Category Archives: Bentours

David Forrester’s Review of Follow the Lights

 

David Forrester and his wife Ethel have just returned home from their 15-day Follow the Lights escorted small group tour after winning the prize with Bentours at last years Scandinavian Film Festival. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with these lovely customers in our Melbourne office where they told us about their amazing journey through Norway and Finland. Hear what they had to say below.


A Tour of Norway and Finland with Bentours, By David Forrester

 

What an amazing adventure. Touring Norway and Finland is akin to travelling into a wonderland. We have just completed the “Follow the Lights” with Bentours of South Melbourne, and what an experience.

From the moment we arrived in Oslo to the end of the trip in Helsinki we saw and did things we had never dreamt of.

“Norway in a Nutshell” was a well worthwhile extra. The hotel in Oslo, part of the Central Railway station and right in the heart of the city, was a great launching place to visit many sites. Our room overlooked the Opera House and the harbour. A stroll around the water’s edge to Pipervick is well worthwhile if you are looking for a beautiful seafood meal. It also leads on to the sculpture park and the Modern Art Museum.

The following day catching a local train to Myrdal and then boarding the “Flam Railway” and travelling through the mountainous scenery covered with frozen waterfalls. Twisting and turning across precipitous cliff faces and through tunnels in a heritage train was exciting. We arrived at Flam and stayed at a beautiful hotel. Part of this excursion included a “Viking Plank”, a five course meal accompanied with five different beers. Sumptuous.

The next day we boarded a ferry and sailed through the fjords, surrounded by towering snow covered mountains. We passed small settlements snuggled into protected areas. Then a bus and train to Bergen. It was a good idea to have our luggage sent independently which was in our hotel when we arrived.

Once again, a wonderful city to explore with its quaint buildings and fantastic eating places. Here we met our tour leader who was a wealth of knowledge. The most caring man who went out of his way to be of assistance.

The journey on the M.S. Nordkapp, a Hurtigruten ship, took us up the coast of Norway, stopping at various ports to pick up passengers, vehicles and goods and to deliver necessities. We were able to get off the ship at various places and explore the villages, often covered in a blanket of snow. Each town was like a Christmas postcard.

The scenery here is unbelievable. Snow and ice covered mountains rising out of the water. We were amazed at the isolation of some of the hamlets.

We were fortunate to see the northern lights as we were about to cross the Arctic Circle although not very spectacular. A little earlier in the year and I am sure they would have been better.

The M.S. Nordkapp is a very comfortable ship. The cabins are well appointed and serviced daily. The meals were absolutely mouth-watering. Much seafood (salmon, prawns, mussels), a variety of meats and vegetables and cheeses. A variety to suit all tastes. The wait to service was of an exceptionally high standard.

On disembarking the ship in Kirkenes, we began our journey through Finland. Visits to the Sami Museum, a unique night in a glass igloo, an exciting dog sled ride and a visit to Santa for a chat and a photo. We took the opportunity of paying extra for a snowmobile ride and a visit to a reindeer farm. There is nothing like travelling across a frozen lake at 40 kph.

Then a train ride to Helsinki, travelling at 165 kph through the frozen lakes of Finland. More exploring of a beautiful city. Then a ferry trip to Tallinn in Estonia and a wander through the Old Town with its souvenir shops and cafes.

I would recommend this trip. It was well organised and our group leader made certain that everything went smoothly. I guess other times of the year would be completely different. This was at the beginning of Spring. Not too cold but we needed to be well rugged up. Bentours advises on the clothing to take for the various seasons.

Once again, I would like to thank Bentours for a well organised and smoothly run tour.

By David Forrester.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Wild Norway: unique land animals

The Arctic Circle has some of the most unique wildlife in the world. At Bentours, we want to give all of our guests the chance to see these unusual animals in their natural habitat, and there is no better way to do that than getting up close with a Hurtigruten voyage.

As well as traversing the Classic Coastal Route, Hurtigruten run voyages over the Summer deeper into the Arctic Circle. Here, under the Midnight Sun, guests can spot polar bears, arctic foxes and elks. But what makes these animals so special?

The Polar Bear

Probably one of the most recognised animals in this part of the world is the polar bear. These magnificent bears can weigh between 300–700kg and are the largest species of bear. In the Svalbard archipelago, polar bear sightings from aboard a Hurtigruten ship aren’t unusual as the polar bears outnumber the people! With about 60% of the land mass covered in glaciers, there are approximately 3,000 polar bears to the 2,700 people.

