The Dronningruta Hike

On the Vesterålen Archipelago, located just north of the Lofoten archipelago in Northern Norway, lies the famed Dronningruta or The Queen’s Route. This looped 15-kilometre mountain hike follows a route between the fishing villages of Nyksund (once abandoned but now being revived) and the village of Stø. These rugged Vesterålen mountains offer panoramic views to both the Atlantic Ocean and nearby archipelagos.

Queen Sonya of Norway completed this trek back in 1994 and following this, the trail was graced with the name ‘Dronningruta’ or ‘Queen’s Route’. The Queen is an avid hiker, having completed many of the beautiful Norwegian trails. Another particularly memorable trek that both the Queen and I completed (ok, we didn’t do it together), is Dronningstien or The Queen’s Trail in Hardangerfjord (near to our Preikestolen hike) but let’s get back to Dronningruta.

DRONNINGRUTA HIKE – THE QUEEN’S ROUTE Map

Quick Facts – Dronningruta Hike (The Queens’ Route)

  • Total hike length: 15 kilometres (10-kilometre mountain route plus the 5-kilometre coastal route)
  • Elevation gain: 448 meters (high plateau named ‘Fingghameia’)
  • Hike difficulty rating (Norwegian grading): Red (demanding – see the comparison below)
  • Ropes: There are a few steep and risky sections that have hand ropes installed to grab for stability
  • Hiking Season: May to September
  • Where to Park for the hike: Nyksund Parking or Stø Parking
  • Motorhome Parking: Motorhome parking at Stø or Motorhome parking at Nyksund
  • Wildcamping: No problem in Norway. If you don’t know the rules then check out this wildcamping information from VisitNorway.
  • Handy Free Phone Apps: Maps.me: off-line maps showing hiking trails; Outtt: a Norwegian hiking app (option for the English language); Yr.no: a Norwegian weather app (option for the English language)
  • Emergency Phone Numbers: Police: 112; Ambulance: 113
  • Transport Options between Nyksund and Stø: In Summer only, a water taxi runs between Stø and Nyksund. You can check out the prices on Seasafari Øksnes.
  • The Norwegian Mountain Code: If you’ve just arrived in Norway to hike then the Norwegian Trekking Association has outlined The Norwegian Mountain Code that you should make yourself aware of
  • Trail Marking: The Dronningruta trail is well marked with red ‘T‘s on rocks
  • Trail Signposts: at the Nyksund and Stø end of the trail at the car park, you’ll find trail signposts explaining the route.

(Do you need more accommodation and eating options in Nyksund or Stø then click here to find our information at the end of this article) 

Levels of Hiking in Norway

Norway classifies its walks and hikes depending on the difficulty as follows:

  • Easy (Green) – Novice Hikers/ No experience necessary
  • Medium (Blue) – Intermediate some hiking experience /average fitness level
  • Demanding (Red) – Experienced walkers/high fitness level well equipped with good hiking boots/ basic navigation skills /map and compass.
  • Expert (Black) – Longer and more technical hikes /Experienced hikers/ high fitness level well equipped with good hiking boots/ basic navigation skills/map and compass

Can’t Hike, Join a Cruise

The ‘Hurtigruten’ is a Norwegian public coastal route passenger shipping company offering cruises to many parts of the world including Vesterålen. Find more information on cruises here.

Views during the Dronningruta Hike on The Queen's Route hike

Just one of the many spectacular views you can expect on this Dronningruta Hike

Dronningruta Hike Map

 

Dronningruta Hike Preparation

  • Bring plenty of drinking water: there is no water available whilst crossing the mountains (only in the villages of Nyksund and Stø) 
  • Strongly recommend proper hiking kit: shoes/boots, walking poles, water-proof and cold weather clothing, backpack. This is a long walk.
  • Check the forecasted weather or ask one of the locals in the towns
  • If travelling alone, then inform someone of your intended route and expected time of return
  • Although the route is well marked, referring to an offline map is super handy. Maps.Me offers a free app and one that I use which can pre-load the walking trails for Dronningruta.

What Made this Dronningruta Hike Different from Others?

Each one of our hikes in Norway has given us a different experience. With Preikestolen and Kjeragbolten it was the heart-stopping fear at the closeness of a thousand-plus metre drop, Dronningstien, Bondusdalen, Ryten and Himakana, with their stunning ever-changing vistas, Kongevegen and Utsira with their gentle winding paths beckoning you to see what was around that next corner, Torghatten with its unique magnificence and finally Dronningruta, aptly sitting apart from the rest.

It left me with a sense of how you can ‘feel’ solitude. Not so much isolation or loneliness, but a chance to be so insignificant in all this magnificence around you. Definitely, a soul revitalisation. Even the Dalai Lama advocates that every person should spend some time alone each day. This was my time!

