How to hike the Besseggen trail in Jotunheimen National Park in Norway

In this post we give you practical information and tips regarding on of the best hike in Norway: the Besseggen hike in Jotunheimen National Park.

The Besseggen trail in Jotunheimen National Park in Norway is one of the many famous hikes in Norway. Although Norway has plenty of hiking trails to offer, we are convinced that Besseggen is one of the most spectacular walks you can take. The Besseggen trail should be on your list of hikes when visiting Norway. The hike is situated in the wonderful Jotunheimen national park and is home to the Besseggen ridge. This mountain ridge separates two lakes: Bessvatnet and Gjende. The government of Norway manages to keep the Besseggen trail a beautiful piece of nature despite its many visitors and plenty of tourists during the summer months.

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view over valley

Specifications of the hike

  • Duration of the hike: between 6 to 8 hours, depending on your level of fitness.
  • Length of the trail: 15 kilometers
  • Hardness of the trail: The trail has many steep parts in it and requires a lot of going up and down. A good fitness level is required for this hike.
  • Best period for this hike: from June until September

Preparing the hike

The hike starts at Gjendesheim. There is a small parking lot near Gjendesheim, but this parking lot is reserved for those who spent the night at one of the hotels.

The main parking lot is right before you enter Gjendesheim at Reinsvangen. This is a long-term parking lot (1 day to 5 days +). The parking lot is just off the exit of Rv 51. There is a shuttle that takes you to the ferry at Lake Gjende at Gjendesheim, but you can also go by foot (approximately 1,7 km).

The price of the parking lot depends on the type of car: 150 NOK for a normal car or 250 NOK for a camping car for the entire day. Although the parking lot is huge, it happens that all parking spots are taken. As finding a good parking spot in the area is almost impossible, we recommend you to come early, to ensure yourself from a parking a spot

You have two options to start the hike and both options have their advantages and disadvantages:

  • OPTION 1 – Hiking from Memurubu to Gjendesheim
    • You first have to take the ferry from Gjendesheim to Memurubu. Once you arrive in Memurubu, dusk is your only deadline to arrive at Gjendeseheim.
    • Most of the hikers choose this option, so during the busy summer months, you’ll need to book your ticket upfront!
    • When climbing the famous ridge, you are with your back to the most spectacular views over the Bessvatnet and Gjende lake.
  • OPTION 2- Hiking from Gjendesheim to Memurubu
    • In this option, you take the ferry at the end of your hiking day. That means you have a strict deadline, as the last ferry back to Gjendesheim departs at 4:45 pm. Do start early in the morning, as the scenery is too beautiful to miss.
    • As opposed to the previous option, you’ll have the views in front of you when descending the ridge. On the other hand, you’ll have to wait several times when descending the ridge and make way for those who are going up.
    • The ridge is steep and going down might require more technique than going up the ridge.
besseggen view ridge lakes

Booking the ferry Gjendesheim – Memurubu

We recommend you to book your ticket for the boat upfront via the website of the Gjende ferry. It’s also possible to book a ticket at the dock, as the Norwegian law requires ferries to keep some seats available for those who didn’t book a ticket upfront. As this is based on the first come first served principle, it still might take some time before seats become available. Most travelers take the ferry from Gjendesheim to Memurubu. The other way (from Memurubu to Gjendesheim) is definitely less popular, so when you are late to make your booking, it is possible that tickets are still available for this itinerary.

ferry from gjende to besseggen

The hike

Navigating the Besseggen trail is really straightforward, as the entire trail is well-marked with the typical red T mark and several stone markers. When starting from Memurubu, the trail starts relatively easy through woodland. After half an hour, the trail becomes steeper. Don’t forget to enjoy the scenery when going up, as the path and scenery changes frequently along the way. The trail passes different lakes and it takes about two hours before you reach the famous Bessegen ridge. Climbing the ridge requires using both your hands and feet. If you have mountaineering experience, this ridge won’t be a problem, but if you are a less experienced hiker, the small ridge can be fearsome. Just take it easy and remember that the view on the top will be the ultimate reward. Don’t forget to look back because the higher you get, the better the views are over the two lakes. Did you know that the two lakes differ in color? Surely a photogenic place! Bessvatnet has a blue color, whereas Gjende has an emerald color. The reason for that is that Besvattnet is filled with ‘normal’ water whereas Gjende is filled with glacier water (that typically contains clay and rock flour). Surprisingly, after the small ridge, there is a wide plateau that takes you to the top of Veslfjellet, marked with a huge pile of stones. From here the path continues to go down back to Gjendesheim, with some nice viewpoints along the way.

