AUSTERDALSBREEN GLACIER AT VEITASTROND

For over a hundred years, the Austerdalsbreen Glacier along with the three hanging glaciers Loke, Odín and Tor have all been recognized for being the most beautiful ice scenery in Europe. Map to use: Jostedalsbreen Nasjonalpark 1:50000.

The hike from Tungestølen Mountain Cabins along the Austerdalen Valley, where the Austerdalsbreen Glacier is located at the innermost part of the valley, runs through a combination of flat and hilly terrain.

Translation reviewed by Norah Kroken

Visit Sognefjord

Visit Sognefjord is the official destination company for the Sognefjord area.

About season and other important information

GRADING – Medium. ALTITUDE DIFFERENCE – This hike starts at approximately 268 masl (Parking below Tungestølen). Highest point at approximately 444 masl.

GUIDE – We recommend you to join a Guided Tour to Austerdalsbreen.

SEASON – July to August, these are approximate dates that depends on the weather, temperature and the amount of snow in the mountains. This is a landslide-prone area, always make your own evaluation about this danger before and during this hike.

SAFETY IN THE MOUNTAINS – You should follow the Norwegian Mountain Code when hiking in Norway. It can change from summer and sunny weather to winter and frost in minutes! Always check the Weather Forecast before you go hiking. For safety reasons it is recommended to avoid hiking in Thunderstorms, in fog, in bad weather and when it is snow and ice on the trail and in the mountain! Always bring good clothes and hiking shoes. And have enough food and water in your rucksack.

INFORMATION ABOUT ROADS – Remember that many of the roads in Western Norway are prone to landslides and avalanches, especially in rainy and snowy weather. The road to Veitastrond is one of these exposed roads.

Austerdalsbreen Glacier

Austerdalsbreen in Austerdalen valley in Veitastrond.
Austerdalsbreen in Austerdalen valley in Veitastrond.

The Austerdalsbreen Glacier is an offshoot of the larger glacier, Jostedalsbreen. The glacier is located in the Austerdalen Valley which is at the innermost part of Veitastrond.

To reach this destination you must drive on a 30 kilometer long road from Hafslo, a place a little outside of Sogndal. This road runs alongside the beautiful Lake Veitastrondsvatnet so if you’re not particularly a fan of car rides the scenery will make up for it.

From Veitastrond you will keep driving and take the private toll-road, that is approximately 4-5 kilometers long, that leads to the modern day mountain lodge Tungestølen.

The hike – Austerdalen Valley and Austerdalsbreen Glacier

Hiking along the Austerdalen valley. Austerdalsbreen lies behind the small hill that you see in the background.
Hiking along the Austerdalen valley. Austerdalsbreen lies behind the small hill that you see in the background.

From the parking lot below Tungestølen you have about a two hour walk to the Austerdalsbreen Glacier.

Now that may seem a little daunting but it’s a very scenic and easy hike.  This is due to the fact it is mostly flat terrain. There is an expectation of a few small hills but they are all very doable. You may also come across some moraines, mass of rocks and sediment, that have been created by the glacier due to weathering and erosion but again it’s doable to walk across.

NOTE – At the beginning of the flat terrain, you have to cross a small stream/river. In case of high water flow, typically during or after heavy rain, it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to get over this exposed area.

From the top of the small hill we can glimpse the Austerdalsbreen glacier.
From the top of the small hill we can glimpse the Austerdalsbreen glacier.

From the viewpoint at the top of the hill, you can see the three glaciers (Loke, Odín, and Tor) hanging down from the plateau glacier Jostedalsbreen. Together they create the beautiful Austerdalsbreen Glacier.

During the past few years, the glacier has actually retracted several hundred meters. Because of this, the amount of crevasses or deep cracks have increased. This makes access more difficult and more dangerous than it was just a few years ago. Guide is always recommended if you are walking on the glacier.

FJORDS NORWAY - The Viewpoint on the hill above the Austerdalsbreen Glacier.
The Viewpoint on the hill above the Austerdalsbreen Glacier. Do not walk any longer than to this viewpoint!

NOTE – It can be highly dangerous to hike beside the glacier due to possible falling rocks, debris and rock avalanches from the steep mountainside above.

It is encouraged that one admires the beauty of the glacier from distance, from the viewpoint at the top of the hill before reaching the glacier. This is where the hike ends, at the viewpoint where you have the cairn with the plaque made of metal with the inscription with Slingsby´s quote: …“the finest ice scenery in Europe” (see picture to the left).

The top of the hill, with the plaque, was located around 200 meters from the glacier in year 2020 (This will vary. In year 2020, this was the approximately distance, and the glacier is melting and retracting fast now). It is important that one NEVER hikes in front of the glacier!

The hike back from the glacier is on the same scenic trail as you came.

Warning – Glaciers are Dangerous

DO NOT WALK ON A GLACIER WITHOUT GUIDE! It is also very important that one NEVER hikes in front of a glacier! It is encouraged that one admires the beauty of a glacier from a safe distance.

The last years there have been some fatal accidents by the foot of some glaciers. A glacier is like a river in “slow motion”, glaciers are always moving. This causes the gacier to calv now and then, and sometimes the Glacial River will accumulate under the glacier and come out as a “tsunami”.

Read more about safety on and near glaciers.

– The finest ice scenery in Europe

FJORDS NORWAY - Austerdalsbreen glacier with the two hanging glaciers Odin and Tor.
Austerdalsbreen glacier with the two hanging glaciers Odin and Tor.

The three hanging glaciers, Loke, Odín and Tor, joins in the Austerdalen Valley to form the Austerdalsbreen Glacier, all of which have their origins from the Jostedalsbreen Glacier.

