Despite the fact you're cycling along a touristic coast and through the most densely populated area of Norway, nature is never far away. Nowhere else will you find so much free cycleways as in between Kristiansand and Oslo. On this route you'll find many traces of the past and an abundance of art an culture. When cycling under your own power, this route is best suited for experienced cyclists. The numerous small climbs will put your stamina to the test frequently. With an e-bike it is much easier. But regardless of the way you cycle, all your work will be rewarded since also the south coast of Norway has a wonderful landscape!
All practical information in a row:
The guide of the Kristians route can be ordered in the webshop of Via Gaia and can be delivered starting in May.
The GPS track can be downloaded through the QR-code printed in the guide.
The Kristians route is 376 kilometres long if you cycle along the east coast of Oslofjord, and 427 kilometres if you choose the west coast of Oslofjord. The route can be called challenging. You don't get very high, but the number of small climbs are numerous to say the least. Your stamina will frequently be put to the test. With a good basic condition, the route is doable just fine. You can make the route as short or as long as you like, because there are plenty of places to stay for the night. Along the route until Horten, you'll find many camp sites, DNT-Huts, hotels, B&B's and (youth) hostels. From Horten on, the choices for accommodations are somewhat more limited.
Depending on your level of experience, you'll need around one week for the Kristians route.
A disclaimer for the elevation profiles: whichever app you use, to show the gps, you'll get just as many differences in elevations. Depending on the measure of suppression of bad data, in the elevation, the difference can get up to 10%.
The source I jused for the elevations here is judise.nl, a gps-route editor who's elevation numbers in Scandinavia are comparable to the popular Strava (for The Netherlands, Belgium and Nord-Rhein Westfalen the numbers of Judise are even more precise).
Elevation profile of the first segment, Ader:
Elevation profile of the second segment, Telemark:
Elevation profile of the third segment, Vestfold:
Elevation profile of the fourth segment, Oslofjord-Oost:
Elevation profile of the fifth segment, Oslofjord-West:
And now for a personal note: from experience I know that numbers are not very relevant. In context, over a distance of 600 km a couple of hundred elevation meters are not that useful. What matters most are the percentages in elevation. A kilometre climbing with 3% is different from a kilometre climbing with 18%. Even more relevant is the fact that one day can be better that the next depending on the mood. health, weather... In short, there are many factors that can make the experience of a trip difficult or easy. No number can account for that.
Keep in mind that during this time some accommodations and sights are only open from half June / end June open start to close again around the beginning of September / half September. Some even at the end of August. Check the concerning website for more information.
The road quality of the cycling route is reasonable to good. Larger roads tend to have a better road surface. You'll cycle over both asphalt as grusveier (gravel roads). You also cycle over separate cycle roads frequently. Nowhere else in Norway will you find so many separated cycle ways as in between Kristiansand and Oslo. The choice isn't always the separated cycle way for the Kristians route. Often the cycle ways are situated along busy roads, and for that reason a more quiet road was chosen, even though cars can pass by there, it is a lot quieter and more beautiful.
Apart from this guide, you won't need a separate paper map of Norway. If you plan to deviate from the route, the maps from Kummerly & Frey are very usable. These can be ordered at the webshop of the Fietsvakantiewinkel among others. Also, the GPS-tracks are a helpful way to guide you.
For the two pilgrim routes (Tunsbergleden and Borgleden) that are partly used for the Kristians route, you can use the signs of that route (see photo).
From Horten there is a third branch for who is interested in taking the route On the way to St. Olav and want to avoid Oslo: Track 6 Østfold.
This branch is not in the guide. This route is suitable for people who make long distances per day, because finding a place to sleep is a challenge, even if you camp in the wild. Because not many people might use this option, I decided to keep it our of the guide and publish it on the Via Gaia website only.
A description is here: Traject Østfold (for now, only in Dutch).
Along the Oslofjord are two pilgrim routes:
- Tunsbergleden, between Horten and Oslo over the west side of the fjord.
- Borgleden, between Moss and Oslo over the east side of the fjord.
The Kristians route follows large parts of Borgleden and for a smaller part Tunsbergleden. On these routes, you can collect stamps on your pilgrim's passport at churches and accommodations. If you continue the route over The Olav's way (Het Olavspad), you can collect an Olavsbrev (Olavsletter) at the Pilgrim centre of Trondheim. A certificate for completing the route. The passport is also convenient when pilgrims can receive a discount at (pilgrim) accommodations when shown. If you don't plan to go all the way (or in one go) to Trondheim, then this could be enough reason for passport to make sense. The passport can be ordered through the webshop of Via Gaia.
camping out or sleeping inTravelling with a tent has its advantages, especially in Norway. Wild camping is allowed almost anywhere, provided you keep a distance of 150 meters from gates and houses. On farmland you ask permission from the farmer first. Along the route there are enough camp sites available. If you travel by bicycle with a tent, you're in control of the length of your trip that day and your wallet.
To (or from) Kristiansand
1. National cycle route 1 (Kystruta). This cycle route follows the whole coast of Norway. The segment from Horten en Bergen is also called the North Sea Cycle Route.
2. National cycle route 3 (Fjord og fjell). This cycle route goes from from Kristiansand through the Setes valley and Hardanger to Kristiansund.