Hop aboard one of the smaller landing ships and have fun on a snow mobile safari or a skiing expedition – our Shore Expeditions are the best chance to see one of these bears up close and personal. At the end of the day though, it is important to remember that as cuddly as they look from a distance, polar bears are wild animals and you should always follow the advice of your specialist guide on any of our Shore Excursions.

The Arctic Fox

These furry critters are perfectly camouflaged in winter with their
snow white fur. In the summer months, their pelage (coat) darkens and they become a little easier for us keen wildlife enthusiasts to lay eyes on! Arctic Fox_WildlifeThey live in the northernmost parts of Norway and build low mounds, eskers, in the Arctic tundra. Interestingly, these mounds will often be used by generations of the same pack of foxes for hundreds of years with many different entrances.

Creeping up on one of these guys is a bit tough due to their incredibly sensitive hearing which they use to locate prey, even with the deadening effect of sound due to the snow. Remember to ask your specialist guides if a den is nearby your snowmobile safari route and you might be able to spot a fox or two.

The Elk

The elk, elg in Norwegian, or moose is one of the easier animals to spot in Norway. There are many elks around the archipelago of Vesterålen, a stop on Hurtigruten’s Coastal Route.

Summer is the best season to spot elk, either from onboard a ship or on one of the coastal excursions. The best time of day to see an elk is during twilight.

The Reindeer

Similar in size to elks, reindeer are an iconic animal of the North. There are about 30,000 reindeer living in Norway with 10,000 in the Svalbard archipelago. These reindeer are closer genetically to the reindeer of the Canadian High Arctic and sometimes one can even spot reindeer with Russian tags, having roamed across the ice to Norway. The reindeer of Svalbard are shorter and fatter, with more white in their fur.

Reindeer are very social animals and live in large herds – they can be seen at Santa’s Village or on a stay in a glass igloo, where they graze in the nearby forest. The majority of the northern reindeer are owned and domesticated by the indigenous Sámi who are traditionally reindeer herders.  Leading the reindeer migration can often be a long and difficult task, as you can see below on the difficult river crossing captured by BBC Earth.

Interestingly, in the height of winter, a reindeer’s coat thickens, so much so that they even grow fur over their antlers.

The White-Tailed Sea Eagle

The White-Tailed Sea Eagle can be easily seen from the Classic Coastal Cruise route with Hurtigruten as their eyries are dotted all along the Norwegian coast. They are the largest European bird of prey, with a wingspan of 2.4m. Like many birds of prey, they are monogamous and remain in their pairs for life; hunting, living and breeding.

It is not uncommon to see such an eagle gliding in the air above your ship, training their keen eyes on the ocean to pick themselves up a seafood meal.

The Puffin

The puffin, with their clown-like faces and colourful beaks, are always popular sightings with everyone – for the Young Explorers to the older guests! Small groups of puffins are often seen in the summertime on the fjords of Svalbard but seeing a lone puffin, floating atop a piece of ice is the goal for many a budding Arctic explorer.

There are puffin colonies around the Vesterålen archipelago that can be seen from aboard a ship or on a puffin safari excursion. They breed in late Spring and will either nest in burrows in the ground, or out among rocky crevices. Around this area, there are usually about 150,000 pairs nesting in the Summertime, where the eggs have been incubated by both parents for around 40–45 days. You can learn more interesting facts about puffins here.

Puffins are a beloved bird in Norway and on the island of Lovund, the 14th of April is a day of celebration as the 200,000 puffins return to the island to nest until mid August.


Norway boasts many other amazing land animals, these are just a few. And of course, the marine life in Norway’s waters is just as unique – keep a eye out for our next Wild Norway post!

Norwegian National Day

The 17th of May is Norway Day!

Norway’s National day celebrates the signing of the constitution in 1814 and the celebrations are huge. Not to be outshone by other country’s national days, Norway’s features parades, marching bands, traditional costumes, ice cream and a general sense of raucous celebration.

Food & Celebrations

In many families it is traditional to enjoy a 17th of May breakfast with friends and neighbours of freshly baked bread, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and lots of champagne!

With a hearty breakfast under their belts, Norwegians are ready to party. The largest parades, usually led by children, can have tens of thousands of spectators, with people cheering, waving flags and clapping along to the marching band’s beat. Norwegians dress in their bunad, traditional costumes whose colours and styles indicate ancestry lines and family histories. In Oslo, the Royal Family make an appearance and are greeted by the adoring crowd, while all the buildings are decorated with the Norwegian flag.

