About Svartisen Glacier

Northern Scandinavia's largest glacier, and one of Norway's most accessible!

2019-06-2614:19 Julie Abelsen

The name Svartisen comes from the old norwegian term «Svartis», which describes the characteristic deep blue color of the ice, in contrast to the white snow. The ice masses show a range of blue tones, from transparent ice to turquoise and dark blue. Being 370 square kilometers, Svartisen is Northern Scandinavia's largest and Norway's second largest glacier.

Large parts of Svartisen are located at an altitude of 12-1400 meters. On the ice plateau, mild, moist air masses fall from the Atlantic Ocean most of the year, creating snow and making the ice masses grow. Then the ice gradually descends the valleys and forms glacial tongues. Engenbreen is the name of the glacier tongue of Svartisen that reaches the farthest down to the sea. It is also the lowest glacier location on Europe, and Svartisen is therefore also the most accessible glacier to visit in Europe. Engenbreen is located in the heart of Holandsfjorden in Meløy municipality. Engenbreen shuttle boat runs a fixed route across the fjord from Holandsvika just off the main road. The trip takes 10 min and runs from the end of May to the beginning of September.

While Engenbreen is getting smaller, the plateau of Svartisen is stable. The reason is that Svartisen receives more precipitation throughout the year than it melts during the summer. Thus, Svartisen does not decrease, even though the glacier tongue has retreated markedly since the late 1990s. During 2018, the glacier tongue retreated a full 140 meters.


How to get to Svartisen?

Svartisen, or Engenbreen, can be found in Meløy municipality - just north of the Helgeland coast. From Bodø you drive Fv17 south to Holandsvika. From the picnic area in Holandsvika you can scout out to Svartisen from a long distance. You get the best experience if you take the shuttle boat across the Holandsfjord. When you cross the fjord you can experience the glacier up close.

Photo: Karoline Pettersen



Activities on Svartisen

Svartisen can be experienced in many ways. The toughest try their hand at glacier hiking or glacier climbing, and if you really want to experience the unique light and play of colors in the glacier, you can join a midnight trip on Svartisen. If you do not dare to go hiking on a glacier, you can walk to where the glacier begins to see it up close, or observe it from a distance. You can look at the glacier while eating at Brestua, and you can even visit the tame moose that lives close by at the moose camp "Svartisen Moose".

Photo: Jørn Røssvoll

Photo: Karoline Pettersen



Svartisen can be visited as a day trip from Bodø or on the way north or south along the coastal highway, but feel free to add an overnight stay. Rent a cabin right by Svartisen on Engabreen and enjoy the view and the peace when the last boat is gone, and you have the area all to yourself. Not too far Svartisen we also recommend a night at Svartisen Apartments or Glomfjord hotel. If you are traveling with the family or a group of friends, it is also possible to rent the idyllic Engen Farm which is close to the glacier.

If you want to experience more of the fantastic coastal culture and island communities in Nordland, we recommend a visit to Støtt brygge or Bolga brygge. An eldorado for kayaking, hiking, fishing and everything else the Nordland coast has to offer.

Photo: Karoline Pettersen