Every year, in the short season from July to September, over 20,000 cyclists travel the ‘Rallarvegen’ route from the mountains to the Fjords of Norway, passing glaciars and fresh water lakes as well as boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants… If you are looking for an active holiday this cycling route is well worth considering.
Rallarvegen was originally built in 1902 as a construction road in central Norway for the railway line. Nowadays the road is a popular recreation trail for bicyclists, running in the mountains from Haugastøl Station to Finse Station. It continues to Myrdal Station in Fjord Norway, and then there is a fork in the road. One path goes north through the Flåmsdalen valley to the village of Flåm on the shore of the Sognefjorden and the other path heads west through the Raundalen valley to Voss and Vossevangen. In all, the road is 123 kilometres (76 miles) long.
The road is named after the “rallar” the railway construction workers and “vegen” means road, so the name literally means the “construction workers road”. True to its origin it’s kept in its original standard and places along the trek serve typical ‘construction worker’s food’ and there’s guided tours to learn about the history of the road.
The cycling tour is well suited for the whole family and can be as challenging or easy as you’d like to be. The below rout suggestion is well suited for medium fitness level / families.
Arrive at Haugastol in the afternoon or early evening. Haugastol is easy to reach by train or car from Oslo. The train station is next to the Haugastol Turistsenter where you can stay, eat and rent bicycles. There’s also lots of parking space available.
Check in at Haugastol Turistsenter, a clean and cozy apartment hotel situated near the train station.
Enjoy a meal and stay the night. After a healthy Norwegian breakfast where you also should make your own ‘matpakke’ (packed lunch) for the day, you can rent your bike from the bike rental shop on site. They have a great selection for all ages and abilities! See more about bike rental here) as well as a child buggy trailers etc.
Day 1. Haugastol to Finse 27 km.
This ride is a lot uphill. If you are travelling with younger children or if you are unsure about your biking skills or the fitness level of the group – you might want to skip this part of the journey and start from Finse instead.
Check in to the hotel Finse 1222 for the night and enjoy a gourmet set menu in the restaurant – with spectacular views of the surrounding mountain and nearby lake.
Finse 1222 is a popular design hotel so early booking is recommended. Alternatively, for a more native experience, you can stay in the nearby DNT hut, which also serves dinner in the evening.
Day 2. Finse to Hallingskeid 21 km.
This stretch will take you between 3 to 4 hours to cycle with children, including stops. But who’s watching the time when on holiday? Cycling the Rallarvegen shouldn’t be a race but more a journey where you allow yourself to enjoy the spectacular scenery, you’ll have time to breath in the fresh air, you can take a dip in refreshing mountain lake, you stop for lunch and coffee breaks and you pet the mountain goats along your way…
When in Hallingskeid you will stay at a DNT hut. Remember to bring what’s needed as this is a self catering and dorm situation kind of hut. The DNT is famous in Norway for allowing the Norwegians to trek from hut to hut. And space is never an issue. You will always be wished a warm welcome. Prepare yourself for socialising with the natives in front of the fireplace in the evening.
Day 3. Hallingskeid to Flåm.
Hallingskeid to Flåm is the last stretch, where you will pass several mountain farms along your way. It’s a lot down hill, so might want to get off the bike and walk parts of this last stretch of your tour.
Soon enough you will see the deep Norwegian fjords and Flåm awaiting, below you.
When in Flåm there’s lots of activities to do if you still have more energy left after the cycling. There’s also several places to stay if you wish to stay for a day or more. Please be advised that Flåm is a very popular destination and therefor advance booking of accommodation is advisable.
Return from Flåm to your starting point, Haugastol with what’s been named as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, the ‘Flåmsbane’.
Rallarvegen is open with bike rental from 15th July to 20th September. You can find out more and plan your cycling holiday online through the travel website visitrallarvegen.no
Worth mentioning is that you can also choose to stay at Haugastol for the entire stay and jump on and off the train and do the whole cycling route in 2-3 days. Haugastol Turisthytte sells a ‘Rallarvegen package deal’ which includes accommodation, meals, bike hire and train rides. There is also a slightly more expensive deal from a small group of boutique hotels called ‘De Historiske’, which offer a Rallarvegen luxury deal with accomodation and meals included.
You also might want to become a member of the Norwegian Trekking Association, giving you access to the many huts and tour guides available. Find out more about the DNT Membership scheme here.