TRAVEL: What are Norway’s national tourist trails?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected] • 11 Jan, 2023 Updated Wed 11 Jan 2023 10:56 CEST
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Bessegen is being added to Norway's national tourism trails. Pictured is Bessegen. Photo by Andreas Wagner on Unsplash

Bessegen has been named as the fifth national tourist trail in Norway. Here’s what you need to know about the famous hike and why being named a nation trail is so important.

Located in the heart of the Jotunheimen National Park is Besseggen, one of Norway’s most popular hiking trails. 

Around 60,000 people per year visit the 1,634-metre-tall peak. The surroundings and Bessvatnet (a glacial lake- often considered the clearest in Norway) make the 6-9 hour hike well worth the effort. 

As is only befitting for one of Norway’s most popular hiking trails, it has been honoured by being added to a list of Norway’s National Tourist Hiking Trails (Nasjonale turiststien). 

“It is a pleasure to now authorise Besseggen as a National Tourist Trail, a hiking destination with very long traditions. Besseggen is one of the most iconic natural attractions in Norway and has also become very popular with international visitors. The great qualities of experience make it easy to understand why Besseggen has such a position in the Norwegian tradition of outdoor life and mountain tourism,” Ellen Hambro, Director of the Norwegian Environment Agency, said in a press release

Norway’s national tourist trails are decided by the Norwegian Environment Agency. The other national trails in Norway are Fosseråsa in Geiranger, Kjerag and Preikestolen (sometimes called Pulpit Rock) in Lysefjorden and Trolltunga in Odda. 

The national routes are defined as the hikes in Norway that attract the most visitors and offer hikers the best experiences that the nation’s landscapes offer. 

However, the tourist trails aren’t just a recognition of the quality of the hike. Instead, they are used by the Norwegian Environment Agency to promote sustainable tourism and were established in response to the challenges presented by high visitor numbers at these locations. 

For example, over-tourism can wear down and damage the trails, disrupt local nature and wildlife, and increased visitor numbers can lead to litter on the trails. 

READ MORE: Are Norway's top attractions at risk of over-tourism?

In addition, national hikes must also be able to create value for the local economy and work towards environmental goals. 

Hikes that have been added to the list of tourist trails must have comprehensive long-term planning and visitor management in place. 

Another consideration towards making trails more sustainable, less disruptive to the surrounding nature and more able to handle high visitor numbers is not to develop the sites more than necessary and not interfere with the right to public access in Norway.  

One benefit of the extra attention that the national trails see is also a downturn in the number of accidents, Climate and Environment Minister Espen Barthe Eide said in a press release. 

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Frazer Norwell 2023/01/11 10:56

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