Your first pilgrimage? Here is what you need to know.

Here you'll find the answers to the most common questions about the pilgrim paths in Norway.

Three people with backpacks walking along a trail. Photo
1. Who can go on a pilgrimage?

The simple answer is: everyone! However, you should be in decent shape and comfortable with being in the wilderness.

2. Do I need any approval or do I have to register somewhere to access the pilgrim paths?

No, the trails are open to everyone and are mostly part of existing paths and roads. However, most people who go on a pilgrimage use a pilgrim's passport to document their journey by collecting stamps along the way. You can purchase the passport at regional pilgrim centers, selected locations along the trail, or pre-order it at northernpilgrimshop.com. Read more about the pilgrim's passport.

3. How long is a pilgrimage?

You decide how far you want to walk, and many choose a shorter distance for their first pilgrimage. To recieve the Olav Letter, you have to at least walk the last hundred kilometers to Trondheim and Nidaros Cathedral. You can achieve that by walking either from Berkåk to Trondheim on Gudbrandsdalsleden, from Stiklestad to Trondheim on St. Olavsleden, or from Tynset to Trondheim on Østerdalsleden. Gudbrandsdalsleden is the most popular trail, it is 643 kilometers and takes approximately 32 days to complete from start to finish.

4. What kind of paths will I be walking on?

It varies. But primarily, you will be walking on trails in nature. The trails can pass through forests and over mountains, but you may also walk on gravel roads and asphalt for parts of the trip.

5. What time of year can I walk?

The main season for pilgrimage walking in Norway is during the summer, from June 1st to September 1st. Walking outside the main season is possible but not recommended, as it can be cold with more unstable weather, and many of the accommodation options are closed. In general the pilgrims paths in the south (Tunsbergleden, Borgleden and some of the sourthern parts of Gudbrandsdalsleden) have a longer season than the one's further north.

In areas where you need to cross mountains, the season is shorter due to snow and snowmelt. Contact the regional pilgrim center for the area you plan to walk through to check whether the conditions are safe. Due to severe weather conditions, we strongly advice against crossing Dovre mountain (on Gudbrandsdalsleden) until approx. June 10th..

6. How far do I walk each day?

Experienced pilgrims typically walk an average of 20 kilometers per day, at a pace of 3-4 kilometers per hour, keeping the pace quite comfortable. If you are walking with children, it's wise to plan for shorter distances.

7. Should I book accommodation before I arrive at the location?

If you are traveling with a group, it is always wise to book accommodation in advance. Especially during the peak season in July. It is recommended to plan your trip considering where you will take longer breaks and, most importantly, where you will stay overnight.
If you have made a reservation but change your plans, it is important to cancel so that the host does not think you might have gotten lost.

8. Why do people go on a pilgrimage?

The pilgrim paths are open to everyone. In the Middle Ages, most pilgrims were religiously motivated. Today, there are many different reasons to walk the pilgrim paths. Some people come for the grand nature, others seek peace and tranquility, some are primarily interested in the history and the people they can meet along the way. For many, it is a combination.

9. Do I have to be quiet when I walk?

You are welcome to talk, laugh, and sing while walking as a pilgrim! However, please respect that others may be seeking silence and prefer to walk in peace. If you are walking with children, it is considerate to take a brief pause as others pass by.

10. What kind of clothes should I wear on the pilgrimage?

There are no rules on what to wear on a pilgrimage in Norway, but you should concider both the weather, the season and the kinds of roads you will be walking on when you pack. Here you'll find some good advice about shoes and clothes for your trip.

11. What does it cost to go on a pilgrimage in Norway?

It is free to walk on the pilgrim paths, but the prices of accommodation and meals along the way will vary. You can choose to sleep and eat at luxurious places, or find cheaper accommodation in hostels or campsites. Several places along the path have discounts for pilgrims. You can buy a pilgrim pass for NOK 50 in advance, and fill it with stamps that you recieve at the places you visit along the trail. Order the pass at northernpilgrimshop.com or buy it at a regional pilgrimage centre.

12. Can I bring my dog?

Yes, you can bring a dog. There is a general leash requirement from April to August in Norway - and be aware that the trails go through pastures with other animals. Ask the accommodation in advance if you wish to have a dog in the room (many have dedicated dog rooms available).

13. Is there organized trips for people who don't want to walk by themselves?

Yes, now and then joint walks are organized as package tours on the various trails. Go to our list of recommended walks and choose Organized trips, or contact one of the regional pilgrim centers to find out more.

14. Do the accommodations offer double rooms?

Many, but not all. Along the trail there is everything from hotels to hostels and simple cabins with different rooms. You can see the different accommodation options in our map, where they are marked with a bed symbol.

15. Can we sleep in a tent along the path?

Yes, you may put up a tent anywhere in the Norwegian countryside, forests or mountains, as long as you stay at least 150 metres away from the nearest inhabited house or cabin. If you want to camp for more than two nights in the same place, you must ask the landowner's permission, except in the mountains or in very remote areas.

That being said, there are many nice and affordable accommodations along the pilgrim paths in Norway.

If you have questions about a spesific norwegian pilgrim path, try the FAQ-section about Gudbrandsdalsleden, St. Olavsleden, Borgleden, Romboleden or Kystpilegrimsleia – Or contact the closest regional pilgrim center.