Trolltunga, or “troll’s tongue”, has become one of the world’s ultimate new places to visit, and perhaps more importantly, to get the ultimate Instagram pic..!
I would be lying if I said we went without the goal of getting awesome pics, but it must be said that the hike is TOUGH – and not enough people go prepared.
The number of news articles going out each month detailing more rescues and more ‘idiotic tourist trends’ are on the rise. See here, here and here. It’s easy to get Trolltunga wrong and it is by no means a walk in the park, so read on to know everything you could need to know about this epic hike!
What is Trolltunga and where is it?
Trolltunga is a huge protruding rock that juts out over a huge lake called Ringedalsvatnet. It’s arguably one of the most stunning areas in Europe and one of the most spectacular scenic cliffs in Norway, for sure.
Trolltunga is situated about 700 metres above the lake, and the distance from the starting point to Trolltunga and back is 23km with an ascent of about 1000 metres. Now while 23km doesn’t sound shockingly far, it takes most hikers, on average 10-12 hours to complete this return trip. The terrain is tough, and this is a long and demanding hike!
The main hike route starts in a place called Skjeggedal, near to the towns of Tyssedel and Odda.
When is the best time to go?
Hikers can only access the hike from late-May/early-June to mid-September. Any earlier or later than this and you’d face snow and adverse weather conditions. However, you can snowshoe hike with a local company from about March time (if that appeals).
How to get to Trolltunga?
The nearest main airport is Bergen, a town around a 3 hour drive away. I would 100% highly encourage renting a car, for both ease, comfort, speed and time efficiency. Public buses do run from Bergen but it all seems like a lot of hassle.
The roads are really safe and driving in Norway is really straight forward – plus you can stop wherever en route to capture the beautiful scenery!
Where to stay before and after Trolltunga?
Undoubtedly Bergen makes for a beautiful stay but I would strongly recommend staying a lot closer to the start of the hike. You absolutely need to start the hike around 6am, and travelling from Bergen would make for a very long day!
There are numerous AirBnb options around the towns, but we had a very pleasant stay camping at Odda Camping. We camped (in our own tent) the night before the hike, but the night after, we treated ourselves to one of their onsite cabins. A soft bed and some warmth was much appreciated!
It’s worth noting you have to pay for hot water showers on site.
This website here offers a great selection of other accommodation options in the area, which I’m sure is being increased by the month.
Can I camp on the route?
Norway allows people to freely camp on the route (I believe it is part of their law to allow people to camp anywhere!) We saw many people with camping gear on their back and I must say, what a location to pitch a tent! You would need to be fully self sufficient and aware that there are no facilities of any type around.
Where can I park if I drive to the start of the hike?
Assuming you arrive before or around 6am, you should be able to access the higher up car park. When you approach Skjeggedal, you’ll see the main car park, but do try and follow the lane further up the mountain. It goes for a few more miles and the car park is directly at the start of the hike. Otherwise, you have to take a shuttle bus from the lower car so definitely arrive early enough!
You have to pay for a day pass at the start (although this was broken when we went so unsure of latest prices). Also, you’ll find toilets here and these will be the last ones on the route!
What should I bring with me on the hike?
The most absolutely essential things would be some solid hiking boots and lots of layers. The weather is incredibly changeable, not just throughout the day but also just as you turn round each cliff face. Gloves are useful too!
Proper hiking boots are so important – we were shocked to see some people stumbling along in flip flops (honestly…!).
Lots of snacks. One of the most important things I can share in this blog post is that there are NO vendors, shops, toilets, stalls, stands or anything on this route. Now this may change in the future, but you have to come equipped with anything and everything you could need for a full long day of hiking in the Norwegian fjords.
Torch – just in case!
There is also limited phone signal – but there are emergency phones en route – and at the timing of writing, only one emergency shelter for if you get into real trouble.
How do I know the route and where to go?
The route starts at the car park, and is very clearly marked. There route is clearly marked the whole way, although sometimes just with red spray paint arrows.
Should I pay for a guide?
We seriously considered this, but actually the route is so clearly marked. The majority of people doing the hike are not with guided tours.
My top 10 tips for hiking Trolltunga:
This is probably the most valuable thing I can pass. There are many signs on the route that say things like “if you haven’t passed this point by 1pm, PLEASE TURN BACK”. So many people ignore these signs, continue on, get stuck out on the mountains in pitch black darkness and have to come and get rescued by helicopter. It’s dangerous and it’s putting a huge strain on the local emergency services.
Let someone know you’re doing the hike.
Whether they’re at home or your campsite/hotel – just let someone know.
Leave contingency days.
Do not attempt this hike if the weather forecast is outright bad. Leave spare days in your travel plan to give you a number to pick from.
Don’t take numerous full bottles of water.
You can fill up with fresh cold safe drinking water from the springs along the way. So don’t waste precious energy and space carrying full water bottles.
Take fresh socks.
It’s really nice to put some fresh, soft, clean hiking socks on at the halfway point.
Charge camera and phone – and bring a charging brick.
You’ll be gutted if you miss the opportunity to take pics up there. But, in case it wasn’t obvious, there’s no definitely no charging points on the way
Bring toilet roll.
There are no toilets en route.
Prepare to spend a good hour (or longer) at the top to queue to take your photo.
Yep, really. There’s a long line to take photos, plus we saw two proposals in the time we were there too!
Bring plastics bags for your litter.
There are no bins en route and no team monitoring the litter (literally no-one manages the hike, as such) so try to take all your rubbish away with you – it’s so unsightly to leave it!
It might not be a really long hike, but some sections are incredibly steep. Especially the first km, which is almost a sheer wall mud side with ropes to pull yourself up. You really need to feel confident that you can do this hike – it’s tough but totally worth it!!