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GLACIERS

A blast from the past

Some glaciers are thousands of years old.

They give us a historical record of events on Earth.

Glaciers at Svalbard .
Photo: Visit Svalbard / Visitnorway.com
Glaciers at Svalbard .
Photo: Visit Svalbard / Visitnorway.com

Experience the mysteries of the ice on a glacier safari in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago.

Or visit another one of Norway's 2,534 glaciers.

Glaciers at Svalbard .
Photo: Visit Svalbard / Visitnorway.com
Glaciers at Svalbard .
Photo: Visit Svalbard / Visitnorway.com

Jostedalsbreen in Fjord Norway is the largest glacier in continental Europe, and a popular destination for summer skiing, hiking, snow shoeing, and ice climbing.

Doesn't it look peaceful?

Jostedalsbreen glacier .
Photo: Thomas T. Kleiven - VisitNorway.com
Jostedalsbreen glacier .
Photo: Thomas T. Kleiven - VisitNorway.com

Jostedalsbreen has many branches, including Nigardsbreen, known as the most easily accessible branch in Norway.

Hike, ride on the boat, or, better yet paddle across the emerald green glacier water in a kayak.

Glacial kayaking in Jostedalen .
Photo: Christine Baglo / Visitnorway.com
Glacial kayaking in Jostedalen .
Photo: Christine Baglo / Visitnorway.com

Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the powerful, blue ice walls!

Nigardsbreen glacier .
Photo: Sverre Hjørnevik / www.fjordnorway.com
Nigardsbreen glacier .
Photo: Sverre Hjørnevik / www.fjordnorway.com

Don't feel like going for a challenging hike?

Many magnificent glaciers are visible at a distance, including Svartisen in Northern Norway. 

Enjoying the view from a hammock is also an outdoor activity!

Svartisen glacier in Helgeland .
Photo: Emil Sollie / Brixton Frames / Helgeland Reiseliv
Svartisen glacier in Helgeland .
Photo: Emil Sollie / Brixton Frames / Helgeland Reiseliv

Put on your skis – in the middle of summer! 

Norway's summer ski centres are all located on glaciers. The Fonna Glacier Ski Resort in Hardanger is shown here. 

Skiing at the Fonna glacier ski resort .
Photo: Visit Hardangerfjord
Skiing at the Fonna glacier ski resort .
Photo: Visit Hardangerfjord

Never venture out on the ice alone, as glaciers can be extremely dangerous. 

Always explore the ice on a guided tour with proper safety equipment, for example here ....

...on the Tystig Glacier in Stryn.

Go skiing at Stryn Summer Ski Centre afterwards! 

Glacier hiking Tystigen .
Photo: Einar Løken / Fjord Norway / Visitnorway.com
Glacier hiking Tystigen .
Photo: Einar Løken / Fjord Norway / Visitnorway.com

Snowshoeing is another fun and challenging way to explore snow-covered landscapes. 

Folgefonna, Hardanger .
Photo: VG Partnerstudio/Visitnorway.com
Folgefonna, Hardanger .
Photo: VG Partnerstudio/Visitnorway.com

Enjoy lunch with a view, but be sure to do so at a safe distance. 

Big chunks of ice can fall from the glacier front without warning. 

Jostedalsbreen glacier .
Photo: Christine Baglo / VisitNorway.com
Jostedalsbreen glacier .
Photo: Christine Baglo / VisitNorway.com

Learn more! 

The Norwegian Glacier Museum in Fjærland is one of several museums where you can discover more about the glaciers that have shaped the Norwegian landscape.

Fjærland, Sogn og Fjordane .
Photo: CH / Visitnorway.com
Fjærland, Sogn og Fjordane .
Photo: CH / Visitnorway.com

Mighty mother nature

Always exercise caution when exploring a glacier or one of its branches up close.

Due to the glacier's deep crevasses, avalanches, and the constant and unpredictable movement of ice blocks, you must never go out on a glacier on your own. With professional guides and equipment to ensure your safety, hiking on a glacier in Norway is an unforgettable experience – a true adventure.

Even when it's hundreds of meters deep, glacier ice is always on the move and is 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 in place today. 

