Questions about the Gudbrandsdalsleden in Norway
Also take a look at Practical, which may already have some answers to your questions.
Can I cycle Gudbrandsdalsleden in early spring or in the autumn?
There may still be snow until May, especially in the higher areas. From October, it may start snowing again. Apart from the snow, there are a few 'showstoppers':
- The extra route in the guidebook, Tour de Dovre, does not open until mid-June and is closed when the first snow falls.
- Dovrefjell is accessible, but not recommended in bad weather. If there is snow, you won't see the trail.
- As for accommodation:
- Camping: many campsites do not open until June
- Pilgrim accommodation: there are many pilgrims accommodations, but a lot of them do not open until June. Some accommodations, especially the more expensive and luxurious ones, are open all year round
But, IF you go in early spring or late September, take note of the following:
- Plan ahead using the accommodation list at the back of the guidebook. All campsites, hotels, etc. not connected to the Gubrandsdalsleden are not listed in the guide, with a few exceptions. You should check those yourself.
- Still go by luck and take for granted that sometimes it's hard to find a place, and you therefore have to wild camp occasionally. If that's what you want.
If you choose to cycle outside the recommended months (June-September), I'd be interested to hear your findings. Would you let me know via the contact form? [link] Perhaps I can then supplement the above information with your input.
Can I park the car somewhere for a few weeks in Oslo?
Parking in Oslo is quite a challenge. You could ask one of the pilgrim accommodations, campsites, hotels or WarmShower hosts if you can park the car there for a few weeks. Hotels in the city centre often have very limited parking space or none at all, you don't really stand a chance there. Try especially far outside the city centre or even outside Oslo. The pilgrim centre in Oslo has no space in any case.
If you are willing to take a detour, there are two addresses in Elverum (30 km east of Hamar) where you can park your car. You can easily take the direct train (or possibly bus) from Elverum to Oslo and start there. Or, if you're not too puritanical, cycle straight to Hamar (download GPX) and skip Oslo-Hamar. Elverum is also easy to reach from Trondheim by (direct) train.
1. Connie Wulp Lerdal. Send an email or call +47 98 83 97 50. Connie has also offered itself as pilgrim accommodation. Please see Additions for address details and more information.
2. Marline Curlew Lerdal. Send an email for the address.
- pilgrims (on presentation of your pilgrim passport)
- members of the Dutch "Vrienden op de Fiets"
- from Elverum to Oslo, option 1: line R60 to Oslo central, once a day. Travel time 1h 52 min. No transfer.
- from Elverum to Oslo, option 2: line R60 to Hamar, once a day. From Hamar there is a train to Oslo every hour. Travel time 2h 10 min. One change in Hamar.
- from Trondheim to Elverum: line R60 to Hamar, twice a day from Trondheim. Travel time: approximately 5 h 45 min. No transfer required.
There are two Express buses from Elverum to Oslo and back:
- the VY Ekspressbus goes to Oslo 5 to 6 times a day
- Trysilekspressen runs 3 to 4 times a day, which goes via Oslo Airport to Oslo
Furthermore, buses go from Elverum to Hamar every half hour and from Hamar the train goes to Oslo every hour.
Visit Entur.no for more information and tickets. Read more about bicycles on trains and buses under the next heading.
Do I need to make reservations to take the bike on the train or bus?
On the train(s) between Oslo and Trondheim, you do not need to make reservations. Keep in mind that there are limited spaces for bikes, and you might have to wait for the next train.
Tip if you travel on regional trains, buy a flexible ticket for yourself on Entur or VY's website and buy the bike ticket on the train.
Entur's website and app are both relatively easy to buy a ticket. In Oslo and Trondheim, you can also buy tickets at the counter. All other stations in between are unstaffed. There are ticket machines there.
On the bus, you sometimes need to make reservations. Check with the relevant bus company. If there is space, the bike can come along. The driver decides whether the bike can come or not, even if you have a reservation. That sounds confusing, and actually it is. In short: try it, 'no' you have already, 'yes' you can get.
Do I necessarily need a pilgrim's passport?
No, not necessarily, but the passport is useful to present at accommodation that offers a discount for pilgrims. Also, the passport sometimes gets you free or cheaper entry at places of interest.
The pilgrim passport in which you collect stamps at accommodations and churches allows you to get a (free) Olavsbrev (Olav letter) at the pilgrim centre in Trondheim, a diploma for finishing the journey. You are entitled to the Olavsbrev if you have cycled at least the last 200 km of the route The pilgrim passport with the dated stamps can be used as proof of your trip. The passport can also be used at accommodations, in museums, churches, and on the Skibladner where discounts for pilgrims are offered. The pass costs can be ordered through the Via Gaia webshop and can be bought at all pilgrim centres and some accommodations along the route.
Is the route signposted?
The cycle route follows the (official) hiking trail 50 percent of the time. In those stages where the hiking trail and the cycle route run parallel, you can use the signage of the official Gudbrandsdalsleden. In the guide these stages are highlighted on the maps. The hiking trail is marked with a logo: a combination of the icons for cultural sights and the St. Olav’s Cross. The logo can be found on wooden poles, plastic shields, enamel shields, and stones. Generally, the marking is excellent.
Note: do not blindly follow the route signs, but regularly check the maps in the guidebook, and/or the GPS track, to avoid unexpectedly cycling the wrong way.
Wat voor soort accommodatie is een ‘pelgrimsherberg’?
Pilgrim hostels are especially designed for pilgrims to Trondheim. They are easy to recognize by an enamel plate with the logo of the Gudbrandsdalsleden. Pilgrim hostels vary greatly, but the common denominator is their focus on passing pilgrims, and they generally charge reasonable prices. You will find unstaffed cabins (no host or hostess present) where you have to prepare your own food and share the bedrooms with other people. Sometimes there is no shower or running water, and the toilet is no more than a modern day version of the old-fashioned outdoor toilet. You will also find accommodations in parish halls (menighetshus) where pilgrims can use simple (camp) beds and cooking and bathroom facilities at very reasonable prices. Three of the six pilgrim centres along the route offer accommodation as well: Hamar, Dale-Gudbrand, and Trondheim. There are hostels (vandrerhjem), which are a bit more comfortable and where you can often choose between cheap dorms or private, more expensive rooms. Then there are private initiatives on farms, comparable to B&Bs, that vary from simple to comfortable and where prices can increase because of extras such as bed linen and dinners. There are also hotels and guest houses that are labelled pilgrim hostels, which means that they offer discounts for pilgrims. Vandrerhjems, B&Bs, guesthouses, and hotels often serve generous breakfast buffets. For an extra fee, you can often make your own packed lunch (nistepakke) from the buffet.
Is the water from streams and lakes drinkable?
The water in the mountains in Norway can be drunk without boiling or filtering. However, since the Gudbrandsdalsleden primarily passes through valleys and farmland with grazing cattle, it is best to fill your water bottles at churches (there are always taps in the cemetery), or you can ask a resident. No one will deny you a bottle of fresh water. In the higher regions (Dovrefjell), water is readily drinkable. A Norwegian rule is as follows: water should tumble over at least seven stones to be safe to drink. Another rule of thumb is, drink only from fast flowing streams and avoid places where cattle graze.