Ice cream and hotdogs are on the menu, sold in street carts (most shops are closed) beside the parades and every town centre is packed all day, as games and speeches are carried out.

School Graduation

When you visit, look out for the colourful uniforms of the russ, the children that are soon to graduate from their 13 years of schooling. The colour they wear depends on the graduate’s line of study: Red for the students going into general tertiary education, blue for those going into business, white for medical and social studies, black for engineering and green for agricultural fields.

The russ have parades devoted just to their achievements, with buses and vans blasting modern and traditional music. The air is thick with a heady mixture of exhaustion from too much celebrating and the jubilation on having made it through. Each student will have a russekort, a mock business card made up for the occasion that includes their personal information and usually a joke or two – ask for one to have a little bit of a laugh. The personal information is often a joke in itself and students will exchange and collect the russkorts as momentos.

Historical Significance

The 17th of May celebrates the signing of the Constitution of Independence in 1814 – however, Norway was still under Swedish rule and so celebrating the day was seen as an act of rebellion against Sweden. In fact, in 1829 protesters gathered in Oslo to denounce the ban on celebrations that the Swedes had introduced. These protesters clashed with authorities and the event was significant in Norway’s battle for independence. Henrik Wergeland played a key role in the resistance over the next few years and helped to transform the 17th of May from a fierce clash against the authorities to a celebration for the children of Norway.

In 1860, the 17th of May became established as a children’s parade, with the first parade in Oslo in 1870 (boys only, girls were allowed to join in 1899).

During the Second World War under German occupation the day was not celebrated and in recent years has not been without controversy – it was not until 2007 that the Sámi Flag of the indigenous people of Norway was permitted to be flown.


Experiencing Norway’s National Holiday is truly a special experience for any traveller as you can’t help but be swept up in the excitement of the event. But be aware, most shops will be closed and driving on the 17th of May is not the best idea – you should be out in the streets celebrating too!

 

Explore More: Thrilling Adventure Excursions

Hurtigruten offer Classic Coastal Voyages with so many excursions it can be hard to pick which ones will make your experience all the more unforgettable. So to help you out, here are some of the most popular thrilling excursions as chosen by Hurtigruten guests.

Push yourself outside of your comfort zone by partaking in one of these fabulous adventure excursions. Awaken your inner explorer in a thrilling environment while learning more about Norway’s wildlife and culture. But don’t worry, aboard a Hurtigruten ship there is always space to relax in comfort after an action-packed day and watch the scenery glide by (you could even try out one of the Jacuzzis!).

The best excursions for thrill-seekers and adventurous souls

Make the most of the Norwegian winter on your Classic Coastal Voyage by participating in an exciting snowmobile trip!

Snowmobile Trip in the Polar Night (Southbound)

Leaving from Mehamn, be mesmerised by the beautiful sunset colours that dominate the sky during the Polar Night. Taking you deep into the heart of the Arctic wilderness, you’ll feel as though you are the last people on Earth, and have a chance to see the Northern Lights in the clear starry sky. Dressed in cosy snowsuits, and gliding softly through the night, this magical adventure will leave you spellbound.

Snowmobile trip in Lapland (Northbound)

Experience Europe’s most extreme and exciting natural area – Lapland – from a snowmobile, as you race across frozen fjords. Magnificent snow-clad mountains surround guests and there is always a chance to see the Northern lights! This unforgettable trip  is one of Bentours most popular,  and is suitable for any level of fitness or agility. Glide smoothly through this winter landscape and be awestruck by its beauty.

Snowmobile Safari (Northbound)

Combining culture and adventure, on this safari out of Kirkenes guests will traverse ice-covered fjords and learn from the knowledgeable guides about the fascinating history of the indigenous Sami people. After their epic adventure ride, guests will be served welcome refreshments in a lavvo (traditional Sami hut) and have the chance to try reindeer jerky.


Kayaking

Kayaking near Tromsø is a very popular past-time for locals in the summer months. This excursion offers guests the chance to experience kayaking themselves, with an experienced guide paddling with you to discuss the history of the area and to point out the varied marine wildlife.

Views of the mountains as a backdrop are unrivalled.

