Dreaming of a holiday to see the many splendours of Scandinavia? In the age of cheap flights, there’s probably never been a better time.
But Norway’s most fantastical features are typically found on or near the coastline. For a trip with a difference, cruises provide an ideal way to explore this winter wonderland.
So why not tour the most inspiring sights and experiences in Norway from the comfort of a cruise ship?
Few hotel stays allow you to experience the fjords or the North Cape in quite the same way. Read our top 5 amazing things you can do when you travel Norway’s coastline by ship.
Related: The best places to visit in Norway.
1. Stand on the top of the world
Journey to the northernmost point in Europe and delight in the unique Norwegian attractions you can discover here. The North Cape (or Nordkapp) is popularly called “the top of the world”, and neighbouring Honnigsvåg boasts many interesting things to see and do.
You can meet the indigenous Sami people, a community of reindeer-herding nomads who are protected under international conventions and were once known as Laplanders.
Visit the Artico Ice Bar and experience an authentic Arctic experience – even in the summer months! Depending on your itinerary, you may venture even further into the Arctic Circle, where you will find Bear Island (population… approximately 9 weather station workers!).
Or you can explore the abandoned Russian mining town at Pyramiden and see the frozen wilderness that surrounds the settlements on Spitsbergen.
2. Marvel at the midnight sun
Bask in the golden glow of sunlight that never stops. Travellers and photographers alike report that the accentuated colours and stretched shadows made by the midnight sun make for uniquely beautiful scenes.
If you’re honing your camera skills, you’ll want to snap some shots that will turn out incredibly expressive and dramatic thanks to the distinctive background light.
Other people will enjoy the potential to do some midnight golfing, swimming or kayaking.
Whatever you want to get from your midnight sun experience, make sure to book in the right season. True 24-hour sunlight needs to be experienced between May and July in Arctic Norway.
If you’re sailing further north, you will get a slightly wider window of time.
Related: Experience the Midnight Sun on a North Cape Adventure.
3. Go in search of the northern lights
Witness the ethereal beauty of cosmic forces at play. As solar eruptions propel high velocity particles into the Earth’s magnetic field, the different atoms paint shimmering images across the night sky – the famous aurora borealis.
The greens and reds are created by oxygen, while the violets and blues come from nitrogen.
As the midnight sun recedes, your chance of seeing the fabled northern lights increases. The aurora borealis occurs on a daily basis, but can’t be seen during the summer months because of ambient sunlight.
A full moon will also harm your chances of seeing the phenomenon in its full glory.
The best months to see the northern lights in Norway are November to February, and the best time daily is between 9:30pm and 1:00am. Top tip – your chances of getting a view of the lights increase as you go further north during the months where there is no midnight sun.
So an important factor to consider when you book your trip is whether you want to see the midnight sun or the northern lights. The choice is yours!
Related: Tick the Northern Lights off your bucket list on a cruise with Saga.
4. See Europe’s greatest glaciers
Did you know that Norway is home to the largest glacier on mainland Europe? The Jostedalsbreen Glacier covers over 480 square kilometres of the national park where it lies.
Nearby, the smaller but incredibly picturesque Briksdalen Glacier is set amid stunning waterfalls and towering peaks – take a “Troll car” up to see the ice first-hand.
Glaciers have a huge impact on their environment over time and they are intimately tied to many aspects of the natural world including geology, the biosphere and climate change.
Glacial movement slowly erodes and shapes the nearby landscape, and meltwater makes glacial rivers that nourish life.
Of late, the glaciers have been receding (or melting) at a higher rate, so movement on the ice is heavily discouraged due to threat of avalanche. But they can still be witnessed safely from the surrounding landscapes that they help to sustain.
5. Fall in love with the fjords
No trip to Norway’s coastal waters would be complete without an investigation of their fjords. See how the North Sea claws its way inland up vast, steep-banked channels, created by ancient glaciers that probably dwarfed the likes of Jostedalsbreen.
Along the banks, you’ll discover attractive fishing opportunities, alpine scenery and spectacular rock formations. The greatest of all is Geirangerfjord, which boasts scenery including the Seven Sisters Waterfall.
A wall of ice until well into spring, the frozen cliff subsequently transforms into seven streams of ice-cold water during the summer thaw.
For total relaxation, few places in Northern Europe can match the tranquillity of the fjords and their surrounds. Scenery lovers, photographers and people who like to try something a little different on their holidays will simply love a trip to see the fjords.
Are you the kind of maverick spirit who likes experience over sun-worshipping? Take a look at our range of Scandinavian sea adventures, and see if anything floats your (cruise) boat!
Our ships have excellent facilities, from fine dining to spas for pampering, meaning you’ll be spoiled from the moment you step on board.
Discover Norway and Scandinavia for yourself on a cruise with Saga.