some of the tallest peaks in Northern Europe, Jotunheimen is a climber’s dream with summits including Galdhøpiggen, Norway’s highest mountain. Other challenging mountain excursions include conquering Glittertind (2,464m) and Skagastølstind (2,405m), and of course, it is always recommended that you take all necessary precautions when embarking on a climb.
Whilst adventuring through Jotunheimen you will no doubt come across some of the park’s diverse wildlife, which includes reindeer, elk, deer, mink, wolverines and the lynx. As well as this, most of the lakes and rivers are fertile breeding grounds for trout, whilst a look to the skies could lead to sightings of the majestic golden eagle and gerfalcon.
Jotunheimen isn’t entirely about the nature. Visitors also have the opportunity to explore some enthralling cultural sites and activities, such as the Mimisbrunnr Climate Park, which features a collection of fascinating exhibitions detailing Norway’s climate and traditions, with the highlight being a guided tour of an ice tunnel 70 metres under Galdhøpiggen. The park is found at the very foot of Norway’s tallest mountain, and the guided tours are accessible for all ages and abilities. Don’t forget your gloves!
Alternatively, those looking for a glance back into Norway’s religious history should take a trip to the Lom Stave Church, which dates back to the 12th century and remains one of the most impressive stave churches in the country.
When considering accommodation for your stay in Jotunheimen look no further than the superb cabins and lodges offered by the Norwegian Trekking Association. There is also a youth hostel within the park, as well as around 20 separate campsites should you wish to bring a tent and sleep under the stars.