Icy glaciers rising high above a majestic blue sea
Many cruise lines will get you to Norway to view the fjords and offer expanded itineraries of this area. This includes Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines and P&O Cruiess. Should you want one of thje luxury cruise lines, you will be spoilt with choice with Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Ponant, Seabourn Cruises and Silversea Cruises.
Many of the larger ships are also expanding their itineraries in this region so that they could offer something for everybody. In the past you needed to commit several weeks of holiday time for a cruise of this type. Not any longer. If you only have seven days available, you can to the Norwegian fjords. Many cruise lines will offer sailing from UK, saving the need to fly.
If you are planning on a longer, more exotic Norwegian fjords cruise, your embarkation port could be as diverse as Norway’s Bergen, Iceland’s Reykjavik, and Norway’s Tromso.
A cruise of the Norwegian fjords offers so much in the way of natural beauty. Since the major draw of such a cruise is onboard viewing of nature’s splendours, this itinerary is ideal for multi-generational families. This is because unlike cruises to most other destinations, where the emphasis is on visiting ports and often taking extended tours, with a Norwegian fjords cruise the emphasis is viewing natural wonders from the ship. This makes such a sailing easy on the family since everyone from grandma to the littlest one can easily participate.
The best time to cruise the Norwegian fjords is during the months of June, July and August when the weather is at its mildest.
The entire countryside of Norway is absolutely breathtaking, but its west coast is particularly astonishing because of the fact that it contains most of the fjords, and there is no better place from which to view these mighty landforms – icy glaciers rising high above a majestic blue sea – than from the deck of a cruise ship during a leisurely sailing among them.
Norway is a land of beauty boasting water, turrets, spires, and ornamentation on its buildings, giving every town character and charm. Each village and town looks as if it was part of a fairytale and the country is a collection of fjords, fishing villages, little islands, and majestic mountains. The town of Alesund is one of these unique places to visit and with plenty of accommodation options available, you may decide to stay for a little longer.
The town of Alesund has had an interesting past. The current town is just one hundred years old as the original Alesund was devastated by a fire in 1904 on a stormy night. Ten thousand people were left homeless and within three years, the Art Nouveau style of buildings replaced the old Alesund with a new colourful and decorative one. Each building is decorated brightly and turrets and spires prevail.
King Olaf III built the city in 1070 and it was the capital of Norway in the 12th and 13th centuries. It was a leader in trading and was part of the Hanseatic League during the 14th century. With the exception of historical landmarks scattered throughout Bergen, the city is very much a modern cosmopolitan one today.
Many of the buildings in Bergen suffered damage during the German occupation and allied bombing raids in World War II. The older, historical buildings were destroyed, but those that remain are open to the public. They include the Fantoft Stave Church, which is a replica of the 1150 original, King Haakon’s Hall from 1261, and St. Mary’s Church from the 12th century. King Haakon’s Hall has undergone two restorations to conserve the Gothic building and it is still used today for coronations, weddings, and state occasions.
Olden is the Southern-most city in north Norway, on the Western side of the country. It is part of three short branches in the Nordfjord. If you wish for a lovely valley combined with outstanding cliffs then Olden is the place to visit. You will see imposing slopes rising to more than 1700 metres. In Olden, as well as the beautiful lakes, you will see the fast-flowing river which provides the city with its water. Olden is flanked by glaciers at the tongue of Jostdalsbre.
Olden is not to be missed, whether you arrive by cruise ship or by plane. Travellers should remember that Norway is a cooler climate and therefore tourists need to be prepared for the varying weather conditions. The coastal part of the city has mild winters and cooler summers. You can also expect that further into the city will be colder in the winter and warmer in the summers. Something not to be missed is the polar nights. For those who have never seen the northern lights you are missing a spectacular show of nature. These lights can be filmed and photographed with a proper camera adding to the special trip you take to Olden. The weather can be rainy and snowy during parts of the year with temperatures ranging from a few degrees below freezing to around 15ºC.
