At 5.2% of the total area of the country, Norway’s national parks are an integral part of the alluring, eye-catching landscapes. At 3422 km2, Hardengervidda National Park is the biggest of them all. Located almost entirely above tree-line on top of a massive plateau in the quiet southern fjords, this national park boasts panoramic views of snow-covered mountains and an impressive array of vegetation. If you’re lucky, you might even come across herds of wild reindeer as the plateau is home to Europe’s largest population of the majestic animals.
If short on time on your adventure in Norway, the best way to get the full park experience in just a day is a hike that traverses Queen Sonja’s Panoramic Hiking Trail from the town of Kinsarvik to the town of Lofthus.
The trail, roughly 16 km long, takes you high up on the plateau, offering incredible views of the national park, the Folgefonna glacier and the Hardanger Fjord. The hike eventually finishes descending the historic stone monk steps, hand-built by monks from England in the 12th century. For good reason, this path is known to many as Queen Sonja’s favorite trail to explore on foot or on cross-country skis.
Nevertheless, this is no royal stroll. The path crosses varied terrain, marshes, snow fields, rocky landscapes and can take anywhere from 6-10 hours to complete in its entirety. However, with the stunning views provided along the entire trail, this is certainly one for the bucket list.