Dronningstien Hike: The Perfect Panorama

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DRONNINGSTIEN HIKE

We wandered through apple orchards and forests with the sapphire blue fjords shimmering below us. As the houses below appeared smaller, our breathing became heavier. 

The Dronningstien hike is challenging.

Mountain view across orchards seen from a car park
What lies ahead – the Dronninstien hike up the mountain as seen from the Lofthus carpark

You climb steeply for about the first three hours, but the beauty and the ever-changing landscape keep you motivated to keep heading upwards, forever upwards, towards the summit.

Views down over a town by a fjord with a foggy mountain backdrop
View of Loftus at the start of the Dronninstien hike

DRONNINGSTIEN HIKE MAP

DRONNINGSTIEN – THE QUEEN’S TRAIL

The Dronningstien trail is named after the current queen of Norway, Queen Sonja. ‘Dronning’ in Norwegian means queen. Apparently, the trail is one of her favourites. The official name for Dronningstien is HM Queen Sonja’s Panoramic Hiking Trail. 

This trail is not to be confused with Dronningruta Hike – The Queen’s Route, which is another hike we completed in the Vesterålen islands close to the Lofoten islands.

Although Dronningstien is one of the most scenic and beautiful hikes in Norway, it isn’t as well known as the likes of Preikestolen and Kjeragbolten.

For information on more hikes in Norway read our post:  Hiking Norway.

Queen Sonya's signed rock on the Dronningstien Trail
Rock signed by Queen Sonja on the Dronningstien Hiking Trail

DRONNINGSTIEN HIKING DETAILS

The Dronningstien trail is located between Kinsarvik and Lofthus in the municipality of Ullensvang, in the Hardanger region of the county of Hordaland, Norway.

The hiking path is well marked with signs directing you to the trail, and then across the Hardangervidda mountain plateau blue ‘D’s guide your way. 

Distance: 16km from Røte to Lofthus (Note: Add another 2.5 km, if you walk from or to Kinsarvik to Røte.)

Time: Røte to Lofthus – 8/9 hours

Elevation: 1100 metres

Difficulty: Demanding

Terrain: The trail consists of a variety of paths, some of the track is quite rocky and at the Kinsarvik end you cross several boggy areas

Equipment/Clothing: Waterproof hiking boots,  plenty of water and snacks, walking sticks for the descent (handy to have), clothing layers (weather conditions can quickly change in the mountains)

Season: Mid-June to October – depending on snow conditions

Starting Point: You can either start at the Kinsarvik/Røte end or at the opposite end at Lofthus

Signs to Dronningstien
Signs from Loftus guiding you to Dronningstien
Signs to Dronningstien
Blue route markers across Dronningstien
Rocky flat terrain amongst mountains
Once the mountain plateau is reached, the terrain is relatively easy to walk

DRONNINGSTIEN VIDEO INSPIRATION

DRONNINGSTIEN HIKING OPTIONS

You can tackle the Dronningstien hike from either direction. The majority of hikers begin the hike from Røte, (at the Kinsarvik end) but it is also possible to start at the Lofthus end.

We decided to start from Lofthus as we were staying at the Hardanger Hostel in Lofthus.

STARTING DRONNINGSTIEN FROM KINSARVIK/RØTE

  1. Starting at Kinsarvik – walk to Røte carpark – hike Donningstien – walk to Lofthus Bus stop (at the harbour) to catch the bus back to Kinsarvik (NOK 38/pp) (Total walking: 18km)
  2. Drive to Røte carpark (Parking: NOK 100)- hike Dronningstien – walk to Lofthus Centre to catch bus to Kinsarvik (NOK 38/pp)– walk to Røte carpark. (Total walking: 18km)
  3. Get Shuttlebus to Røte from Lofthus (NOK 135) – Hike Dronningstien back to Lofthus (Total walking: 16km)

STARTING DRONNINGSTIEN FROM LOFTHUS

  1. Park car at Lofthus harbour – Follow signs to Nosi and Dronningstien – Hike Dronningstien – From Røte Carpark take a shortcut (Find the sign marked  Kongbergsvegen in the car park) and walk to Kinsarvik Bus Stop at the Ferry terminal – catch the bus back to Lofthus (NOK 38/pp) (Total walking: 18km)

HIKING DRONNINGSTIEN

The day began with a carb-loaded breakfast at Hardanger Hostel, before the 3-minute drive to the car park at Lofthus. We could have walked, but the hostel is on a hill and at the end of the day we reckoned that a walk up another hill wouldn’t be too welcome after an 18km hike. 

The beginning of the trail took us past row after row of luscious cherry and apple orchards. The Ullensvang Church and Lofthus harbour grew smaller below us as we began the long ascent.

View of the mountains through an Apple orchard on the Dronningstien Hike
Apple orchards at the start of the hike up to Dronningstien summit
mountain view of a church beside a fjord
Ullensvang Church and Loftus Harbour

MONK STEPS

Birds twittered and flittered on the edge of the forest path as we began to climb the ancient steps laid by monks long ago. A crowd of pink, yellow and blue wildflowers laid out our path ahead, cheering us on each step of the way.

