View to Olden and Oldedalen Valley from Mount Hoven, Loen Skylift

Olden Cruise Port: DIY Guide to Loen Skylift, Briksdal Glacier & Troll Cars

Docked in Olden Norway and ready to explore Briksdal Glacier or jump onto the Loen Skylift? This guide is packed with DIY shore excursion ideas that are easy to navigate, from the stunning Loen Skylift to the iconic Briksdal Glacier. We’ll show you how to get there, what to see, and how to make the most of your time in this charming Norwegian town. Let’s dive into the heart of Olden!

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Olden Cruise Port: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž (Smooth Sailing)

Olden cruise port has so much to do and you can definitely have plan a very busy independent shore excursion here! Here’s why I rated Olden cruise port ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž (Smooth Sailing):

  • Shuttle Services: Local shuttles run to both the Loen Skylift and Briksdal Glacier, allowing you to plan your own itinerary for your port day in Olden.
  • Bus to Briksdal Glacier Trail: You can even take the public bus to start your walk to Briksdal Glacier. Stretch those sea legs!
  • Compact walkable village: Olden village itself is very walkable, with wonderful views right at the waterfront. Or take a longer stroll down to Olden Lake.

MUST DO: Don’t forget that due to Olden’s location in Nordfjorden, watching the sail into Olden is magical. The awesome views start as early as 4am, if you fancy starting an alarm to watch the sunrise. Otherwise, stay on the top deck when the ship sails out of Olden in late afternoon.

Olden Cruise Port Essentials: All You Need To Know

  • Olden Cruise Port Address: 6788 Olden, Norway – see this marked on my Olden cruise port map below ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ‘‡
  • Currency: Norwegian Kroner (NOK), June 2024: US $1= 10.50 NOK, GBP ยฃ1 = 13 NOK, CAD $1 = ~8 NOK, AUD $1 = ~7 NOK
  • ๐Ÿ’ถ Cash or ๐Ÿ’ณ Card: Norway is mostly cashless! Many shops donโ€™t accept cash and if they do, they may not have change to give back to you. So save yourself the hassle and forget about withdrawing NOK at an ATM. Itโ€™s perfectly acceptable to pay by card, even for a cup of coffee! Visa/Mastercard typically with Amex rarely accepted.
  • Language: Norwegian, but almost everyone youโ€™ll encounter will speak English with you!
  • Official Tourism Website: Visit Nordjord
  • Olden Cruise Port Schedule: Visit nordfjordhavn.no
  • Recommended Transport App: Use Google Maps to navigate, although you can see your ship from anywhere in Olden!
  • eSIM for roaming in Norway: For a great data connection without the huge roaming fees, use an eSim data pack from Airalo. I always recommend having a smartphone with a valid plan when youโ€™re at port touring independently. Get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo when you use ROXANN1666 when you sign up or apply it at checkout

Olden Cruise Port Map

  • My Olden Cruise Port Map: ๐Ÿ‘‡ If the map is not loading correctly, click here to see it directly on Google Maps.
    • On Desktop | Laptop? Use buttons on bottom left to zoom in/out. Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version.
    • On Tablet | Mobile? Pinch your screen to zoom in/out and use two fingers to move map around. If you have Google Maps installed on your tablet/mobile, my map will open in your Google Maps app if you click on the upper right hand corner.

Top DIY Shore Excursions from Olden Cruise Port

How to Maximise Your Port Day at Olden: There’s more than enough options at Olden cruise port to give you a jam-packed day! You can easily fit the Loen Skylift, the Briksdal Glacier and a walk around Olden (for souvenirs or a swim in the fjords – I’ll tell you where below!) in a typical 8-hour port day (9am to 5pm). But you’ll need to do it in order and you’ll need to pre-book tickets, so you’re not in the queue for tickets or waiting in line for the cable car.

If you’d like to do all three, then I would recommend to do the Briksdal Glacier first, followed by lunch either at Olden or back on your ship, followed by Loen Skylift after lunch. You can tour Olden village on the way back from Loen Skylift.

1. Loen Skylift

View of Olden and Oldedalen Valley from Loen Skylift, Norway
Image courtesy of Bรฅrd Basberg/Loen Skylift

In just 5 minutes, the cable car Loen Skylift will whisk you up 1,011 metres (~3,300 feet) to the top of Mount Hoven. It’s one of the steepest cable car rides in the world, with a maximum incline of 60 degrees! You’ll feel almost as if you’re going straight up like an elevator.

At the top, you’ll be greeted by a panoramic view of the fjord landscape. You’ll see snow-capped peaks (even in summer), glaciers and the deep blue fjord stretching out below.

Once you get to the top of Mount Hoven, there’s a network of trails. From short walks to challenging hikes, there’s walks to suit all levels. Experienced climbers can tackle the Via Ferrata along the mountain face.

