Norway has over 2,500 different glaciers, but most of them as on Svalbard or in the northern part of the country. These will all be extremely difficult to visit if you are visiting the southern part of Norway such as the areas in and around Oslo, but there are a few glaciers that are within driving distance from the capital.
In this article we will be looking at bit closer at the glaciers near Oslo, how to get to them, and which are worth visiting.
The glacier closest to Oslo is Blåisen, a part of Hardangerjøkulen. The trail to this glacier is a four hour train ride from Oslo (but it’s unavailable by car). The other options are parts of Folgefonna which has a 5 hour 30 minute car drive from Oslo to begin the hike.
You have to travel pretty far from Oslo to see a glacier itself, and in addition to the 4 + hours drive or train ride to get there, you also have to hike for around 2 hours to get to the glaciers. This means that most people who visit a glacier in Norway when staying in Oslo does it as part of a overnight stay.
While Blåisen is the glacier that is closest to Oslo in terms of transportation time, the hike to Blåisen is much longer than the hike to the glacier arms of Folgefonna. So even though these have a longer drive, you will probably spend less travel time overall.
Anyway, let’s take a closer look at how to get to the glaciers near Oslo.
Hardangerjøkulen with Blåisen: The most accessible glacier somewhat close to Oslo
Blåisen is probably the glacier that is most accessible from Oslo, simply due to the fact that you can take the train ride all the way to Finse station and start the hike trail there. Finse is a small mountain stop with no car roads or people who are living there. The start of the trail to Blåisen begins just outside the train station.
To get to Finse, buy a train ticket for Bergensbanen. There are typically 3 or 4 departures from Oslo daily. Leave the train at Finse station and just follow the sings towards Blåisen.
The trail from Finse to the foot of Blåisen takes around 4 hours, meaning that you will have to prepare for an 8 hour hike if you are going both ways the same day. You are free to wild camp in the areas around the glacier, so many people bring a tent and spend the night in the wild before taking the train back to Oslo the next morning.
Blåisen is often used as a starting ground for glacier hiking in the summer, but you will want to book a glacier guide if you intend to do this. Blåisen can be translated to “the blue ice”, and is part of the Hardangerjøkulen glacier.
Parts of Folgefonna: Bondhusbreen, Buarbreen or Svelgabreen are three incredible glaciers near Oslo
Folgefonna is one of the most beautiful glaciers in all of Norway, and there are several glacier arms that are easily accessible for tourists. We will take a closer look at the 3 glacier arms that are the easiest to get to.
All of these are very popular for tourists who wants to see the Norwegian glaciers, so be prepared to meet a lot of people on your hikes.
Bondhusbreen is one of Folgefonna’s glacier arms, and this is located just outside a town called Sundal. You can get to it by bus or car, and the total drive time from Oslo is 5 hours and 45 minutes.
The hike from the parking spots to the Bondhusbreen glacier is about 2 hours, and it’s a beautiful and fairly easy hike. You will see lots of beautiful nature along the way, including the glacier lake Bondhusvatnet as you can see on the photo below.
This hike can be done by pretty much anyone as long as you are prepared to walk for several hours. It is possible to bring children with you on the trip up to the glacier.
Buarbreen is a one hour hike, and the glacier is found just outside of the small town called Odda. This town is also known for the Trolltunga hike, so this is a great place to stay if you want to see some of Norway’s most unique and spectacular natural wonders.
To get to Buarbreen, drive from Odda to Buer and follow the signs to Buarbreen carpark / Buardalen. The total drive time from Oslo is 5 hours and 30 minutes.
This is probably the most popular glacier to visit by tourists who are on vacation in Norway, simply due to the fact that the hike is pretty easy and fairly short. This allows for anyone who can walk in trails to be able to go there, and it’s a nice hike even for families with younger children.
Read all about Buarbreen here.
The third glacier arm from Folgefonna is Svelgabreen, which is a much more difficult hike than the other two. If you want to bring a tent and stay the night while hiking to the glacier, this is the one for you. You can expect to spend at least 3 hours to get to the glacier, but you will get a nice view of it already from the 2 hour mark. If you include a one hour stop at the foot of the glacier, this means that the hike itself will be at least 7 hours from start to finish.
The trail is pretty difficult, so bring water, food, good shoes and clothing that can handle even a change of weather. Due to the difficult hike, this glacier is typically more popular with hikers than tourists, and it is not really recommended for people who travel with children or are inexperienced hikers.
That said, you will be rewarded with some of the most beautiful nature in all of Norway during the hike, and there are plenty of beautiful places to put your tent down for the night.
To get to Svelgabreen, drive to Blådalsvatnet where there is a parking spot. This is a 7 hour drive from Oslo, so it’s the glacier that furthest from Oslo on this list. There is no place to buy equipment or food anywhere close to the start of the trail, so make sure you got everything you need before driving from Odda, which is around 1 hour and 30 minutes from the parking.
When to go hiking to see glaciers in Norway
It’s very popular to hike to see a glacier for tourists who visit Norway, but there is a pretty small time period where it’s possible to actually do this. If you want to see a glacier with your own eyes while visiting Norway, come during summer. Some glaciers will be available already from May, but most of the trails will have plenty of snow cover until June.
June, July, August and the first half of September is considered the best months to hike to see a Norwegian glacier. It’s typically pretty challenging to use the trails when there is snow on it, and at a certain point they become completely unavailable due to the snow.
The further north you go, the smaller the summer gap where you can hike to get to it is.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.