A great way to explore the Norwegian coastal ports is a relaxing cruise with Hurtigruten. The 12 day classic round voyage takes in 34 ports from Bergen in the South to the farthest Northern point and beyond to Kirkenes, at only 10 miles from the Russian Border. The scenery can be very dramatic and very different throughout the year. Witness the rugged fjords, ice laden glaciers or in spring the green valleys abundant with pastel coloured Lupines. In November we were on the hunt for the Northern Lights, no better time than when the day light hours are shortened and the nights are crisp.
What to consider before booking
On this voyage one thing you might want to consider is a pre or post-stay in Bergen or perhaps Kirkenes to enjoy more of what they have to offer. Bergen is a land mass of small islands joined by bridges. In the centre there are various attractions such as the Funicular Railway. The journey to the top of Mount Fløyen takes around 8 minutes from here you have panoramic views across Bergen.
There are many small ports en-route which the ships do not stop long at and maybe in the late hours of the evening or early in the morning. If you can pop off and take a stroll, it can be lovely to just get of the ship and have a look at the change of architecture. Here are some of the Northbound Norwegian Coast cruise highlights.
Northbound Norwegian Coast Cruise Highlights
The best ports to visit and what to see
Going North from Bergen, the first port of call with ample time to see and do is Alesund. Beware sometimes the arrival time of stops change due to weather etc and this can also effect the duration in port. If arriving in Alesund on a Sunday, only a few coffee shops remain open.
Climb the 418 stairs to Aksla Viewpoint at the top of the city mountain. Accessible within a 10 minute walk from the cruise terminal. It can also be reached by car or take the City Train up to Fjellstua. Did you know Alesund is also home to Northern Europe’s largest aquarium – Atlantic Sea Park.
Has one of the farthest away cruise terminals with a 20 minute walk from Trondheim town centre. Once in the centre don’t miss the Nidaros Cathedral and Gamle Bybro (Old Town Bridge) there is also Rockheim a museum dedicated to Norway’s Pop and Rock.
The modern town of Bodo is 10 minutes walk from cruise terminal. From here you can also visit Saltstraumen, a natural tidal whirlpool. It’s also the city of Sea Eagles, with 35% of Norway’s population living in this area.
Visit the reconstruction of the world’s longest Viking Longhouse at 83 metres on Borg in the Lofoten Islands. The ship excursion from Stamsund takes you 40 minutes by bus to the site where they found the original Viking Longhouse. The reconstruction has been recreated as accurately as possible on the original site and inside you can experience the Viking Feast. A short time is given to explore the museum and gift shop before the return bus journey to the ship. It is a lengthy bus journey compared to the short time enjoying the performance, meal and dance but the guide on the bus is extraordinary knowledgeable! During the Spring and Summer months this would be a lovely scenic drive going over bridges and passing the quaint little red wooden houses. There is also the opportunity to see Northern Lights in this area, so don’t forget to look up into the evening sky!
The capital of the Arctic, Tromso offers winter dog sledding and the Arctic Cathedral. The ship terminal is located by the main shopping area. If you would like to visit the Arctic Cathedral on your own, a brisk walk over the bridge will get you there in 25 minutes. Another nice way to see the city is via the Cable car up to Mount Storsteinen. (Closed winter 2015 for maintenance). Or relax and enjoy a pint of Mack Beer (Norwegian brewed) in Tromso’s oldest pub Olhallen.
Visit the Northern most point of Continental Europe. A must highlight of the trip! For more information check out last week’s article – Top Attractions in the North Cape, Norway.
Is a very small town with the port located 25 minutes walk from the main town square. Hurtigruten offer an excursion from Kirkenes to The Russian Border or you can take the optional bus/walk and visit the Savio & Borderland Museum to discover the culture of the area. The Museum’s were very informative with lots of displays, there is even a full size aeroplane!
Don’t miss part 2 next week – The Southbound journey.
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