Hiking to Trolltunga: All you need to know

TrolltungaPhoto: Dong Zhang / Unsplash
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Hiking to Trolltunga is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Or maybe more than once for those of us who can’t get enough of the lovely lake and mountain views and keep coming back.

Can you guess what Trolltunga means? If you don’t already know, it’s not too tough.

Trolltunga translates to “Troll tongue” and the story behind the name is closely tied to Norse mythology. So, other than picture-perfect vistas, Trolltunga offers a mythical side, to boot.

We’re here to cover all the Trolltunga bases for travelers, avid explorers, interested historians, or anyone simply curious about this captivating rock formation – from hiking logistics to legends about it.

The Trolltunga hike: Logistics and details

Here are the most important facts you need to know before hiking Trolltunga:

  • Hike length in km: 28 km
  • Hike length in time: 8 – 12 hours
  • Hike elevation: 800 meters
  • Difficulty: Hard

Trolltunga is 1097 meters high and rewards those who reach its top with incredible views of stretching Lake Ringedalsvatnet 700 meters below.

Quick guide: Step by step

  1. Pack essentials! Lots of water, food, a first aid kit, hiking clothes – including waterproof hiking shoes -, a cellphone (or other directional and communicational devices), sunscreen, etc.
  2. Reach Trolltunga parking, aka the Skjeggedal car park, where the trailhead will begin. Remember: the hike itself is free but parking will come with a fee if you’re arriving by car. Public transport to Trolltunga is available too, however.
  3. Traverse the first kilometer, among the most difficult, of the hike. Alternatively, skip this kilometer by parking at Mågelitopp (again, be prepared for a fee if you’re self-driving).
  4. The total hike will last up to 12 hours – so be sure to take breaks along the way! 
  5. Take an iconic photo right on the Trolltunga rock formation. Beware: You might be looking at a few hours’ wait time depending on the season and amount of tourists.
  6. Walk back – this will likely be a shorter hike than the one up to Trolltunga, as you probably won’t be stopping as often for photos, for example.
Hiking to Trolltunga. Source: Rik Buiting / Unsplash.

Important things to keep in mind for a Trolltunga hike:

  • Begin your trek early in the day (aim for starting before 8 AM). If you’re traveling from Bergen to Trolltunga, Oslo to Trolltunga, or another city to Trolltunga, arrive the day before (or earlier) and stay in nearby Odda or Tyssedal.
  • This isn’t a beginner’s trail. Keep in mind that the Trolltunga hike is the length of a half marathon – with lots of inclines.
  • There aren’t toilets on the trail! The parking lots do have toilets so remember that they are your only options before and after the hike.
  • Outside of the summer season (which lasts from June to September), it’s considered safe to embark on the trek without a guide. During the more rough winter season, which lasts from October to May, however, hiking to Trolltunga with an expert guide is highly recommended.
  • Enjoy the journey and keep your eyes peeled! Stop to take in the views every so often. On your way to Trolltunga, you’ll pass by Tyssebotn and Tyssestrengene Waterfall – plus many other natural wonders – so take the opportunity to feast your eyes. Once you reach the top, gaze at the lake beneath your feet and, in the distance, at Folgefonna Glacier. Not to mention the surrounding snowy peaks, rocky cliffs, Norwegian flora, and maybe a wandering troll or two…

…which brings us to:

Trolltunga’s mythical side

Curious about this rock formation’s peculiar name? It stems from ancient Norwegian myths about trolls. 

We’d be remiss if we didn’t cover the story behind the “troll tongue” name here.

In the Middle Age-era Nordic countries, the word “troll” was used ambiguously – and not only to denote large, hairy, aggressive beings we the world may bring to our minds today. It was used for any magical creature or being associated with sorcery. In medieval sagas, “troll” denoted everything from wild boars under the control of sorcerers and heathen deities, to undead, draugr-like warriors and non-human, ogre-esque soldiers.

In fact, there are two main types of trolls. One is large, aggressive, and shown as less intelligent, and the other is tiny, less violent but more conniving, and shown as more intelligent.

The first, bigger type of troll was later equated with giants throughout Nordic folklore over the years. The Icelandic sagas and eddas, as well as Scandinavian oral folktales, featured ogre-like giants. This type of being was called troll in Iceland, troll and jotun (or jotul) in Norwegian folktales, trold and jœtte in Danish, and jätte in Swedish.

A giant-like troll depiction. Source: Yuri B / Pixabay.

In some of the oldest Norse literature, these trolls are primordial beings sometimes connected with the origins of the universe. And they’re also evil. They were mainly cast in the roles of anti-heroes against the gods, and then later, the humans. Trolls were the perfect monsters and the ideal enemy figures; they gave protagonist heroes the chance to establish themselves as brave, powerful, and victorious over evil forces.

Once Christianity was introduced to the region, trolls became enemies of the church and all things holy, too. Trolls were depicted as the embodiment of anything impure and were frequently illustrated ravaging churches or attacking priests. These trolls, in general, didn’t have much dialect or personality of their own in stories they inhabited. They weren’t shown as intelligent, but rather as pure brute force.

Afraid of the sunlight (and probably only that…), trolls were thought to live in dark and often dangerous places like cliffs, caves, and deep crevices (welcome to the Trolltunga hike). The reason trolls shied away from the sun? Because it was one of the only things that could harm them – by petrifying them into solid stone. 

