Looking for things to do in Olden Norway from a cruise ship? You have come to the right place.
We visited Olden Norway on the Norwegian Star cruise and found it to be an absolutely lovely little town.
Directly off the ship, there is not a real lot to do – just a few cafes, tourist shops and a supermarket is in direct walking distance (it is not a big town to explore) but there are a few really good things not to far from Olden Norway and your cruise ship if you know where to look.
Here is our top tips of the best activities in Olden Norway when you only have 1 day!
8 Best Things to do in Olden Norway from a Cruise Ship
1. Visit Olden Old Church
If you want a just short hike from the ship (about 1 km), we would recommend a visit to the Olden Old Church which is a stunning traditional Norwegian red church in a field of flowers. When you exit the ship, walk right to locate the church.
The church was built in 1759 on the site of an old stave church dating from the 14th century.
Make sure you take a quick look inside, it is interesting to see inside. It reminded me of a Christian church you see in Viking movies.
2. Take a troll car up the Briksdal Glacier
An unmissable attraction in the Olden area is the Briksdal Glacier. If you are not that fit (or feeling lazy after a lot of eating on the ship) you can get a “troll car” which is a small open-air buggy up the Briksdal Glacier.
You can book them through Briksdalsbreen Fjellstove (the cafe and visitor center at the start of the hike) but it is advisable to book in advance if you are traveling to the area in peak season (between May and October). We arrived at around 11am to the glacier in June and because we had not booked the troll car in advance, we had to either walk up to the glacier or wait until 1.30pm to take a troll car.
Opting out of the 2 hour walk for a troll car, we decided to walk up the glacier.
If you decide you would like a ride on a troll car, note that you will still need to be able to walk the final leg of the trail (less than 1km) to the glacier.
It is on a flat gravel path, not particularly suitable for wheelchairs, although I did see one while I was there.
3. Hike up to the Briksdal Glacier
Another option is to hike up to the Briksdal Glacier, an arm (or “tongue”) of the larger Jostedalsbreen glacier.
When my mother heard the word “glacier” she thought we were going to be actually walking on the glacier itself (as you are in places like Iceland). This isn’t what you are able to do here. You are able to hike to the bottom of the mountain and look up to see the glacier from below.
Unfortunately, the glacier is decreasing in size at a rapid rate. We heard from a couple that had seen the glacier just four years ago, that it was much, much bigger back then than it is now. Believe it or not, the Jostedalsbreen glacier is actually the largest glacier on mainland Europe. Most the the glacier is only seen from above so it is actually much bigger than what it looks to us.
My parents in their 60s/70s were worried about completing the hike to the glacier, but it sounds harder than it is in reality. It is not an easy hike by any means, there are uphill sections of it that leave you breathless however, if you are relatively able bodied and healthy, you will be able to complete the hike. We saw people in their 70s and 80s easily doing it. I am a little scared of heights for people like me out there you will be happy to know there were no cliff edges or anything to get me really nervous on the way up.
It is around 2,5 kilometers / 1,5 miles and will take you approximately 45 minutes uphill (less on the way back).
It is not just the glacier which is absolutely stunning, the hike up/down is just as beautiful with picturesque mountain ranges and waterfalls everywhere you look. During the walk you will cross the stunning Kleivafossen waterfall. I read that you may get a little wet crossing the waterfall this due to the mist but I did not experience this.
If you want a guided tour of the glacier, at a cheaper price than the cruise ship, this tour is a nice option.
If you are up for a DIY shore excursion, there is also a public glacier bus that takes you to the Briksdal Glacier. The bus departs from Olden harbour at 10:05am and leaves the Briksdalsbre Fjellstove Mountain lodge (beginning of the walk) at 13:30pm. The bus costs 40NOK each (around 4 USD) per way which is super cheap for Norway. The main risk in doing the bus is that the bus is full and you have no way to get to the glacier or back.
4. Go for a ride on the Loen Skylift
Another good activity to do from the Olden cruise port is to visit the Loen Skylift, in the inner part of the Nordfjord, in the heart of Fjord Norway. Loen is a town located very near from Olden, being only a 10 minute drive away. Ubers do operate in the area (although sparingly) so you might be lucky enough to get one. There is also public bus line 111 which will take you there.
The Loen Skylift takes you to the top of Mount Hoven, overlooking the stunning fjord below. It has bragging rights as one of the steepest cable cars in the world which will lift you from the fjord to 1011 m (3316 feet above sea level).
From the top, the view is quite amazing and you can see the whole of Olden including your cruise ship as well as surrounding glaciers.
You can book your tickets in advance here. It is also possible to book in person. There are two cable cars running (Hugin and Munin after Norse God Odin’s ravens) and it is not likely to sell out for the day as the troll cars are in summer so paying in person is probably a safe bet. Tickets cost around 50 USD pp.
5. Eat Lunch in the sky at Hoven Restaurant
Located at the top of the Loen skylift is a great restaurant, Hoven where you can enjoy a fabulous lunch in the sky.
One of the iconic meals to try in the restaurant is the Mountain trout with celery puré, cucumber, prawns and roasted potato.
Like everything in Norway, the restaurant is not cheap and a meal will set you back NOK 440 (around $40 USD) but it is worthwhile for a lovely experience with a spectacular view.
The Skylift Charcuterie Platter Local with cured ham, salami and cheeses, olives, chutney, flatbread is also a nice option if you want a light option after some heavy eating on the cruise ship.
6. Go Hiking or Ziplining on Mount Hoven
If you are feeling energetic, there are great hiking opportunities at the top of Mount Hoven, which are available from May to October when cruise ships are in dock.
To reach the top of Mount Hoven, you need to take the Loen skylift to the top. Some of the most popular trails at the top include Mt. Skredfjellet, Jølrunden and Mt. Skredfjellet.
For adrenline junkies, you can also go zipling at the top of Mount Hoven (which is far too scary for me) but looks like a very cool experience.
7. Hike the Huaren Trail
Another trail you can complete which is close to the port (about 1km away) near Yris cafe is the Huaren Trail.
In total the viewpoint is around a 5.5 mile walk there and back from the port. The views at the top of the trail are amazing. Along the way, you will pass forest with amazing views of the spectacular landscape below. It takes around 2 hours give or take to reach the Huaren viewpoint, 1,250 feet above sea level.(less going back downhill).
The view of the top of Nordfjord, the sixth-longest fjord in Norway, with snow capped mountains above is well worth the effort.
The hike is moderate in difficulty. It is mostly a gravelly path however the last 200m or so is known to get a little muddy so make sure you wear appropriate footwear.
8. Eat/drink at a local cafe in Olden
If you feel like a lazy day at port, that is perfectly okay too. There are only a few cafes/restaurants in town to choose from (two we counted) with Yris cafe in our opinion the best.
They have wifi and decent coffee on offer along with a large menu if you are feeling hungry. Disappointingly, there was not a lot of Norwegian specialities on offer on the menu.