When you step onshore from your luxury cruise ship, you’ll find that each port in Norway is more different, more intriguing and more characterful than the last. Some offer rich style and cutting-edge designs; others offer rustic cuisine and a gateway to some of the heartlands’ most compelling secrets. What all of them offer, however, is a warm welcome, brilliant architecture and shore excursions certain to make your cruise glimmer.
Popular ports in Norway
Once home to classical composer Grieg, Bergen is the quintessential quaint Scandinavian harbour town. Cafes on the cobblestones and narrow side streets hiding arts and crafts make exploring Bergen a joy. Seafood is a big deal here, so step onshore hungry, then burn off that energy with a daring hike to the gorgeous views of Mount Fløyen.
Flåm may be a little harbour town, but it’s nestled in the depths of the world’s largest and deepest fjord. As such, the scale and majesty of the landscape is something to be hold, and Flåm’s own cute red buildings have plenty of heart, too. Don’t assume it’s all sleepy small-town living here – not only can you ride on the world’s steepest mountainside railway, but you can also explore the White Caves of Gudvangen. This natural subterranean maze is made all the more mystic thanks to classical music and superb light shows.
While its the fifth-biggest city in Norway, classy Fredrikstad by the sea is all handsome little houses and near-fairytale aesthetics. It’s a contrast that gives this place all the big-city benefits without any of the drawbacks, and makes Fredrikstad popular with cruisers as a result. The old town shows off the cobblestones and winding streets of the original Fredrikstad, named for King Fredrik and founded by his influence in the 1500s. However, you’re just as likely to enjoy ships in the square, cafes by the water and cycling trails that weave past Bronze-Age burial mounds.
What are the best cruise ships for a Norway cruise?
Cruise ships heading into the northernmost fringes of Europe, especially those sailing from the UK, often make a point of adding Norway to their list of destinations. Thanks to its year-round appeal and friendly communities, Norway is also a rising start among other cruise lines broadening their list of destinations. Here are a few favourites:
A real headline grabber when it made its debut a few years back, Marella Discovery has been faithfully carrying passengers to far-flung destinations ever since. With a five-storey atrium, countless nightlife options and dining choices, and an outdoor cinema, boredom simply doesn’t stand a chance onboard this cruise ship.
As one of the definitive All Inclusive experiences at sea, the massive Marella Explorer has style in abundance. Expect spacious cabins and suites, together with sweeping views over cocktails at Indigo bar with its panoramic windows. Spa treatments either for yourself or as a couple also let you face each port refreshed and soothed.
Shore excursion ideas
From cycling and kayaking to historic tours and the chance to experience some of the most authentic shopping in Scandinavia Norwegian tours don’t skimp on activities. Check out a few recommendations:
Caves and railways at Flåm
Everybody knows that a great adventure contains mysterious caves, majestic mountains and a train ride packed with intriguing and interesting people. Look no further than the outskirts of sleepy Flåm for this, with shore excursions letting you take a trip on its mountainside railway up to explore the White Caves.
Explore Mostraumen Fjord
Mostraumen Fjord is close enough to Bergen to be a popular way to get out of the city for a shore excursion. Tours are often enjoyed by catamaran, but more classic styles of boats also exist for those of you wanting to drift downstream like the days of old. Steep hills peppered with pine trees make the fjord evocative and beautiful, while lodges and cabins dotted throughout this stunning countryside let you see the authentic Norway for yourself.
Oslo city tour
If you’re cruising to Fredrikstad, consider taking the 90-minute transfer to Oslo during your stay. Shopping and sightseeing are all well and good but the city is also home to a sprawling realm of art thanks to Vigeland Sculpture Park. You can also check out nearby Holmenkollen, where the city’s incredible 60-metre ski jump awaits the brave.