Which brings us to later folk traditions, many of which are still prevalent today. After being primordial giants, trogres played etiological legends, which explained the origin of strange natural phenomena such as lakes, craters, and rock formations (sound familiar?)

Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue), of course, is the subject of such a legend. This particular troll was caught speaking, laughing, yelling, or maybe eating… What do you think the mythical Trolltunga troll was doing when the sun hit it? 

Per legend, the sun turns trolls to stone. Source: Tama66 / Pixabay.

Trolls are the subject of many such Nordic legends; another is that rock formations around the Faroe Islands formed because a pair of trogres attempted to move the Faroe Islands to Norway.

Trolltunga’s weather and location

Trolltunga is located in southwestern Norway, just inland from the western fjord region (and close to Hardangerfjord). It’s a cliff rock formation that juts out above Lake Ringedalsvatnet in Norway’s Vestland County.

A Trolltunga, Norway map. Source: Google Maps.

Trolltunga sits 160 km southeast and inland from Bergen, and, like the city, it’s located on the 60th latitude north. This region of Norway sits too far south for the northern lights and midnight sun phenomena, but it’s (clearly!) chock-full of other natural wonders to see.

In December around Trolltunga, the sun sets around 3:25 PM and rises around 9:30 AM, making for about six hours of daylight per day. In June, the Trolltunga sun sets around 11 PM and rises around 4 AM, making for around 19 hours of daylight per day.

December temperatures around Trolltunga average between 1 and 4 degrees Celsius. July temperatures are the area’s warmest, averaging between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius.

How to get to Trolltunga

Trolltunga is accessible via road and air to and from other Norwegian hotspots you may be traveling between. We’re bringing you all of the details no matter how you choose to travel.

The distance from Trolltunga to Flam is 170 km, from Trolltunga to Haugesund 175 km, from Trolltunga to Bergen 210 km, from Trolltunga to Stavanger 220 km, from Trolltunga to Kristiansand 360 km, from Trolltunga to Oslo 375 km, from Trolltunga to Ålesund 500 km, from Trolltunga to Molde 530 km, from Trolltunga to Røros 610 km, from Trolltunga to Trondheim 630 km, from Trolltunga to Bodø 1330 km, from Trolltunga to Henningsvær 1525 km, from Trolltunga to Tromsø 1755 km, and from Trolltunga to the North Cape 2250 km.

You can get close to Trolltunga with flights, as well.

The closest large airport to Trolltunga is Bergen Airport. This airport is an 18-kilometer drive away from the Bergen city center, and around 205 km away from Trolltunga.

Bergen Airport is internationally connected to the following cities: Aberdeen, United Kingdom; Alanya, Turkey; Alicante, Spain; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Antalya, Turkey; Barcelona, Spain; Berlin, Germany; Billund, Denmark; Chania, Greece, Copenhagen, Denmark; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Gdansk, Poland; Gothenburg, Sweden; Gran Canaria, Spain; Hamburg, Germany; Katowice, Poland; Kaunas, Lithuania; Krakow, Poland; Liverpool, United Kingdom; London, United Kingdom; Madrid, Spain; Malaga, Spain; Manchester, United Kingdom; Milano, Italy; Munich, Germany; Murcia, Spain; Nice, France; Palanga, Lithuania; Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; Split, Croatia; Stockholm, Sweden; Szczecin, Poland; Vagar, Faroe Islands; Warsaw, Poland; and Zurich, Switzerland.

The airport is domestically connected to Andøya, Bodø, Florø, Harstad/Narvik, Haugesund, Kristiansand, Kristiansund, Molde, Oslo, Sandefjord, Sogndal, Stavanger, Tromsø, Trondheim, Ålesund, and Ørsta-Volda.

Next-closest is Stavanger Airport, which is 16 kilometers away from the Stavanger city center, and 230 km away from Trolltunga.

The Stavanger Airport is internationally connected to the following cities: Aberdeen, United Kingdom; Alicante, Spain; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Antalya, Turkey; Barcelona, Spain; Billund, Denmark; Copenhagen, Denmark; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Esbjerg, Denmark; Gdansk, Poland; Katowice, Poland; Kaunas, Lithuania; Krakow, Poland; London, United Kingdom; Malaga, Spain; Manchester, United Kingdom; Milano, Italy; Murcia, Spain; Newcastle, United Kingdom; Nice, France; Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Split, Croatia; Stockholm, Sweden; and Szczecin, Poland.

The airport also has domestic flights to and from Bergen, Bodø, Harstad/Narvik, Kristiansand, Oslo, Sandefjord, and Trondheim.

Maybe you’re planning on flying into the capital and taking things from there? Good news; it’s pretty easy to get from Oslo to Trolltunga, as well. Oslo Airport sits 50 kilometers outside of the Oslo center and 405 km away from Trolltunga.

To make your trip even easier, we’ve got you covered with the full lowdown on all of Norway’s airports here.

Views form Trolltunga. Source: Tanya Tulupenko / Unsplash.

Been to Trolltunga yet? Share your experiences with the hike with us by writing to us! Or, share your top Trolltunga photos with the hashtag #norwaytodaytravel on Instagram for a chance to be featured!

Haven’t crossed Trolltunga off your list yet? Let us know what (or maybe who…) you’re most excited to see during the trek! 

Source: Norway Today

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