What are the Pilgrim Paths?

St. Olav Ways - The Pilgrim Paths to Trondheim, are a network of historical trails through beautiful nature, cultural landscapes and historical sites. The trails in Norway come from all directions to St. Olav's burial place, Nidaros Cathedral. The medieval tradition of pilgrimage has once again become popular in recent times, among both religious people, history enthusiasts, and hikers.

Mittens lying on a tree stump which is marked with a pilegrim cross. Photo

What does the name mean?

The St. Olav Ways are the roads and paths that the pilgrims follow towards the pilgrimage destination Nidaros Cathedral - the burial church of St. Olav in Trondheim, Norway. The pilgrim path is the common name for the network of St. Olav ways to Trondheim.

Each of the St. Olav ways also has its own name, several originating in the region of which it is a part. For example Gudbrandsdalsleden from Oslo to Trondheim got it's name from Gudbrandsdalen, a valley it passes through.

The same applies to Valldalsleden which got its name from Valldal which is the place where the trail starts. Other names have their origin from the dioceses, as for example Borgleden which has its name from Borg diocese, and Tunsbergleden which has its name from Tunsberg diocese. Learn more about the paths here.

A wooden gate in front of a farm house. Photo
Foto: Eskil Roll

Historic roads and paths

The Pilgrim's Path winds its way through villages and cities, crosses mountains and waterfalls, and meanders along ancient Norwegian trails. Many locals are happy to share their stories about the old buildings, churches and the landscape you are passing through. You can experience local food traditions and book accommodation in old traditional houses along the path.

Why do a pilgrimage?

In the Middle Ages, most pilgrims were religiously motivated, although no doubt some were out for adventure or otherwise motivated. Today, there are many different motivations for embarking on a pilgrimage. Exciting landscapes, unspoiled nature and good hiking trails tempt many of those who set out on the Pilgrim Paths. Connecting with the past and meeting other people is also a strong motivation.

In addition to all these strong experiences that characterize the outer walk, the pilgrim path offers an inner walk. Pilgrimage does something to person, regardless of faith and religious background, there are few who do not undergo a mental change on this trip. Walking in the footsteps of people who have walked this path in sorrow and joy, hope and despair, for hundreds of years, it affects those who walk the same path. Reaching the goal, the mighty Nidaros Cathedral, after walking for days is a powerful and unforgettable experience that the pilgrims carry with them on the way home and on through life.

A European Cultural Route

Since the work on marking the Pilgrim Trail began in 1994, more than 500 km of trails through Denmark, Sweden and Norway have been marked with the pilgrim logo. The logo along the Pilgrim Trail is easy to recognize. It combines the landmark symbol, a waleknot, with the Olav cross. The logo is pattern protected and managed by National Pilgrim Centre who also coordinates and develops St. Olav Ways - The Pilgrim Paths to Trondheim.

All approved St. Olav Ways must have Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim as their goal and be linked to the history of St. Olav. The pilgrim route through Denmark, Sweden and Norway, gained status as a European Cultural Route in May 2010.

The pilgrimage marks with the well-known pilgrim logo are easy to spot along the trail.
Foto: Hans-Jacob Dahl