The Best Hikes in Scandinavia
The most scenic hikes in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland
Thursday, November 8, 2018
From the jagged fjords of Norway through Sweden’s alpine scenery, Denmark’s appealing beaches, and Finland’s deep forests to Iceland’s thrilling glaciers and lava fields: Scandinavian countries provide an inexhaustible paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
The ethereal phenomena of the Northern Lights with the midnight sun make these lands even more tempting. Let us highlight our favorite hikes in Scandinavia, carefully selected by hiking professionals!
Scandinavia a.k.a. the Nordic Countries
The large area of Scandinavia, in wider usage, consists of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. These Nordic countries, as they are often called, cover an area of well over 1.3 million square kilometers with some of the most pristine and well-preserved wilderness in all of Europe. The most beautiful fjords, forests, and unspoiled nature can be found here along with the largest glaciers, the largest national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the continent.
The best Hikes in Norway
With some of Europe’s most spectacular viewpoints and hiking trails, Norway is beyond all doubt a gem for adventure seekers. The country has 46 national parks and more than 3,000 protected natural areas. The extremely varied landscape offers innumerable hiking options that range from world-famous tourist attractions to wild and untamed vistas. Its magnificent and rare combination of narrow fjords and high mountains has earned Norway the well-deserved reputation as a major outdoor adventure destination in Europe.
The Besseggen Ridge
- Location: Jotunheimen National Park
- Length: 14-17 kilometers (8.6-10.5 miles)
- Duration: 6-8 hours
The Besseggen Ridge is one of the most famous hiking spots in Norway and is accessible within a day hike. The ridge is located in the charismatic Jotunheimen National Park, a beautifully rugged place. The national park is home to snow-capped mountains which include Norway’s highest mountain, Galdhøpiggen (2,469 meters, 8,100 feet), among them. The unbelievably turquoise alpine lakes; wild, untamed plateaus; and more than 50 marked hiking and biking trails attract outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world.
The highlight of the Besseggen Ridge hike is the breathtaking viewpoint from which you can see two lakes close to each other at different elevations. The higher, dark blue Bessvatnet Lake lies at 1,374 meters (4,507 feet) and the emerald Gjende Lake lies nearly 400 meters (1,312 feet) below that. The spectacular sight of these two lakes is something that one can definitely never forget!
Preikestolen - The Pulpit Rock
- Location: The Stavanger Region
- Length: 7.5 kilometers (4.6 miles)
- Duration: 4-5 hours
Preikestolen, or the Pulpit Rock, is one of Norway's most photographed landmarks. It is a plain angular rock plateau that looks like it has been carved with a knife. This glacial rock formation rises 604 meters (1,981 feet) above a magnificent fjord, making it one of the world’s most spectacular viewpoints according to both CNNGo and the Lonely Planet.
Hiking to this distinctive rock cliff takes just half a day and there are multiple routes to choose from. The trail is easily accessible and walkable. The path is clearly marked, therefore it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Norway. Thousands of people hike to Preikestolen for the panoramic views of the fjord every year. You will most likely meet many other hikers along the trail and sitting around on Pulpit Rock:
- Location: The Odda Region
- Length: 23-27 kilometers (14.2-16.7 miles)
- Duration: 10-12 hours
The Trolltunga Trail is one of Norway’s most sought after day hikes for good reason. It is an incredibly panoramic hike which ends at a scenic cliff named the “Troll’s Tongue.” This thin sliver of rock is situated about 1,100 meters (3,608 feet) above sea level and hovers 700 meters (2,296 feet) above the aquamarine Ringedalsvatnet Lake. This location is incredibly popular on Instagram and perfect for creative photographs. It is no wonder that Trolltunga is an ultimate item on so many hikers’ bucket lists all over the world.
The hike, however, is not easy as it takes 10-12 hours to complete round trip with an ascent of about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). The entire first kilometer is a constant, steep, and exhausting climb up stone steps. Then the path levels out for a little bit while several smaller climbs will await you on the way to the top. The hike traverses high mountain terrain. You will see gorgeous blue lakes surrounded by sheer mountains and impressive, towering fjords that no picture can effectively describe.
Watch this short video guide to the Trolltunga trail!
The Best Hikes in Sweden
Sweden has an extensive network of amazing long-distance hiking trails that crisscross the country. These walking paths run across rural landscapes, thick evergreen forests, crystal clear lakes, and the vast Arctic mountain wilderness.
