Cross the Arctic Circle in comfort on this unforgettable 15-day journey up the Norwegian coast. Starting in Bergen, you'll cruise north through a breathtaking coastal landscape of alpine fjords, towering mountains, and colorful fishing villages. Explore the ancient city of Trondheim, discover the magic of the Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands, and visit the "Arctic capital" of Tromsø. Your trip of a lifetime ends in the far north as you disembark at Kirkenes—the most isolated town in Europe.

Highlights

  • Explore the historic port of Bergen
  • Cruise north along Norway's scenic coastline
  • Experience breathtaking landscapes, scenery & wildlife
  • Discover the magical Vesterålen & Lofoten Islands
  • Cross the Arctic Circle to Tromsø
  • Visit Kirkenes, the most isolated town in Europe

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bergen Bergen
Day 2 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 3 Board Hurtigruten Cruise, Depart Bergen Hurtigruten
Day 4 Cruise the Alpine Scenery of Hjørundfjord Hurtigruten
Day 5 Cruise to Trondheim & Explore the City Hurtigruten
Day 6 Cruise to Pristine Nordland Hurtigruten
Day 7 Cruise Across the Arctic Circle to Lofoten & Vesterålen
Days 8-10 Disembark & Explore Vesterålen
Day 11 Re-Board Cruise in Vesterålen, Continue North Hurtigruten
Day 12 Cruise to Tromsø, "Capital of the Arctic" Hurtigruten
Day 13 Cruise to Havøysund & the Bird Mountain of Hjelmsøystauren  Hurtigruten
Day 14 Cruise to Honningsvåg, Gateway to the North Cape  Hurtigruten
Day 15 Cruise to Kirkenes & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bergen

Bergen's historic waterfront
Bergen's historic waterfront

Welcome to Bergen! One of the oldest ports in Europe, this cobblestone wharf city boasts a spectacular setting, surrounded by ocean, mountains, and fjords. Its easily walkable center offers a vast selection of cultural and outdoorsy activities, not to mention a lively restaurant and nightlife scene thanks to its large student population.

Start with a ride on the Fløibanen funicular (or hike the trail on foot) to the top of Mount Fløyen—one of Bergen's seven peaks—for the best views of the city. Take a leisurely stroll back down the path while discovering hidden troll sculptures along the way. Make sure to check out the Bryggen area of downtown to view the waterfront wooden houses that characterize the city. Dating back to the 1700s, the whole neighborhood is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When evening rolls around, head out to dinner and immerse yourself in the city's delightful downtown.

Day 2: Explore Bergen with a Local

Winter views across Bergen.
Winter views across Bergen

Today you’ll meet up with a local resident for a custom private tour of Bergen. Your guide, who was born and raised in the city, will help choose the right activity based on your interests. Some suggestions include:

  • Walk Through History (3 hours): This walk starts from the city center and takes you through the city’s hidden historic gems. During the tour, your local guide will offer local stories of Bergen's customs and culture.

  • Explore Bergen's Parks & Architecture (3 hours): This leisurely walking tour visits notable exteriors and city parks, starting with Saint Johannes, the largest church in Bergen. From there, walk through the botanic garden and onwards to the beautiful green spaces of Nygårdsparken. Wander the city's narrow streets lined with traditional Bryggen houses and eventually visit the waterfront Nordnes park. Your guide will share stories of life in Bergen, as well as offer lesser-known activities and restaurant recommendations not frequented by tourists.

  • Hike Mount Sandviken (2.5 hours): This hike heads to Mount Sandviken, one of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen, and includes a visit to Stoltzekliven—a favorite local spot consisting of 900 steps built by sherpas from Nepal. This trail is home to the steepest race in the world and features spectacular views from the top.

  • Music Lovers Tour (2 hours): Join a  local musician as you visit the city’s thriving music scenes and studios as well as cultural hotspots around town. Learn about local composers and musicians, and end the evening with a concert or jam session.

  • Viking Heritage (3-4 hours): Follow the trail of Viking kings and warriors as you learn about society, mythology, and city construction in ancient Bergen—once the powerful Norse kingdom of Alrekstad.

  • The rest of the day is yours to continue exploring the city on your own. Consider picking up a 24-Hour Bergen Card, which offers free bus travel and free admittance to most museums (as well as other attractions).

Day 3: Board Hurtigruten Cruise, Depart Bergen

Explore Bergen's cobblestone streets by foot or bicycle.
Explore Bergen's cobblestone streets by foot or bicycle

After enjoying breakfast at your hotel, you'll have more time to explore Bergen and its mountainous surroundings on your own. For a brief day-trip excursion, consider hopping on the boat to Mostraumen, which sails across Osterfjorden past spectacular waterfalls and mountains, or take a ride on the adventurous Mount Ulriken Zip Line which runs through hilly forests and treetops near the city center.

