Exploring the Incredible Briksdal Glacier

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A trail marker on the hike to the Briksdal glacier with a view of the glacier in the background

If you’re a nature lover, and chances are if you’re visiting Norway you are, a visit to the Briksdal glacier is a beautiful way to spend the day while in the Nordic countryside. Located south of the charming village of Olden, inside the Jostedalsbreen National Park, the Briksdal glacier ends in a small glacial lake, and is a scenic 25km drive from the port of Olden. 

The glacier is an arm of the largest glacier in mainland Europe, the Jostedal glacier, and lies on its north side. From a height of 1200m, the pristine glacier spectacularly comes down the narrow Briksdalen valley to the lake, attracting visitors from all over the world.

Though the glacier has shrunk over the past 15 years, a visit to this National Park makes for a uniquely beautiful and memorable day. 

The Hike

Many would argue that the hike itself is just as beautiful as the glacier, and perhaps one of the most scenic hikes in Norway. It is a beautiful trail surrounded by roaring waterfalls, wild rivers, vibrant wildlife and steep mountains that leads you to the viewpoint at the glacial lake. 

The 2.5km trail takes about 45-60 minutes each way and is wide and relatively flat with small inclines, the first part being the most difficult. Overall the altitude gain is 200 meters. If you’re able to hike we recommend doing so as it provides the opportunity to meander and take photographs.

Troll Cars

For more than 100 years, farmers from Oldedalen would transport people to the glacier via horse and carriage. This changed in 2004 when the horses were replaced with “Troll cars.” These open-air vehicles can fit up to 7 people and stop just shy of the glacial lake and viewpoint. 

Be aware that after exiting the vehicles there is still a walk to the glacier albeit a short one of approximately 10 minutes. The “Troll cars” are a fun and easily accessible way to view this natural wonder for those whose physical abilities might limit their ability to participate on the full hike. 

Refuel

The Briksdalsbre Mountain Lodge offers the perfect spot to refuel after your hike. The lodge houses a restaurant offering local cuisine as well as packed lunches (available upon request).  If the weather was a bit wet, you can warm up with a cup of coffee and enjoy the panoramic views of the natural surroundings from the coziness of the lodge. 

There is also a lovely gift shop offering all things Norwegian and glacier related. Restrooms can also be found at the lodge as well as accommodations should you wish to stay the night and further explore the national park. 

How to get there

Guided Excursions

The simplest way to enjoy the Briksdal glacier is to book a shore excursion through your cruise ship or with local excursion companies.  

The excursions through the cruise lines are generally offered at a higher price point whereas by booking directly through local companies, they are able to pass the savings on to you as well as provide a back in time guarantee! In addition, you’ll be provided with a local guide with extensive knowledge of the area as well as special assistance should you need help onto (or off of) the coach in many cases. 

Bus

If you want to explore without a guide, there are both shuttle busses and sightseeing busses departing from Olden. The hourly shuttle busses and sightseeing bus are both affordable options although offer potential downsides. The sightseeing bus stops at the lake with a distant view of the glacier. Be warned that inclement weather combined with the distant viewpoint, might not give you the view you were hoping for. 

Although not as mighty as it once was, the Briksdal glacier is a wondrous sight to see. A place you should visit sooner rather than later as temperatures shift around the globe. The incredibly scenic walk (or ride), fresh mountain air, and interesting natural history make for a great tour. 

To book an excursion to the Briksdal Glacier with Norway Excursions (with or without Troll cars) please follow the links below:

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