In Håkøya, where you will be paddling, the views of the mountains as a backdrop are truly unrivalled. The kayaks used are stable, double sea-kayaks, equipped to deal with any waves through the fjord. No experience with paddling is required as the guide will be there to assist and support you along the way. Children must be at least 12 years old and accompanied by a parent.

 


There are many more Adventure Shore Excursions to participate in and we recommend you book with Bentours before your voyage as these popular excursions tend to fill up quickly. Contact our agents for full listings.

Explore More: Excursions for Nature Lovers

Hurtigruten offer Classic Coastal Voyages with so many excursions it can be hard to pick which ones will make your experience all the more unforgettable. So to help you out, we are featuring some of the most popular excursions according to what you love best!

Discover wild Norway on one of our nature and wildlife Shore Excursions on your Classic Norwegian Coastal Voyage. Norway is rich with fauna with amazing evolutionary quirks to allow it to survive the freezing Arctic conditions. Although there are opportunities to see this wildlife from the Observation Decks onboard your voyage, there is nothing quite like getting up close to animals in their natural environment.

The best excursions for Wildlife Enthusiasts

Whale Watching Safari

There are three types of whales that can be seen off the coast of Norway – the Beluga (or White) Whale, the Killer (or Orca) Whale and the Sperm Whale. This whale watching safari takes guests to a couple of local whale hot spots and out to the continental shelf where guests can spot sperm whales as they feed.

The tour also encompasses the Senja Troll where guides will tell guests old Norse legends of the area. In Norway, legend has trolls lurking at the base of every mountain, beside many a stream and within every cave. The Senja Troll is located in the middle of Senja Island in a troll park and is the largest troll in the world, so can be clearly seen from afar.

The whale watching safari includes breakfast and all the relevant transportation between bus, boat and ferry.

Bird Watching Safari

Norway’s coast is a wonderful place for both experienced and budding bird-watchers, with many different breeds to see. The bird watching safari takes guests of all ages – right down to the Young Explorers – across from Mageroya Island to the tiny fishing village of Gjesvaer.

From Gjesvaer, guests suit up in weather proof gear so no matter the conditions, they will be comfortable. They then take a boat trip to the Gjesvaerstappan Nature Reserve, an archipelago that has more than three million nesting birds.

More than a bird safari, this experience is majestic.

This Reserve is home to about 400 000 pairs of puffins as well species of Kittiwake, Common Guillemot, Razorbill and Gannet. Experienced guides are at your side to answer any questions and to point out unique species of the area. In addition to thousands of birds, you can catch a glimpse of seals, dolphins and perhaps even the King and Queen of Norway’s ship which anchors in this area!

Even if you’re not an avid bird-watcher, this is more than just a bird safari, this experience is majestic. Binoculars available onboard throughout the journey ensure you’ll see even the shiest of creatures. The boat will also manoeuvre close enough to the islands to clearly make out the different species.

Sea Eagle Safari

The Sea Eagle Safari takes guests across the dramatic Trollfjord in the realm of the mighty sea eagle. With a wingspan measuring 1.8m to 2.5m, these magnificent creatures are a marvel to see soaring above. On the Sea Eagle Safari in open water, your guide will throw fish into the air and sea eagles will swoop down close to catch it. With these amazing animals so close, this is an animal lovers dream.

The safari also gives you a chance to observe Trollfjord from amongst the mist, right down near the surface of the water. Trollfjord is a very narrow fjord in the Lofoten archipelago and is known as the site of the Battle of Trollfjord in the 19th Century – a trade war between local fisherman and the larger industry-based trawlers. There is a beautiful painting of this scene by Gunnar Berg located in Svinoya in Svolvaer.

This excursion is suitable for all ages and abilities.


These are just a selection of the Nature and Wildlife excursions on offer. Visit our Shore Excursions page for more or contact an agent for full listings.

An Interview with a Norwegian Craft Brewer

Whether a small tour through the ice-floes of Svalbard or sharing some spirits and reindeer jerky around the campfire, there are so many amazing local experiences out there, just waiting to be discovered.

So when our CEO Damian Perry met a young local Norwegian man named Gards Kindle in the Mack Brewery in Tromsø, a friendship was born, based on one of the best things this world has going for it: beer.

Gards works at Mack, is a student, beer maker and craft beer enthusiast – in fact, that very night he took Damian along to the university building where students keep the beer that they self-brew. In a town such as Tromsø, where a good chunk of the year is cloaked in darkness, people need to find something to occupy their indoor time in the long winter months. And that something for Gards and many of his fellow residents is perfecting the home-brewed beer.