Some glaciers, like Tystigbreen and Folgefonna, are home to summer ski resorts with prepared slopes where you can ski and snowboard while getting a tan in a t-shirt. The meltwater produces lush valleys below, with rivers and fjords that have a distinct greenish glow.

Receding glaciers

In Norway, as in the rest of the world, temperatures are rising due to climate change, and the glaciers are slowly melting. The total area covered by glaciers has decreased by 11 per cent in the last 30 years, according to the Center for International Climate Research (CICERO). Since the mid-1980s, as many as 326 square kilometres have disappeared. The ice is retreating most rapidly in the northern parts of the country.

You can reduce your carbon footprint by becoming a sustainable traveller. Stay longer and explore more when visiting an area. Buy locally-sourced food and goods and make informed and sustainable choices.

What is a glacier

Glaciers consist of layers of snow that over a long time are compressed into ice.

The ice masses make many glaciers move like very slow rivers.

Glaciers represent about 10 per cent of the earth’s land area and are considered remains of the last ice age.

The ice masses can become several hundred years old.

Glacier analyses give scientists important information about global climate change and future environmental scenarios.

Glacier dictionary

Front: The head of a hillside glacier.

Outlet: An arm of a main glacier.

Retreat: How a glacier melts, shrinks, gets shorter.

Jøkul: Ancient Norwegian term for glacier, still in use on Iceland.

Jøkulhlaup: A jøkulhlaup or Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) is a sudden release of water from a glacier. The water source can be a glacier-dammed lake, a pro-glacial moraine-dammed lake or water stored within, under or on the glacier.

Norway’s most popular glaciers

Jostedalsbreen

Situated in Vestland county in Fjord Norway, Jostedalsbreen is the largest glacier in continental Europe, covering 487 square kilometres with ice up to 600 metres thick.

The glacier is split up into more than 50 glacier branches, such as the famous Briksdalsbreen and Nigardsbreen glaciers. The glacier is in Jostedalsbreen National Park and covers more than half of the park.

Briksdalsbreen

The glacier is a branch of the Jostedalsbreen glacier and is sometimes referred to as the Olden glacier. It is located in Briksdalen valley at the end of Oldedalen valley in Vestland county.

Nigardsbreen

One of the most easily accessible branches of the Jostedalsbreen glacier, located in Luster municipality in Vestland county.

Folgefonna

Home to the Fonna Glacier Ski Resort and part of Folgefonna National Park, Folgefonna is a collective term for three glaciers – Nordre Folgefonna, Midtre Folgefonna, and Søndre Folgefonna, all in the Hardanger region of Vestland county.

Svartisen

Svartisen in Northern Norway actually consists of two glaciers – Vestre Svartisen and Østre Svartisen. The glacier is part of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park in Nordland county.

Hardangerjøkulen

The glacier is located in the Hardangerfjord region, on the northernmost part of the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. It has several glacier branches, including Blåisen and Midtdalsbreen, and its highest point is 1,863 metres above sea level.

Austfonna, Olav V, and Vestfonna

Located in the Svalbard archipelago, the Austfonna glacier covers 8,412 square kilometres and is Europe’s largest ice cap by area and the second-largest by volume. The ice extends to an elevation of 783 metres above sea level.

Olav V Land is a peninsula in eastern Svalbard. It is covered by the Olav V Ice field, which measures approx. 4,150 square kilometres. Vestfonna is an ice cap located on the western part of the Svalbard archipelago and covers an area of approx. 2,500 square kilometres.

Norwegian glacier centres

What is a glacier

Glaciers consist of layers of snow that over a long time are compressed into ice.

The ice masses make many glaciers move like very slow rivers.

Glaciers represent about 10 per cent of the earth’s land area and are considered remains of the last ice age.

The ice masses can become several hundred years old.

Glacier analyses give scientists important information about global climate change and future environmental scenarios.

Glaciers by numbers

2,534: The number of glaciers in Norway.

2,692 square kilometres: Glacier area in Norway (57 per cent in Southern Norway and 43 per cent in Northern Norway).

