The right of access
Everyone in Norway has a right-of-access to the countryside, originally a traditional right but now set out in the legislation governing the right of access (allemannsretten). It is important to remember that this right is based on respect for the countryside and that visitors must always show consideration for farmers and landowners, other users and the environment. Read more about right of access.
Hiking season - when can you walk?
The main season for pilgrimage in Norway is from 1st of June to September 1st. In the mountains the season are slightly shorter due to snow and melting snow. Walking outside this period is of course possible, but the weather can be more unstable and accommodation offers are fewer. Check the trip planner and contact the different accommodation places to check the conditions and to find available accommodation.
Safety in the mountains
The St.Olav Ways pass through populated areas, magnificent landscapes, deep valleys and quiet woods, but depending on the route you choose you may have to pass challenging mountain terrain. It is important that you familiarize yourself with the basic safety principles of mountain hiking. Read more about how to stay safe in the Norwegian mountains in Visit Norways safety brochure.
Take your time
Plan your pilgrimage so that you have enough time. Being short on time is not a good feeling. At least a day of rest per week provides necessary restitution, and gives you time to let the impressions sink in. Pilgrim routes are long and challenging, and can last from a few weeks to a few months. Even though you will meet many friendly and helpful people along the way, you have to trust yourself and your own judgment.
Get in shape
Contemporary pilgrims often walk up to twenty kilometers a day, several days in a row. A good advice is to start to walk regularly to work in good time before your pilgrimage. This will allow you to test your footware and backpack, and get in shape. It is also important to stretch regularly to maintain and increase mobility and reduce fatigue.
When booking accommodation it is recommended that you call a day or two in advance to check for vacancies. If you are not part of an organized walk you should pack at least three meals. Grocery stores may be scares in some rural areas and most stores are closed on Sundays. Most restaurant or diners are however open on Sundays, and some of them can help you with provisions. Most, but not all, stores and eateries are equipped with visa-terminals, so it is recommended to always have 3000 kroner available in cash, preferably in smaller bills.
Some providers of accommodation also offer laundry services, but on some places you will have to do it yourself. Bring detergent pouches and a cord to dry you clothes. Crumpled newspapers can be useful to extract moisture from wet boots.
The pilgrim routes mostly run on trails and roads, and do not require heavy footwear as traditional hiking boots with stiff soles. Regular hiking shoes or boots should be sufficient, but keep in mind that they should big enough for you to move your toes, and there must be room for your feet to swell slightly. Your shoes should provide good support and have enough flexibility in the forefoot so the heel don’t slip.
Your shoes should also have enough damping to keep you comfortable on paved roads. If your shoes do not have damping you can buy a pair of bases made of damping materials. Ankle high boots are better in wet terrain, and some walkers also bring sandals.
Good padding of your feet prevents chafing and blisters. A thin sock under a thicker sock is a well-known trick. There are also special inner socks with efficient membranes that will keep feet drier. If possible, wash your socks daily. Two thinner socks on each foot dry faster than one thick. You could also use gaiters to keep pebbles, debris and moisture out.
Your clothes should have the capacity to cover a temperature range between zero and 30 degrees Celsius. With underwear in fibers (long johns), pants, shirt, sweater and rain you should be well covered. Synthetic fiber dries within hours and can be hand washed daily.
A rain poncho will keep you and your backpack dry, but can be a little difficult to handle in heavy winds. Optionally, a rain jacket made of breathable material (Goretex, triple point, etc.) with a thin mesh will keep you dry, while remaining comfortable to the skin and insulates well. You will then need a rain cover for the bag as well. Rain trousers is critical.
Pants / shorts and shirt in microfiber weighs less than cotton, and also dries faster. A light wool sweater is important. A cotton cloth makes it easy to regulate the temperature in the neck region.
We recommend a backpack (30-50 liters) with a braced backrest, padded shoulder straps and chest straps. The bag must have the correct length relative to the back so that the weight is distributed evenly between the shoulders and hips. Simpler bags without too many pockets and straps weigh less. If you can pack less than 6 kg, the padded shoulder strap less important. Feel free to use pack bags to organize the equipment in the bag, and a rain cover to keep your backpack dry.
Simple types of accommodations will not offer bedding or blankets. Thus, we recommend that you bring a light sleeping bag of 0.5-1 kg. At some accommodations you need mats. This is also useful if you want to sleep outdoors.
A walking cane makes walking more comfortable. Remember that your backpack will affect you balance. In steeper sections of the route the cane will help your knees and back. You can create one yourself, or buy a telescopic one. If you find one with rubber knob at the tip, the cane will make less noise.
Shampoo and other liquid detergents contain fillers. Choose concentrated products to save weight. Microfiber towels are lightweight and dries quickly. For walking in the evenings, a small headlamp is very helpful.
Foot care is especially important, both preventive care and efficient treatment of blisters or muscle pain.