Olden and the Briksdal glacier, Norway

After an action packed day in Stavanger on our Norwegian cruise, it was time to head to the quaint village of Olden on the picturesque Nordfjord for a change of pace. Heading north up the western Norwegian coastline and then travelling eastwards through the fjord, we journeyed to Olden overnight on the Monday, docking in Jostedalsbreen National Park at just after 9am the following morning. The region was a winter paradise, with leftover powdery snow in the valley. It was difficult to believe that this was the landscape during the second week of April, when back home flowers were blooming, the days were getting warmer and we were starting to wear t-shirts again. The views of the valley were just a teaser however; I had no idea how much snow would be waiting for us on our excursion later that morning.

Views of Olden, Norway from P&O Cruises' Iona ship

Even with slight delays to the mooring process, we were still off the ship by 10:00 and immediately onto an excursion coach. Olden is very remote and surrounded by natural wonders. There were lots of coaches lined up in the port car park, ready to take passengers off to their planned destinations. From kayaking on Nordfjord to taking the cable car to the top of Mount Loen, there are lots of exciting things to do in the area. The most popular morning attraction was the Briksdal glacier or ‘Briksdalbreen’ and this was our chosen destination for our time in Olden.

Journey to the Briksdal glacier

Snowy landscapes near Olden, Norway

The glacier was a 40 minute drive from the port, following a winding path along the lakes of the region. We learned that the area is prone to avalanches during the winter months and the locals have to drive through tunnels instead of exposed lakeside roads during periods of heavy snow. The entire journey was filled with breathtaking landscapes and as we looked out of the window, our tour guide provided us with a fascinating commentary about life in Olden and Loen (neighbouring villages). It is a completely different kind of life living in remote Norway, with farming and land-based activity leading the way in terms of industry.

Briksdal Glacier visitor centre, Norway

The visitor centre was located at the base of the footpath to the glacier, up in the mountains. The tour company dropped us off in the car park, giving us a return time of two hours later. I could not believe how thick the snow was for mid-April. It was a real feast for the eyes, coming from a country that does not get much snowfall. Our footwear was really not appropriate for the weather, but we set off carefully, taking it easy over the slippery ground.

Walking to the glacier

Snow in Jostedalsbreen National Park, Norway

If it wasn’t for the wintry conditions, it would have been a relatively comfortable stroll up to the glacier. The walkways were completely covered and most of the time you had to strike a balance between keeping your feet dry and staying upright. There were lots of cruise passengers following the footpath to the glacier and everybody was so friendly, offering support or kind words when you were close to taking a tumble or struggling on the ice. The scenery was truly magical and comparable to stepping into a scene from Disney’s Frozen.

Kat Masterson walking to the Briksdal Glacier in Norway

We walked for approximately one and a half hours, taking in the spectacular scenery. To reach the glacier, you had to follow a steep path to the viewpoint, voluntarily turning back once you were satisfied with the view of Briksdalbreen. It was absolutely breathtaking and well worth the difficult terrain. With climate change and its continued detrimental impact on the earth’s natural resources, I felt extremely lucky to be able to see this spectacle in person. Already the glacier has sadly declined in size, from the postcard photographs in the tourist shops.

Briksdal Glacier, Norway

Cake buffet

When we arrived back at the visitor centre, there was a souvenir shop to browse and a cake buffet for cruise guests in the associated cafe. I picked up a fridge magnet and pin from the store for our boards at home and then headed into the tearoom for a hot cup of tea and some delicious cake. There were squares of different flavours to try and coffee or tea to enjoy, in front of big windows that showcased the wintry landscape. It was a fabulous end to a very cold morning up in the mountains and an experience that I will never forget.

Cake buffet at the Briksdal Glacier visitor centre, Norway

Overall thoughts

P&O Cruises organised a brilliant excursion up to the Briksdal glacier, from the informative coach journey to the tasty cake buffet. The tour was very well organised, allocating plenty of time for us to see the glacier, experience some fresh mountain air and purchase a few souvenirs before the trip back down. I cannot begin to imagine how complex it would have been to arrange a trip up to Briksdalbreen independently of a cruise shore experience. We would have wasted so much time at the port looking at the logistics of a visit and possibly had to arrange a completely different activity, due to difficulties arranging transport up to the glacier.

P&O Cruises' Iona ship in Olden, Norway

At £59.00, I thought the excursion was fairly priced and took all of this uncertainty away for us. I would thoroughly recommend this trip to others embarking on a cruise to the Norwegian fjords. The glacier is magnificent and well worth a visit.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx

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