Half way the route
3. To (or from) Brevik: National cycle route 2 (Kanalruta). From Dalen you cycle along the Telemarks channel to Porsgrunn. From Porsgrunn it is a couple of kilometers to Brevik.
4. To (or from) Larvik: National cycle route 5 (Numedalsruta). This route goes from Smådøldalen to Larvik.
To (or from) Oslo
5. The St. Olav's way. A pilgrims cycle route from Oslo to Trondheim. The Kristians route connects at the ruin of the Hallvard cathedral in Oslo with the The St. Olav's way.
6. Under way to St. Olav. A cycle route from Oslo to the Swedish Selånger where it connects to the route St. Olavsleden. The Kristians route connects at the ruinof the Hallvard cathedral in Oslo to the route Under way to St. Olav.
7. The Jutland route. This route goes from Emmen (NL) to Frederikshavn (DK). In Frederikshavn you take the ferry to Oslo and cycle the Kristians route in southern direction to Kristiansand. Or you branch off to Hirtshals in the north of Denmark where you take the ferry to Kristiansand or Larvik.
The Kristians route arigionally meant for people who arrive with the ferry in Kristiansand and want to cycle to Oslo to start with the The St. Olavs way, or Underway to St. Olav, or any other random cycle route from Oslo. And for those cycling south from Oslo to take the ferry back.
The following ferrie services connect to the Kristians route:
- Emden (D) - Kristiansand with the Holland Norway Lines
- Hirtshals (DK) - Kristiansand with Fjordline or Colorline
- Hirtshals - Larvik with Colorline
- Strömstad (S) - Sandefjord with Fjordline or Colorline
- Kiel (D) - Oslo with Colorline
- Kopenhagen (DK) - Oslo with DFDS
- Frederikshavn (DK) - Oslo with DFDS
Tips on booking the ferry trips
The following goes for any ferry service: if you book via a Norwegian or Swedish site, you end up paying noticeably less than on a Dutch or English site. If you can't read Norwegian, then open the same site in English in a different window and walk through the ordering process until payment, then you pay on the Norwegian or Swedish site by credit card.
For booking in high season, booking in advance is by any means advisable. Outside the high season, you could take a chance, but then only the expensive huts may be available.
In Norway, the bicycle can come along in the train and bus. But if you want to be sure of a place for your bicycle, making a reservation is recommended.
Through the app Entur or the website of Vy, it is relative easy to buy a ticket. In Oslo you can also buy tickets at the counter. The train station of Kristiansand and all stations in between, are unmanned. Ticket vending machines are available.
Sometimes you may need to make a reservation for the bus. Check the site of the concerning bus operator. If there is room, the bicycle can come along. The driver determines if the bicycle can come along or not, even if you have a reservation. Sounds like it is unclear, and frankly it is. In short: just try it. You already have a 'no', but you might get a 'yes'.
Photo's: with the train from Skoppum (near Horten) to Kristiansand
Looking at safty, the Kristians route is suitable to travel alone just fine. The route may go through nature a lot, 'civilization' in the form of roads, traffic, houses and farms is never far away.
There is very little crime, but a locking you bicycle is still recommended. For women travalling alone, no special measures are needed other than elsewhere in normal life, using western Europe as reference. Even better, for women, Norway is a relative safe country.
The Kristians route challenging route and for this reason less suitable for children to cycle under their own power. For older children, the more busy roads might be more risky, but any parent has a good idea on what their child can handle.
Tips for cycling with children in a bike trailer in some shape or form: At least one parent need to be a strong climber and use a bike trailer with suspension. Prerequisite for children cycling on their own: some experience in climbing and the ability to endure it for longer times.
Cycling in Norway with children is very intensive. If you have now issues with that and are prepared, you'll get a family experience to never forget.
Note: the author of the guide has no experience with cycling with children. If you have done this, please let us know how it was via, the Facebookgroup or the contact form, so other cyclists can be helped with your input, which is much appreciated!
Also in Norway, the e-bike is coming up more and more. The Kristians route can be cycled with an electrical bicycle, for sure.
You do need to take the following into account:
- The 'el-sykkel' is designated as a motorized vehicle. So rules for motorized vehicles also apply to electric bicycles.
- Concerning charging: As long as you won't go out camping in the wild, you won't run into any issues. It might be a good idea to plan ahead as far as sleeping is concerned. In the back of the guide, at 'Accommodaties', you'll find an overview of accommodations and their facilities. In most cases, electricity is available, but not always. And if it is a pilgrim accommodation, it is recommended to call ahead to ask if it is possible or allowed.
- Underway, there are no charging stations*. On the other hand, you'll see every day at least one town or village with a café where you can ask permission to charge your bicycle while taking a break. Maybe even at a gas station, which are good for anything like: toilet, coffee/tea, emergency rations... and almost always have a bench outside to sit on.
In short: some preperations are in order. And maybe puperflous: always ask! They'll almost always say yes, unless it is not possible, but plugging into a socket somewhere without concent is not done.
* Personal note from the author: I never saw any charging stations for bicycles, but have to admit that I havent looked for any, since I have no electricle bicycle.
Call for help: Have you cycled the Kristians route on an electricle bicycle? Or do you plan to? Could you let me know what your experience was like? And if you encounter them, the locations of the charging stations are welcome (if possible in GPS format). These experiences and locations af chargingstations will then be published on this site. Other cyclists are very much helped by this!