Discover what there is to see and do in Olden as a Norwegian Fjords cruise passenger. From hiking and sightseeing, to pre-booking excursions from the port of Olden, we’ll explore what you can do with a day in this picturesque village in the heart of the Nordfjord.
Let us start by saying we LOVE cruising the fjords of Norway! We have two sailings already under our belts and will be cruising again later this year. It’s fair to say we are speaking from experience on this one! If you want to read more about Norwegian Fjords cruising, you can check out all of our Norway posts here. Now, let’s explore Olden!
Before you even arrive in to port, I recommend getting up early to watch the ship sailing through the Nordfjord. The sheer scale and wonder of the mountains and valleys that surround you is enough to take your breath away. In the spring, the snow run-off creates spectacular waterfalls all along the fjord, further adding to the dramatic serenity of it all. Our advice is to get up, grab a hot drink and a pastry, and enjoy the views out on deck.
Now you’ve sailed through the fjord and taken in the awesome surroundings, you’ll get to discover the jewel in Nordfjord’s crown. Tucked away at the end of the very end of the fjord is the beautiful village of Olden. Here the water is still, the air is pure and you can feel the stress exhale from your body as you finally step foot on this magical land.
Olden itself is a tiny village in the municipality of Stryn. With less than 500 residents, you can imagine that on a day when a cruise ship is in port, there will be many more visitors than locals. That being said, in order to remain authentic to its true nature, there really isn’t a lot here for tourists on the face of it. A very small tourism office and a couple of tiny shops is all that greets you in the immediate vicinity. So what is there to do in Olden?
Hiking & Exploring On Foot
Pick up a free hiking map from the tourist information point and hit the road! You can follow the shoreline of the fjord, venture inland to visit Olden’s historic churches or hike up in to the mountains. If you stay near Olden village, chances are you will be able to see the cruise ship from wherever you are, so there isn’t a lot of fear of getting lost! Due to the geographic location, you should go prepared for four seasons in a day and wear your most comfortable shoes. Take plenty of water and snacks, but remember, Olden is in a remote location and there are no meaningful facilities dotted around.
Hop On Hop Off Bus Loop
If you have no excursions booked but want to see spectacular waterfalls and the wider area, then the Hop On Hop Off bus is great. It goes further than you could comfortably walk within an hour, but it’s not the longest route in the world. It does however give you time to take pictures at a couple of locations and see more than you might have by staying in the main village. You will pass the village centre, Olden’s two historic churches and get the general lay of the land, so to speak. It is by no means a replacement for a guided tour, so go into it with appropriate expectations. We did this as a way to cover more ground in the limited time we had left after our morning excursion. You can book this at the Tourist Information point immediately adjacent to the dock.
Don’t let the word ‘sea’ put you off – the water here at the end of the fjord is so still it’s like paddling on a lake. On our first visit to Olden, we booked through our cruise line and the excursion was in the morning, around an hour after arrival in to port. The guide meets you at the designated area and takes you to the boat store for a safety briefing before you get near the water. I kayaked occasionally as a child, but am by no means athletic or experienced, yet I felt fully able to take part in this slow paced group tour on the fjord. I would highly recommend it for a memorable and tranquil experience. You can book via your cruise line or a recommended shore excursion provider (prices vary), or you could book direct with ‘Olden Active’ for 740 NOK per person (approx. £61 GBP at the exchange rate). They are all operated by the same few people in the same small village, you would just be paying the cruise line a commission for arranging it for you.
Briksdal Glacier by Troll Car
I know what you’re thinking… what is a ‘Troll Car’? It’s somewhere between a jeep and a large quad bike built to carry up to eight people including the driver. It’s completely open to the elements and is designed to handle Norway’s rugged terrain. Hold on to your hats – this is going to be one heck of a ride! The scenic drive takes you from the cruise port, through mountain tunnels and past some of the most incredible natural waterfalls you will ever see. Once you reach the foot of the glacier, you will be amazed by the colour of the ice – it’s bright blue! The water here is so pure you could drink it straight from the fjord! It is one of the most popular excursions run from the village of Olden, so make sure you pre-book. This excursion lasts around 4 hours and can be booked directly through your cruise line or via a recommended supplier such as ventureashore.com. (Venture Ashore were previously known as ‘cruisingexcursions.com’, with whom we thankfully booked our St Petersburg tour and would recommend to anyone – you can read all about our experience here).
Loen Skylift Cable Car
So much more than your average ski lift, the Loen Skylift Cable Car is a state-of-the-art, fully enclosed passenger car. It’s designed to take passengers to the top of Mount Hoven where they can continue exploring on foot, whether it be for a leisurely hike, a thrilling zip-line ride, or an adrenaline junkie’s climbing expedition!
To get the most out of your time on Mount Hoven, I recommend you go with a rough plan in mind. You can decide on a walking route ahead of time thanks to the handy ‘Walking & Hiking’ guide on the website. If you do fancy some of the more daring activities, these can be booked in advance online or at the ticket office on the day (subject to availability).
You can book Loen Skylift shuttles or tours directly through the cruise line, however we have decided to book directly with Loen Skylift themselves. You will pay them directly in Norwegian Krone, so there is a foreign currency exchange rate to think about, but it will still typically save you money and give you more time and flexibility than if travelling in a tour group. When booking yourself, be sure to include the shuttle bus with your Skylift ticket as Loen is a good 10 minute drive from Olden. You can do this through their recommended provider here. Departures are on the hour from the pier in Olden and every half past the hour from Loen. Busses run throughout the day as long as the ship is docked in Olden, giving you as much time as you wish in Loen.
Hydlaparken Climbing Adventure
Described as a ‘wilderness workout’ by P&O Cruises, Hydlaparken is one of the top climbing parks in Norway, offering a unique way to immerse yourself in the natural landscape. Choose from 7 climbing routes of various skill levels, enjoy a thrilling zip line ride and ‘free-fall’ from 40 feet. It’s fair to say this one is for active thrill seekers and can be booked directly through your cruise line to include transportation. The recommended time given to this activity is 4 hours, so it will take up a good portion of your time in port. Hydlaparken’s website is completely in Norwegian, but it has some great pictures if you want to see what it’s like.
Each cruise line will offer it’s own guided tour excursions, so check with yours before you travel. Popular locations in the area include Lovatnet Lake, Kjenndalen Glacier and the aforementioned Briksdal Glacier. Each of these are typically offered as coach tours with varying itineraries.
Although one of the more pricey excursions available, a helicopter flight over the fjords is a truly breathtaking experience. Seeing the landscape from above gives you a real appreciation for the sheer scale of Norway’s natural beauty, as well as a unique memory that will last a lifetime. You can read about our similar helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon here – it really is a moving and emotional experience.
Whatever you choose to do with your time in Olden, remember to take a moment, just breathe and be at one with the beauty in nature that’s all around you. There is nothing more humbling than being at peace with your surroundings. Enjoy every second of it because it will be over before you know it!
Loen Skylift: www.loenskylift.com
Olden Active: www.oldenactive.com
Venture Ashore: www.ventureashore.com
Visit Nord Fjord: www.nordfjord.no
Visit Norway: www.visitnorway.com
Do you have any questions about Olden or cruising the Norwegian Fjords in general? Feel free to leave a comment and we’ll be sure to help where we can!
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