In the heart of Norway’s Arctic Circle lies a natural wonder called Svartisen. A prehistoric glacier, Svartisen is one of the country’s most iconic natural sights, unparalleled in beauty, history, and grandeur.

Stretching through the Northern Norwegian municipalities of Meløy, Rødøy, and Rana, is a glacier unparalleled in both sight and history. Svartisen is not only one of the country’s largest glaciers, but arguably also one of its most iconic natural wonders.

Svartisen – a prehistoric glacier ready for exploration

While there’s no agreed-upon reason behind its name, Svartisen, or “the black ice” in English, likely comes from its unique, deep blue colour, which can look dark compared to the surrounding pale snow. In addition to the colour, its towering ice walls to crystalline blue crevasses create a magic that stretches throughout the glacier, enchanting one and all that bear witness to its sights.

“Svartisen currently stands at around 250 meters above sea level, making the view spectacular,” says skipper and CEO of Til Svartisen, Robert Allen.

While there is no doubt that the visual spectacle of Svartisen serves as an important tourist attraction for the area, for the local communities, the glacier is so much more. A living, breathing ecosystem, the glacier is the mother of nearly 300 other minor glaciers and drifts beneath it. From as far back as we can imagine, communities and animals all around have been lucky to be able to rely on it for clean water, making it responsible for sustaining the tapestry of life in and around itself.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a geology fan, or just someone who wants to exchange the bustle of the city for the magical Norwegian nature, Svartisen promises adventure like no other.

Svartisen – a prehistoric glacier ready for exploration

Food and fun: So much more than just ice

While hiking across a glacier might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Svartisen and its surrounding areas offer a plethora of experiences. Are you looking to explore the local nature or wildlife? Experiencing the midnight sun or going on a sea eagle safari might be just your thing. Or perhaps you’d prefer kicking your feet back and calmly spending your days trying out new flavours? No worries, at Brestua restaurant you can enjoy the best of the area’s culinary offerings as well as an excellent view. If you’d like a mixture of calm and adventure, wait until you hear about Svartisgryta, an all-natural, arctic spa!

“Here on Svartisen we have several businesses that offer different adventures to and around the glacier, such as Nyt Svartisen, Til Svartisen, and Explore Svartisen,” says Allen. “We all work together to show the very best of Svartisen.”

In 2021, the shuttle boat company, Til Svartisen, was founded by Kim Børge Skjellstad and Allen, in order to lighten the load for Skjellstad, who had previously done the job by himself. Together, the two skippers could meet demand and offer more unique RIB trips, allowing guests to experience the midnight sun or go on sea eagle safaris.

Svartisen – a prehistoric glacier ready for exploration

“The same year we started, a pub-café was opened down at the Engen harbour, and the year after, it became an ISPS-recognised harbour, allowing more cruise ships to dock. In 2023, we therefore started Nyt Svartisen with chef and co-owner, Jesper Person,” says Allen. “We further established Explore Svartisen with Markus Løkken, Silje Mari Karlsen, and Åge Magnussen, who all offer guided tours.”

“Til Svartisen also bought a small ferry, doubling our capacity for passengers. Nowadays, we can take 161 passengers every half hour with our three boats,” he adds.

Allen explains that all the local Svartisen businesses are working to build a tourist destination with a range of possibilities, offering everyone a chance to experience the magic of Svartisen and its surrounding areas.

“We hope to establish ourselves as a must-visit destination along Helgelandskysten, and we’re constantly working towards creating more experiences. Our goal is to make Svartisen a sustainable full-year travel destination, with the possibility for everyone to get a chance at witnessing the glacier,” he says.

Svartisen is and continues to become an even more sought-after travel destination and no wonder! With such sights and experiences, there are things to do for everyone, regardless of their appreciation for thrills or adventure. Why not lace your boots, pack your bag, and set out on your very own Norwegian Odyssey?

Svartisen – a prehistoric glacier ready for exploration

Instagram: @tilsvartisen, @nytsvartisen, @exploresvartisen

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