The hike over the Besseggen ridgeline is one of the most popular mountain hikes in Norway and its popularity is surely justified. Thanks to the beautiful views which accompany hikers along the trail, Besseggen is considered the most spectacular hike in Jotunheimen National Park.
12 Things To Know Before Hiking The Besseggen Ridgeline
After very cold and rainy 6 weeks in the Lofoten Islands, I decided enough is enough. Even though my plan was to spend the whole summer season up North, from one day to the next I booked a ferry back to the mainland and then drove for 2 days straight to get back South.
Craving for sunshine I was excited to see a perfect blue-bird day in the forecast. Without a moment of hesitation, I booked the boat to get to the trailhead of Besseggen and spent the whole next day hiking and soaking up the sun.
If you would like to hike the Besseggen ridgeline then in this article you will learn everything there is to know about this famous trail.
1. Besseggen day hike: the stats
- Total distance: 15.4 km / 9.6 mi
- Time required: 6-8 hours
- Total Ascent: 1134 m / 3720 ft
- Type of hike: One-way relocation
- When to go: Mid-June – Mid-October
- Parking: Gjendesheim
- Parking fee: 150 NOK
- Boat transfer fee: 220 NOK
2. About Besseggen Ridgeline
The ridgeline is located in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park. Jotunheimen is known as the “Home of the Giants”. 29 of Norway’s highest peaks are located in the park including the highest one – Galdhøpiggen.
Since Besseggen is a relocation hike, it requires a boat transfer across the Gjende Lake at either the start or the end of the trail.
Besseggen sees a high volume of human traffic every day, with a few hundred people tackling the trail during good weather days, like the one I had. An estimated 30.000 people walk this trail every year. For more facts about Besseggen visit its Wikipedia page.
3. The map of the Besseggen hike
Above you can see the path I followed from the Memurubu hut, where the trail begins, to Gjendesheim cabin, where it ends.
The trail can be walked in either direction, but most people, including me, choose to hike it from West to East. This means you take the ferry before you start, then follow the trail back to the bus stop.
4. How difficult is the hike along Besseggen?
For the most part, the trail is totally manageable even for people who may not have too much hiking experience. However, before you get too excited, do bear in mind, that there is one difficult section along the trail, where scrambling is involved.
If you have good balancing skills and head for heights you shouldn’t have a problem tackling this section. If not then you have plenty of other fantastic trails in Norway to choose from.
You should also be in good shape as this is a full-day hike that involves over 1000 meters of elevation gain. Remember that any trail can turn from easy to difficult in bad weather conditions. Always come prepared and know your limits.
Navigation is easy along this trail. Plenty of trail markings and signs have been placed along the whole route.
5. The timeframe for hiking Besseggen Ridgeline in summer 2023
The timeframe for hiking Besseggen corresponds with the time when ferries, who carry passengers to the trailhead, operate on Lake Gjende.
During the summer season of 2023, the first departure takes place on Saturday the 10th of June and the last departure is on Saturday the 7th of October.
6. How to get to the Besseggen trailhead
The trail can be walked in both directions: East to West or West to East, however, most of the hikers choose the latter.
The advantage of hiking the trail from West to East, that is from Memurubu hut to Gjendesheim cabin, is that you get the transfer boat before you start the trail and as a result are not pressed for time to finish it.
Where to book the transfer ferry tickets?
You can book your transfer here. Tickets cost 220 NOK for adults and 110 NOK for a child under 15 years of age. Children 5 years and younger travel for free. I was able to take my dog with me but had to stand outside on the deck for the entire journey.
During the summer season, there are up to 7 departures every day, but you should still pre-book your journey. This is a very popular route.
I hiked this trail in the summer of 2021 when the tourism numbers were still slowly recovering after the pandemic. I was able to book a spot on the boat just the day before, however, I wouldn’t count on it in 2023.
Bus transfer between the parking lot and ferry terminal near Gjendesheim cabin
Even though Gjendesheim Cabin, where the ferry terminal is can be reached by car, only guests with a reservation for an overnight stay can do it. Otherwise, you have to park at a parking lot, which is located circa 2 kilometers from the ferry terminal, and take the bus.