636 metres: The thickest ice has been measured in the Svartisen glacier.

20 metres above sea level: Where the Engabreen glacier ends; the lowest point of any glacier on the European mainland.

Not: all figures are subject to change.

Glacier hiking equipment

Crampons: footwear with spikes (stegjern in Norwegian).

Ice axe: a tool fastened to the wrist that is used to for climbing.

Rope: secures glacier hikers and ensures that the group stays together.

Glaciers by numbers

2,534: The number of glaciers in Norway.

2,692 square kilometres: Glacier area in Norway (57 per cent in Southern Norway and 43 per cent in Northern Norway).

636 metres: The thickest ice has been measured in the Svartisen glacier.

20 metres above sea level: Where the Engabreen glacier ends; the lowest point of any glacier on the European mainland.

Not: all figures are subject to change.

Glacier hiking equipment

Crampons: footwear with spikes (stegjern in Norwegian).

Ice axe: a tool fastened to the wrist that is used to for climbing.

Rope: secures glacier hikers and ensures that the group stays together.

Find your glacier adventure

Glacier adventures in Norway
Experience an amazing landscape with great mountains, vast valleys, deep fjords, and historical Norwegian farmland. The area around Valldal is a… Read more
Hiking in Valldal - The Adventure Valley
Dalsnuten is the most visited peak on the east side of Gandsfjorden. It is a short walk from the parking lot at Gramstad to the top and it is possible… Read more
Dalsnuten
Visit the island Alden and hike up to the top also called «the Norwegian horse». The mountain rises straight out of the ocean, 481 m above sea level. Read more
Alden - The Norwegian Horse
Jæren beaches from Vigdel to Bore beach. The beaches are a fantastic place to walk and take in the wide horizons and endless sea. Most of the beaches… Read more
Vigdel - Bore
Fjord Active in Luster offer a guided glacier hike to "our very own" glacier destination, the Tunsbergdal Glacier - an arm of the Jostedalsbreen… Read more
Glacier Hiking & RIB on Tunsbergdalsbreen, Luster
Glacier tour in Jotunheimen - explore the blue ice with the adventure company Fyrst og Fremst! Read more
Fyrst og Fremst | Glacier hikes
The Flørli stairs have 4.444 steps and is one of the longest wooden staircases in the world. Well above the treeline, you will enjoy the great view… Read more
Flørli stairs and Rallarstien
PULPIT ROCK SUNRISE HIKE This is one of Norway's most popular hike, and it's not without a reason. Join our sunrise hike, beat the crowd and… Read more
Sunrise hike to Pulpit Rock
Slogen is arguably the finest summit in the Sunnmøre Alps and the view is impressive! From the fjord a triangular pyramid-like feature rises straight… Read more
Hiking trip to Slogen (1564 m.o.h.)
Hike to the top of the fifth tallest waterfall in Norway, Langfoss. The view is stunning. Read more
Hike to the top of Langfoss waterfall
Blegja in Askvoll is often called the queen of the mountains in Sunnfjord. Blegja rises 1304 meters above sea level and is the highest mountain in… Read more
Blegja - the highest peak in FjordKysten
Discover the glacier Austdalsbreen of Styggevatnet by kayaking and walking - with its 30m-high front that calves towers of ice into the lake. Read more
Kayaking & Glacier Walking, Luster
On the islands outside Ålesund you have the beautiful Storhornet on Godøya. A superb hike that give´s us some great views out over the Atlantic Ocean… Read more
Hiking to Storhornet on Godøya
ICETROLL offer tours including both crossing of a glacier lake with motor boat and glacier hiking. The tour is well suited for families with children. Read more
Motorboat & Glacier Tour. Austdalsbreen
Trollpikken is a unique stone formation near Egersund that became world-famous in June 2017, when it was cut off during the night. Money was raised to… Read more
Trollpikken
Store Batalden rises 492 m straight out of the sea, and it is the highest peak on the islands surrounding Florø. Read more
Store Batalden
Kayak trip next to a glacier, glacier walk and camp life is some of the things you will experience on this Wildlife Camp. Welcome! Read more
