Everything you need to know before hiking to Trolltunga
It was 9 p.m. when we arrived in Skjeggedal, the trail head of Trolltunga, one of the world’s most breathtaking (literally!) hikes. As we start climbing up the rocky steps of the first kilometer, almost everyone coming down looked at us confusedly: “Why are you going up now?” I translated this to: “Are you crazy?! Why would you hike 6 hours through the night?” – because that had been the initial reaction of my friends after I told them about my idea. Just for the record, yes, I’m crazy.
“Hike through the night to see the sunrise up there?”, they said. “Why would you do that? That’s gotta be dangerous! What if you get lost?” But simply because I don’t do things like everyone else and because I don’t like having tourists in my pictures or waiting in line for two hours to take a rushed photo, I wanted to hike through the night to catch the sunrise at 4 a.m. Plus, the lighting and the atmosphere are much more magical obviously.
So here we were, as the only group hiking up the 11 km (7 miles) well-marked trail, only to be joined by an Australian couple much later. What I hadn’t planned for and thus didn’t expect was the full moon rising above the mountains. Lucky! We had planned for everything else however: Warm layers of clothes, lots of energy food and water, a cooking pot for Ramen and hot chocolate, raincoats, and head and flash lights. Surprisingly, we did not need the latter because it stayed quite bright throughout the night.
Once we reached Trolltunga, we all were stunned by the beauty nature had created. Even the best photograph fails to project what you actually see when you’re up there. You’re surrounded by mountains partially covered in snow, and down below the deep blue water weaves through the valley. When it’s clear, you can see miles of land nearly untouched by man. A place which looks unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. You can’t help but ask yourself how someone thought of hiking the mountains in the middle of nowhere for six hours and discover the so called troll’s tongue.
While getting there was not as rough as expected, our way back became super painful for me towards the end because I was wearing shoes that were too tight. With every step down, my toes hit the front of my shoes so hard, that it was better for me to take them off for the last 3 km. Out of pain and exhaustion, I couldn’t stop crying and had to lean on my friend for support. This took us at least two hours longer, but in the end, the troll’s tongue was more than worth it. It’s something you should do at least once in your life, and add to your bucket list right now!
To give you an idea about the hike, here are some tips:
1. Fly into Bergen and spend one or two full days there because it’s definitely worth it. Or fly into Oslo and take a bus/train/car from there.
2. From Bergen, there are busses to Odda, a town close to the trailhead of Trolltunga, which cost around 300 NK.
3. Stay at least two nights in Odda or Tyssedal (I can recommend the Trolltunga Guesthouse in Tyssedal, where I had a great stay). In case it rains one day, you can choose to hike the next day. And if you hike the first day, you’re glad you can rest somewhere close right after the hike. You can also camp anywhere on the trail, even at the very top. We met people on the bus who didn’t have anywhere to stay after their hike and they looked like zombies (mind you, the didn’t walk through the night like we did).
4. Pack the following: Warm layers of clothes (it can be sunny and nice at the bottom but windy and snowy towards the top), comfortable, waterproof shoes (you will cross a few waterfalls), one bottle of water (it’s safe to refill it at any one of the waterfalls), hiking sticks or a stick you find there (it’s much more comfortable to have some support), high energy and good carb foods such as nuts, cereal bars, berries, apples, or bananas, flashlight or head light, a beanie or headband to cover your ears (the wind can be icy), gloves, blister band-aids and tape (tape your toes and shoulders where your backpack straps are).
5. Plan in some more money for the transport from Odda or Tyssedal to the trailhead (our cab for four people from Tyssedal to Skjeggedal was 400 NOK and some busses are 50 NOK per person, for example. Prices can vary).
6. You can’t hike from October 16 until March 18; from March 19 until June 15 and September 15 until October 15 a guide has to assist you, so plan accordingly. Snow is very likely during shoulder season, and even in the summertime, you might encounter snow or snow fall.
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