Views to the eastern Vesteralen Islands during the Dronningruta Hike or The Queen's Route hike

Superb views to the eastern Vesterålen peninsula at sunrise on the Dronningruta hike

The Dronningruta Hike

The start and endpoint for my hike was the village of Nyksund as we were overnighting at Holmen Brygge accommodation (however you may choose to do it in reverse and stay in Stø and make this your start/endpoint). You can also request a guided hike leaving from Nyksund and in Summer take a water taxi back from Stø to Nyksund – for more details make contact with Holmen Brygge.

Holmik Brygge Accommodation, Nyksund Map - Dronningruta Hike

Holmik Brygge accommodation – right in the heart of Nyksund

Whether starting from Nyksund or Stø, you can opt to tackle either the mountain route or the flat shoreline route first. The hike is rated as red (challenging) by the Norwegian Hiking Association so you need to be relatively fit with an expected hike duration of 5 to 8 hours. I started with the mountain route and completed the loop in 5 hours including stops for lunch, photos and the search for some geocaches.

Pretty boat on the roadside with flowers at the entrance into Nyksund - Dronningruta Hike

Entrance to Nyksund

The multi-coloured buildings in Nyksund - Dronningruta Hike

The eclectic multi-coloured buildings of Nyksund

Starting the Dronningruta Hike (Nyksund)

My starting point was a short walk of approximately 300m back along the dirt road from Nyksund to a dedicated parking spot. There is only one road in and out of Nyksund so this should be pretty easy to find. The initial part of the trail has a gentle incline which steadily increases until you reach the first junction point.

The junction on the Dronningruta hike where you choose to either take the hike over the mountains or the hike down on the coast

The junction or decision point … follow the mountain path or down to the coastal path

Here you can decide whether to opt for the downhill to then walk the coastal route to Stø before climbing the mountains to return to Nyksund; or, to tackle the mountain route first to Stø then follow the coastal route. I decided on the second option. (Note: The trail is marked by the red ‘T’ which has been painted on stones for the entire route.)

From here the spine of the mountain is followed until Finngamheia peak is reached topping the climb out at a maximum of 448masl. Some parts of this section of the trail have rope handrails to assist you due to the muddy footings and sheer drops.

Slowing the pace down and carefully finding your way you should find you past these tricky sections without too much worry. Don’t forget to keep that camera handy, the views are nothing short of spectacular.

Roped hand holds assist on the steep slopes on the Dronningruta Hike

Rope handholds are erected in places where the mountain path is steep and rocky 

Superb Landscape Views 

The path then winds its way around the western side of the mountain of Sorkulen. Here you have some amazing views of the nearby islands and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a relatively flat and narrow goat trail along this section of the hike.

Before long you reach a gently rising plateau of Fingghameia with its mossy ground cover. Here, if you look carefully in the distance, you can just glimpse Nyksund.

Spectacular views of the mountains and sea during the Dronningruta hike

Dronningruta hike views

Spectacular views of the mountains and sea during the hike

Dronningruta hike views

The Dronnigruta hike over the summit is quite flat in parts

‘Fingghameia’, the highest plateau of the Dronningruta hike 

Continuing a little way further on will treat you to spectacular views both east over Andoya, (also a part of the Vesterålen islands), and wide, sweeping landscape views to the west.

The trail points towards a large mountain peak but the trail snakes its way around this rocky obstacle. You can safely say that you’ve now passed the halfway point of the total hike.  The terrain is now more of a gentle, undulating trail before the descent to Stø.

Hello Stø

Quite suddenly you reach a mountain crest and there below lies the little fishing village of Stø, clinging to Langøya’s northernmost tip. Maybe it’s the clear Norwegian air but things seem to appear closer than what they really are. It’s still another hour of steady walking before you reach the car park close to Stø.

Around this location, looking to the west reveals the horse-shoe shaped coastline which is actually your return route to Nyksund. A nice bit coastline trekking to look forward to.

A distant view of Sto seen from the top of the mountain hike: Dronningruta Hike

First distant view of Stø: Dronningruta Hike

On the descent to Stø, the trail takes you past an interesting-looking radar station. The last part of the descent snakes down the hill-side to a car park. To continue the hike, you swing left and follow the road down to the coastline. Otherwise, turning right and walking a few hundred metres will take you into Stø. 

A closer image of Sto showing the radar station

Closer view of Stø showing the radar station

As mentioned, turning left allows you to continue the trail. Just off the road and near the campsite is some interesting artwork and an arrangement of driftwood art. Consider yourself at the two/thirds point of the total hike.

