Welcome to Norway
Welcome to NorwayBergen
It’s only fitting that your Norwegian coastal experience begins in Bergen, Norway’s cultural and artistic hotspot. Take the transfer from the airport to your hotel, located in the heart of the city. The rest of the day or evening is spent at your leisure.
In many ways, Bergen is like a medieval living museum. Founded by King Olaf III in 1070 AD, Bergen was Norway’s capital for many years. As you wander its cobblestone streets and alleyways, you’ll note how this bustling city has lost none of its heritage and historic charm.
Depending on how much time you have, you can take a funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen. At the summit, you’ll be able to take in spectacular views of Bergen, its neighbouring fjords and surrounding mountains.
For dinner, what better place to go than the fish market in the city centre? There, various indoor stalls cook fresh seafood on the spot for you, filling the air with appetite-arousing aromas.
*Please note that if the date you make your booking is less than 90 days before your chosen departure date, your voyage will start on Day 2 in Bergen and end on Day 15 in Oslo.
Exploring Norway’s cultural hub
Exploring Norway’s cultural hubBergen
You’ll go on a guided sightseeing tour of Bergen after your breakfast at the hotel. Enjoy visiting well-known sites such as Nordnes peninsula, medieval Håkon’s Hall, the Renaissance-era Rosenkrantz Tower, and 12th century St Mary’s Church, known as Mariakirken in Norwegian.
Your tour will also take in the UNESCO-listed buildings in the Bryggen district. Once the haunt of 14th century Hanseatic League traders, these colourful wooden wharves now house artisanal boutiques and galleries ideal for souvenir shopping.
The sightseeing tour also includes a visit to the 7 Fjell brewery, Bergen’s first microbrewery and one of the 50 Norwegian suppliers we partner with. You can look forward to a relaxed tour of the brewery and sampling a range of their delicious beers in a tasting session.
Bergen is located right in the heart of the scenic Fjord Norway area. If you’d like to get birds eye view of the city, hop aboard a funicular up to Mount Fløyen. At the summit, you’ll be able to take in spectacular views of Bergen, its neighbouring fjords and surrounding mountains.
Today you’ll have the chance to explore Bergen at your own pace before you board the ship. If you want to learn more about the city’s history, visit the Old Bergen Museum. You’ll go back in time as you stroll around this open-air museum featuring around 50 reconstructed wooden houses from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Fantoft Stave Church is another cultural highlight you’ll want to make time for. Set against woodland, this unique building blends pagan and Christian architecture and has a fascinating history to boot.
A transfer will take you from the hotel to MS Trollfjord, which will depart by mid-afternoon. Once we’ve welcomed you aboard and you’ve settled into your cabin or suite, you’ll meet your Coastal Experience Team. You’ll get to know each member of the team well as they give lectures and organise onboard activities for you throughout your voyage.
Grab yourself a drink in the ship’s two-storey panorama lounge and meet your fellow guests. As the ship sails from Bergen and into Hjeltefjord, your scenic adventure along Norway’s coast is underway.
Molde is the capital and commercial centre of Romsdalen, which sits on the southern coast of the Romsdal Peninsula. We’ve stopped at this port many times before on our Coastal Express route, but this time we’ll be making a much longer stop, so you’ll have all the time you need to get your fill of the town.
There are a number of optional activities organised by your Coastal Experience Team that add to your experience of Molde. Accessible nearby on an optional excursion is the Atlantic Road, an icon of the Norwegian coast that often features in Hollywood movies.
To get the best panoramic views of the area, join us on a hike to Varden viewpoint, following the trail from the town centre. Once you’re there, you can gaze at the town from above at the height of 402 metres above sea level and admire the 222 snowy peaks across Moldefjord.
If you prefer to stay closer to the ground, you can pop into the Romsdal Museum, one of Norway’s largest folk museums about ten minutes away from the town centre.
An ancient fishing town
An ancient fishing townRørvik
The Vikna archipelago is a chain of around 6,000 islands, islets and skerries. The largest of the chain, Inner-Vikna, is where we’ll make our next stop. We aim to dock at the port town of Rørvik around mid-morning, remaining there most of the day.
The town and its surrounding areas have a long history, with burial mounds found there that date back to ancient times. The area’s maritime legacy is well-documented across Rørvik’s many museums, particularly The Norwegian Coastal Museum.
