There are many beautiful places you pass when hiking or cycling St. Olavsleden. Too many to mention. These are just a couple of our favourites.
Walking or cycling along St. Olavsleden, you pass many churches. Sometimes the doors are open and you can enter on your accord. Most of the times however, the doors are locked. You can try calling the parish clerk or priest (sometimes there is a phone number hanging next to the door) to have the door opened. There are some churches that have St. Olav statues, like the churches in Stöde, Borgsjö and Åre. Other churches that are really worth a visit: Fränsta, Revsund, Frösön (with a great view over the mountains!), Duved, Markabygda, Værnes and of course Trondheim.
St. Olav springs
Along the trail there are many St. Olav springs. These are wells where pilgrims drank from in medieval times and that were named after St. Olav. Legend has it that these springs appeared when Olav struck his staff on the ground, making water flow from the earth so that his soldiers (and their horses) could drink. The spring water was believed to promote good health. The most famous springs are in Borgsjö and Pilgrimstad. The story goes that sick people drinking from the well in Pilgrimstad healed miraculously and hung their crutches in a nearby tree. You can still drink from these springs, so bring a cup or bottle with you!
The Selånger church ruin from the 13th century is located near the shore of the present Selångers lake. This location used to be Selånger Bay and was connected to the sea. This is the spot where Olav came to short almost one thousand years ago and began his journey to Norway. This is also the starting point of the St. Olavsleden – the pilgrim trail to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.
Tommy and Sigrid live in Gisselåsen, about ten kilometres past the St Olavsleden starting point at Selånger. Here they welcome most pilgrims that pass their house with fika and a photo opportunity (including flag!). The couple has had more than 1200 pilgrims over for coffee, with 47 different nationalities.
Vikbron is a wooden bridge near Fränsta. The bridge was built in 1888 and is with its 133 meter the longes wooden bridge in Sweden.
Borgsjö church and spring
Borgsjö is a well-known place in the St. Olav legends: it is here that Olav created a spring by hitting the ground with his staff. His thirsty men and horses were probably very thankful. The spring is just a few kilometers after the beautiful Rococo-style church of Borgsjö.
Between the villages Gällö and Revsund a new cross has been erected. You will pass it when walking the trail. The cross stands on the top of a hill that has a great view. A good spot to take a break!
Frösön is the largest island in the lake Storsjön, located west of Östersund. There are a couple of interesting things to visit here, like the statue of Storsjöodjuret – the monster of the great lake. It is also the location of the Frösö Rune stone, the northernmost raised rune stone in the world, dating from 1030-1050. The Frösö church can be dated back to the twelfth century. The church has become known among other things, by composer Wilhelm Peterson-Berger’s compositions. The magnificent view around Frösö church has also made it one of the most popular wedding churches in Sweden.
Glösa, just a couple of kilometres before Alsen is known for its rock carvings of moose, made approximately 5000 years ago. In the vicinity of Glösa rock carvings there is a reconstruction of a Stone Age hut. The whole area is an open-air museum called Glösa Älgriket.
Hållandsgården is a hotel and a pilgrim centre. It has a Olav spring, a small Norwegian stave church and miniature model of Jerusalem. Just after Hålland is Ristafallet, a powerful waterfall. Ristafallet is 14 meters high and 50 meters wide. The area of the Ristafallet is a nature reserve and is a protected area.
Åre Olav statue
The Old Church in Åre was built in the late 12th century. It has one of the most interesting Olav statues: it does not show him as usual, with an orb, a war axe and wearing a crown, but wearing a tricorne uniform hat of the Caroleans (Swedish soldiers from the 17th century). The wooden statue itself was dated as being from the 14th century, but it can be older. Near Duved, the next town from Åre, is a Caroleans monument that you can visit.
Tännforsen is the biggest (in volume) and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sweden. It is located a few kilometres after the town of Duved, on your way to Medstugan. The total drop is 38 metres of which 32 is a single drop. The width of the waterfall is approximately 60 metres. In wintertime the waterfall can freeze over and creates an incredible ice sculpture – that you can also enter.
The highest point of St. Olavsleden (ca. 600 metres) is also the place where you cross the border between Sweden and Norway. You cannot miss the spot: it has a heap of stones painted yellow, with an official sign on top of it.
Stiklestad National Culture Centre
Located at the site of the Battle of Stiklestad on 29 July 1030, the Stiklestad National Culture Centre is well worth a visit. There are countless things to see and do – you could easily spend one or two days there – and the place is beautifully situated.
The Stiklestad church was built at the end of the 12th century. According to tradition, the church is built so that the altar is located above the place where Olav fell during the battle on July 29, 1030. The church even houses the so-called Olavssteinen, which is said to be the stone that Olav leaned against at the time of death. Stiklestadir is the name of a medieval farm with an impressive longhouse – an assembly hall from Viking times. There is also open air museum with buildings and objects that show life in the 17th and 19th century.
Munkeby monastery ruins
Situated near Munkeby are the ruins of a monastery of the Cistercians order and was probably erected in the latter half of the 1100s by English monks. The ruins are administered by the Society for the Protection of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. Near the ruins is a stream that you can cross using an elegant wooden bridge. In 2009 French monks established a new monastery nearby, where they make and sell cheese.
About 500 metres from the Saksvik school, 100 metres into the forest, stands the Saksvik cross. It most likely got its name from a cross placed here in the Middle Ages. Locals have placed a 2-3 metre high wooden cross at the same spot where the medieval cross must have been standing. Pilgrims can get a glimpse of Trondheim from this spot.
The Nidaros Cathedral (Norwegian: Nidarosdomen) is considered the most important church in Norway, and is located in Trondheim (the current name of the medieval Nidaros). The cathedral was opened in 1152. After its completion, the cathedral was hit by numerous disasters, including a few times almost completely burned down. The church was built to memorialize the burial place of St. Olav. It is however unclear where he lies buried exactly. His remains may have been resting in an unknown grave, in the Nidaros Cathedral itself or in the cathedral cemetery.
Just in front of the cathedral there is the 0-kilometre signpost: the St. Olavsleden symbol with the message that it is just 0 kilometres to the end of the route. A great spot to take a last picture, at the end your pilgrimage.