Stavanger is in the county of Rogaland Norway. Stavanger was first established as a municipality in 1838, but is several years older as a settlement. Stavanger is considered the 4th largest city in Norway with 119,000 residents. A little aside: Stavanger is known as the “Petroleum Capital of Norway.’ The city is one of contradictions as it has both old and new influences on its architecture.
For those travelling to Stavanger you can expect the climate to be a mild one since the city is on the southwest coast of Norway. You have a maritime climate with rain at about 1200 mm per year. Most of the time temperatures will be above freezing even in winter. Summer is the most pleasant season with a lot of sun. Stavanger also boasts the longest growing season in Norway.
Geiranger is considered the crowning glory of Norway’s fjord district with its majestic snow covered mountains, wild waterfalls, lush vegetation and the deep blue waters of the fjord itself. It is not a city to be enjoyed in just one day and there are plenty of accommodation choices here to suit your every need while you explore this portion of Norway. The people are friendly and multi-lingual, and they will be able to help you make your stay the best possible.
You can arrive in the city by sea or land and no matter by which route you come, your camera will be snapping all the way. The southern mountain roads offer you views of the glaciers and snow capped mountains that don’t change very much until late in the summer. You will travel through 38 bends in the road as you head down to Geiranger. Coming in on the road from Alesund is equally impressive, and coming in via the car ferry on the fjord offers a completely different perspective as you are looking at the mountains instead of down at the fjord.
Part of the Aurlandsfjord, the city of Flåm is located around the fjord and surrounded by steep mountains, waterfalls, and deep valleys. It is the perfect spot for a holiday to get you in tune with nature, and most of the activities in and around the city are nature and adventure based. With cultural and historic events thrown into the mix, you have a unique place to stay to view the stunning countryside. With the Flåm railway nearby or fjord cruising to enjoy, visitors to Flåm will never be disappointed.
The Sognefjord, where Flåm is located, is the deepest in the world at 1308 metres deep and is 204 kilometres long. The city can be accessed by car, boat, or train, and the fjord is deep enough to accommodate large cruise ships in the spring and summer. Visitors can stroll around the piers and watch the boats come and go on the fjord, maybe even taking in a boat trip of their own to gain a different perspective on the fjord.
Hammerfest is located in the county of Finnmark, Norway. Hammerfest is alongside the islands of Kvaloya, Soroya, and Seiland. These islands offer plenty of outdoor attractions with the fjords and waterways to enjoy. Hammerfest began in 1838 as a municipality though there is evidence of settlers from centuries earlier. The city name of Hammerfest came from an old anchorage in which the first part, hammer, refers to large rocks. The large rocks were great moorings for boats. The second part of the name came from ‘fastening’, another term related to boats.
Hammerfest is disputed as the Northernmost city of Norway as it is in competition with Honningsvaag. Hammerfest is the oldest town situated on the island of Kvaloga with a road connecting the mainland. Several years ago the Kvalsund Bridge was created to make this connection and is one of the main sites to see in Hammerfest. A picture of the Kvalsund Bridge is a must for any tourist on a cruise ship or staying in the city.
Honningsvaag is located in the northern part of Norway. In fact it is considered the northernmost city in the entire country. Honningsvaag is a small port city with only 2,600 residents. Despite an edict in 1997 that all cities must have at least 5000 residents Honningsvaag was able to keep its city status. Honningsvaag is located on the bay of Mageroya, which is also an island.
Honnigsvaag offers a port of call for many cruise ships during the year, but most often in the summer months. Temperatures in Honningsvaag will be around -3 to 15 degrees Celsius through the year. The warmest months are in summer, with July as the best cruising month. July offers sunnier days and less rain than the rest of the year. During the year you can expect rain, clouds, and some snow. The magnificent clouds add to the picturesque appeal. In fact, winter in Honningsvaag is sensational when the storm clouds move over the fjords and the sun sets.