Similarly, at SalmoNor visiting centre, you can take a tour of a modern salmon farm and find out more about the Norwegian aquaculture industry that supplies the world with tasty Nordic salmon.
Another major export is cod, and the town even has an annual Cod Festival in March. This species of fish is especially common in the waters of the archipelago during winter, so why not indulge yourself in some fresh cod cakes while here.
Village life and fjord nature
Village life and fjord natureLødingen
The administrative centre of a municipality with the same name, Lødingen is a village on the southwestern shore of Hinnøya, with a population of under 2,000. This is a port that our ships used to visit on one of our earlier coastal routes and returning here is a kind of homecoming for us.
We’ll dock at around midday, using Lødingen as a base for a few hours to explore more of Hinnøya island, Norway’s largest island south of Svalbard. Wander the streets near the port and admire the traditional red fishing huts, or rorbuer, that line the shore. As you walk, you’ll likely notice the calming atmosphere that village life brings.
The highlight of this visit has to be the breathtaking fjords and mountains that the Norwegian coast is so famous for. Branching off of Andfjord, Gullesfjord cuts into the north side of Hinnøya, bordered by pristine mountain ranges. The area is popular among campers, who stay on the campsite or in cabins and fish for cod in the fjord during winter.
From Lødingen, you can join a handful of optional excursions, including a fishing trip with a local, an immersive Sámi experience to learn more about their culture and history, or a visit to Dampskipsbrygga, Lødingen’s former wharf.
The city of Northern Lights
The city of Northern LightsAlta
Alta is one of the bigger coastal towns we visit, with a population of over 10,000 people. A particularly famous part of the town is Alta River, one of Norway’s best salmon rivers. Here, large salmon are regularly caught, with some even weighing up to 24 kg. You won’t regret trying some fresh grilled salmon in one of the local restaurants.
At 70 degrees north, this town is still far above the Arctic Circle. The area is known for particularly good Northern Lights visibility, so keep your camera ready. If the skies are clear and the conditions are right, you should be able to get some amazing shots of the lights dancing above you.
You can learn more about this incredible natural light show at the Northern Lights Cathedral, which can be visited on our optional guided tour of the town. The cathedral even has an exhibition showing how Alta became the epicentre for ground-breaking research of the Aurora Borealis between the 19th and 20th centuries. As part of the tour, you’ll also visit the Alta Museum which chronicles the discovery of Northern Europe’s largest concentration of prehistoric rock art at the head of nearby Altafjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Increased snowfall in the winter allows for some truly authentic Arctic excursions, like dogsledding. The snow and climate of Alta also creates the perfect conditions to build and maintain the Igloo Hotel, located on the banks of river Alta.
You’ll have the chance to visit and tour the world’s northernmost ice hotel, built out of snow and ice every winter and carved with different artistic themes by local sculptors. Head to the hotel’s ice bar, decorated with handcrafted ice sculptures and order a drink in an ice glass – no ice cubes needed.
The northernmost point
The northernmost pointHonningsvåg
The northernmost city on the mainland, Honningsvåg’s landscape is quite distinctive, with barely any trees or bushes. This far north, winters are long and snowfall is high, so get ready for some fantastic winter scenery and activities.
Feel the snow crunching under your snowshoes as you hike across the plains. You might even be able to try your hand at ice fishing, a beloved winter tradition in the far north. Get a taste of the local delicacy, king crab, which is caught in the waters around Honningsvåg and served year-round. Admire local art in the Once Upon a Dream art gallery, and don’t miss the Honningsvåg Church. This is the oldest building in the area, dating back to 1885.
The highlight of any trip to Honningsvåg is a visit to the North Cape. This is one of the northernmost points of mainland Europe, and as we’re visiting in winter, we can get there by snowmobile. Standing near the northern edge of Norway and looking out over the Barents Sea under the polar night sky is a truly special experience. Add the ethereal Northern Lights dancing in the sky above, and you’ve got a sight you’ll never forget.
The cape is marked with a famous globe monument, which demands a selfie or two… or five. When you’re ready, head inside North Cape Hall to warm up, and learn about life in the High Arctic through a short film and a variety of exhibits.
Having reached the northernmost point of our voyage, we’ll turn around and begin going south as we sail away in the evening.
The gateway to the Arctic
The gateway to the ArcticTromsø
Today you’ll get the chance to see the Arctic Capital itself. Often called the “gateway to the Arctic”, Tromsø is Norway's northernmost university city, and the ideal place to enjoy some proper winter activities, like dog sledding and snowshoeing.
