The St. Olavs Way is suitable for the experienced bicycle traveler. The route is hard in relative terms, but...
- because of the many accomodations, you have the option to do shorter distances.
- the summers are short, but it is a misconception that they are cool. Warm summers are no exceptions in Scandinavia. The weather does tend to change more quickly than in southern Europe.
- the Norwegian people are friendly end hospitable: as pilgrim you get a warm welcome.
- but the most important reason to go over this route is bacause of the wonderful incomparable landcapes Norway has to offer!
All practical information at a glance:
The guide contains:
- route segmentation per region
- maps with the bicycle route
- maps with alternative routes
- elevation profile per segment
- a global route description
- extra navigation texts for the hard parts
- information on how hard it is and roud surface quality
- description of alternative routes
- information in attractions and highlights
- Mentions of accommodations, shops and places to eat
- all the information to arrange your trip to your preferences
- extra: a bicycle route through Oslo (provided by Øyvind Wold of the Norwegian bicycle federation)
- Information about transportation
With the guide, you'll also receive a GPS-file of the main route and it's alternatives.
In the guide are descriptions of the reasons for the alternatives, so you can make an informd descision about the route you want to take. Wether it is the main route or an alternative. For this reason it's recommended to use the GPS tracks together with the guide.
We chose for a global description of the route. In principle the maps should suffice for most of the navigation. There where the route concides with the hiking route, it's even more easier: This route is well signposted.
Because in this day and age most people don't travel without a GPS or smartphone with a GPS track on it, detailed descriptions are no longer of any use.
The hard parts in terms of navigation or signage receive more attention in the description.
The guide is presently only available in Dutch, but will be translated to English in the future. When there is sufficient demand, the guide might be translated to Norwegian en German as well. If you interested, please contact us.
The St. Olav's Way is 632 kilometers. Keep in mind your daily distances might be shorter than you're used to, because the route is both challenging and wonderful. A good base condition is a must-have. Frequently you'll climb up out of a valley, and because of the varying quality of the road surface, you won't always be able to go down-hill care free. Even though the hills and mountains aren't very high, they are great in numbers and sometimes in steepness as well. So your stamina will be put to the test.
Having that said: you can make your days as short or as long as you like, because of the large number of places to stay for the night. Pilgrim accommodations are on hiking distance away from each other (30 km max.). You could even take the option to leave the tent as home. travels a bit lighter. If you bring your tent, your sleeping options are considerable, since options like campings or wild camping can be added added.
For a number of difficult parts of the route, there are alternatives provided. If you don't feel like taking the umpteenth climb, there's a good chance there is an alternative.
So don't let the level of difficulty put you off! By the way, you'll be rewarded royally for the effort: the sights are breathtaking and make you forget the effort you put in to the climb for this moment. And you have an excellent reason to take a break.
Taking a couple of resting days into account – Oslo and Trondheim well worth your time to look around – you'll need somewhere from ten days to two weeks.
From Oslo there are two routes, an eastern route and a western route. They meet at Lillehammer. The route will be 13 km longer if you choose for the western route.
Elevation profile of Oslo to Lillehammer over the eastern route:
Elevation profile of Oslo to Lillehammer over the western route:
Elevation profile of Lillehammer to Trondheim:
Before half june there can still be some snow lying around the higher areas and there are possible some flooding as well resulting from melting water. From half september most accommodations, museums and other toerist attractions close their doors.
Temperatures range from 15 to 25 degrees, with outshoots above or below.
Apart from the route guide, you won't need extra paper maps of Norway. The route in the guide is not described extensivly, but in principal the maps and the few descriptions should suffice. In addition the GPS track is an convenient way to find your way (back). You will recieve the file free of charge if you buy the guide.
On the parts that coincide with the hiking route, you can use the signposts of the hiking route. These parts are indicated in the guide. Overall the signage is excelent.
The map on the Norwegian website of St. Olav's way is also a convenient guide while traveling. If you enabled the location service on your smartphone you can see where you are and what accomodations and attractions there are in your area. Note that the site only shows the hiking route and not the bicycle route.
In comparison to the popular route Santiago de Compostela (Camino Francès), the route to Trondheim is very quiet. The numbers: 300.000 arrive every year in Santiago. In Trondheim that's 1500, of which 600 started in Oslo. The other 900 Pilgrims arrived via other routes or modes of transport - like a wandering traveler on a bicycle.
In general you'll see most pilgrims going by foot. Long distance cyclists are rare.
Every year in Trondheim around Olsok, the name day of St. Olav (July 29) there is a festival Olavsfestdagene, with many activities around art, music and church culture. Not only is this the largest festival of Norway, but also the period around which most Pilgrims plan their arrival in Trondheim. There are groups of pilgrims that travel with an organisation. This can make it hard for individual pilgrims to book accomodations.
