Comprehensive Guide To Aurlandsdalen Day Hike In Norway

Aurlandsdalen has been called Norway’s Grand Canyon. While the comparison might be too far-fetched, it is undoubtedly a beautiful corner of Norway.

Aurlandsdalen Traverse is a very popular multiday hike in Norway. Still, its most scenic part between the high alpine mountain station Østerbo and the little valley settlement Vassbygdi can be walked in just one day.

10 Things To Know About The Aurlandsdalen Hike

I came across the Aurlandsdalen hike when I was searching for a hike I could do with my parents when they visited me on my road trip through Norway.

Since it’s a walk through the valley, I naively thought it must be easy. On the contrary, the hike through Aurlandsdalen can be demanding at times, and I am glad my parents, my mum in particular, managed to complete it.

If you are considering hiking in Aurlandsdalen, the information below will help you plan your trip.

1. Aurlandsdalen day hike: the stats

Aurlandsdalen Day Hike 19
  • Total distance: 18 km / 11.2 mi
  • Time required: 5-7 hours 
  • Total Ascent: 424 m / 1390 ft
  • Total Descent: 1100 m / 3613 ft
  • Type of hike: One-way relocation
  • When to go: mid-June – mid-October
  • Parking: 60.87449, 7.33662

2. Where is the Aurlandsdalen hike?

Aurlandsdalen Day Hike 1

Aurlandsdalen is a deep valley that stretches about 40 kilometres and is located in the Vestland County of Norway.

The nearest towns are Aurland and Flåm. Both are 10 minutes apart and were built on the shore of Aurlandsfjord, which branches off of the main Sognefjord.

Flåm, in particular, is a very popular tourist town in Norway. It has famous attractions such as the Flåmsbana scenic train route to Myrdal and a cruise along Aurland and Næroyfjords.

TIP: This hike features on my 10-day hiking road trip starting and ending in Bergen

3. The map of the Aurlandsdalen hike

Above, you can see the path I followed from Østerbo, where the hike begins, to Vassbygdi, where it ends. I measured the distance, elevation gain, and route with my Garmin Fenix watch, which I wore on the day.

4. How difficult is the hike across Aurlandsdalen?

This is a very easy trail to navigate. Waymarks are plentiful, and there is a sign every kilometre telling you how much distance you have left. This is also a very popular hike, so the trail is boot-beaten, albeit sometimes muddy and slippery.

If you choose to hike from Østerbo to Vassbygdi, the way I would recommend you are looking at around 400 meters (1400 feet) of elevation gain and 1100 meters (3600 feet) of elevation loss.

If your knees don’t like sharp descents, you might be on the last 5 kilometres of the trail when you have to take big steps down rock slabs.

Since my parents and I hiked through Aurlandsdalen at the end of June, we were met with high water levels in the rivers and waterfalls flowing through the valley. Twice, we had to cross a raging river holding onto a chain installed for assistance.

We didn’t even dare take our shoes off. The water was up to our knees, and we had to accept that our boots and feet would be wet for the rest of the hike.

5. The best time of year to hike Aurlandsdalen

Aurlandsdalen Day Hike 8

Similarly to other day hikes in the Norwegian Fjords, the hike across Aurlandsdalen is accessible from mid-June until mid-October.

However, because of the high water levels in June and some river crossings involved, I recommend waiting until late July, August, or September to tackle it.

While hiking, I also wondered how amazing this hike would be during autumn, when all the bushes and trees turn orange and yellow.

6. In what direction is best to hike Aurlandsdalen

Since Aurlandsdalen is a relocation hike, which means you start and end it in different locations, you have to decide in which direction to hike it.

I chose to hike it from Østerbo and end it in Vassbygdi, and most other hikers follow the same direction.

This makes it slightly easier as you will have less elevation gain. Going from Vassbygdi to Østerbo may be a better option if you prefer hiking up instead of down.

7. How to get to the Aurlandsdalen trailhead

Aurlandsdalen Day Hike 2 1

Østerbo Fjellstove is half an hour’s drive from Aurland and 40 minutes from Flåm. Daily buses operate along this route during the summer hiking season. You can also drive your car.

Getting to the trailhead by car

If you choose to drive your car, you won’t be pressed for time to finish the hike at a certain hour. The best way is to park it at the parking lot near the bus stop in Vassbygdi at the end of the Aurlandsdalen trail, take the shuttle bus to Østerbo, and then hike back to the car.

If the parking lot is full, another one is just 1.5 kilometres down the road.

Getting to the trailhead by bus

You can also take the bus directly from Flåm or Aurland to Østerbo, then hike to Vassbygdi and take the bus back. This is the most environmentally friendly option.

The buses operate daily during the high season (July – August). You can take the bus only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in June, September, and October. Below are the 2024 bus schedule and rates. You can book the bus tickets here.

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8. Facilities along the Aurlandsdalen trail

Aurlandsdalen Day Hike 24

There are toilets at the Østerbo mountain station at the start of the trail and (very stinky) outhouses every few kilometres directly on the trail.