With the onset of summer, thousands of local hikers migrate to the wilderness to walk these trails. Sweden is also an epic travel destination for a growing number of foreign tourists in search of extraordinary experiences, breathtaking landscapes, and a greater sense of solitude.
The Kungsleden Trail
- Location: Northern Sweden
- Length: 440 kilometers (273 miles)
- Duration: 3-4 weeks
Kungsleden, also known as the King’s Trail or the Royal Trail, is a 440-kilometer (273 mile) long spectacular trekking route. It is located in the north of Sweden above the Arctic Circle. It was constructed in the early 20th century and was once a well-kept secret by Sweden’s hiking and mountaineering elite. The trail has been gaining more and more international attention lately. It has been referred to as one of the best hikes in the world by the National Geographic and many other magazines. Today, the trail is enjoyed by hiking enthusiasts from all over the world.
The route is split into four major sections, each representing approximately one week of hiking. The most popular part by far is the northernmost leg between Abisko and Kebnekaise. Twenty mountain huts are spaced out along the entire route 10-20 kilometers (6-12 miles) or about one day’s walk apart.
The scenery and terrain are beautifully diverse along the Kungsleden Trail. Thick evergreen forests strongly contrast with the plain tundra wilderness. The wonderful alpine scenery of deep valleys ribboned with rivers, spectacular 360-degree viewpoints, lovely settlements, and Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain, are waiting to amaze the walkers. Hiking the famous Kungsleden will give you an amazing Arctic experience and will allow you to see some of the most breathtaking places in Scandinavia.
Watch this full documentary about the trail:
The Jämtland Triangle
- Location: Jämtland County
- Length: 47 kilometers (29 miles)
- Duration: 3 days
The Jämtland Triangle is one of the most popular hiking trails in Sweden thanks to the amazing facilities along the way. Numerous mountain cabins with saunas and outstanding gourmet restaurants with spectacular panoramas are available along the way, making this hike especially pleasant.
The trail is relatively easy to walk. It traverses the highest lying alpine regions in Sweden and is surrounded by epic peaks en route from the neighboring Norwegian mountains. Birch forests, azure lakes, gentle pastures, and scenic alpine panoramas line the trail.
Encounters with wild animals are not rare in this thriving wilderness. The area is well-known for its rich bird life with regular sightings of skuas, buzzards, and the majestic golden eagle. It is almost guaranteed that you will encounter reindeer as this is their natural habitat and they are abundant.
Hiking the Jämtland Triangle will give you an amazing mixture of nature, adventure, and comfort in a very Scandinavian style.
Denmark is a haven for beach lovers. The country may not offer epic climbs as its highest point is 147 meters (482 feet) above sea level, but it does offer exceptionally long and wonderful coastlines, sandy beaches and hundreds of islands that are waiting to be explored. Denmark’s rich, varied countryside is packed with amazing walking and cycling trails.
Hike across heathlands, woodlands, marshes, and pastures and you will encounter many different harmless wild animals and plants along the way. Walk through ancient pine and beech forests and be amazed by the hair-raising coastal rock formations made from ancient seabeds with visible fish, insect, reptile, and plant fossils.
Denmark’s unspoiled nature is the perfect terrain for adventurers who prefer to enjoy the flexibility and the ultimate peace of legally camping in the wilderness. With over 1,000 areas available for camping in the wild, there are a multitude of natural camping experiences awaiting the hikers who travel on foot.
Camønoen - The Møn Trail
- Location: Nyord, Møn, and Bogø
- Length: 50-175 kilometers (32-108.7 miles)
- Duration: 3-10 days
Camønoen is widely known as Denmark’s friendliest hiking trail. It stretches 175 kilometers (108.7 miles) between Nyord, Møn, and Bogø. The highlight of the trail is the highly picturesque white chalk cliffs of Møn rising to a height over 100 meters (328 feet) with a sheer drop down into the sea. The area is also incredibly rich in fossils and amazing prehistoric treasures. Typical fossils include sea urchins, belemnite fossils, and crab shells.
What is even more fun for hikers is that they are allowed to keep the fossils they find, after having them approved at the nearest geological museum, providing they are not extremely rare. The area is packed with a wide variety of accommodation options ranging from nice camping areas, B&B cottages, hostels, and private rentals. There are also plenty of food options and outdoor stores along the way.