With a pilgrims passport with which you can collect stamps on your route at accomodations and churches, you can get a (free) Olavsbrev (St. Olav letter) at the pilgrim center in Trondheim. A certificate for completing the pilgrimage. You're entitled to the Olavsbrev if you have cycled the last 100 kilometers at least. The pigrim passport with the dated stamp serve as proof. The passport is also as usefull at accomodation to get a discount as pilgrim. Missing a pilgrim passport is not as problematic as on the route to Santiago where you need it to get access to refugios. The passport is NOK 50 and you can get it at the pilgrim centers.
The available accomodations vary from very basic to luxurious. Even if you don't bring you tent, a sleeping bag is a necessity. A lot af accomodations provide a discount if you don't use the bed sheets and sometimes they don't provide sheets at all. The guide provide references to accomodations that work together with St. Olav's way. You can find accomodations through services like airbnb, booking.com and Warm Showers.
camping out or sleeping in
Traveling with a tent has it's 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 campings available. If you travel by bicycle with a tent, you're in control of the length of your trip that day and your wallet. If you rather stay in a hotel or hostel, you travel lighter, although you'll still need to bring a sleeping bag along. Most accomodations provide diner, breakfast and a lunch, but you're no always in control of your diet (like diner is as-is). This is inconvenient for vegitarians for example.
Because of the relative high prices in Norway, the use of the possebility of diner in the accomodation makes for a relative expensive pilgrimage. If you want to travel without tent, but controll your expenses, you could use huts (on campings) and cheap hostels as much as possible, and cook for yourself if there's a kitchen available. Because the accomodations are on hiking distances, you have – even without a tent – plenty of choice as a cyclist. In the accomodation overview of the guide you can see what amenities are available there. (See Cycling on a small budget)
The whole route together with the St. Olav way in Sweden and On the way to St. Olav is one big route of almost 2000 kilometers long, called In the footsteps of the Holy Olav. If you cycle the complete route, the start and finish is in Oslo. Somewhere in the year 2022 this route should be completed.
As a route on it's own, you can combine it with:
To (or from) Oslo
- The Jutland Route (Dutch). This route goes from Emmen (NL) to Skagen (DK). In Frederikshaven (DK) you can take the ferry to Oslo.
- The North Sea Cycle Route. This route goes along the whole of the North Sea. From Göteborg on the Swedish westcoast, you can cycle to Oslo.
From (or to) Trondheim
- Langs de kust naar de Noordkaap (Dutch). This route goes from Bergen on the west coast of Norway to the North Cape. The St. Olav's way connects to this route in Trondheim.
- For the adventurous: With the Hurtigruten from Trondheim. A ferry service that sails every day along the coast of Norway between Bergen and Kirkenes and back, which touches on various other smaller ports along the coast. To the south: sailing at 9:45 in the morning. The ferry arrives the next day at 14.30 in the city Bergen. From Bergen you have the choice to continue along the coast (Noordzeeroute), or go in-land (Example: de Rallarvegen) To the North: sailing at 13:15. Two suggestions:
1. at 19:00 the ferry arrives in Stamsund. You can cycle over the lofotes along the coast.
2. the ferry arrives at 9:00 the next day in Kirkenes, the final destination of the ferry. From Kirkenes you can cycle southe through Finland (for axample: IJzeren Gordijn Fietsroute (Dutch)).
You can find more information on the ferry at the website of Hurtigruten.
Option 1. To Kiel in Germany by train and continue by the ferry of Colorline to Oslo
Option 2. To Frederikshavn in Denmark by train and then by the ferry of DSDF to Oslo
Option 3. To Copenhagen in Denmark by train and continue by the ferry from DSDF to Oslo
For the quickest connections by train: visit the website of the Deutsche Bahn.
By freight ship:
from Gent in Belgium a freight ship (Volvoboat) from DFDS sails to Brevik (155 km south of Oslo). Their modern freight ships are equiped to accomodate passengers for a reasonable price. Included in the fare: sleeping quarters for one or two persons with shower, toilet, a view over the sea, bed sheets and towels, al meals and non-acloholic beverages. The trip from Gent to Brevik lasts 31 hours and the trip back is 46 hours. The number of cabins are limited, so an early reservation is highly recommended. For more information, check the site DFDS (in Dutch)
There are direct connections from Amsterdam and Brusseles from/to Oslo Gardermoen and Trondheim.
In Norway it's possible to bring your bicycle along in the train or bus. The guide provides helpfull information on how to do it.
As far as safety is concerned, the St. Olav's way is suitable to travel alone by bicycle.
For women traveling alone additional precoutions other than what's normal for you, is not necessary. What's more, Norway is a relative safe country for women traveling alone.
Cycling with children
The St. Olav's way is a hard and challenging route and therefore not suitable for young children.
- Sleeping: combine wild camping, pilgrim accomodations (cheaper than regular hostels) and sleeping at warmshower addresses (have a look at Sleeping and eating)
- food: cook your own food. A lot of supermarkets have treir own budgetbrands. You can find a lot of fruit in the wild and you can even consider catching your own fish. What is left that is still very expensive, is fresh vegetables.