Adventure Cruising: Norway

untitled shoot-019The west coast of southern Norway and the coast of northern Norway are regarded as the cruise destinations of a lifetime. National Geographic listed the Norwegian fjords among the world’s top tourist attractions. Wild, dramatic fjords call to celebration travelers. Hurtigruten sails daily along Norway’s 1,250-mile west coast, stopping at 33 ports. Read about a celebration travelers tale in Norway: Nights on Ice.


norway map

Plan Your Trip. This itinerary lists details for sights and excursions on Hurtigruten’s Northern Lights cruise. The most interesting ports are the Hanseatic town of Bergen, the Art Nouveau city of Alesund, the medieval stronghold of Trondheim and the mountainous Lofoten archipelago. After crossing the Arctic Circle, ships stop at Europe’s largest town, Tromsø; and, on day 7, sail into Kirkenes near the Russian border.

In Kirkenes during the dark season from November 27 to January 16, the sun remains below the horizon but at midday the sky brightens for a few hours. In March, you’ll have 12 hours of daylight and the temperature warms up to 28°F.

To plan your time in port, review the websites and information on popular excursions provided below. Sign up early for the Lapland snowmobile trip. You don’t have to pack extra gear as the operator provides thermal suits, boots, helmets and gloves. Bring your driver’s license for the snowmobile tours. Snow overalls, shoes, globes and miner’s light. Hats and snow overalls are provided on the dog-sledding tours.

Pack warm, comfortable clothing that you can layer easily to regulate your body temperature. Layering is the secret to staying warm in cold, stormy weather:

first layer: long-sleeved thermal underwear, synthetic or woolen.
second layer: sweater or fleece top; cotton or fleece pants.
third layer: thick sweater, wool or fleece. Lined pants, preferably windproof. Woolen socks.
fourth layer: winter jacket, winter boots, hat, gloves or mittens.

Learn More.  Visit Norway online for listings on sights, lodging and restaurants. Read about the Northern Lights, Norway’s major winter attraction but no one can guarantee sightings, which depend on weather conditions. Northern Norway Tourism has information on Arctic Circle attractions. To translate the page, click on the Union Jack icon.

DAY 1  Europe gateway. Bergen Airport

Fly to Europe.

Transfer to connecting flight to Bergen Airport (BGO). Check Lufthansa for discounted fares from your gateway to Europe. SAS has convenient connecting flights to Bergen Airport. Both airlines are Star Alliance members.

Getting There
SAS Scandinavian Airlines
Bergen Airport
Fleisland, Norway


DAY 2  Bergen

Take the airport bus to Bergen.

The airport bus takes credit cards in case you decide to wait to exchange money in Bergen. The rate is about $1 U.S. dollar to 5.6 Norwegian kroner. The Airport bus TIDE takes about 30 minutes.

Airport bus TIDE


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Check into the Radisson for one night.

The airport bus stops at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel at Bryggen, the historic waterfront. The Radisson has clean, comfortable rooms and beds with thick comforters. Before you turn in for the night, wander the wharf’s cobbled streets. The wooden houses and medieval gables is among Norway’s most photographed images. Peer into windows. The Bryggen Museum next to the hotel houses artifacts unearthed when the Radisson was built.

Radisson Blu Royal Bergen
+47-55 54 30 00


DAY 3  Bergen, MS Trollfjord

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Visit Hanseatic Museum on Bryggen waterfront.

Bergen’s first buildings arose along the Bryggen waterfront. Olav, king of Norway relocated here in the 13th century with the rise of the lucrative cod-fish industry. Bergen was a vital link in the Hanseatic League, a chain of European and Baltic cities with shared trading agreements. German Hanseatic merchants traded codfish and grain for 400 years from the 1704 building that is now the Hanseatic Museum. If the occupants returned, they would find the rooms unchanged and could resume the day’s work.

Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene


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Stop at the visitor information center.

The Bergen card includes museum entries and the funicular discount. If you are a music lover, visit the home of Edvard Grieg, a romance-era composer.

Bergen Tourist Information Office
Strandkaien 3 NO-5014 Bergen
(+47) 55 55 20 00


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Ride the funicular. Have lunch at Fløien Folkerestaurant.

Ride the funicular to the top of Mount Fløien, one of seven mountains that surround the city. A panoramic of fjords and forested mountains fill the dining room windows.

Fløibanen Funicular
Fløien Folkerestarant
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Board the MS Trollfjord for a seven-day cruise.

The Norwegian Coast Express stops at 33 ports over seven days. The decorative theme for the Trollfjord is the Northern Lights. Bundle up and witness the ship depart on the viewing deck at 10:30 p.m.