In the evening, transfer to the pier and set sail on a Hurtigruten Cruise, your base for the next ten days. As you set sail from the Bergen harbor, enjoy a relaxing buffet dinner and get settled into your private cabin. Make sure to take in the spectacular landscapes, whether from on deck or in the panorama lounge, as you start your journey north up the Norwegian coast.

Day 4: Cruise the Alpine Scenery of Hjørundfjord

The spectacular Hjørundfjord.
The spectacular scenery of Hjørundfjord

Today takes you deep into the magnificent Hjørundfjord. This stunningly beautiful fjord is 22 miles (35 km) long, cutting into the lush alpine countryside of the Sunnmøre Alps. While the mountains in this area are a popular destination, the fjord is still something of a secret, left out of major tourist routes. This means you'll travel past pristine landscapes of steep cliffs, green meadows, and isolated mountain farms, all offering a window into the past. Get a close-up view of small communities and explore all of this at your own pace, far from the rush of mass tourism. You'll also stop by the coastal towns of  Ålesund and Kristiansand before continuing up the coast.

Day 5: Cruise to Trondheim & Explore the City

Explore the ancient city of Trondheim

Today takes you to Trondheim. Founded as early as 997 CE by the Viking king Olav Tryggvason, this ancient city boasts a beautiful waterfront setting, an intimate, walkable center, and a thriving local food scene. Today’s visit includes an optional excursion to Norway’s national shrine, Nidaros Cathedral, a Gothic-style structure built over the burial place of Saing Olav, Norway’s patron saint. Marvel at the cathedral’s architectural details and exquisite works of art, then continue to the Ringve Museum of Musical History, where Norway’s musical history is brought to life. The elegant manor house is surrounded by botanical gardens and provides fantastic views of both the city and the fjord.

In the afternoon, the ship sets a northwest course, past the Kjeungskjær lighthouse and numerous scenic islets and rocky outcrops. Passing through the narrow Stokksund, you'll head towards Rørvik, a port town in the Vikna archipelago.

Day 6: Cruise to Pristine Nordland

Cruise north past the coastal landscapes of Nordland

Continue cruising north today as you pass through the northwestern coastal region of Nordland. Due to its remote location, Nordland bears the distinction of remaining one of the least polluted areas in Europe.

Enjoy the scenic landscapes of steep mountains reaching to the sea and flat, coastal lowlands as you pass numerous islands (skerries).

Day 7: Cruise Across the Arctic Circle to Lofoten & Vesterålen

Visit the stunning Lofoten Archipelago

Today you cross the Arctic Circle. In summer, this means 24-hour daylight—often referred to as the "midnight sun"—while in winter, this latitude provides the best chance of experiencing the northern lights. Even if you aren’t awake to mark the crossing, your captain will make sure that the occasion is a memorable event. If you're sailing in Arctic waters for the first time, you can participate in a daytime Arctic Circle ceremony on deck.

Near Ørnes, you'll find Svartisen, Norway’s second-largest glacier, and continue along the beautiful coast of Helgeland to Bodø. From here, you can head to Saltstraumen in a small RIB boat, where you'll witness the world’s most powerful tidal current. On this journey through the wild, icy landscapes, there's also an excellent chance to observe rare sea eagles.

Later in the afternoon, the sight of the 3,200 foot (1,000 m) high Lofoten Wall appears on the horizon, tucked between sheer granite cliffs and white sandy beaches. The charm of the Lofoten Islands is revealed in its small fishing villages with their bohemian ambiance, where you can take a stroll between stockfish racks and rorbuer, the traditional fisherman’s huts.

Between Stamsund and Svolvær, you'll have the chance to try your hand at life on a local herb and cheese farm or visit the Lofoten’s only craft brewery. As you sail through the narrow Raftsund, stop briefly at the entrance to Trollfjord, where you'll enjoy freshly made fish cakes on the deck, and hear the story of the battle of Trollfjord. If you look closely, you might even imagine you can see the legendary trolls in the high mountains.

Days 8-10: Disembark & Explore Vesterålen

Spend three days discovering the magic of Vesterålen

Disembark and spend the next three days exploring the wonders of Vesterålen at your own pace. This group of islands border Lofoten to the south and are connected by bridges and linked to the mainland, making travel ferry-free. Vesterålen comprises five municipalities: Andøy, , Hadsel, Sortland, and Øksnes.

