Nigardsbreen Glacier & Ice Cave (Hiking & Visitor Guide)

Nigardsbreen glacier is one of Norway’s most accessible glaciers, and can be reached either by a 2.5 kilometer hike or by a short ferry ride. Not only is it Norway’s most accessible glacier, but it’s also an incredible glacier itself with deep, blue glacial ice, and amazing ice caves that you can enter!

If seeing an amazing glacier is on your bucket list, then you will want to visit Nigardsbreen. The glacier is very easy to get to due to the car road that takes you almost to the glacier itself, and you can get very close to the incredible blue glacial ice on the glacier.

It’s one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions for a good reason, and one of the most scenic glaciers in the world.

Nigardsbreen glacier.
Nigardsbreen glacier.

Why you should visit Nigardsbreen glacier

You should visit Nigardsbreen glacier if you are interested in seeing a Norwegian glacier with your own eyes. The glacier has beautiful blue glacial ice, and it makes for an incredible sight!

There are few glaciers where you can get as close to the glacier, and few other options that are easily reachable even for people who aren’t into hiking. Even young children are able to get to this glacier!

Nigardsbreen glacier gets thousands of tourists every week in the summer months, and it’s a very popular tourist attraction. There is a glacier information center nearby where you can learn all about Norway’s geology and how climate change impacts the glaciers, which is a nice learning experience for both children and adults.

There are glacial guides who take tour group on glacial hikes, and there is a huge “ice cathedral” under the glacier. You can only enter the incredible blue ice cave in the winter when the risk of melting ice is low, but only with certified glacier guides.

Nigardsbreen glacier.
Nigardsbreen glacier.

Glacial hikes at Nigardsbreen

There are multiple glacial guides who bring tourists on glacial hikes on Nigardsbreen. These are typically short hikes that last a few hours, allowing tourists to get a feel for walking directly on the incredible blue glacial ice.

You can book a glacial hike from Breheimsenteret, the glacier’s information center that you pass when hiking up to Nigardsbreen. Expect to pay around 800 to 1,500 NOK per person who attends the glacier hikes.

You should under no circumstance go on hikes on your own on Nigardsbreen, and a glacial hike requires special equipment and an experienced guide that knows how to operate on the glacier.

Nigardsbreen glacier. Photo by Peter John Acklam / CC BY-SA 3.0.
Nigardsbreen glacier. Photo by Peter John Acklam / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Nigardsbreen ice caves

There is a huge ice cave beneath Nigardsbreen, often dubbed the Ice Cathedral. These caves are not open to the general public, but it’s possible to join on a guided tour to the ice caves during winter.

The reason why you cannot enter the ice caves during summer is because the glacier is currently melting, and it’s a high risk of accidents that could potentially end in fatalities. No one are allowed to enter at all in summer, and only certified guides can bring tourists to the caves in winter.

Entering the ice caves under Nigardsbreen is a unique experience that you cannot really experience many other places, and it’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience for most. It’s definitely not without risk, so it’s only for those who are willing to accept the risk.

You can book a tour of the ice caves at this Faceook page.

Nigardsbreen glacier.
Nigardsbreen glacier.

How to get to Nigardsbreen glacier

Nigardsbreen glacier is one of Norway’s most accessible glaciers, and you can get there by car. Drive to the small village called Gaupne to begin your glacier adventure. Gaupne is right in the heart of the fjord region, so be prepared for a rather long drive if you’re coming from cities like Oslo or Bergen.

The nearest city is Sogndal. There is a bus called Jostedalsbrebussen that drives between Sogndal and Nigardsbreen daily.

Getting from Gaupne to Nigardsbreen

There are signs to Nigardsbreen from Gaupne, and you can drive your car (or a tour bus) to Breheimsenteret, a glacier information center. The road goes an additional 3 kilometers from Breheimsenteret towards the glacier where there’s a big parking lot.

There’s a toll booth where you need to pay 90 NOK per car for the final 3 kilometer of the road. You can choose to start the hike from Breheimsenteret if you don’t want to pay this fee.

From the Nigardsbreen parking lot, you can choose to hike for about 2.5 kilometers to get to the Nigardsbreen glacier, or ride the ferry to it.

The ferry goes all day long during the summer season, and each ticket cost 75 NOK. It’s a nice way to get all the way up to the glacier without having to hike at all! Buy tickets at Breheimsenteret in advance if you want to ride the ferry instead of going on the short hike.

I really recommend the hike if you are comfortable with it, since it a nice and scenic hike in amazing nature.

Breheimsenteret. Photo by G.Lanting / CC BY 3.0.
Breheimsenteret. Photo by G.Lanting / CC BY 3.0.

Safety precautions at Nigardsbreen glacier

It’s not as safe to visit a glacier as you might expect, and there are safety bars that dictate where you should be standing when you are visiting Nigardsbreen glacier.

Glacial ice might break off the main glacier at any point, so these safety lines are put in place to make sure people are standing on safe places in case of natural disasters at the glacier.

There are a multiple deaths from unlucky tourists who have gotten swept away by glacial ice or crushed by falling ice boulders at Nigardsbreen glacier, so I really urge you to take these safety bars seriously!

Many of these accidental deaths are from tourists who have passed over the safety bars to get closer to the glacier, likely without understand the level of danger they have put themselves in. So keep behind the safety bars, and it should be perfectly safe to visit Nigardsbreen.

Nigardsbreen Hiking Stats & Numbers

  • Hiking distance: 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from the parking lot to the glacier.
  • Total ascent: 180 m / 590 ft.
  • Time required:  2 to 3 hours.
  • When to go: June to October.
  • Hiking difficulty: Easy to Moderate.

1 thought on “Nigardsbreen Glacier & Ice Cave (Hiking & Visitor Guide)”

  1. Thank you for your detailed description on your website. I got a lot of information from your site.

    I am wondering if we don’t book a glacier hike, can we still get really close to the glacier and take a look?

    Also base on what I read, we should not put in Jostedalsbreen National Park as destination on the GPS even though Nigardsbreen belongs to the national park?

    Thank you!


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