Cruise terminal, Bergen Harbor


DAY 4  Ålesun

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See the sights of Ålesun. In port 3 hours.

After a devastating fire, Ålesun was rebuilt in 1904 in the Jugend decorative style, (German Art Nouveau). Walking from the pier, you pass the fishermen’s quay and the Brosundet canal. The Art Nouveau Centre in a Jugend town house displays furnishings and decorative art. A staircase leads to Mount Aksla for a sweeping view of the archipelago and fjords. The town center occupies two of  seven islands and is packed with church spires and towers. Have a quick lunch at Fjellstrua, then take a taxi to the ship.

Art Nouveau Centre
Apotekergata 16, 6004 Ålesund
+47 70 10 49 70
Mount Aksla 

DAY 5  Trondheim

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See the sights of Trondheim. In port 6 hours.

An ancient city, Trondheim was founded in 997 by Viking king Olav Tryggvason. Walk around Market Square. Pick up maps at the Tourist Information Office by the statue of the “Go’dagen” housemaid. Enter the Brubakken district along the Old Town Bridge. According to a local legend, kissing under the red arch ensures a lifetime of marital bliss. Streets lead uphill to Kristiansten. At the top, Monk’s Island comes into view and the remaining walls of an 11th century Benedictine monastery.

Trondheim Tourist Information Office
Market Square, Trondheim


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Visit Nidaros cathedral.

The construction of Nidaros cathedral, which is among the wonders of Norway, began in 1070 and continued for 250 years. Pilgrims came by the thousands to touch St. Olav’s tomb. Olav now lies in an unmarked grave beneath one of the small stone crosses carved in the cathedral floor among the tombs of Norway’s kings and queens.

Nidaros cathedral
Kongsgårdsgata 2, 7013 Trondheim


DAY 6  Bodø. Stamsund. Svolvær. Lofoten Islands.

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Visit Saltstraumen. In port 2.5 hours

Go up on deck as the ship crosses the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle marks the border for the midnight sun and the polar night. The further north you go, the longer these periods last. From November to January, the sun is below the horizon all day. But even in the darkest period when the sun never rises in the sky, there are a few hours of dawn around midday when the light can be beautiful.

Board the tour bus to Saltstraumen. Walk down under the bridge to view the world’s most powerful tidal current. Four times a day, 13 billion cubic feet of water passes through a 164-yard opening. The greatest difference between high and low tides occurs in March, and the current is strongest at the full moon. It is about 20 mile from Bodø.



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Have dinner in a Viking banquet hall in the Lofoten Islands.

Disembark in Stamsund and travel by bus to Svolvær, passing large farms that lay under the snow while a guide describes the Viking period from 500 to 900. The replica of a chieftain’s house sets the mood for an authentic experience. Cloaked in wool capes, guests sit at tiered wooden tables facing the central fire. The chieftain enacts a rite to Odin and Freja, asking the sun to return. He raises a goblet of home-brewed mead and the feast begins. The fare—lamb, potatoes, root vegetables and oak cakes with jam and cream—is rustic, but in character. Afterward, visit the weaving room and the armory where you can try on a mail shirt, helmet and flourish a real sword.

Lofotr Viking Museum
Prestegårdsveien 59, 8360 Bøstad
+ 47 76 08 49 00


DAY 7  Tromsø

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See the sights of Tromsø. Visit Polaria. In port 4 hours.

Over the centuries the battle to survive in the resource-rich far north played out in Tromsø. The Polar Museum, located in an 1830’s customs house, highlights Norway’s polar history. Look for a building that looks like ice floes sandwiched together. Inside, a movie plays of Svalbard’s Arctic wilderness. The aquarium forms a tunnel so the bearded seals and other fish are swimming beside you. Every afternoon, the trainers feed the seals. Then, walk up Storgaten, the main street, to Mack’s Beer Hall for a stein of Mack beer. Examine the memorabilia. This beer cellar was a popular meeting place for fishermen, hunters and polar explorers.

The Polar Museum
Søndre Tollbodgate 11, Tromsø
77 62 33 60
Hjalmar Johansensgate 12, Tromsø
77 75 01 00
Olhallen. Mack’s Beer Hall
Storgata 5-13, Tromsø
+47 77 62 45 80


DAY 8  Honningsvåg. Kjøllefjord. Mehamn.

See the sights of Honningsvåg. Visit the North Cape. In port 3.5 hours.