The Møn Trail is part of the Camønoen Trek. Those who prefer shorter adventures can skip the rest of the trail and go straight for the highlight: the island with its spectacular white cliffs.
The Faroe Islands, Denmark
The mysterious Faroe Islands may be the crown jewel of the Kingdom of Denmark. This small archipelago is located in the Atlantic Ocean about halfway between Norway and Iceland. It is an autonomous country in the Kingdom with a total area of 1,400 square kilometers (540 square miles).
This tiny country looks like it was ultimately designed for the joy of hikers and nature lovers. Its beautifully rugged terrain and absolutely awe-inspiring, unspoiled landscapes have recently become Instagram superstars. There is not one spot on this land that is not worth exploring.
Miðvágur to Bøsdalafossur
- Location: Vágar, Faroe Islands
- Length: 5-8 kilometers (3.1-4.9 miles)
- Duration: 2-3 hours
From the plentiful hiking options around the 18 major islands, the hike from Miðvágur to the Bøsdalafossur Waterfall and Trælanípa Mountain is, without any doubt, the most popular hike in the Faroe Islands. The trail is close to the main road between the airport and the capital city of Torshavn. It is a short, well-marked, and well-maintained trail that is easy to follow, a quite pleasant walk, and extremely rewarding.
The trail features the largest lake in the Faroe Islands which is filled with noisy birdlife in the summertime. At the end of the trail is a modest climb up a hill where you will definitely find yourself enchanted by the sights of the many nearby islands and the sensational coastline.
This is the most famous and most photographed view in the Faroe Islands: the view over the breathtaking lake as it stretches impressively on the top of the cliffs, 40 meters (131 feet) above the sea. At the end of the hike, you will find the beautiful waterfall, Bøsdalafossur, which originates from the lake, thundering down directly into the ocean. If you only do one hike in the Faroe Islands, this must be it.
The Best Hikes in Finland
Finland has some of the largest forests in Europe and offers thousands of square kilometers of unspoiled wilderness for hikers to enjoy solitude and beautiful natural surroundings. In fact, the Finnish taiga is part of the greatest forest system in the world called the Boreal Forests, which extends in broad bands across North America and Eurasia. The wildest parts in Finland are located in the northern part of the country which is known as the Finnish Lapland. Here, hikers can wander for hours or even days without encountering another human being.
There are nine main designated hiking areas in Finland, seven of which are protected Natura 2000 sites. Trails snake throughout the country with amazing facilities including well-marked hiking and skiing trails, wooden paths, lean-to shelters, huts, rental cabins, campsites, and nature centers.
The Old Track to Luirojärvi Lake, Urho Kekkonen National Park
- Location: Inari, Northern Finland
- Length: 70-80 kilometers (43.4-49.7 miles)
- Duration: 4-5 days
Finland’s second largest national park is considered one of Lapland’s most pleasant and most varied hiking destinations. It covers 2,550 square kilometers (1,584 square miles) in Eastern and Northern Lapland and features a wide range of varied landscapes. Open fell scenery, fresh rivers, and streams from which you can drink safely, old rustic huts, and a thriving local reindeer husbandry tradition are just a few highlights of the many in the area.
There is an extended hiking trail network in the park which offers short, easy walks for inexperienced hikers as well as unmarked multi-day wilderness treks throughout the park for those adventurers who like longer and more challenging hikes.
The Old Track to Luirojärvi Lake is an adventurous trek that follows a mostly unmarked path through the park's wilderness areas, so you will need a map, a compass, and good navigation skills. There are huts along the trail, both open and reservable, that are nicely placed within a day’s walking distance from each other.
The Karhunkierros Trail, Oulanka National Park
- Location: Kuusamo, Northern Finland
- Length: 80 kilometers (49.7 miles)
- Duration: 4-7 days
Oulanka National Park is one of the highest rated national parks in Finland and frequently appears on the list of the best national parks in Europe. Oulanka is located in northeastern Finland, close to the Arctic Circle and bordering Russia’s Paanajärvi National Park.
The legendary Karhunkierros Trail, also known as the Bear's Trail or the Bear's Ring, is the most well-known Finnish trekking route. The spectacular scenery consists of silent pine forests, stunning river valleys, rushing waterfalls, steep gorges with wooden hanging bridges, and breathtaking fell tops. The area is rich in endangered animal and plant species and has a unique ecosystem.
