- Getting a picture of themselves dabbing on the glacier
Prepare in advance
Make sure to bring hats, waterproof gloves and layers. While the base of the mountain can have mild temperatures, once you are on the glacier it becomes chilly pretty quickly. Bring along water and snacks as there is nothing accessible once you leave Breheimsenteret. Be sure to stop in the restroom before you get on the boat. Otherwise, nature is all you have.
Good to know
Children must be 6 or older. The family hike guides meet you at the bottom of the glacier portion of the mountain, not in the parking lot. It is about a 1 hour hike over fairly difficult, rocky terrain to get to the glacier. Be sure to stay to the left, cross the bridge and follow the orange cones. The red dot path along the right side of the mountain will not give you access to the glacier.
Your tickets aren't time specific, but during July and August the hike leaves 4 times per day with bus service running daily. Aim for the earlier hike, so if you miss it, you can catch the next one. In September and October there is only one tour daily, otherwise private tours are offered.
Recommended time of the year
July and August are the prime months to visit, with relatively mild weather. The weather becomes pretty harsh in October and would not be ideal for young children (or anyone besides die-hard winter lovers).
Tickets can be purchased online through the Nigardsbreen website, arranged through Norway in a Nutshell or purchased at the Breheimsenteret Glacier Center.
About This Day
If you're looking for a family vacation packed with adventure and natural beauty, Nigardsbreen, Norway is the place. Seeing the country's landscapes from boats and trains is truly amazing. However, climbing part of Jostedalsbreen, Europe’s largest glacier, is simply awe-inspiring. First, make your way to Breheimsenteret Glacier Center. Spend some time getting to know the history of Nigardsbreen Glacier, an accessible glacier arm of the larger Jostedal Glacier, before embarking on the Nigardsbreen glacier hike. How many people can say they climbed Europe's biggest glacier? Sadly, the glacier is continuing to melt, so don't wait to check this exciting Norway for kids itinerary off your bucket list.
Breheimsenteret Glacier Center is the perfect stop on your way to hike Nigardsbreen, a glacier arm of the large Jostedalsbreen glacier. The views out of the floor-to-ceiling wall of windows are breathtaking and the perfect backdrop for family photos. In addition to a help and ticket desk, the glacier center has a glacier museum, a souvenir shop, a cafe, restrooms and a small play room for children. The glacier museum is not large, but does give some interesting facts about Jostedalsbreen glacier, its formation, its evolution and lastly, it is a perfect pre-hike stop. The cafe menu is limited, but fuel up on any last minute needs and be sure to purchase some water to bring along on your hike. From this point on, there will be no access to food or drinks.
DIRECTIONS Breheimsenteret Glacier Center is open from May through September and can be most easily accessed via a 1.5 hour ride on the local bus line from Sogndal (with a change in Gaupne). Bus tickets can be purchased onboard or through Norway in a Nutshell (great one-stop resource for booking all Norway transport and tours). For those wishing to avoid mass transportation, the visitor center is also accessible by car and parking is free. Because of the distance from Sogndal to Breheimsenteret and the amount of time required to do the Nigardsbreen glacier hike, 1-2 nights stay in Sogndal are likely required.
TIP Plan to spend about an hour here before heading to Nigardsbreen. Don't be thrown off if the help desk is less than helpful. The Norwegians are laid back people. Try to go with the flow and resist the need for details.
Words cannot adequately describe and pictures cannot do justice to the beauty and magnitude of Jostedalsbreen, Europe's largest glacier. Just standing in the parking lot looking at this magnificent natural wonder is enough to take your breath away. The sheer size of it makes groups of people look like colonies of ants. Beyond the setting itself, the best part of the Nigardsbreen glacier hike was conquering a fear alongside my children. We hiked up the wrong side of the mountain (have I mentioned stay to the left?), doubling our hiking time and adding to everyone being on edge. Wearing clamp-ons, being roped-in with strangers, walking up steep sheets of ice and crossing over 100 foot (30 meter) crevasses all add to the adrenaline and sense of adventure on Nigardsbreen Glacier. The feeling of joy, confidence and the sense of accomplishment upon completing the glacier hike is worth every cold and treacherous step. It is definitely a feat and a trip our nuggets will never forget.
DIRECTIONS From Breheimsenteret there are three ways to get to the Nigardsbreen parking lot. 1. By bus - it runs one time per day (usually mid-morning) in July & August 2. By car - over a toll road (500 NOK) 3. By foot - just over 2 miles (3.2 km), partly on paved road, but mostly on a trail. Once you get to the parking lot, take a short but spectacular boat ride (60 NOK adults, 40 NOK kids) and start hiking. It will take about an hour to hike up to the base of the glacier. The terrain is rocky and fairly challenging and the signage and directions are minimal. Just remember to stay to the left. You will cross a somewhat scary suspension bridge and follow sporadically placed orange cones. The guides are hanging out in the huts at the base of the glacier.
TIP While the longer glacier tours meet their guides in the Nigardsbreen parking lot, the family hike meets at the base of the glacier. The hike up can be challenging and confusing. If possible, see if a regular glacier tour group is leaving from the parking lot and follow them. Also, be sure to hit the restrooms before heading on your hike, they are the last ones you will see.