  • How To Get There: Easiest way to buy a shuttle bus plus Loen Skylift tickets through Olden Adventures – the local operator that operates the shuttle. The shuttle leaves directly at the Olden cruise pier and will drop you off outside the fjord station of Loen Skylift. The shuttle ride is about 10 minutes.
  • Tickets: 875 NOK adults, 440 NOK kids – this includes return shuttle tickets.
  • How to Dress: Dress in layers, even in summer. Even if it’s sunny at Olden, it can be chilly at the top of the Skylift, so bring a jacket, as well as sunglasses!
  • Avoid crowds by making this the first item on your DIY itinerary! As with any attractions with a fixed capacity, queues get worse as the day goes on.
    • Worst cable car queues are around lunch time before it gets better after 2pm.
    • If you’re not a morning person, then consider doing the Skylift in the afternoon, to avoid the queues.
  • Hikes: Here’s a list of hiking trails at the top of Mount Hoven.

P.S. If you’d like to have unlimited time at the top of the Skylift, it is best to book independently. If you book via your cruise line, your excursion will typically be of a fixed duration and you’ll be asked to return by a certain time, for your return shuttle to port.

2. Briksdal Glacier

Briksdal Glacier, Norway
Image by Wolfgang Sauck from Pixabay

Briksdal Glacier (Briksdalsbreen) is located within the Jostedalsbreen National Park, just about a 45-minute drive from Olden cruise pier. Unlike many glaciers, Briksdal Glacier is relatively easy to reach with a well-maintained path leading to its base. During the summer, there’s no need for crampons to complete the walk to the glacier.

There’s a number of DIY options to get there, depending on how much you’d like to stretch your sea legs:

(a) Bus & Hike: Most Active Option

The most popular way to experience the glacier is by hiking the 3 km (1.9 mile) trail that starts from close to the Briksdal Mountain Lodge to the glacier’s base. From Olden cruise port, it’s about a 45-minute drive to the start of the trail head – marked on my Olden cruise port map above ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ‘†. The hike itself is about 45 minutes to an hour each way. It’s a relatively easy walk.

  • Guided Hike From Olden Cruise Port: If you’d like a guided hike with return transport, then this tour will pick you up directly from the cruise pier and return you there. Budget for around 4-hour – around 1.5 hours for return transport to the trail head, with time to enjoy the views at Briksal Glacier
  • Shuttle Bus to Trail Head: Return shuttle service departs at 9:30am or at 11am, with the return service around 3.5 hours later. Tickets are NOK 495 for adults and 245 NOK for kids.
  • Public Bus to Trail Head: Bus #115 has daily departures – unfortunately, there’s usually one bus in the morning – from Olden to Briksdalen at around 10am, with the return bus around 1:30pm. The hike is about 45-60 minutes each way, so it’s enough time to do the trip.
    • Timetables: Check timetables using route planner on Skyss.no – the local bus operator. Enter beginning stop as “Strand Olden, Stryn” and end stop as “Briksdalen, Stryn“. Journey time is about 45 minutes. (Stryn is the local county name.)
    • Tickets: 44 NOK adults, 22 NOK kids – the easiest way to buy a ticket is through the Skyss Ticket App.
    • Finding the Bus Stop: It’s not this stop ๐Ÿ‘‡ outside the supermarket. It’s the one on the opposite side of the road!
Olden bus shelter outside supermarket

(b) Troll Cars

Troll car to Briksdalsbreen Glacier, Norway
Image courtesy of Oldedalen Skyss

If you prefer to walk as little as possible, you can take a “troll car” – an open-air electric vehicle which can fit 7 people, 6 in two rows of seats plus the seat next to the driver up the front.

  • Troll Car Starting Point: The troll car starts from the trail head, close to the Briksdal Mountain Lodge.
  • Troll Car Ending Point: You’ll be driven to about 700m (~0.4 miles) away from Briksdal Glacier. This means that you still need to walk the last half mile to get there. The troll car will wait for you to see the glacier and then return you to the start of the trail head.
  • Tickets: 280 NOK adults, 170 NOK kids for return trip. It’s possible to only book a one-way trip – 170 NOK adults & kids – and then walk back yourself. You can book online but you pay on the day.
Briksdal Glacier in Norway, with troll car and hikers in the foreground
Image courtesy of Briksdalsbre Glacier

Important Note: The troll cars don’t start from Olden cruise pier but from Briksdal. So you’ll need to get to Briksdal either by shuttle bus or by the public bus. The shuttle bus is run by Olden Adventures whereas the Troll Cars are run by a different company. Therefore, the return shuttle bus and the troll cars have to be booked and paid for separately, unless you book an excursion with your cruise line which includes both or book a combined tour through Olden Adventures. Either way, you’ll still need to walk the last half mile or so to get to the glacier.

