There’s more to the Norwegian Fjords than the northern lights. There, we said it. Norway’s dramatic coastline is famous as one of the best places to see the aurora borealis but the destination is idyllic at any time of year. Snow-capped in winter and with valleys of bright green in spring, the best time for a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords depends completely on what you want to see. Here’s our guide to a fjords cruise for all seasons.
Norway is a real winter wonderland. Add to this the chance of seeing the northern lights dance overhead and a winter cruise to Norway is an exciting prospect.
Many cruise lines halt their Norwegian Fjords itineraries when winter hits, however Hurtigruten runs cruises along the coast all year. As a shipping company as well as a cruise line, Hurtigruten takes on the important task of delivering supplies to tiny coastal villages that are practically cut off during heavy snow, visiting 34 ports on a 12-day Classic Roundtrip Voyage. If you’re looking for the most authentic way to cruise Norway, Hurtigruten has it. You might not find glitzy stage shows and plunge pools on board but nobody knows the region better than Hurtigruten’s expedition teams and there are endless ways to join them in exploring it, from dog sledding to snowy mountain hikes and glacial walks.
Of course, winter is often believed to be the best time to see the Northern Lights, an experience that sits on the bucket lists of the travel obsessed. The lights, also known as aurora borealis, are visible in clear, cloudless skies between September and April but it the long hours of darkness between December and February that bring the most chances to see them.
We would go so far as to suggest that spring might just be our favourite time of year for a cruise to Norway. There’s baby animals galore and everything bursts into technicolour when the seasons start to change. The grass is almost neon green against bright blue skies, ice melts send waterfalls crashing into the fjords below and flowers decorate the sides of mountains with peaks still sprinkled in snow. Spring often means nice clear skies too, so there’s still a good chance of spotting the last of the season’s northern lights overhead.
Many cruise lines return to the region around April time, including P&O Cruises, who are offering some amazing value Norwegian Fjords cruises on Iona, the new fleet flagship. Most roundtrip Southampton itineraries call at highlights such as Alesund, Flaam, Olden and Bergen, with scenic cruising of the fantastic fjords in-between.
There is more to summer cruising than the Mediterranean. Summer is the most popular time to cruise the Norwegian Fjords by far, with countless cruise lines sending their ships back here when the weather warms up. And warm up it does; if you think Norway is chilly all year round, think again because temperatures during the summer can easily hit the mid-20s, so you can slot in a little sunbathing between ports. The season means fresh seafood and salads on the menu at mealtimes, all washed down with a glass of aquavit, the local tipple.
While you will need to come back another time to see the Northern Lights, if you venture high into the Arctic Circle on a summer cruise to Norway you can experience the Midnight Sun, a natural phenomenon that means the sun never quite falls below the horizon.
Autumn in Norway is all about crisp days, clear skies and fiery foliage. Cooler temperatures make mountain walks a pleasure, especially when you’re surrounded by scenery like this, and hillsides laden with plump berries means spoonfuls of sweet lingonberry jam in your morning porridge. Bigger cities like Bergen and Stavanger will be quieter now the summer crowds have left, and there’s a chance of seeing the Northern Lights if you time your cruise to Norway from September onwards.
Look out for autumn cruises to Norway that combine Baltic ports of call too; many cruise lines will visit the likes of Helsinki, St Petersburg, Berlin and Copenhagen, before sailing through the Norwegian fjords and cities.
When will you visit Norway? See cruises to the Norwegian Fjords in 2021 and 2022 here, or call 01246 819819 to chat with one of our cruise