With over 2,500 glaciers all across the country, including the largest glacier in continental Europe, Norway is a haven of these ancient natural wonders. As the remains of the last ice age, Norway’s glaciers are composed of many layers of snow that have compressed over thousands of years to form these mammoth icy structures.
Glaciers in Norway cover almost 2,700 square kilometers of the country and are popular places to visit for the stunning views and range of recreational activities you can enjoy there. Let’s explore more about eight of the most popular glaciers in Norway to visit so you can be fully prepared for your Norway adventure!
Situated in Vestland county in Fjord Norway, Jostedalsbreen covers almost 490 square kilometers of land and is composed of 600-meter-thick ice. A national park called Jostedalsbreen National Park was established in 1991 to protect this glacier and its surrounding area.
As Norway’s largest glacier and the biggest glacier in continental Europe, Jostedalsbreen has more than 50 glacier arms, some of which are as famous as Jostedalsbreen itself! Two such glacier arms are called Briksdalsbreen and Nigardsbreen, each of which are popular tourist destinations for their breathtaking views and incredible hiking routes.
Located in the Hardanger region of Norway, Folgefonna is the collective name of three glaciers – Nordre Folgefonna, Midtre Folgefonna, and Sondre Folgefonna – which are all part of Folgefonna National Park. The third-largest glacier in mainland Norway, Folgefonna can be visited on a day trip from Bergen or you can opt to stay overnight in nearby Odda.
Close to the epic Trolltunga hike in Norway, Folgefonna is a highly impressive Norwegian glacier to visit. Here, you can join some fun and adventurous Folgefonni Glacier Team activities, including a glacier hike or kayak tour.
Part of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park in Nordland county, Svartisen is actually the term for two glaciers: Vestre Svartisen (or Vestisen) and Ostre Svartisen (or Ostisen). This Northern Norwegian glacier translates as ‘black ice’, due to the very old, darker ice that makes up part of the glacier.
Situated in the Saltfjell mountain range, Vestisen covers over 220 square kilometers, making it the second-largest Norway glacier. Ostisen, on the other hand, has a surface area of just under 150 square kilometers and is Norway’s fourth-largest glacier. A beautiful Norwegian glacier to visit, Svartisen can even be spotted from the sea!
Only two kilometers away from the Swedish border, Blamannsisen is the fifth-largest of Norway’s glaciers. With an area of just under 90 square kilometers, this Norwegian glacier is located on the border of Fauske and Sorfold municipalities in Nordland county.
Blamannsisen has three outlet glaciers extending from the main ice cap and, as with many other glaciers in Norway, its meltwater is fed into dams to create hydroelectric power. At its thickest point, the ice of Blamannsisen reaches 800 meters thick!
The sixth-largest Norway glacier on the mainland, Hardangerjokulen is located in Hardangervidda National Park and covers an area of over 70 square kilometers. Situated on the northernmost part of the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, this mighty Norwegian glacier has several outlet glacier branches, including Blaisen and Midtdalsbreen.
Hardangerjokulen’s highest point reaches an elevation of over 1,860 meters above sea level and is a very accessible Norway glacier to visit, as the Bergen-Oslo train line passes very close by. This glacier’s claim to fame is, for sure, being used as a filming location for the ice planet, Hoth, in Star Wars: Episode V!
One of the best-known and most accessible arms of the mighty Jostedalsbreen glacier, Briksdalsbreen deserves to be recognized as a glacier in its own right. Lying on the northern side of Jostedalsbreen towards the end of the idyllic Oldedalen valley, Briksdalsbreen is a favorite Norway glacier for hikers and keen adventurers alike.
You can take a beautiful 3-kilometer hike to Briksdalsbreen starting from Briksdalsbreen Mountain Lodge, passing through stunning winter wonderland landscapes all around. The best time to take this glacier hike is when visiting Norway in the summer – anytime between May and September is good for your visit to Briksdalsbreen.
Austfonna – Svalbard
Located on the Svalbard archipelago, Austfonna is the largest glacier on Norwegian territory, covering over 8,400 square kilometers! The ice reaches up to 560 meters of thickness and extends to over 780 meters above sea level.
As Europe’s third-largest glacier, the impressive Austfonna ice cap even features in the opening credits to the BBC’s Frozen Planet! You might also hear about Brasvellbreen, which is an outlet glacier streaming from Austfonna, famous as the longest glacier front in the northern hemisphere at 45 kilometers long.
Another arm of the colossal Jostedalsbreen, Boyabreen offers beautiful hiking routes and even the chance to see chunks of ice breaking off the glacier in real time! An easily accessible glacier in Norway, Boyabreen can be seen from the main road, Highway 5, when traveling northward from Fjaerland.
You can enjoy the breathtaking views of Boyabreen by boat if you prefer by taking an unforgettable boat trip from Bergen. This Norway glacier, along with most of the glaciers on this list, is decreasing rapidly in size as it melts over time. Some of this meltwater cascades away from the glacier in the Boyabreen Waterfalls, which are some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Norway.
Norwegian Glaciers: Things to Do
So, what can you get up to at these massive, icy natural wonders? There are many fun activities you can enjoy at Norway’s glaciers, including taking a glacier hike or going skiing. Let’s explore a bit more about each Norway glacier activity for some travel inspiration!
- Skiing at Norway’s glaciers – Taking to the slopes for an epic ski adventure is one of the most exciting ways to experience Norway’s glaciers, whatever time of year it is. If you visit Norway in July, don’t think you have to discount skiing as one of your vacation activities! You’ll be able to ski all year round on Norway’s impressive glaciers.
- Norway glaciers kayak tours – Fancy taking to the water to experience Norway’s glaciers up close? Daredevils can enjoy a glacier kayak tour, gliding through the serene waters and soaking in the spectacular panoramic glacier views. Just make sure you check the current weather in Norway before you set out.
- Norway glaciers hike – A guided glacier hike is the perfect way to explore Norway’s glaciers safely and learn more about these epic ice structures in the process. Your expert guide will know exactly where to go and can pass along some interesting facts during your trip!
- Visit a glacier center – Want to learn more about these ancient, icy natural wonders? We recommend taking a trip to the award-winning Norwegian Glacier Museum in Fjaerland to experience the fascinating interactive exhibits and ice experiments here.
Experience an Epic Norway Glacier Adventure
Ready to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the incredible Norwegian glaciers? Pack your bags and rent your campervan in Norway to hit the road and discover these awe-inspiring landscapes for yourself!
From idyllic glacial lakes to sprawling ice sheets, the glaciers of Norway are definite bucket-list items to visit during your trip to this magical Scandinavian nation. What are you waiting for? Let’s get this dream vacation started!