The Gulf Stream keeps the Honningsvåg harbor ice-free but thick snow covers the road and walkways. Even grandmothers spark, navigate  the snow and ice on kicksleds. Next, cross the 71st parallel on the road leading to the continent’s northernmost point. Stand 1,214 feet above the Arctic Ocean beside the North Cape globe. Exhibits in the North Cape Hall depict centuries of tourism to this inspiring site.

North Cape Plateau
North Cape Hall
Nordkapphallen, 9764 Nordkapp
+47 78 47 68 60
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View the Finnmark Coast from the ship’s deck.

The Samis believed that divine power flowed through the stately rocks and cliffs. In late afternoon, the ship passes the Finn Church or Finnkjerka rock formation, which marks the entrance to calm Kjøllefjord bay. When fishermen set out to sea and were beset by storms, the glimpse of Finnkjerka reassured them.


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Tour Norwegian Lapland on a snowmobile.

Zip into a warm snow suit and hop on a snowmobile. Steering is tricky but the guides offer helpful tips. Most of the guides have Samis (Laplanders) in their family line and know the terrain. The route heads north from the old trading post and fishing village of Kjøllefjord over the mountains to Mehamn. On clear, starry nights, curtains of emerald light flutter above the plateau.

Sports & Recreation
Nordic Safari
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Enjoy the extravagant Arctic buffet.

Fishermen appear port side in the morning to deliver a catch of king crab. The giant crabs from the Barents Sea weigh up to 11 pounds and measure 3 feet between claws. The small shrimp dabbed with caviar are delicious. No need to be shy about eating all you want: all around the dining room plates are piled high with shells, picked clean.

Hurtigruten Dining Room


DAY 9  Kirkenes. Storskog. Pasvik Valley.

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Disembark in Kirkenes. Check into Sollia Lodge for two nights.

The ship moves quickly through the towns at the top of Norway: Vadsø then Kirkenes harbor, just as the sun rises over Prestfjellet Mountain, awakening the town. Take a taxi from the ship to Sollia Lodge, 8 miles from Kirkenes. The lodge has 4 apartments, 6 cabins and a cheerful breakfast room. Rune Nordhus runs the lodge and raises Alaskan huskies in the kennel. An experienced musher, Rune races in the prestigious Finnmarkslopet. The lodge is a third of a mile from the Russia border.

Sollia Lodge & Dog Farm (Kennel)
+ 47 78 99 08 20


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Have lunch at a lakeside restaurant.

The Norway-Russia border runs down the center line of the snow-covered lake beyond the dining room windows. Jorunn Nordhus, Rune’s father is the kitchen maestro preparing tartar of arctic char, reindeer fillet with red wine sauce and cloudberry parfait for his lunch guests. Delicious smells permeate the dining room.

Gapahuken Restaurant


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Tour Pasvik Valley on a snowmobile.

One person on a Ski-Doo GTX is best. After a driving lesson and security briefing, you head off into Pasvik Valley, its hillsides cloaked in pines, spruces and larches that shelter Norway’s largest populations of brown bears. Drive onto ice-covered Pasvikelva River to the Russian border. The Russians propped dummy soldiers in the lookout tower. The region’s cultural history extends thousands of years. Your guide will tell you stories of the Sámi people, the princes Boris and Gleb, St. Trifon of the Pechenga Monestery. The winter landscape sparkles in the rosy light.

Sports & Recreation
Pasvikturist AS
Dr.Wesselsgate 9, Kirkenes
+47 78 99 50 80


DAY 10  Melkefoss

Hunt for the Northern Lights on a dog sled.

When the dogs see the harnesses, they bound forth yelping and leaping. Dog-sledding in the woods—over open meadows, across frozen lakes, up forested tracks—is a age-old thrill. The Northern Lights appear turn the evening ride into a vivid dream. Afterward, you gather in a Viking longhouse around a blazing fire pit for a traditional Sami meal of reindeer fillet, potatoes, asparagus and cloudberries with cream. Trine Beddari who has Sami heritage runs the kennel and farmstead.

Sports & Recreation
BIRK Husky Adventure
Melkefoss, Svanvik
47 909 78 248


DAY 11  Kirkenes Airport (Høybuktmoen). Oslo Airport (Gardermoen).

Fly to Oslo for your connecting flight.

From Kirkenes in Northern Norway, take a 2-hour flight to Oslo airport. There are daily departures on SAS or Norwegian Air. Stay in Oslo for two nights before heading back to the U.S.

Going Home
SAS Scandinavian Airlines
Norwegian Airlines


—Text and photography by Donna Peck. BIRK Husky photo courtesy of BIRK Husky Adventure

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