Exploring the 5 most impressive glaciers in Norway

Glaciers are a beautiful display of the powerful forces of nature. Unfortunately, In the last sixty years, glaciers around the world have been reduced by twelve percent. 

Norway is home to more glaciers than any other European country, including several of the largest. Including Svalbard, Norway has over 2500 glaciers. Some are more accessible and captivating than others.

If you consider yourself a traveler, experiencing a glacier is a must, and Norway is the perfect destination to do so. Here are the 5 most beautiful and easily accessible glaciers in Norway.


Jostedalsbreen is the largest glacier in Norway, stretching over four hundred square kilometers. But the shocking thing is that its highest peak is over one thousand meters above sea level. Located in Vestland county in Western Norway, Jostedalsbreen is actually part of a national park, called Jostedalsbreen National Park, which was formed in 1991. 

One of the neatest features about Jostedalsbreen is that even though it’s a single glacier, it actually has several “arms” that branch out. Each “arm” is a popular glacier destination with a different name. 


This is one of the most easily accessible arms of Jostedalsbreen. It’s located on the north side of the glacier in the Briks valley and is still inside Jostedalsbreen National Park. This arm of Jostedalsbreen is over three hundred meters above sea level. 

The problem with Birkedalsbreen is that its size is never the same. Most of the time, its size is determined by temperature and precipitation in the area.

For example, from 1934 to 1951, Birkedalsbreen actually receded by eight hundred meters, which actually revealed a glacial lake beneath it.

Then, from 1967 to 1997, it actually expanded by over four hundred meters and recovered the lake. Since then, its size has fluctuated many different times. In the future, experts expect that it may disconnect from Jostedalsbreen. 


Bøyabreen is one of the side branches of the Jostedalsbreen glacier. It’s located in the Fjærland area of Sogndal Municipality in Vestland county, Norway, and is still set within Jostedalsbreen National Park.

It’s impressive and forms a mini “icefall” down the side of a cliff. The fun part is that it’s close enough that you can sit in the Brevasshytta café and see it from the window—even pieces of ice falling from it, at times. 


Nigardsbreen is another arm of the Jostedalsbreen glacier and is about thirty kilometers north of the village called Gaupne inside the Jostedalen valley. It’s also located west of the Jostedøla river.

One fun part about this arm of the glacier is that you have to take a small boat across the Nigardsbrevatnet lake to see it. Or you could also go by bus. 

This arm of the glacier received its name when it actually moved forward from the year 1700 to 1748 and crushed the Nigard farm.

Today it is one of the most accessible arms of jostedalsbreen. Anyone above the age of 5 can join guided glacial walks and experience the blue glacial ice at close range. 


Austerdalsbreen is located in the municipality of Luster in Vestland, Norway, and is another side branch of the Jostedalsbreen glacier.

This particular arm of the glacier is actually fed by three other steep glaciers called: Odinbreen, Torbreen, and Lokebreen. Together, they make what British mountaineer William Cecil Slingsby claimed was “The finest ice scenery in Europe”.

Although Austerdalsbreen has retreated sharply since Slingsby’s time, and little is left of the glacier fall to Lokebreen, Austerdalen and its glacier is an impressive sight. The glacier itself is not as accessible to tourists but remains one of the most spectacular. It can be reached after a 4-hour hike, starting from the Tungestølen tourist cabin.


Svartisen is a glacier that is actually made up of two different glaciers that are divided by east and west. The westernmost glacier is called Vestre Svartisen and the easternmost glacier is called Østre Svartisen. 

The two used to be connected into one huge glacier but separated about three hundred years ago. Now, Vestre Svartisen is the second-largest glacier in Norway.

The area where this glacier is located is filled with more glaciers than just these two. Plus, Svartisen actually has a low altitude, which is why it’s such a great tourist attraction. 


Folgefonna is the third largest glacier in Norway, but it’s also the most adventurous and exciting one.

Located in Folgefonna national park, it offers a ski resort during summer and has other glacier-themed activities for tourists. Even for people who don’t ski, it’s still a fun place to at least drive to on your way to your destination.

Snowbanks on the road here can reach over ten meters high, which makes it quite the journey when driving here during the springtime. The fun thing about Folgefonna is that the National Park here isn’t just about skiing. You can also hike and glacier kayak as well. 


Hardangerjøkulen is located inside the Hardangervidda National Park, which is a major tourist attraction during the summertime.

Many people from all around the world come here to hike, ski, kite, and enjoy many other outdoor activities. You can also drive on a road through the park to enjoy some of the beautiful scenery here. 

A fun thing about this glacier is that it actually was the ice planet Hoth in Star Wars Episode Five: The Empire Strikes Back!

In Norway, though, this is actually the sixth-largest glacier. In fact, one of the hiking trails takes a total of seven hours and on your way, you’ll walk past several other glaciers. 


Austfonna is located in the Svalbard archipelago in Norway and covers over seven thousand square kilometers. It is Europe’s second-largest glacier both by area and volume. The dome actually reaches over seven hundred meters above sea level. It covers almost the entire eastern part of the island of Nordaustlandet.

It consists of many parts that have separate names. One of them is Bråsvellbreen, which is Austfonna’s southernmost glacier tongue. Here It forms an ice wall towards the sea which extends several kilometers into the sea.

Due to its remote location, experiencing it firsthand is not that easy. However, there are several boat cruises to other glaciers around the capital of Svalbard, Longyearbyen. You can read more on Visit Svalbard.

Closing remarks

Norway has not only over two thousand glaciers but some of the most beautiful. Tourists from all over the world come to see them before they’re gone. These listed here are just five of the two thousand glaciers all throughout Norway that make this beautiful land the fun place it is. 

Photo of author


Erik is the creator and editor of Planet Norway. Born in Trondheim and currently living in Oslo, Erik knows the ins and outs of Norwegian History, society, and culture. His idea for starting planet Norway came about when helping his foreign fiance to settle in Norway.