stone pile veslfjellet besseggen hike norway

In our opinion

Besseggen hike is definitely one of our favorite hikes in Norway. It offers splendid views and challenges even the more experienced hikers with its steep parts. The scenery is simply breathtaking. However, the trail is popular meaning you’ll have to share your experience with a lot of other travelers and Norwegians. Nonetheless, the hike is definitely worth it. We already mentioned that you should start your hike early in the morning, so you’ll have plenty of time to take a rest in between the steep parts and take in the wonderful surroundings.


What to take with you when hiking Besseggen

Hiking Besseggen needs a good preparation and below, we give you an overview of the hiking equipment you should have with you.

  • For this hike, you definitely need sturdy hiking boots, comfortable hiking clothes and a comfortable backpack. Be prepared for both hot as cold temperatures, so dress in layers. Norway can have four seasons in a day, so don’t forget to take rain gear with you.
  • There are some steep parts, so trekking poles come in handy, both for going up as going down. Make sure you can put the trekking poles easily in your backpack for the parts where you have to use both hands and feet to go up or down.
  • Carry enough water with you. There are some rivers along the way, but it is sensible to have at least 1,5 liter of water per person with you. We recommend a CamelBak as this is a convenient way to carry water with you during intense hikes.
  • Take food and snacks with plenty of energy with you. Enough food keeps up the energy and morale.
  • Don’t leave a trace! A reusable ziplock bag is a perfect way to keep trash separate from the rest of your gear.
  • As there aren’t many shady areas during the hike, a hat, sun glasses and sunscreen are need to haves.
  • And of course, don’t forget your camera to capture memories!

Where to stay when you hike the Besseggen trail


Besseggen Fjellpark AS 

Besseggen Fjellpark is really close to the dock of the Gjende ferry and is  an excellent place if you want to start early with your hike. They offer very cosy cabins in a wonderful environment.

Check prices and availability: BOOKING.COM

Besseggen Fjellpark where to stay Jotunheim National Park Norway
Besseggen Fjellpark where to stay Jotunheim National Park Norway room

Northern gate Besseggen – Cottage no 17 in Besseggen Fjellpark Maurvangen 

This cosy cabin is also close to the dock of the ferry and offers wonderful views. An excellent starting point for the Besseggen hike and other hikes in Jotunheim National Park.

Check prices and availability: BOOKING.COM

Fjellpark cottage 17 Besseggen where to stay Norway
Fjellpark cottage 17 Besseggen where to stay Norway outside

Bessheim Fjellstue og Hytter

This accommodation offers views over the Øvre Sjodalsvatnet and the drive towards the Gjende ferry is 5,5 kilometers. Every cottage has a seating area, small kitchen and private bathroom. There is also a restaurant and sauna and the possibility to rent canoes or other boats.

Check prices and availability: BOOKING.COM

bessheim fjellstue booking where to stay besseggen norway

Radisson Blu Resort, Beitostølen

This accommodation is situated in Beitostølen, situated 20 kilometers from Jotunheim National Park. You an choose for a room or an apartment with well-equipped kitchen and bathroom with sauna.

Check prices and availability: BOOKING.COM

radisson blue resort hotel where to stay hike besseggen norway
The modern rooms of the Radisson Blue Resort near Besseggen Norway

Camping spots

A Norwegian law (allemannsrett) states that everyone should be able to enjoy nature and allows to wild camp anywhere where the land is not owned, cultivated or where there is a prohibition sign. Nevertheless, we noticed that on resting spots nearby Gjendesheim there were ‘no camping’ signs. However, a bit further on the Rv 51 there are different spots that are excellent for a night. There are also many campsites in the area.

For all the information regarding campervanning in Norway, check out our blogpost on how to travel with a campervan in Norway.

Happy hiking!

Matthias and Mieke

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