Sometimes you need a reminder of the vast forces of nature - that there are some things, even in our modern society, that cannot be tamed. Stepping onto a glacier makes for one of those moments.
Due to deep crevasses, avalanches and the constant, unpredictable movement of the ice blocks, you should never go on your own. With professional guides and equipment to ensure your safety, though, walking a glacier is an unforgettable experience.
Even when hundreds of meters deep, the ice is always on the move, and strong enough to literally shape the Earth. It was the Ice Age glaciers that carved out Norway’s characteristic fjords, valleys and steep mountainsides.
Remnants of those prehistoric glaciers remain. Jostedalsbreen in Western Norway is the largest one on the European mainland, covering 487 square kilometres with ice up to 600 metres thick.
Austfonna at the Svalbard archipelago is considerably bigger still. At 8,412 square kilometres, it’s one of the world’s largest ice caps.
At the Glacial Museum in Fjærland, you can explore them all. A spectacular building designed by Sverre Fehn, the most prominent Norwegian architect of the postwar era, hosts the interactive museum, which gives you knowledge about glaciers and climate in new and innovative ways.
On some glaciers, like Tystigbreen and Folgefonna, there are summer ski resorts, with prepared slopes where you can ski and snowboard while tanning in a t-shirt. The meltwater produces lush valleys below, with rivers and fjords coloured by a distinct, greenish glow.
Home to the Fonna Glacier Ski Resort and part of the Folgefonna National Park which lies in the county of Hordaland.
This is the largest glacier on mainland Europe, covering an area of 487 square kilometres. It has more than 50 glacier branches, for example the famous Briksdalsbreen and Nigardsbreen glaciers. The glacier is a part of the Jostedalsbreen National Park in Sogn og Fjordane. Fjærland hosts the Norwegian Glacier Museum where you can find information about the glaciers and how they form the landscape, the climate, and how this affects us.
Located on Svalbard, Austfonna is the world's third-largest icecap, after Antarctica and Greenland, with a glacier front of 200 kilometres. This makes it the largest glacier in Europe.
In reality Svartisen consists of two glaciers – Vestre Svartisen and Østre Svartisen. The glacier is part of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park in Nordland.
Glaciers like the mighty Jostedalsbreen make you feel small in the landscape, and in the grand scope of things - and that is the entire point. It is the largest glacier in continental Europe, and you should be careful when experiencing it or its branches up close - they can be as unforgiving as they are magnificent.
Many people work hard to make your trip safe and sustainable. Meet ten of them and get a peak behind the scenes of everything from glacier hiking and whale safari to the art of local food.
Seeing hundreds of thousands of gallons of water cascading down a cliff can be a strangely fascinating and humbling experience. Some of the world’s tallest waterfalls are found in Norway.