Austerdalsbreen has a distinctive medial moraine which is  created by the two glaciers Odín and Tor.

The glacier also has a distinctive pattern of dark and light areas, which can be seen most clearly at a distance. These patterns across the glacier (the geological term Ogives) actually come from the seasons and show the difference between summer and winter and how ice is accumulated at these times.

Austerdalsbreen Glacier in November 2020. Since then, the glacier has retracted several hundred meters (Nov 2023).
Austerdalsbreen Glacier in November 2020. Since then, the glacier has retracted several hundred meters (Nov 2023).

The Austerdalsbreen Glacier along with the three hanging glaciers Loke, Odín and Tor have all been recognized for being “The finest ice scenery in Europe”.

This was the phrase uttered by the famous climbing pioneer William Cecil Slingsby when he, together with Glacier-guide Mikkel Mundal from Fjærland, visited the valley for the first time and saw the spectacular glacier icefalls.

Drone-photos of Austerdalsbreen Glacier

The hike back from the Austerdalsbreen Glacier

Lustrafjord – What to See and Do

Fjords Norway - Urnes Stave Church by the Lustrafjord in Luster, Sognefjord in Norway
Lustrafjord.

The Lustrafjord and Luster area is deemed to be one of the most beautiful spots in the country. It is where the fjords meet the top of Norway and the mountains and glaciers never ends. There are many wonderful and exciting things to see and do there.

Solvorn is an idyllic village located down by the Lustrafjord. The oldest historical hotel and one of the finest, the Walaker Hotel, is located in the village. Time has in a way stood still in Solvorn. Many of the original buildings have been preserved and refined.

From Solvorn, you can take the small ferry across the Lustrafjord to Ornes and visit Urnes Stave Church and see the mighty Feigefossen waterfall which reveals itself in the spring. Urnes Stave Church is the oldest of our remaining stave churches in Norway, and is one of four world heritage sites in Western Norway.

The hike to Mt Molden gives you a fantastic view both in and out of the Lustrafjord. The locals claim this is the best view in Luster, and in Luster there are many great viewpoints.

Nigardsbreen glacier in Jostedal and Austerdalsbreen glacier at Veitastrond are two of the most beautiful and most easily accessible glaciers in Norway. Mørkridsdalen and Fortunsdalen are two classic areas for mountain hikes near Skjolden, which is located at the innermost part of the Lustrafjord. Stay at Skjolden Hotel in Skjolden, a great hotel with short-travelled food and drinks from the top shelf.

High in the Jotunheimen mountains, the Sognefjellet Mountain Road runs between the Lustrafjord and the Gudbrandsdalen Valley. The Sognefjellet National Tourist Route is the highest mountain pass in Northern Europe with its 1434 meters above sea level at the highest point. Along the road is Turtagrø Hotel, Sognefjellshytta and Krossbu where you can stay and get information and guide to Hurrungane and the mountains and glaciers around Sognefjellet, which is one of Norway’s wildest mountain areas.

The Lustrafjord is approximately 40 kilometers long and is the innermost branch of the 204 kilometer long Sognefjord which is located in the middle of Western Norway.

The Lustrafjord – Hotels and Accommodation

Jostedal – Jostedal Hotell
Jostedal – Jostedal Camping
Fortun/Hurrungane – Turtagrø Hotel
Skjolden – Skjolden Hotel
Skjolden – Skjolden Resort
Lustrafjord – Sørheim Fjordpanorama
Luster – Dalsøren Camping
Luster – Luster Fjordhytter
Luster – Nes Gard
Marifjøra – Marifjøra Sjøbuer
Mollandsmarki – Heil pao kanten
Norway’s oldest hotelWalaker Hotell in Solvorn
Bed & Breakfast in Solvorn – Eplet Hostel & Juicefabrikk
Bed & Breakfast in Solvorn – Villa Solvorn
Guesthouse in Solvorn – Solvorn Gjestehus
Exclusivity and well-being at HafsloBesteBakken
Hotel in Hafslo – Eikum Hotel
Tungestølen at Veitastrond – Tungestølen Turisthytte

The Lustrafjord – Useful Links

Skjolden – Where fjord meets the mountains: Skjolden.com
Activities in Luster: Visit Skjolden
Solvorn – The idyllic village by the Lustrafjord
The UNESCO Protected Urnes Stave Church
Ferry across the Lustrafjord: Lustrabaatane
Glacier Guiding on Nigardsbreen Glacier: Jostedalen Breførarlag
Breheimsenteret Glacier Center in Jostedal: Breheimsenteret
Mountain Hotel in the Hurrungane Mountains: Turtagrø Hotel
Sognefjellet National Tourist Route: Norwegian Scenic Routes
Guided Kayak Trip on the Lustrafjord: Fjordseal at Marifjøra
Guided Motor Boat Tours at Lake Styggevatnet: Ice Troll

 

HOTELS - ACCOMMODATION - LINKS

Here you will find an overview of recommended HOTELS in addition to SPA & BATH HOTELS and OTHER ACCOMMODATION PLACES in Western Norway. The combination of beautiful nature, activities that you can do in all four seasons and a stay at a great accommodation is unique. A stay in one of these places will do you good, both for body and mind.

There are ten restaurants that have awarded Michelin stars and Michelin awards in Western Norway. Eight of the Michelin restaurants are in Stavanger and two in Bergen. Here you will find FJORDS MICHELIN, where you will also find a list of recommended hotels in Western Norway, recommended by Michelin.

USEFUL LINKS is a list of websites with great information on Norway and the Fjords.

Austerdalsbreen Glacier – Map Overview