Norwegian cruises offer a fusion of coastal and natural experiences. Bergen is a favorite port of call and features Bryggen, an area of old warehouses now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Alesund is a charming coastal city surrounded by water and renowned for its Art Nouveau architecture. It is also the gateway to Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The first stop on most fjord cruises from Bergen is a city that has long been a favorite of many, with its UNESCO-listed Bryggen wharf of colorful wooden merchants? houses and a range of guided walks that reveal its historic past. The Norwegian capital also boasts museums, a bustling Fish Market and the sweeping mountain views of Mt. Floyen, and there are plenty of opportunities to shop for Norwegian wool goods and local ceramics.
Most of the main sights are within mostly-level walking distance of the ship, including the Bryggen wharf and its buildings, Bergenhus medieval fortress, and the lower station of the Floibanen funicular (return fare around PS9). For convenience, it may be worthwhile to book a tour from your ship or use the hop-on hop-off bus that drops passengers near the Bryggen Wharf; there is a tourist office near the Fish Market for advice and timetables.
As the gateway to the seven fjords of western Norway, Bergen is a busy hub for cruises and flights. It is also a popular base for excursions to glacier hikes and mountain pass road trips and has several well-established hotels. It is possible to explore the surrounding fjords and countryside independently, though you will need to rent a car to get away from the port for a day or so.
The third largest city in Norway, Trondheim was once the country’s capital and remains one of its most important historical centers. Founded in 997 AD, it is home to several of the country’s most visited sites including Nidaros Cathedral which was begun in 1070 on the burial site of Norway’s patron saint St. Olav and continues to be the site of Norwegian royal weddings and coronations.
The compact center of town is easy to explore on foot and visitors can take in the main sights of Trondheim within a few hours. A number of the city’s museums are also a draw and Rockheim, an indoor rock museum is popular with the younger set. The Trondheim region is known for its gastronomy and the port is a prime location for visiting Roros – the only wild muskox habitat in Europe.
Those who choose to stay in Trondheim can enjoy trips out to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Bryggen, visit the vast Bergen Art Museum or stroll past the rebuilt Fantoft stave church. Alternatively, those who want to experience the fjords can join excursions out to the Aurlandsfjord or the nearby Naeroyfjord.
Stavanger is the largest cruise port in Norway and one of the country’s top cruise destinations. It is often the starting point for tours of the fjords and a stop that offers an array of attractions.
The piers in the city centre are capable of hosting even the biggest ships and they are all within easy walking distance of the main sights. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gamle Stavanger area is worth a visit, with its cobbled streets lined by impeccably restored wooden 18th and 19th century houses.
You can learn more about the local fishing industry at the Norwegian Canning Museum, which is located in a former canning factory. If the weather is nice, you can enjoy a stroll around Breiavatnet Lake in Byparken. This small lake emerged naturally but backfilling and bricked edges have given it the appearance of a fully integrated park attraction.
You can also take a ride on the Floibanen funicular railway to get a great view of the cityscape from above. Other popular activities in and around the city include kayaking on the Hjorundfjord, visiting the aquarium or climbing Mount Aksla to see the town’s famous views. The shopping streets are a must-visit for cruise passengers, with the chance to buy quality Norwegian products such as handknit sweaters, wood, pewter, glass and ceramics.
Haugesund may not be as exciting a destination as Bergen or Stavanger, but it does have plenty to offer. The city is a major fishing port, so if you love the sea you can arrange for a fishing trip or simply enjoy the view on the waterfront.
The city centre offers many interesting attractions. Start with the famous Haraldshaugen monument, an obelisk from 1800 commemorating King Haakon V?s unification of Norway. You can also visit the Our Savior?s Church (Var Frelsers Kirke), Udland Church, and Rossabo Church. The city also has a large selection of museums including the Viking Museum, Haugesund City Museum, and the Norwegian Oil and Gas Museum.
If you are looking for some relaxation, there are a number of beautiful beaches close to the port. Akrehamn Beach is a lovely white-flagged beach located near the port, and Sandvestranden and Akrasanden are adjacent crescent-shaped beaches perfect for swimming in the crystal-clear water – although beware that it is cold!
The town?s central area is easy to explore on foot. A stroll along the pedestrian streets will take you past traditional clapboard buildings filled with fashion, interior design and wellbeing shops. Stop at Takelurfabrikken, a cafe housed in a former fog horn factory and home to long tables of locals sipping coffee and chattering in Norwegian. The cafe has a great feel and serves delicious, inexpensive food including open faced sandwiches, lefse, and almond whipped cream cake.