The rugged coast of Norway makes for a fantastic sea passage. Whether you sail across the North Sea from the UK or start from a Norwegian port, you get a lot of good sailing time as well as time to stretch your legs at some of the Norwegian ports along your way.
Cruising up the southern coast of Norway, you drop anchor at places like Molde, Ålesund, Flåm, Bergen and Stavanger, where you can see Norway’s magnificent fjords, mountain scenery and nature. Shop around for cruise deals and this holiday may cost less than you think.
Cruise ships have been calling at Molde since 1882 when the first cruise ships started to visit Norway. Looking onto the broad Moldefjord, it is worth climbing up to a viewpoint at Varden for views over the town, fjord and islands and across to over two hundred mountains that will snow on the tops most of the year. You can also find here one of Norway’s largest folk museums, the Romsdal Museum, set up in 1912. Over 50 old buildings from all over the area have been moved here. There is also Fisheries Museum on the nearby island of Hjertøya.
Molde is a centre for all kinds of water activities including diving, surfing, sea rafting, sea fishing, as well as dryer activities like riding, golfing and skiing.
Built on a row of islands, Ålesund is a large city, but has a compact old city centre surrounded by water. Largely destroyed by fire in the early 20th century, it has been rebuilt in an Art Nouveau style.
Ålesund is a good place to stretch the legs and take in the interesting art nouveau shops and buildings and beautiful scenery. Look out to the east to the Sunnmøre Alps, and climb the 400 steps up to Fjellstua for stunning views of the fjords and mountains.
The innermost point of one of the arms of Sognefjord, most cruise ships visit Flåm. A small village, it is perfect for hikes in the mountains, kayaking or cycling.
Second city of Norway, it is also the gateway to the fjords. A historical city from the eleventh century, it was one of the most important cities of the Hanseatic League. The old harbour of Bryggen is a reminder of these days, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A hilly city, it is ringed by mountains known as the Seven Mountains.
There are sights to see: fish market, a funicular to take you up to get a view across the city, Bergenhus fortress, one of Norway’s oldest and best preserved, galleries and an aquarium. But probably the must see place to visit is Bryggen, at the north side of the bay. This old dock and trading area still has wooden houses built after a devastating fire in 1702. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the alleyways will give a good idea of what medieval Bergen was like.
A large city, Stavanger has some interesting museums – Stavanger Oil Museum on Norway’s oil industry; a Canning Museum, a history museum – Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger) with its preserved streets and wooden houses.
The striking landscape around Stavanger is best explored by hiking and there are mountain bikes available for hire. If you’d rather relax (and it’s not too cold), there is a long beach at Solastranden that has small waves for surfing. For those interested in history, you can still see some of the old Second World War gun emplacements here. In the winter, you can skate on the lakes that are tested by the government. Once the green light is given, head for the largest lake, Stokkavannet about 20 minutes by bus from Stavanger. There is an indoor rink at Siddishallen if the ice isn’t safe.
Cruises up the Norwegian coast even in summer, won’t be very warm. You will however, see some stunning landscapes, fjords that drop into the sea, rocky islands and beautiful beaches and most of the year, snow capped mountains. When you go ashore, it’s as much the local culture and crisp, clean air than will impress. And don’t forget to take advantage of the delicious fresh fish that Norway is so famous for.