Wilderness camp 3 days: Kayaking, glacier walk and hike - Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions
Kayak trip next to a glacier, glacier walk, hiking tour and camp life is some of the things you will experience on this Wildlife Camp. Welcome! Read more
Wilderness camp 4 days: Kayaking, glacier walk and hikes - Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions
This is one of our absolute favorite mountains in the area around Hjørundfjorden due several reasons. One of them is for sure the view from the top,… Read more
Hiking to Mount Saksa
Månafossen waterfall is with its 90 metres in free fall the tallest waterfall in the county of Rogaland. The hike starts at Eikeskog where the track… Read more
Månafossen and Friluftsgården Mån
Climb the classic tower of Innerdalen, 1.452 meters above sea level! Innerdalstårnet,is a majestetic mountain in Innerdalen. The Innerdalen, is a… Read more
Climbing the tower of Innerdalen
Tjuatoten (1098m) Tjuatoten is a mountain peak towering over Dragsvik and Balestrand. A hiking trail goes up the mountainside from Dragsvik to the top… Read more
Hiking: Tjuatoten (50-1098 masl)
Experience Trollstigen on foot! Before the road was opened in 1936, this was the most important traffic road between Romsdal and Sunnmøre, and here… Read more
Trollstigen hike - Kløvstien Path (858 m.a.s.l.)
For a great view, Lifjell is one of the best viewing points of northern Jæren. From the top, you can enjoy magnificent views of Stavanger, the… Read more
Lifjell, hike in the terrain
The recreational area Djupadalen is located close to the centre of Haugesund. The area is often used for hiking and recreation throughout the year. In… Read more
Djupadalen
The arboretum is a large collection of both common and unusual bushes and trees from all over the world, and the whole area covers an area of 173… Read more
Rogaland Arboretum
Access: follow road FV502 from Egersund to Eigerøy. Then follow the signs leading to Ytstebrød. Read more
Hike to Ytstebrød
Popular tour from the top of the Trollstigen road and up to Bispevatnet lake. The tour starts at 747 meters above sea level and has a total elevation… Read more
Bispevatnet
The area around Synesvarden is the largest remaining heatherland at Jæren. This is also how flat-Jæren looked like before cultivation of the land in… Read more
Mor Norge and Synesvarden
Take the road from Høyanger village to Siplo skiing Centre, continue to the dam. You start by the dam. (600 m.a.s) The first leg to the first cairn is… Read more
Bergefjell
Is it your dream to experience untouched snow, magnificent fjord views, deep forests and mountain farms? Try snowshoeing as a special way of doing… Read more
Snowshoeing with guide Geiranger - A taste of winter
You may have heard of the Romsdalseggen ridge? A challenging and at times exposed hike with a majestic view. Read more
Hammocking + Romsdalseggen ridge hike
In the steep mountain walls at Rullestadjuvet you can see some of Northern Europes largest potholes; several meters in diameter. Glacial potholes are… Read more
Glacial Potholes at Rullestad
For a great view, Lifjell is one of the best viewing points of northern Jæren. From the top, you can enjoy magnificent views of Stavanger, the… Read more
Lifjell, short hike
Experience two of the most scenic views in norway, in two days! Read more
Romsdalseggen & El-bike to Trollstigen
Nærbøparken is a bird park located in the centre of Nærbø with free-ranging peacocks, ducks, geese and various chickens to mention a few. The park is… Read more
Nærbøparken
Huge hiking area northeast in Sandnes with several mountains and ponds. Read more
Vårlivarden and Maudlandsområdet
Bynuten is the highest peak in Sandnes, towering 670 m above sea level. Be warned – the walk to the summit is fatiguing, but from the summit… Read more
Bynuten
Hålandsvatnet spans Stavanger and Randaberg municipalities. A trail circles the lake, attracting natives and visitors alike to relaxing walks. The… Read more
Hålandsvatnet
We will take you in to some of the most incredible scenery in the Lyngen area, where we will camp outdoors and walk on a glacier. A trip for you… Read more
