Svartisen is Norway’s second biggest glacier, covering an area of 370 m2. The ice masses span a range of blue tones, from transparent ice through to turquoise and dark blue.
Most of Svartisen is at an altitude of 1,200-1,400 m. On the ice plateau, the mild, moist air masses from the Atlantic Ocean fall as snow most of the year, and the ice masses grow. The ice then slides slowly down the valleys and forms glacier arms known as ice tongues.
Engenbreen, the ice tongue that has reached closest to the sea, has the lowest altitude of any ice tongue in mainland Europe. This makes it the most accessible glacier in Europe. Engenbreen Skyss operates a regular shuttle boat service across the fjord from Holandsvika, which is just off the main road. The boat trip takes 10 min and the season runs from late May to early September. Engenbreen is retreating but Svartisen remains stable. This is because the annual precipitation on the plateau glacier exceeds the amount of ice that melts during the summer. Consequently, Svartisen is not shrinking even though the ice tongue has retreated significantly since the late 1990s. The ice tongue retreated 140 m in 2018 alone.