Local monks in the area began building the 616 Munkatreppene or Monk Steps in 1210 and finished them around 1537.

the steep Monk steps on the Dronningstien Hike
Munkatreppene (or Monk Steps) on the Dronningstien hike
The monk steps on the Dronningstien Hiking Trail
Munkatreppene (or Monk Steps) on the Dronningstien hike
Shelley climbing the Monk steps on the Dronningstien Hike
Climbing the Monk Steps

As we ascended, the clouds enveloped us, but after a few more twists and turns, suddenly we were above them.

The glistening fjord was now veiled under a white blanket of fluff and the snow-crested mountains opposite us were now the stars of the show.

mountain views of a foggy valley with snow capped mountains alongside
The spectacular views at Dronningstien

Once on top of Dronningstien, you have resplendent views across the Sørfjorden. Here, a landscape of rivers, lakes and lagoons welcomes you.

The clouds started to clear as we reached the top, giving us spectacular views down to Sørfjorden.

mountain views to fjord below through a cloud layer
Views to Sørfjorden
mountain top views down to fjord
Walking signs mark the trail
small lake on a mountain top with surrounding mountains
Small lakes dot the mountaintop

There are locations along the top of the mountain where it begs for a photo. Just pick your spot. The photo is intended to look a bit dramatic but it’s not that risque. Nonetheless, take care.

man of a ledge overlooking a blue watered fjord
About the halfway point along the mountain top hike is where you’ll find this viewpoint

As you approach the Kinsarvik end of the Dronningstien hike you also have fabulous views down to the Hardangerfjord and Eidfjord.

Your downwards path now takes you over boggy ground and has you scrambling over rocks for a little way. You’ll then spot the car park beneath and know you are on the homeward stretch.

Wooden boards provide a bridge over muddy ground
Wooden boards help transverse muddy ground during the Dronnginstien hike

The Dronningstien hike is classified as challenging and we would agree with that, but don’t let that put you off because it is a wonderful hike. We saw people of all ages along the way hike so just set your own pace and enjoy.

converging fjords seen from a mountain top
Hardangerfjord views
rocky part of a mountain trail
A rocky part of the trail near the start of the descent to Røte car park
mountain descent on a trail to the fjord
Beginning of the descent down to Røte car park
Car park view down the mountain side with fjord background
View of Røte car park and Hardangerfjord from above

HOW TO GET TO THE DRONNINGSTIEN HIKING TRAIL


TRANSPORT TO DRONNINGSTIEN

BY CAR

If driving to Kinsarvik then the starting point is at Røte: Leave Route 13 in Kinsarvik near the Esso Gas Station and follow the road up to Røte Carpark.

Røte Parking fee is NOK 100.

If starting the hike at the Lofthus end, you can park at the car park for free by the Bunnpris Grocery Store and harbour (see Map)

BY BUS (LOFTHUS OR KINSARVIK)

There is a bus that travels between Lofthus and Kinsarvik – check the timetable here. The bus journey between Lofthus and Kinsarvik is about 15/20 minutes and costs 38 NOK pp.

You can use the Norway Bus Site to work out how to arrive at Lofthus or Kinsavik from other places in Norway.

BY FERRY

There is a ferry running between Utne and Kinsarvik. You can check the times here.

BY SHUTTLEBUS

There is a shuttle bus that runs from Lofthus to the beginning of the Dronningstien Hike at Røte. The bus stops at various accommodations in the Lofthus area and the trip takes about 30 mins. 

Shuttlebus Season: Mid-May to end of October

Departure Times: 8am, 9am, 10am

Price: NOK 135 pp  (For more details see Shuttlebus Website)

Lars looking out over the view of Sorfjorden while on the Dronningstien Hike
View of Sorfjorden

WHERE TO STAY WHEN HIKING DRONNINGSTIEN

We stayed at Lofthus, on the eastern shore of Sørfjorden.

Lofthus is the municipality of Ullensvang, in the Hardanger region of the county of Hordaland, Norway.

We chose to stay at the Hardanger Hostel B&B and the breakfast was included in the price.

Hardanger Hostel at Lofthus- large white building
Hardanger Hostel, Lofthus

Other options include:

white painted hotel overlooking a fjord with mountain backdrop
Hotel Ullensvang, Lofthus

GOOD TO KNOW


EASIER HIKES

  • You can just hike to Heng from Røte which is 850 masl. (about a 2-hour climb) and look at views from the Hardangervidda mountain plateau and then return back down to Røte.
  • There is also a 6km Fruit Trail in Ullensvang (Lofthus area) which takes you around the orchards. This would be particularly gorgeous in May when the fruit trees are in blossom. The elevation only reaches 100m and the round trip takes about 2 hours. For more information click here.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS

  • You may like to visit the churches at either end of the hike. Kinsarvik Church is one of the oldest stone churches in Norway, built around 1150. Ullensvang Church, also made of stone, was built around 1250 and looks over the gleaming Sørfjorden.
Kinsarvik Church
Kinsarvik Church
church with mountain backdrop
Ullensvang Church

Dronningstien Hike…That’s a Wrap

Dronningstien has to be one of the most beautiful hikes in Norway, with sparkling fjords, pretty wildflowers and incredible mountain scenery. A challenging climb but well worth it for the views.

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OTHER NORWAY HIKES YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN:

You may also be interested in reading our other posts on Norway here.

PLANNING YOUR TRAVELS?

These are some of the travel resources we use when planning our trip and can recommend:

For a more thorough list visit our Travel Resources page here.

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