Overnight glacier experience with Lyngen Outdoor Experience
Verland and Ims is connected hiking area near Høgsfjord east in Sandnes. Read more
Veraland and Ims
Rundebranden is the third largest bird mountain in Norway, with a teeming bird life as well as a large variety of plant arts. The trip from Goksøyr at… Read more
Hiking trip to Rundebranden (300 masl.)
Nature Trail - Kreklingen The trail starts from Belehalli sports hall in Balestrand and goes on to Sandstølen or Skåsheim. This is an easy trail with… Read more
Hiking: Nature trail (easy family walk)
Let us introduce you to the heart of Kvænangen alps and the amazing Jøkelfjord glacier. Read more
Jøkelfjord Glacier - Explore 70 Degrees
Boknafjellet Mountain is in the municipality of Bokn, and it is a landmark with its 294 metres above sea level. Read more
Boknafjellet
Everyone hikes the Romsdalseggen ridge by day. Why not hike it as the day draws to a beautiful close? Surrounded by the majestic mountains, you might… Read more
Romsdalseggen sunset hike
The views over the fjords and mountains in the Sunnmøre Alps are spectacular. Season Jun-Oct. Duration 2-3 hours. Distance and total height gain: 3… Read more
Hiking trip to Saksa (1073 m.o.h.)
On a walk in the Bronze Age forest at Time. Read more
Urådalen and Bjødnalia
Romsdalseggen hike with guide! Is Romsdalseggen Ridge on your bucket list? If not, you should reconsider it. Come to Romsdalen and experience the most… Read more
Romsdalseggen hike with guide
Glacier summer skiing
Top training conditions with well-groomed trails in beautiful and magnificent nature! Welcome to Sognefjellet Summer Ski Center. Read more
Sognefjellet Summer Ski Centre
FONNA Glacier Ski Resort is a summer ski center on the Folgefonna Glacier. From the banks of the Hardangerfjord in Jondal you can drive up the… Read more
FONNA Glacier Ski Resort, summer ski
Galdhøpiggen Summer Skiing Resort is located by Norway's highest mountain at 2469 metres (8,098 feet). The resort is open for skiing and boarding in… Read more
Galdhøpiggen Summer Skiing Center | Juvass
10 largest glaciers in Norway
Austfonna
Austfonna is an ice cap located on Nordaustlandet in the Svalbard archipelago. It is the largest ice cap by area and the second largest by volume in…
Austfonna
Olav V Land
Olav V Land is a peninsula in eastern Spitsbergen Island in Svalbard. The only larger ice cap in the Svalbard Archipelago is Austfonna in…
Olav V Land
Vestfonna
Vestfonna is an ice cap located on the western part Nordaustlandet in the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. The glacier covers an area of about 2,500…
Vestfonna
Jostedalsbreen, Sogn og Fjordane
Jostedalsbreen
This is the largest glacier on mainland Europe, covering an area of 487 square kilometres. The glacier is a part of the Jostedalsbreen National Park…
Jostedalsbreen
Three people sitting on a rock near the Svartisen glacier, Northern Norway
Svartisen
Norway’s second largest glacier, Svartisen, stretches over 370 square kilometres and has a full 60 glacier arms. One of the most famous glacial arms…
Svartisen
People walking on Folgefonna glacier, Hardanger, Norway
Folgefonna
Norway's third largest glacier. In 2005 Folgefonna National Park was opened, Folgefonna is known for its dramatic and beautiful scenery. Here you will…
Folgefonna
Blåmannsisen
Blåmannsisen is the fifth-largest glacier in mainland Norway. It is located on the border of the municipalities of Fauske and Sørfold in Nordland…
Blåmannsisen
The Hardangerjøkulen glacier is the sixth largest glacier in mainland Norway. It is located in the municipalities of Eidfjord and Ulvik in Hordaland… Read more
Hardangerjøkulen
Myklebustbreen
Myklebustbreen, also called Snønipbreen, is the seventh largest glacier in mainland Norway. It is located in the municipalities of Jølster, Gloppen,…
Myklebustbreen
Okstindbreen
Okstindbreen
Okstindbreen is the eighth largest glacier in mainland Norway. The 46 square-kilometre glacier lies in the Okstindan mountain range in the…
Okstindbreen
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