With the second-longest coastline in the world, Norway boasts thousands of miles of dramatic fjords and unforgettable coastal landscapes. That means that there’s an incredible amount to see, and no better way to enjoy it than on a Norwegian cruise trip.
On one of the best Norway cruises, witness the majesty of the fjords and the delights of the country’s Viking culture. Set sail in the rejuvenating light of the summer’s midnight sun. Or in winter, you could be lucky enough to glimpse the ethereal beauty of the northern lights along the way.
Here, we share 7 locations for the best cruises in Norway and give you some tips for what to consider when planning your trip.
1. Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord
One of the most rewarding itineraries for a Norway cruise takes in the awesome geography of the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even in a country where a natural wonder is around almost every corner, this is simply an experience not to be missed.
Together, these fjords make up the wildest and most beautiful section of the Sognefjord, the “King of the Fjords”. This is the longest and deepest fjord in Norway.
The most popular way to visit the fjord is on the passenger ferry that runs year-round from the Viking village of Gudvangen to Aurland and on to Flåm. Expect a vibrant green backdrop in summer, and dustings of snow atop the surrounding peaks in winter.
From the village of Flåm, a historic destination nestled among steep mountainsides and roaring waterfalls, you can ride on the Flåm Railway. It’s known as the most beautiful train journey in the world for good reason.
- Experience this unmissable journey with a classic Norway in a Nutshell® tour package
With a name that translates as “Light Fjord”, for the pale colour of its granite rock, Lysefjord is a geological marvel. Here, Norway really shows off its natural drama, with mountains that fall 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) vertically into the water.
You can cruise into Lysefjord from Stavanger, one of Norway’s oldest Viking cities and now a bustling cultural hub.
In 3 hours, a cruise line will transport you from the city’s charming port deep into this spectacular fjord. Along the way, you can explore Fantahålå (“Vagabond’s Cave”) and the 400-metre (1,312-foot) Hengjanefossen waterfall.
This a cruise that cries out for some time on-land too. From here, options for shore excursions include the climb up to the awe-inspiring Pulpit Rock, a flat-topped formation that hangs over the fjord. It offers one of the best views in all of Norway.
- Related: Hiking the Pulpit Rock in Norway
Alongside the Sognefjord, Geirangerfjord is one of the fjords Norway is most famous for. Framed by some of Norway’s highest mountain peaks, a journey into Geirangerfjord deserves its title as one of the most beautiful cruises in the world.
Don’t miss this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s most graceful waterfalls. The Seven Sisters, myriad streams of water falling from 250 metres (820 feet) up, is one of the most impressive. The Bridal Veil, which resembles a wedding veil draped across the mountains, is another breathtaking spectacle.
Yet there’s plenty more to see. If you choose to step off the boat, you can take a bus up the Ørnevegen, the “Eagle Road”, to a renowned viewpoint above the fjords. Or, if you prefer a walk, visit the ancient Viking farms that dot the forests alongside the shore.
It’s easiest – and most rewarding – to visit the fjord by cruising in from Ålesund, Norway’s art nouveau city. Alternatively, take the shorter hour-long trip from Geiranger to Hellesylt.
4. Trondheim to Kristiansund
Sat on the shores of the Trondheim Fjord is Norway’s former capital and the so-called “Capital of the Vikings”: Trondheim. Known for its imposing Nidaros Cathedral and the trendy district of Bakklandet, it’s also a favourite departure point for coastal cruises in Norway’s north.
One of the most remarkable options is to take a cruise west from Trondheim to Kristiansund, a city spread across 4 serene islands. It’s a glorious voyage along the Norwegian coast that navigates the tight sounds between western Norway’s idyllic islands.
The harbour city of Kristiansund is a great place to try the Norwegian delicacy, klippfisk, which is dried and salted cod. Or take a wildlife tour and hop across the islands in search of the elusive sea eagle.
Hurtigruten – a Norwegian cruise line that journeys from Bergen as far north as Kirkenes – is one of the best options for this route. The Lonely Planet once called it “the world’s most beautiful voyage”. Find out why for yourself.
- Check out your options for a Hurtigruten coastal cruise tour in Norway
5. The far north: Tromsø to Kirkenes
In summer, bask in the perpetual light of the midnight sun. Or in winter, seize the chance to see our planet’s most enchanting phenomenon: the northern lights. Whatever the season, the far north of Norway offers a cruise you’ll remember forever.