Along the way, there are several wilderness huts, campfire sites, lean-to shelters, and fully equipped campgrounds that are open and free to use for hikers to stay overnight. Even though this is Finland's most walked hiking trail, it is far less frequented than the most popular hikes in Norway. The infinite peace of the Arctic wilderness will be the ultimate company for the hikers on the trail.
Even though it counts as part of Scandinavia, Iceland is a whole different world apart from the rest of the region. Its outstanding extremities, gigantic glaciers, active volcanoes, steaming lava fields, and hot springs make this land incredibly appealing to adventurers. Of late, Iceland has been one of the most sought-after adventure travel destinations in the world. Anyone who has visited the island tends to feel a strong connection to its outstanding nature and will immediately decide to come back again and see more.
Iceland is home to the largest glacier and the largest national park in all of Europe as well as the fourth largest active volcano on the continent. The natural scenery here is undoubtedly the most diverse in Scandinavia. The moonlike volcanic landscapes and jagged lava fields create a strong contrast with the thrilling glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and the smooth, mossy slopes and pastures. Iceland offers hikers an infinite hiking paradise.
The Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trek
- Location: The Icelandic Highlands
- Length: 77 kilometers (47.8 miles)
- Duration: 6-8 days
The legendary Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trek has been listed as one of the world’s best hiking trails by the National Geographic and many other significant travel magazines. Today, this epic multi-day trek owns a spot on most hikers’ and adventure travelers’ bucket lists.
This hike is a combination of two of Iceland’s best trails. It starts deep in the Icelandic Highlands with the Laugavegur Trail in a geothermal area where the ground steams and hot springs surface from under the solid lava. The path then leads through the colorful rhyolite mountains and a breathtaking nature reserve, crossing black obsidian deserts and passing by bubbling hot springs. After climbing up and down snowcapped peaks, moss-covered slopes, and crossing glacial rivers on foot, you will arrive in a fertile, green valley, surrounded by mossy slopes and glaciated mountains.
From here, the second part of the hike is called the Fimmvörðuháls Trail. It leads up a mountain pass and passes by two volcanic craters that were freshly formed in the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010. This majestic hike finally ends at Iceland's most famous waterfall, the magnificent Skógafoss.
The Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trek can be completed in 6 to 8 days or can be shortened if you choose to hike only one of them. If you are looking to explore the vastness and diversity of Icelandic nature, this is your trek! Let’s go on this trek together! Join us on the grand Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trek adventure!
The Landmannalaugar Hike
- Location: The Icelandic Highlands
- Length: 10 kilometers (6.2 miles)
- Duration: 5-6 hours
Landmannalaugar, the starting point of Iceland’s famous Laugavegur Trek, offers inexhaustible hiking options. Its multi-colored mountains and geothermal valleys are filled with fantastic hiking trails and even offer the possibility of bathing in a natural hot spring.
The most impressive hike in the area is probably the Brennisteinsalda-Bláhnúkur Loop, a combination of two shorter hikes that climb the two most scenic mountains in Landmannalaugar. The trail leads through a black obsidian lava field, passing by sulfur springs and steaming hot pots before climbing up to the first summit. From here, a 360-degree panorama can be enjoyed over the surrounding rhyolite mountains and the geothermal valley.
After climbing the yellow mountain, the path descends back into the valley and heads up to the “Blue Peak.” From there, you can see over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the vibrant geothermal valley and the vast Icelandic tundra! Pack your bathing suit and let’s get going! Join our Landmannalaugar Hiking Tour!
The Glymur Waterfall Hike
- Location: Hvalfjörður, West Iceland
- Length: 6.1 kilometers (3.8 miles)
- Duration: 4-6 hours
Glymur is the highest waterfall in Iceland that can be accessed on foot. An even higher waterfall has recently been found by scientists on Vatnajökull glacier, with a drop of 228 meters (748 feet). However, this waterfall is in such a remote area on a glacier that it is not safe to access.
Glymur is a real hidden gem located only two hours’ drive from Reykjavík, at the end of Hvalfjörður, the whale fjord. Right at the beginning of the hike, there is a river to cross on foot, making for a very adventurous start. The hike leads through a beautiful cave and climbs up a steep hill along the edge of a gorge, providing a splendid view of the lush setting all the way to the ocean.
The path offers numerous exposed and thrilling viewpoints. The waterfall itself is 198 meters (650 feet) high and is a very impressive sight, for sure. Embrace the beauty and hike Glymur Waterfall with us!