To its stunning natural beauty, multi-faceted Norway adds whale-watching fjords and free-roaming reindeer, Viking ships and hiking trips, the midnight sun and Polar nights of Northern Lights, striking architecture, and casts of mythical trolls.
Two seas, the Norwegian and Barents, in two oceans, the Atlantic and Arctic, have crashed against Norway’s ragged rocks to create its ravishing coastline, deeply indented, and liberally sprinkled with islands large and small. Always at one with nature, from colourful towns to the capital city, the country’s urban assets are as much about the setting as the settlement.
Cosmopolitan Oslo lines its fjord and rivers with museums, galleries, modern street art, and a café culture, and with innovative architecture in its tall ‘barcode’ buildings and the brilliant opera house.
Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen is ‘the city of seven mountains’, famed for its wooden houses on the Bryggen quay, and home to the Fløibanen funicular, climbing to stunning cityscape views.
Forming stepping-stones for Molde’s Atlantic Ocean Road, the islets of Alesund are sprinkled with Art Nouveau façades and graceful spires; while Trondheim has a thousand years of history, focused on the national shrine of Nidaros Cathedral, holding the tomb of St. Olav, the country’s Viking monarch.
North of these Viking haunts are the snow-cloaked homelands of the Sami people, where culture and customs continue in reindeer rearing, husky-sledding, folkloric storytelling, and fireside chanting.
Arctic ports include Ørnes, surrounded by 700 islands, backed by magnificent mountains, and offering romantic archipelago views from the ‘love bench’ on the pier; and Bodø is a modern town dubbed the ‘mini-metropole’, a favoured roost for sea eagles and the end of the line for the railway.
On Hinnøya, Norway’s largest island, bustling Harstad is the ‘cultural capital of the north’; while Tromsø, 350km north of the Circle, takes the title as the ‘Gateway to the Arctic’. The base for many polar expeditions, the university town is now a blend of old-world charm and youthful energy.
Honningsvag is the launch pad for the Nordkapp (North Cape), with haunting sights of the Northern Lights and an aura of snowbound seclusion; and, veering from permanent light to endless dark, the tiny town of Kirkenes is very near the Russian border, and forbiddingly far from most of Europe.
The Svalbard archipelago is one of the world’s last true wilderness areas, with 60% of its land pressed beneath gleaming glaciers. With sightings of whales, walruses, and polar bears, icebergs calve in its splendidly scenic fjords, and colonies of kittiwakes, guillemots, and little auks gather on the cliffs.
Varying a little from north to south, temperatures in Norway’s west coast region hover at freezing in winter, rising to around 26°C in summer. The north coast is a few degrees colder, but the Gulf Stream effect means the seas don’t freeze; and winter is the season for seeing the Northern Lights.
Summer is the best time to sail around Svalbard, its sub-polar climate ranging from -15° in winter to +8° in summer. Snowfall is frequent but not abundant, turning to drizzly rain at sea level in summer.
Norway is spectacularly scenic, so just looking out on its landscapes is soothing food for the soul; sleepy villages and busy port towns nestle in sheltering fjords; and ethereal sights of Aurora Borealis are best seen from the sea, the dark skies unpolluted by lights from towns and cities. A cruise of Norway’s western shores is exhilarating, enthralling, and yet relaxing. In a wild world of its own, Svalbard adds drama and invokes a sense of the intrepid adventurer.
With 45 years’ experience and a passion for creating extraordinary adventures, Jules Verne takes you to iconic landmarks and lesser-known sites, with expert tour guides who share their local knowledge, and show you hidden gems. On our tours in Norway, throughout the coastal cruise, the Hurtigruten ship is always in sight of land and, while some longer visits are made, a feature of the journey is the many mini stops of 15-45 minutes at little ports; and Arctic Ocean channels are our paths around the isolated Svalbard islands, which have no roads.
Our guided tours to Norway are ABTA and ATOL protected, and we offer a 100% price guarantee, so you can book with complete confidence.
Voyage to the Northern Lights
From the maze of myriad inlets forming Bergen’s busy bays, to the top-of-the-world wilds of Nature at the North Cape, this classic Norwegian Hurtigruten cruise visits very varied ports of call as it follows Norway’s spectacular coast in search of the Northern Lights