Sitting around 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø experiences Polar Night for just over a month in the winter, and will give you a great chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
This urban city is buzzing with life, with everything from trendy restaurants and cafés to boutique shops selling local crafts and produce, and even high fashion. MS Trollfjord will be in port here for 13 hours, giving you plenty of time to both join optional excursions and explore the city yourself.
Among the activities on offer is a guided tour of the Polar Museum which chronicles the city’s legacy of Arctic hunting and trade. For live animals, head to the Polaria centre, an aquarium home to a variety of Arctic marine species, including seals.
Across the water from Polaria, you’ll find the Arctic Cathedral, standing out in the cityscape due to its striking design and impressive stained-glass window. There may also be opportunity to visit some of Tromsø’s surrounding fjords and possibly the rugged island of Senja.
Lofoten islands and our historic birthplace
Lofoten islands and our historic birthplaceStokmarknes, Svolvær
Today, we explore Lofoten, a striking group of islands that rise out of the Norwegian Sea. As soon as you see the towering peaks around you with fishing villages clinging to their sides, you’ll understand why this island chain is so often praised as one of Norway’s most stunning locations.
We can’t visit the area without spending some time in Stokmarknes. This historic town is part of Vesterålen, an archipelago just northeast of Lofoten. Of all the places we visit, this one is particularly special to us. It was here that the Original Coastal Express was founded in 1893 by shipping pioneer Richard With.
The Coastal Express soon became a lifeline for Norway’s remote coastal communities, and fittingly, our legacy has been immortalised in the place where it all began. Standing on the waterfront, you’ll find our 1956 ship MS Finnmarken, encased in a glass building like a ship in a bottle.
This is Hurtigrutemuseet, the museum that chronicles our history as Norway’s leading expedition cruise line from start to now. On a guided tour, you can explore the retired vessel and experience the atmosphere of a past era.
We’ll dock in the town of Svolvær in the afternoon. Located on the island of Austvågøya in the south of Lofoten, Svolvær is the biggest town of the archipelago, humming with shops, restaurants, galleries, and cafés to enjoy. You can also admire views of the Svolvær Goat, a nearby mountain named for resembling a goat and its horns.
A variety of optional excursions are available from Svolvær, including winter fishing, paddling along the coastline in a kayak, or embarking on a bus tour to learn more about Lofoten’s history.
Distinctive Nordic nature
Distinctive Nordic natureBrønnøysund
Surrounded by islands and water, Brønnøysund sits on a narrow peninsula that juts out of the mainland. Around 5,000 people live in this small town, many in colourful houses against a backdrop of gentle slopes and dramatic mountain peaks.
Enjoy the bustling atmosphere of the harbour and take a walk along Havnegata. Drop into one of the pubs for a snack, or treat yourself to a meal in a local restaurant. Wander the visitors’ marina, or visit an 1870 Neo-Gothic stone church. For some extra excitement, you may be able to go kayaking, or island-hopping on a RIB safari.
As we sail, look out for the Vega archipelago, a cluster of some 6,500 islands, skerries, and islets. There’s a UNESCO World Heritage Centre on the island of Gardsøy which showcases how highly prized eider down is harvested from the local eider ducks by providing little huts for them to build their nests in.
On an island south of Brønnøysund, you’ll find Torghatten mountain, recognisable by a natural tunnel that runs through the centre. According to local lore, the hole is the result of a troll who fired an arrow at a young woman who had rejected his advances. As the Troll King threw his hat to protect her, the sun began to rise, turning the hat to stone with a hole in the middle from the arrow.
On an optional excursion, you can take an hour’s walk up to the hole in the mountain. Peer through the tunnel and enjoy the view of the islands around.
A picturesque town
A picturesque townÅlesund
After a hearty breakfast on the ship, we’ll dock mid-morning at Ålesund, a town that spreads out across a string of islands.
As we approach the shore, you might first notice the distinctive style of architecture. Every detail of the buildings, from the bright colours to the rounded spires, was inspired by the Art Nouveau style, which was popular in the early 1900s. Almost the entire town received a makeover in the style when it was rebuilt after a major fire in 1904.