Around two-thirds of the way, you will come across Sinjarheim. It’s an old farm which has been out of use for over 100 years but has been repurposed as a mountain refuge and restaurant for hikers.

I did not stop there but saw many other hikers sitting outside and enjoying fresh drinks. I recommend bringing cash just in case card payments aren’t possible.

Once you get to Vassbygdi, a bus station/parking lot shop sells snacks and ice cream. There are toilets at the back of the shop.

9. Aurlandsdalen trail description

You start the hike near the mountain station in Østerbo. There are plenty of signs pointing in Vassbygdi’s direction. You won’t be able to miss it.

The first half of the trail undulates gently with a few short uphill bursts. You will be close to water, either along the lake shore or the river that flows through the Aurland Valley.

The lush green valley feels prehistoric. I was half expecting a dinosaur to jump out of the bush and cross my path. Instead, we were often followed by swarms of mosquitos. Stopping for more than a minute was challenging. Make sure to bring mosquito repellent!

Every kilometre has a sign telling you how many kilometres you have left, but I sometimes found them inaccurate, especially when comparing them with the data from my watch.

Once you reach an old farm called Sinjarhaim, the descent begins. Beware of the very curious goats near the farm. They did not want to budge even though I had my shepherd dog with me.

The descent is unpleasant, and I found it the most difficult part of the hike through Aurlansdalen. The spray from the nearby waterfalls coming down the mountains makes the path very slippery. I did slip a few times, so take extra care.

Once you reach the car park and a bus stop, treat yourself to an ice cream from the local shop.

10. What to bring and wear on the Aurlandsdalen day hike

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Black Diamond Trekking Poles

I never leave on a trail without a pair of my trusted Black Diamond Carbon Z Poles. At 300 grams a pair, they are hard to compete with.

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hanwag womens alverstone ii gtx walking boots detail 7

Hanwag Hiking Boots

My longest-lasting pair of hiking boots (and I went through quite a few) is the Hanwag Alverstone. They were perfect for muddy Norwegian trails.

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HydraPak Hydration Bladder

There is no better way to stay hydrated on the trails than to have constant and direct access to your water without taking your backpack off. Thanks to its slim design, the hose coming out of the side of the bladder, and a magnet clip that makes the hose attachment easy, I find the HydraPak the best water bladder on the market.

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Merino Wool Socks

I always carry two pairs of socks in my day pack and always have them on me during multiday backpacking trails. Merino wool fibres and their unique properties are resistant to odours.

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patagonia womens granite crest jacket waterproof jacket

Hardshell Rain Jacket

You would be mad not to bring a rain jacket on a hiking holiday trip to Norway. Patagonia’s sustainability efforts make it my go-to outdoor clothing brand.

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Osprey Hikelite 18 Liter Backpack

Osprey backpacks have accompanied me since the humble beginnings of this website. I think they offer the perfect fit without sacrificing their usability.

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Where to stay nearby 

Regarding accommodation, Flåm or Aurland are the best choices to stay for a few days and explore the area.

If you are travelling in a campervan, I can recommend Lunde Camping near Aurland. It’s located in a beautiful valley near a river.

Other hikes, places, and activities to experience nearby

Prest Day Hike Norway 13

The area around Aurlandfjord is a popular Norwegian outdoor destination. Below, I recommend a few more top activities in the area.

Hike to Prest

Another great and classic hike in the area. The Røyrgrind viewpoint on Mount Prest offers fantastic views over Aurlandsfjord and Røyrgrind. The famous viewpoint along the hike can be reached within 90 minutes of leaving the trailhead.

Hike to Bakkanosi

Arguably, it is the best viewpoint of Næroyfjord and the best sunrise spot I had in all of Norway. This moderate hike takes you to the summit of Bakkanosi, where you can enjoy expansive views of Norway’s narrowest Fjord.

Stegastein Viewpoint

The famous Stegastein viewpoint platform was built 650 vertical meters above the Aurlandfjord. You can take a bus from Flåm or Aurland or drive up there. It’s on the way to the trailhead of the previously mentioned Prest.

Flåmsbana – Flåm’s scenic train

The Flåm Railway is considered one of the most beautiful train journeys in the World. This leading Norwegian tourist attraction features the finest aspects of Norway’s stunning scenery. The train runs from Flåm station, built at the end of Aurlandsfjord, up to the high mountains at Myrdal station.

Flåm Fjord cruise

Travel from Flåm to Gudvangen on the emission-free cruise ship. The Future of the Fjords ship is fully electric and battery-powered, which means it is very quiet, so you can enjoy the sounds of nature on the cruise.

Kayaking on the Fjord

Flåm is one of the best places in Norway to join a paddling trip. The 3-hour kayaking trip will let you enjoy Aurlandfjord from the water. If you love water activities, this one should be on your list.

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Marta
Marta

Hi! I am the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.com. I come from Poland, but I've been living, travelling and working around the globe since I turned 18. A few years ago, during one of my trips to Scotland, I bought my first DSLR and my adventure with photography began. When I am not stuck to my computer editing photos, you can find me hiking somewhere in the mountains.

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