The landscapes of this district and archipelago tend to be much wilder than other areas in northern Norway, with rounded mountains (compared to the jagged mountains in Lofoten), lush green valleys, inland lakes, and small villages close to the sea. The tallest peaks in Vesterålen reach more than 4,000 feet (1,219 m) above sea level and offer many designated trails along mountains and meadows. For instance, Dronningruta (The Queen’s Route) is a marked trail about 10 miles (16 km) long, and it creates a nice loop along the shoreline and over the mountain between the old fishing villages of Nyksund and Stø.

Whale watching tours are one of the area's biggest draws, with an excellent chance of spotting the majestic creatures year-round due to the islands' nutrient-rich waters. You can also rent bicycles, sea kayaks, or rowboats. Sign up for a fishing trip with a local fisherman, visit a lighthouse with a guide, or explore the hamlets along the west coast.

Day 11: Re-Board Cruise in Vesterålen, Continue North 

Scenery on your way to Finnsnes
Enjoy the pastoral scenery on your way to Finnsnes

Today, you'll embark on the Hurtigruten cruise once again and continue your journey north.

Day 12: Cruise to Tromsø, "Capital of the Arctic"

Tromsø is known as the "Capital of the Arctic"

Prepare for a day full of exciting activities, whatever the season. During the morning hours, you’ll briefly dock at Risøyhamn, Harstad, and Finnsnes, then continue to Tromsø, “Capital of the Arctic” for a prolonged stay. Many historic Arctic expeditions used Tromsø as a starting point for their epic endeavors. In the evening, you’ll continue your northbound journey as the ship sails into waters that offer the best chance of seeing the northern lights between October and March. Gather on deck to search the skies for this breathtaking phenomenon.

Day 13: Cruise to Havøysund & the Bird Mountain of Hjelmsøystauren 

Loading the day's catch on board.
Loading the day's catch on board

Today you'll see Havøysund, a small fishing village of 1,000 inhabitants with a varied and charming architecture of post-war houses in different colors livening up the shoreline. Visit the Måsøy Museum for a collection of items and exhibits highlighting life in a 19th-century fishing village, and pass the Norsk Hydro windmill park, which has become a landmark for people at sea. The 15 windmills are located at Gavlen, where the viewpoint and cafe provide a stunning view of the Barents Sea and the surroundings.

Hjelmsøystauren, just off the coast of Havøysund, is a well-known bird mountain. It boasts some of the highest numbers of different bird species gathered en masse in all of Europe, and you're likely to spot kittiwakes, common guillemots, and razorbills among the species nesting here.

Day 14: Cruise to Honningsvåg, Gateway to the North Cape 

Sunset over Nordkapp (North Cape)

Enjoy magnificent sub-Arctic landscapes while crossing the 71st parallel on today's journey towards one of the northernmost points on the European continent. After early stops in Hammerfest and Havøysund, arrive in Honningsvåg, gateway to the North Cape. An optional excursion to the North Cape plateau takes you to 71°10’21´N, only 1,240 miles (2,000 km) away from the geographic North Pole.

Nearby you'll find the nature reserve of Gjesværstappan. Join a bird-watching safari to discover Finnmark’s largest flock of puffins and kittiwakes. The area teems with birdlife during the nesting season, with mighty sea eagles circling above while guillemots, razorbills, cormorants, Arctic skuas, northern fulmars, Brünnich’s guillemots, and the large northern gannet fill the air with their squawks and screeches.

To learn more about life in this remote region, join the fishing village tour that takes you through the island of Magerøya to the fishing communities of Kamøyvær and Skarsvåg. Along the way, your guide will share stories of the area´s nature, culture, and history.

The ship then continues its course north, sailing into the heartland of the indigenous Sámi. Pass their ancient sacred site, the rock formation Finnkirka, as you approach the fishing village of Kjøllefjord. Here you have the opportunity to learn about the Sámi people and explore the local landscape. Discover the stories behind Sámi traditions and hear traditional Sámi joiking (song).

Day 15: Cruise to Kirkenes & Departure

Arrive in Kirkenes, the most isolated town in Europe

The vistas become more dramatic as you near your final destination of Kirkenes—the most isolated town in Europe. Further east than Istanbul and Saint Petersburg, Kirkenes is located just a few miles from the Russian border and serves as the endpoint of your Arctic adventure.

On your final day in Kirkenes, take the opportunity to embark on one of the many adventurous activities offered in this Arctic environment. In winter, stay at the fantastic Snow Hotel and greet the reindeer living on the grounds. During spring, explore the frozen wilderness on a snowmobile or embark on dog-sled adventures. In summer, hike across the mountainous terrain with your own husky companion. 

In the afternoon, bid the magic of the far north farewell as you begin your journey homeward.

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