The Svartisen glacier is only the second largest glacier in Norway, but it has the distinction that no other mainland glacier lies so close to sea level. This also means that you can get very close and even touch the glacier ice. For us, visiting the Svartisen Glacier was a very special experience that we don’t want to miss on our Norway road trip. It reminded us quite a bit of our experiences in Iceland, where we also saw beautiful glaciers.
How to get to the Svartisen Glacier and what you can experience there you can read in the following sections.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
The Svartisen Glacier
The Svartisen (Norwegian for black ice) is only the second largest glacier in Norway (the largest is the Jostedalsbreen), but the deepest on the entire European continent. It is located in the province of Nordland, just above the Arctic Circle, and has shrunk considerably in recent decades, probably due to climate change.
The meltwater of the Svartisen glacier is nowadays even operated a hydroelectric power plant nearby.
For this purpose, the glacier water below the glacier is led through a total of 45 tunnels to a main tunnel. Thus, the water comes to the power plant and is used there for electricity production.
One of the largest glacier tongues of Svartisen is Engenbreen, which a few years ago reached as far as the neighboring Holandsfjord. Nowadays, however, it has retreated several kilometers.
Nevertheless, Engenbreen is only a few meters above sea level and can therefore be easily visited.
How to get to this glacier arm and what you can experience we will tell you in the following chapters.
Svartisen Glacier Hike
When we talk about the Svartisen glacier hike, we usually mean the hike to the glacier tongue Engenbreen. This is very easy to reach from Holandsfjord by a short hike.
Svartisen National Park & Engenbreen | How To Get There?
Parking at Svartisen Glacier
If you are already on the recommended Helgelandskysten coastal road FV17, you are already on the right way. When you drive past the beautiful Holandsfjord, you will inevitably pass the boat landing from where you can get to the other side of the fjord: Google Maps Link
By Boat Across the Holandsfjord
The boat that you need to cross the fjord only runs in summer and only a few times a day. In the high season the boat leaves between 10:00 and 18:00. In the low season correspondingly less often.
You should check the official website of the operator www.engenbreenskyss.no/en/ruteinformasjon/
The crossing costs 210 NOK per person and 40 NOK for a dog. The return trip is included. You don’t have to book the ticket in advance, you can just pay on the spot. The crossing takes about 20 minutes and when you arrive on the other side you can start hiking directly.
By the way, there are no roads leading to the other side, so you have to rely on the boat. There are also (vacation) houses (and also buses) on the other side of the fjord, but how they got there no one could answer me yet.
The Hike to the Engenbreen
When you arrive at the boat landing you can rent a bike or take a bus. But in our opinion this is not necessary, because the hike to the glacier is totally easy and flat.
You walk about 5 km until you reach the glacier and most of the time you walk on a wide road and do not have to overcome any slopes.
By the way, the bus goes only half the way and stops at the Brestua hut, where you could eat or drink something. After the hut you still have to walk 4 km. You are now walking on the bare rock and also have to overcome smaller streams.
Being secure on your feet is required here, but the route is easily doable. Here you have to overcome another 200 meters of altitude on the last kilometer before you can really touch the glacier.
And that is meant literally: You really get so close to the glacier that you can touch it. We found that insanely cool, because we have never touched glacier ice in Norway before.
Some parts of the glacier are so flat that you could even walk on it (which you shouldn’t do, of course) and in other places the bluish shimmering ice wall piles up 20 meters in front of you. It is simply amazing.
We were also almost alone here, but even if the untouristy Svartisen should be more busy, there are still enough places where you can retreat to have nature to yourself.
After we took enough photos end enjoyed the spot, we made our way back so as not to miss the last boat. After a short boat ride on the Holandsfjord we got into our campervan overjoyed and had to process all the impressions first.
Tips for the Svartisen Glacier Hike
Best Time for the Hike
The complete trip takes about half a day, so you could leave by boat at noon. But to share the view with as few others as possible, you should take the first boat of the day. Also, the boat only runs in the summer.
Accommodation at Svartisen Glacier
As you continue south, you’ll pass these super furnished cabins that offer direct access to the sea and even have wifi and their own kitchen.
You are also only a few minutes away from the Jetvik ferry terminal, so you can continue your journey the next morning.
You can book the cabin here at Booking.com*
Svartisen Hike with Dogs or Children
We walked the hike with our dog Aaro and even if the last kilometer was a bit more demanding, the whole hike is recommended for dogs and also for children without any restrictions. It is never dangerous and so you do not have to be afraid for your loved ones.
Of course, you should keep a certain safe distance for safety reasons, because ice can always spontaneously break off from the glacier.