3. RIB Boat Rides or Kayaking in Nordfjord

Group of kayakers in Olden on the fjord, near P&O Iona cruise ship, Norway

RIB stands for Rigid Inflatable Boats. They are high-speed inflatable crafts with a solid hull and inflatable tubes around the sides. This design makes them incredibly stable, manoeuvrable and able to handle rougher waters. RIB boats are smaller than traditional tour boats, allowing them to access narrower passages and get closer to the fjord cliffs and waterfalls. There’s typically 12-18 seats on each RIB boat.

That’s why there’s RIB boat rides in all of Norway’s fjords ports, so why do one in Olden? Compared to let’s say Hellesylt or Geiranger, Olden’s position is in a fairly wide section of Nordfjord, whereas Geiranger is relatively narrow in comparison. This gives the RIB boats more “room” to manoeuvre. There’s also a few bends along the fjords on the way to Innvik. The rides are definitely thrill rides jam-packed into an hour. If you’d like to do a longer rib ride, do it in Stavanger for the ride to Lysefjord, as distance-wise, it is further away and RIB boat tours are typically two hours long.

For a more immersive experience, consider doing kayaking in Olden. I really enjoyed kayaking in Olden, despite the weather making quite choppy seas that day. Olden Active is the local operator and I was provided with a dry suit which kept me warm on a very very cold June day (5C, ~40F before wind chill). The entire group were in double kayaks, which are a lot more stable than singles. So even if you’ve never kayaked, you’ll unlikely to have issues even on a bad weather day like the one I had!

Tourist Ticket booth at Olden cruise pier, Norway

For both RIB boat rides and kayaking, you’ll be met at the booths right at the cruise pier๐Ÿ‘†. You’ll then be given your equipment and taken to either your kayak or RIB boat.

4. Explore Olden Village

Olden Village is small and only about 500 residents live here all year round. (During the summer, the population surges to 1,000 as additional help comes to Olden to take up tourism related jobs.) But there are a few things that you can do:

  • Take a Dip: If you fancy getting into the fjord waters, then the small cove area just south of the cruise pier is shallow. It’s not an official swimming area and there’s no life guard. But I did see people swimming there. Do be careful if you’re not a confident swimmer as the water gets very deep very quickly!
  • Olden Church (Olden gamle kirke): This historic wooden church dates back to the 1900s, is worth a quick visit
  • Oldevatnet Lake (Olden Lake): If you keep on walking south, you’ll get to the start of Olden Lake in about 30 minutes. This is a good half day excursion if you don’t want to go to Briksdal Glacier or Loen Skylift.

5. Olden Bon Voyage Send-Off

If you’re typically an early diner, you may want to grab a snack as soon as you finish your excursion, so you do enjoy Olden’s famous heartwarming farewell tradition as your ship sails out of Olden!

Out of all the cruise ports I’ve sailed to, Olden’s musical send-off is definitely the loudest and the most spectacular! Many locals came out to see us off, even drivers waved to us! You can see many YouTube videos of a typical send-off. As the ship sails out of Olden, the views are spectacular as well, so do hang around in the top decks for just a little while longer.

Featured Image courtesy of Bรฅrd Basberg/Loen Skylift

I hope that this guide will make you plan an unforgettable DIY adventure in Olden! Whether you’re soaring to new heights with the Loen Skylift, hiking to the awe-inspiring Briksdal Glacier, or simply soaking up the charm of Olden village, this Norwegian gem has something for everyone! If you found this post helpful, I would really appreciate you sharing it with your fellow cruisers in your roll call groups! Happy travels!

2 thoughts on “Olden Cruise Port: DIY Guide to Loen Skylift, Briksdal Glacier & Troll Cars”

  1. Little tip for those on Iona and wanting to do Pulpit Rock.

    The cost on Iona was cยฃ130 per person which is purely a coach trip to the base.

    We looked into the Go Fjords coach but didnโ€™t want the stress of getting back around 4:45pm (we didnโ€™t arrive early enough to catch the 9am coach which left base camp at 3pm arriving back around 3:45pm)

    We went to tourist information and ordered a taxi via Stavenger Taxis. Cost was 1300 each way so cยฃ200 in total. We had 3 travelling so made it a lot cheaper than the P&O price. I would even recommend if there was 2 of you (would be better still if you had 4!!)

    We left pretty much as soon as we could off Iona (around 9:10) arrived at Pulpit Rock for 10am. Organised to be picked up at 14:30 and that timing was perfect. Took us around 2 hours to get up (with lots and lots of photo stops), we was at the top for around 30 mins which was plenty and then around 90 mins back down which gave us time for a coffee before getting the taxi back. We got back to Iona (after a quick stop on route in a supermarket that the driver was happy to do) at around 3:15.

    Was perfect.

    Stavenger Taxis are all on a meter, you just pop your phone number into the terminal inside the tourist information and they called us within 1 min to arrange pick up. Easy and very nice cars.

    I couldnโ€™t bring myself to pay the near ยฃ400 to P&O for a coach there and back for the 3 of us. The sales rep we spoke with did not discourage us when we spoke on board after I questioned the price!! He gave us the info for tourist info.

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