The bus fare is included in the parking ticket price which costs 150 NOK for the entire day. Buses run at regular intervals throughout the day and no reservation is required. The bus ride takes only 5 minutes. Make sure to plan enough time to get to the boat.
7. The highlights of the Besseggen hike
The absolute highlight of the Besseggen trail is the unique view around halfway into the hike. It consists of two lakes in a beautiful mountain setting: the Gjende Lake with a distinct turquoise color on the left side of the ridge and the blue lake Bessvatnet on the right side.
The interesting fact about them is that Lake Bessvatnet lies 400 vertical meters above Lake Gjende.
Lake Gjende takes its color from glacier runoff containing clay and rock flour. The little particles reflect in the sun giving it a beautiful Emerald hue.
8. Facilities along the Besseggen trail
There are toilets at the bus stop near the parking lot, at the Gjendesheim cabin, and at the Memurubu cabin.
There are no toilets anywhere along the trail and I have seen a lot of toilet paper flying around everywhere. Please always bring out what you brought including any tissues and toilet paper.
There is a little shop at the Gjendesheim cabin, where you can buy some last-minute snacks, or a restaurant, where you can eat after completing the trail. They also sell ice cream!
There is no possibility to fill up water anywhere along the trail unless you carry a water purifier system with you, which can filter water from the lake.
9. Besseggen Ridge: short trail description
When you get to Memurubu hut the first 10 minutes of the trail have a gentle incline. Then you start climbing up to the ridgeline along a path made out of big stones.
The trail feels crowded at first because everyone who gets off the boat starts at the same time. I decided to slow the pace a bit and let everyone else pass.
Once you reach the ridgeline then the trail is a mix of flat bits, uphill burst, and some downhills too.
The most difficult part of the Besseggen hike comes after you pass Lake Bessvatnet. It’s a sharp ascent along big rock slabs. Scrambling with the help of hands is required. Once at the top, you made it halfway.
The path then continues along a wide and rugged plateau before you start the descent back to Gjendeheim cabin. Keep your eyes out for some reindeer. I saw a few on the descent.
10. What to bring and wear on the Besseggen hike
11. Where to stay near Besseggen ridge trail
If you are traveling in a campervan, there is a lovely campsite just on the other side of the parking lot called Besseggen Fjellpark Maurvangen. You can also rent a cottage there.
A little further on road no. 51 you have the Bessheim Fjellstue Cabins directly on the Sjodalsvatnet Lake. The Besseggen trailhead is only a 7-minute drive away and the cabins are a great place for further exploration of the Jotunheimen National Park.
12. How to incorporate Besseggen hike into your Norway itinerary
I included this hike in my 10-day road trip itinerary around Norway which starts and ends in Bergen. The road trip is aimed at active travelers who would like to tick off a few spectacular day hikes in Norway.
Some of the highlights of this road trip include Næroyfjord World Heritage Park, Jotunheimen National Park, Geiranger Fjord, and the West side of the Jostedalsbreen National Park.
Other hikes and activities to experience nearby
Valdresflye Scenic road
Valdresflye scenic road is a high alpine plateau road that is considered the gateway to the Jotunheimen National Park. The road belongs on the official list of 18 national scenic roads of Norway. Make sure to stop at the beautiful Flye 1389 café, which is situated at the highest point of the road.
Galdhøpiggen Summit Hike
Jotunheimen National Park is famously known as home to Norway’s highest peak – Galdhøpiggen. You can hike to its summit with the help of a guide. The path involves crossing the Stygebreen Glacier.
Support my website!
Hi Reader! If you found any of my articles about Norway useful please consider using the affiliate links in the article or below (at no extra cost to you) when booking your holiday. You can also “buy me a coffee” using the widget in the sidebar. Thank you
- Reserve your hotel with Booking.com
- Book your rental car with Discover Cars
- Find your perfect campervan with Motorhome Republic
- Book your ferry to Norway with Direct Ferries
- Book your tours with Get Your Guide
- Buy your outdoor gear with Backcountry.com (US readers) or Bergfreunde.eu (European readers)