As you leave the waterfront, you’ll find yourself in a fairy-tale town, wandering narrow streets lined with unique houses. If your camera’s memory card isn’t already full after this, you can get impressive photos of the archipelago from the nearby Mount Aksla viewpoint. The 418 steps leading there might look intimidating, but the views are well worth the effort.
You can also visit the Atlantic Sea Park, Norway’s first marine science centre. This is one of Northern Europe’s largest saltwater aquariums, providing a home to seals, otters, and crabs, as well as many other kinds of marine life. You can even see Humboldt Penguins here, a species otherwise absent north of the equator.
Viking historyThe Hardangerfjord, Haugesund
Journeying south along Norway’s west coast, we sail past some of Norway’s most famous fjords, none more so than Hardangerfjord.
At 179 kilometres in length, it is the second longest fjord in the country, and fifth longest in the world.
The stunning waterway is one of Norway’s finest. See mountain scenery everywhere you look, with the white peaks that tower over the fjord being reflected in the shimmering water below.
The region is famous for its apple products, from jams and juice to its award-winning cider, which one food writer described as ‘Nordic Champagne’.
We’ll reach Haugesund, the ‘Home of the Viking Kings’ in the afternoon. The nickname is inspired by sites such as St. Olav’s Church, built in 1250 by King Håkon Hå. There’s also Haraldshaugen, a national monument reputed to be the first king’s burial site.
Why not step back in time to the Viking Age at Nordvegen Visiting Centre which features exhibitions presented by a fictional Harald Fairhair himself?
The city of lighthouses
The city of lighthousesKristiansand
Located on the southern tip of the country, Kristiansand is Norway’s fifth-largest city. We aim to be at port from morning to late afternoon, giving you plenty of time to explore.
As you enjoy a guided walk, you might notice that the city is built on a uniform grid plan, with several straight roads running from the harbour all the way through the city. These roads are lined with architecture from different eras – evidence of the extensive rebuilding the city underwent after major fires in the 18th and 19th centuries and an attack during World War II.
Kristiansand is on a mission to become the most sustainable port in Europe. Find out more about this admirable goal on an optional excursion that includes a visit to Odderøya Island. Here, you can see beautiful views of the ocean and city and visit 18th-century military barracks that have been transformed into creative artist studios running several sustainable initiatives.
Kristiansand’s 20th-century military past is the focus of an optional excursion to Batterie Vara. Originally built as a German fort in World War II, it features the world’s second-largest cannon ever mounted on land.
Another optional excursion takes you to the working Lindesnes Lighthouse, which marks Norway’s southernmost point. See the beacon that has been guiding seafarers to safety on dark nights since the early 20th century and learn about the site’s long history, which goes all the way back to 1656.
Back on the ship, we’ll end our cruise on a high note with a farewell dinner. Take this chance to swap stories and show photos to your fellow travellers one last time.
From the south to the north, and back down to the south, reflect on your journey as you watch our approach to our last port of call, Oslo, in the early morning
Say your goodbyes to the crew and disembark for a transfer to your hotel in Oslo. The rest of the day is spent on your own at leisure.
Why not make your way to the city centre, making sure to take snaps of the architecturally distinct Rådhuset town hall, Royal Palace, and Oslo Cathedral.
Along the waterfront, there’s Aker Brygge for popular eateries, the imposing Akershus Fortress, and the gleaming new buildings around Bjørvika waterfront. The latter is where you’ll find modern attractions such as the Oslo Opera House and landmark new Edvard Munch Museum which, as you’d expect, has the world’s largest collection of works by the iconic Norwegian artist.
Or, if there’s enough daylight left, you could even jump on the metro from Central station. A short 20-minute ride is all it takes to bring you to the edge of a tranquil alpine forest that overlooks the city.
*Please note that if the date you make your booking is less than 90 days before your chosen departure date, your voyage will start on Day 2 in Bergen and end on Day 15 in Oslo.
A voyage to remember
A voyage to rememberOslo
Checking out of your hotel in Oslo after breakfast marks the end of your travels with us.
You’ve sailed on The North Cape Express, exploring Norway’s coastal cities and villages all the way to the top of the European continent. During the journey, you’ll have experienced Norway’s varied climate, seen majestic mountains and fjords, and maybe gazed up in awe at the Northern Lights once or several times.
We hope you’ll cherish each of the memories of The North Cape Express that you’ll take home with you. Come sail with us again soon on another iconic voyage of our spectacular home: the Norwegian coast.