Some funky whale art drawn on a concrete wall adds colour

Some funky art near just outside the town of Stø

Local driftwood used as part of an art exhibition on the beach near Sto

Driftwood art is found on the peninsula near the start of the return hike

Homeward Bound

The trail sticks to the base of the mountain following the shoreline back towards Nyksund and at least for the next few kilometres. It is pretty much a flat trail. The ground is somewhat boggy in parts but don’t be deterred as planks of timber have been placed in most waterlogged places to keep you out of trouble.

The coastline scenery changes with each passing of the many little coves. Each cove having its own individual style, one named ‘ Skipssand’ with a particularly inviting sandy beach. Halfway along this coastal stretch is Enge, an old settlement site which is thought to date back to the Viking age. Here you’ll find a modern shelter with a barbecue pit offering the weary hiker the opportunity to rest and escape the weather.

An old settlement site used as shelter and a resting spot on the flat coastal part of the Dronningruta hike

‘Enge’, the old settlement hut, that provides shelter and a stopover point for the hiker

Views up and down the lovely beach on the coastal part of the Dronningruta hike

‘Skipssand’, a pretty beach on the coastal return hike

Views up and down the lovely beach on the coastal part of the hike

A different perspective of ‘Skipssand’ beach

Dronningruta Hike Home Straight

Now you might be thinking that the trail simply follows the coastline taking you around the mountain following the shoreline. Nope, that is not the case. Lying ahead is an ascent of the opposite side of the first mountain that you tackled at the start of the climb from Nyksund.

The lead up to the final ascent is an easy walk through some open fields. Now here is where the fun starts. This last blast up the mountain is steep, rough and in parts slippery. Definitely the most testing part of the total hike. It will have those thigh muscles burning. It’s all head down and forward progress all the way to the top.

The very steep trail ascending the final mountain with roots and rocks protruding on the Dronningruta Hike

The last mountain climb at the end of the hike towards Nyksund will work those thigh muscles

Nyksund Finally in Sight

Eventually, this steep ascent flattens out slightly and you recognise the same sign you passed earlier in the day. Follow this same trail back towards Nyksund and you’ll arrive at the car park where it all started. You’ve done it! You can now add Dronningruta hike to the list of accomplishments. Well done!

Passing the original junction point on the way back to Nyksund

The original junction point and seen on the return part of the hike

View from the top of the mountain of the last challenging part of the Dronningruta hike

Views over the coastal part of the Dronningruta hike from the junction point

A view looking over Nyksund with it's buildings and windy road - Dronningruta Hike

At last … Nyksund, signalling the completion of the Dronningruta Hike

Why I Loved the Dronningruta Hike

This hike is not one of the well known or super popular hikes of Norway meaning you’ll likely have the trail to yourself. This was the case for the majority of my hike. I started the hike before sunrise and managed some amazing sunrise and landscape photos. The landscape is different from that of other parts of Norway and that makes for an interesting trek. 

My suggestion for an easier route of Dronningruta hike would be to start at Stø, tackle the mountainous section whist the legs are fresh and loop around the shoreline path back to Stø. If you want to see Nyksund you’ll have to leave decend to the carpark and walk the few hundred metres into Nyksund. There’s a cafe in the town so you have somewhere to stop and refresh. 

For those that like a bit more of a challenge then feel free to follow my route starting from Nyksund. The Dronningruta Hike sure rates as one of my most enlightening hikes in so many ways. You’ll understand what I mean if you’re a solitary hiker. Enjoy this beautiful part of Norway and let me know if the Dronningruta Hike lived up to your expectations.

Dronningruta Hike views

Want More to do in the Nyksund Area?

Arctic whale tours from Stø: As part of your planning it’s good to note that as a general rule of thumb, Pilot and Sperm whales visit in summer whilst Humpbacks and Orcas visit in the winter.

Nordland Sculptures: there is actually one right in the heart of Nyksund! This series of sculptures consist of 35 different types of artwork from international artists which depict the artist’s interpretation of nature and culture. We found many in Nordland and they really are stunning pieces of work.

Geocaching: an app that you can download for free or you can purchase for extra caches that involves a global treasure hunt. Locals often place a ‘cache’ at a spot that is extra-special. It may be a fantastic view, have historical importance or just at a fun location but it’s a lot of fun for the whole family.

Nyksund: Where to Stay and Eat  

For accommodation options check out booking.com here. We stayed at Holmik Brygge Nyksund and ate at the local restaurant Ekspedisjonen Nyksund which were both great.

Closest Supermarket: Myre (13 kilometres from Nyksund)

Closest Fuel Stop: Myre (13 kilometres from Nyksund)

 

Stø: Where to Stay and Eat  

For accommodation options check out booking.com here.

There is Valen Restaurant within the Bobilcamp campsite located close by Stø.

Closest Supermarket: Myre (13 kilometres from Nyksund)

Closest Fuel Stop: Myre (13 kilometres from Nyksund)

(Click on the link to return to the ‘Quick Facts‘ Section at the top of this article)

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