The Beauty of A Norwegian Fjords Cruise, stunning ports and Cities with so many picture postcard houses
We have just returned from a beautiful Norwegian Fjords Cruise with five ports of call, Bergan, Geiranger, Ålesund, Skjolden and Stavanger. Our Cruise ship was the Independence of the Seas one of Royal Caribbeans Freedom class ships. To say that Cruising the Norwegian Fjords was beautiful is an understatement. The Norwegian Fjords took my breath away. I was in complete awe and I feel truly privileged to have visited these quaint hidden little villages, majestic cities and stunning sights.
First port of call, Bergen
Our first port was Bergen a city on Norway’s southwestern coast. Bergen is so colourful and is also Norway’s second largest city. The city’s fjord is surrounded by The Seven Mountains and from the top of these mountains there are views as far as the eyes can see. The city has a steep history dating back to the just after the Viking age, with a history of fires, plagues and German occupation during the Second World War. The ships dock in the port and there is a short free shuttle bus into the own.
Bryggen is situated in the city centre of Bergen and is a World UNESCO heritage site. Overlooking the wharf the houses look just like something out of a storybook with their brightly coloured painted and quirky wooden slats. These stunning original wooden buildings were built after the great fire of 1702. They are vibrant and now house gift shops, pubs and cafes. Bryggen area is quaint with old staircases and crooked doors.and is currently being restored to preserve the area for the future. From this area you can walk to the fish market or up to the Fløbanen railway.
The Fløbanen is a funicular railway that connects the town of Bergen with Fløyen in the mountains which also has spectacular views. It is a 20 minute walk from where the cruise ship docks. Alternatively you can catch a bus, do a tour or hike to the top of the mountain by foot. Tickets for the Fløbanen can be booked online but it is just as easy to buy them while you are there, bear in mind that cruise days get very busy and you will have to queue. We waited around 20 minutes but it was well worth the wait as the railway is an adventure in itself.
Once you reach the top of Mount Fløyen you are greeted with panoramic views over Bergen. There is a gift shop, bike hire hut, kids playground and even a zip line for children at the top. You can explore many hiking trails from here and there are plenty of maps available. We took a short 10 minute walk up to Lake Skomakerdiket where you can hire canoes, walk around the lake or simply admire the view.
Geiranger, the second port of call
One of the most spectacular sights on a Norwegian Fjords Cruise is Geiranger fjord. Words can not describe how amazing the Geiranger Fjords are. We were looking forward to this port and had been told it was beautiful but we had no idea just how stunning it really was! Geiranger Fjord has been named the best travel destination by Lonely Planet. Since 2005 it has been a UNESCO World heritage site and you can certainly see why.
Alarm clocks should be set an hour before the ship docked to see it sail to the end of the Gerianger fjord. It was well worth worth the preparation as it took us straight past the Seven Sisters Waterfalls before arriving at the end of the fjord.
What we got up to in Geiranger Fjord
Taking a boat trip along the Fjords was our first trip of the day. The waterfalls are amazing and the scenery is stunning even though we had seen the home of the waterfalls in the early morning we wanted to get a more up close view. We booked online the day before to go on a boat trip using the Geiranger fjord website to take us for an indepth view of the fjord.
The excursion boat was waiting for us directly in the port of the small town with only 200 inhabitants. It is a picture postcard view. The tour took us up close to the waterfalls where an audio guide told us of an old folk tale where at the location trolls frequented. On this guided tour you learn about the terrain of the mountains and the accessibility to the town during the winter months.
A waterfall walk in Geiranger is in the middle of the town. The waterfall is called Storfossen and can be climbed by accessing the 327 steps to the top. This needs no tour, you simply step off of the ship and meander to the top. This is about a 30 minute walk and there is a fjord museum at the pinnacle.
Visiting the Skywalk is a must to truly get a perspective of where you are. In the afternoon, we chose to book a bus tour to take us to three different viewing points over Geiranger Fjords. Ørnesvingen on the Eagle Road, Flydalsjuvet and the Skywalk at Mount Dalsnibba. This tour was booked online with Geiranger Fjordservice
Third port call at Ålesund.
The Third port of call was the interesting port of Ålesund. On the night of 23 January 1904, the town was destroyed by the Ålesund Fire. As Norwegian towns, were once built largely of wood this meant a fire spreading would have a devastating effect. The entire town was practically destroyed during the night. Unfortunately one person died in the fire, a 76 year old lady named Ane Heen. Ålesund was later rebuilt in the style of the time, hence an array of Art Nouveau buildings adorn Ålesund
Where did we go in Ålesund?
Take a walk to see the viewpoint from Mount Aksla by route of 418 steps. This is the best way to see the glorious view over the town. The Askla Viewpoint is must and was the highlight of our trip in Ålesund. Walking up the steps did not take as long as we thought and was well with the spectacular view.
A Stroll around the harbour before heading back to the ship was our next route. The harbour is pretty and there are plenty of gift shops selling Trolls, Viking souvenirs and even Norwegian goose down coats and jackets. Many of the houses have the dates when they were constructed after the fire,in the Art Nouveau style.
Fourth port of call the stunning scenery of Skjolden
The peaceful port of Skjolden was a pleasant surprise. Skjolden is situated at the end of Norway’s longest port. All along both sides of the Fjords are there are small villages and farms and the views are exquisite.The waters here in Lustrafjord are emerald green because of the water that has melted in to the Fjords from the glaciers.
Discovering the waterfalls of Skjolden
A bike ride to Drivandefossen waterfall was next on the agenda and we felt like we had struck gold!. We hired bikes online from Adventure Tours grabbed a map and rode straight to the falls. Many people Will walk to the more well known waterfall Feigunfossen only to be disappointed at its lack of water flow. Most of the snow has melted by September so some of the waterfalls were not as splendid as you would see earlier in the year however, we were lucky.
After a 30 minute bike ride and a 40 minute hike up the mountain we found one of the most beautiful sights.
Fifth port of call the colourful city of Stavanger
Stavanger is the third largest city in Norway with a cathedral which dates back to the 12th century. Stavanger has stunning scenery that can be reached via the Fjord or by boat as well as beautiful beaches. You can visit the world famous Pulpit Rock from here as well some of Europe’s best preserved wooden houses.
The walls of stavanger are home to some of the coolest street art in the world. You can take yourself on a tour of street art and it is hidden where you least expect it. They even have a street art festival each year where artist are invited to paint the town with colour.
Our day in stavanger
Wandering around Øvre was stunning, brightly painted wooden houses align the street with quirky cafes and shops. Again we found even more fascinating street art in this area.
Gamle Old town is a quaint picturesque place with white wooden houses. Unfortunately we were unlucky with the weather and it rained all day however in my view Stavanger stayed bright.
Norwegian Cruise tips!
- Prebook your excursions prior to cruising as the ports get busy on cruise days.
- Research each excursion, some may be strenuous to walk and not suitable for children
- Use local guides in each port it can be cheaper than booking excursions from your ship
- Norway can be very expensive take pack lunch and plenty of water
- Get up early on long approaches to fjords the sights are beautiful
- To get a more spectacular of waterfalls go slightly earlier in the year when the snow is first melting
- Dont have a suitable winter coat? buy it in Norway! its one thing that may be cheaper here
I hope this post gives you the inspiration to enjoy a Norwegian Fjords Cruise. I honestly can say it has been one of most amazing things we have ever experienced.
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