Typically, a Northern Norway cruise will start from Tromsø, the capital of the north. Before you board your Hurtigruten cruise ship, spend time exploring this exciting and surprising Arctic city. Then depart in the evening for your northern adventure to Kirkenes.
In all seasons, it’s a popular option to spend the night aboard ship. In winter, your journey along these fjord-torn coasts may offer you a glimpse of the aurora borealis. Or, if there’s light outside, witness the remote beauty of North Cape (“Nordkapp”), mainland Europe’s most northerly point.
Of course, you can enjoy unforgettable experiences off the boat too. Dog sledding? Check. A stay in the Kirkenes Snowhotel? You bet.
- Chase the northern lights on these Norwegian winter tours
- Or explore your options for a summer trip to Norway
6. Bergen to Molde
Norway’s western city of Bergen is known as the “Gateway to Norway’s Fjords” – and you won’t need to guess why. With Hardangerfjord to the south and the entrance to Sognefjord not far north, this ancient city is the perfect base for the best Norway cruises.
A great option if you’re hoping to explore Norway’s west coast is a voyage north from Bergen to Molde.
Boarding in the evening, there’s time to visit Bryggen, Bergen’s UNESCO-protected historic wharf, during the day. You’ll wave goodbye to the city and enjoy a night aboard ship. Then wake up for an adventure-packed day just as you pass the charming city of Ålesund.
The highlight of the journey is the Hjørundfjord. This most tranquil of fjords cuts between the Sunnmøre Alps, mountains that leap 1,500 metres (4,900 feet) into the air. Your ferry may make a stop at Urke, a delightful village where you can soak in the mountain scenery.
Finally, your cruise ends in Molde, the “City of Roses”. Plan your Norway trip for July to catch the Molde Jazz Festival. Or visit at any time to experience the Molde Panorama, a view of 222 majestic mountain peaks.
- Visit Bergen on your tour of Norway
7. The Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Islands make up one of the most spectacular archipelagos in Norway. Known for their picturesque villages and phenomenal sea views, the islands are an irresistible destination for photographers and nature lovers. Opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and even winter surfing appeal to the active traveller too.
Plus they make for a perfect location for a cruise. From Svolvær, the Lofoten Islands’ capital, recommended options include venturing north to Tromsø or south down to Bergen.
Yet, there is plenty to see right here. Journey by boat beneath the monumental landmark of the Svolværgeita, and witness from a distance the astonishing Lofotveggen, the mountains of the Lofoten isles.
Alternatively, take a wildlife tour into Trollfjord, whose entrance at 100 metres (328 feet) is even narrower than the Panama Canal. Seals, porpoises, and even whales may greet you in this Arctic oasis.
- Check out these Lofoten tours to discover itinerary ideas
Finding the best cruises in Norway for you
A Norway cruise offers a tranquil adventure that brings you within touching distance of the country’s most arresting scenery. But before you book your Norway tour, there are some important options to consider.
1. The season
During the summer in the north of Norway, the sun never drops below the horizon. Meanwhile some of the country’s most magical experiences – from the northern lights to snow-dusted views – are best saved for winter.
Whether you prefer snowy scenes or the gorgeous Nordic greens of summer, there’s no right time to visit Norway. But your experience will be quite different depending on when you choose to go.
2. Your starting point
Alongside its jaw-dropping nature, Norway has its fair share of enchanting cities, including the capital Oslo, Bergen, and Tromsø. When planning your trip to Norway, your choice of city to start in will have a big impact on your journey.
As Norway has so much to offer, there is no best option here. You may prefer to pick your arrival point depending on the most convenient flights to Norway for you.
3. Other ways to get around
It's good to know that you can easily travel within Norway by other modes of transport. So you could dedicate your holiday to a cruise trip, or combine your tour with journeys by plane, train, bus or car.
Exploring Norway is possible by any means. The choice is yours.
- Discover Norway by cruise and train, try a Norwegian group tour, or choose a self-drive adventure in Norway
Plan your Norway cruise
Breathtaking landscapes and compelling Viking history await you in Norway. It’s time for you to plan your journey.
Book your Norwegian cruise trip with Nordic Visitor and we’ll make it easy. With a local expert travel consultant, we can help you decide your starting point, destinations, and your route. And we’ll book all of the must-see experiences, take care of accommodation, and handle any extras for you.
For your peace of mind, we’ll provide dedicated 24/7 support along the way too.
Whichever trip you are dreaming about, we’ll make it a reality. Get in touch with us to launch your Norwegian voyage.