Eidfjord is a small city of around 940 people that covers a little over a kilometre squared in the county of Hordaland in Norway. It is surrounded by steep mountains with a beautiful fjord, a glacier in the distance, reindeer herds on the plateau and simply magnificent unspoiled beauty all around. With a variety of accommodation to fit every type of traveller, this Norwegian city is a place to stop, relax, and take in the scenery.
Kinsarvik is a small village in Hordaland Norway. It was a municipality, but a ruling that you have to have 5,000 residents to be a city has since taken it down to a village. Today, Kinsarvik has only 459 permanent residents. The municipality was first established in 1838 along with many of the cities in Norway. Today the administration function for Kinsarvik lies in Ullensvang.
Before moving into some of the tourist areas that you won’t want to miss, a bit of history is in order. The Sami were very prevalent in Kinsarvik as reindeer herders. It was in the 1900s that the reindeer population seen today began, but there were several prehistoric troops as well. The Sami first began in the Viking era. After the Norse saga came Christianity, which is still practised today in Kinsarvik.
Leknes is located in the county of Nordland in the northern part of Norway. The town of Leknes is a municipality of Vestvagoy, and therefore very small. Unlike other cities and towns in the area, Leknes is not a fishing village. It doesn’t even have its city centre based on fisheries. Instead, Leknes is a cruise ship port for Norway. Lofoten and Vesteralen are the more popular areas in Nordland and popular destinations for the cruise ship passengers calling at Leknes.
Leknes, though small by way of inhabitants has its own airport, which services flights to Bodo and some to Svolvaer. It also has a small bus terminal that will service the greater areas of Nordland. Leknes is considered a twin town to Gravdal, which has the region’s only hospital.
Any traveller to Reykjavik should be aware that in some ways, there are two Reykjaviks for tourists: the summer Reykjavik, and the winter Reykjavik.
Reykjavik in the summer loves tourists. The Gulf Stream keeps it relatively warm, though cloudy most days; there are lots of hotels, camp sites, museums, and a wonderful bus system that runs every day, 07:00 to 24:00.
From the end of August until December, the city’s tourist sites gradually close up; the museums offer reduced hours, and the bus schedules get restricted. All the same, there are some great parts of Reykjavik that can only be experienced in the winter. The Christmas season is a city wide celebration, and the aurora borealis is probably the most amazing light show in the world. And again, thanks to the Gulf Stream, Reykjavik isn’t as cold as many travellers might expect - average winter temperatures are around -1 C. If you do go to Reykjavik in the winter, be prepared for darkness. While Reykjavik doesn’t ever lose sunlight entirely, two hours of twilight a day doesn’t feel like daytime to those of us from further south!
The capital of Northern Norway, Tromso is also known as the Gateway to the Arctic and is a must-see item on any travel itinerary. In terms of travel, you can take a 2-hour flight from Oslo or sail in from Bergen, which will take you four days. Some of the attractions you can look forward to are the Northern Lights, Polar Nights and a mix of island landscapes, fjords and mountainous peaks.
Trondheim is a great place to visit at any time of the year, not just in the summer. The city is located in the county of Sor-Trondelag, about five hundred kilometres from the Polar Circle. Founded in 997 AD, Trondheim was Norway’s first capital, and is today still the coronation city where Norway’s kings are crowned. The city has almost 160,000 residents plus an additional 25,000 students who come to study at the Trondheim University.
Trondheim is accessible by air, train, boat, bus or private car. The airport is situated 32 kilometres from the city in Vaerns with easy connections to multiple destinations in Europe. Train connections can be made from Stockholm or from both the northern and southern railway grids in Norway. Boat travel can be undertaken on the Coastal Express, which stops at Trondheim everyday on both onward and return legs of its journey. Bus and car rental services can be accessed from the major Norwegian cities. Within the city there is an extremely reasonable and efficient bus service, and there are also tram lines and local trains.