Beer is not only brewed for consumption in Norway but for art… seaweed beer anyone? While this may not sound that appetising (and apparently it isn’t great tasting yet) the challenge of creating a beer from seaweed is currently being conquered by some of Gards’ friends. In his own words, the result so far is “not exactly delicious, but definitely something extremely different”.

Moving away from art projects and to more delectable flavours, we asked Gards a few questions about beer in Norway. After all, this is essential knowledge for any traveller!


BT: What are your favourite beers? Are they Norwegian?

GK: I have a few actually! Out of macro beers I thoroughly enjoy the 1877 by Mack. It is a Czech Pilsner brewed from the first recipe the brewery had. Sweet, bitter and fruity makes it kind of refreshing.

Out of microbrews I have a lot of favourites. There is a Norwegian microbrewery called Lervig Aktiebryggeri. It’s a brewery from Stavanger with the head brewer, Mike Murphy, hailing from the US. They make so many delicious and experimental beers. Strong, sour or hoppy, you name it, they brew it. They make this super cool Pale Ale called Lucky Jack. It’s the kind of beer a lot of homebrewers copy just because it’s so nice.

While I might be kind of partial since I work at Mack, I really, really do like a beer the Mack Micro Brewery makes called Haakon Sr. It’s a version of the Haakon beer, which is a reddish lager pretty popular up north, but brewed stronger and to be more flavourful. Just a cool beer which isn’t the IPA that every single micro seems so taken with.

BT: I’ve read that the trend of microbreweries has really taken off in Norway in the past five to ten years, do you think this is something the younger generation are more interested in?

GK: Well, I wouldn’t say it has everything to do with age. The brewing scene has people of all ages in it. I think it has more to do with individualism and knowing what you consume.

You want to know more about what you eat, what you drink and what you wear. You usually want to see some aspect of your self in that. Beer is probably the easiest product to do that with. It’s easy to see the brewery, to see what they stand for and identify with them.

Today, you are what you consume, and for young people that is a Double IPA handmade by a hairy bohemian.

BT: What makes Norwegian beer special to you?

GK: Well, most Norwegian beer today is the ordinary lager stuff. Some flavourful, some tasting like adulterated water.

However, the thing that drives me with Norwegian traditional beer is how unique it is. We are talking about something that almost no one has had the chance to taste, let alone brew. It’s the cultural heritage of a nation, but still obscure and unknown.

BT: What’s the biggest difference in the end product in your opinion when you are comparing traditional farmhouse style brewed beer to commercially brewed beer? 

GK: Traditionally brewed beer is a beer different from any other. It’s smoky, full bodied and full of orange. It’s tepid with no carbonation, yet still really nice to someone with a modern palate.

The biggest difference is however how local it is. A Norwegian farmhouse ale is fresh, the authentic kind is brewed just a few days before consumption. Alive, it’s a fresh handmade product, not just a sterile thing off a shelf.

Also, every Norwegian farmhouse beer has a strong lineage. My yeast, or kveik as it is called traditionally, comes from Voss. It has been handed from farmer to farmer through the generations. Such is the case with all our ales.

Whether from Muri, Stryn or Voss, all the beers are different and have a singular tradition as their lineage. Back in the day, when one person in the village brewed a sour beer or a beer which they didn’t like, they had to get  kveik from a neighbour. So yeast is not just something to make alcohol with, but it became a community project. People have always shared their kveik and so together they would create a type beer that was unique to their home!


BT: How much would a pint of craft beer cost?

GK: Welcome to Norway, the perfect question to make sure nobody comes here! An ordinary half litre beer is 80-ish Norwegian kroner  [AU$12-13] in a pub or 30NOK in a store. Which is probably why there are so many brewing at home here! And that is only your average shoddy lager. A proper craft brew can cost you much more, depending on the alcohol strength.


Bentours offers a number of tours of Norway – all of which can incorporate some delicious beer tastings along the way! Contact one of our agents today to talk about your next adventure.

Explore More: Adventurous Water Excursions

Hurtigruten offer Classic Coastal Voyages with so many excursions it can be hard to pick which ones will make your experience all the more unforgettable. So to help you out, we are featuring some of the most popular excursions according to what you love best!

Although once known as the Norway Coastal Express Service, Hurtigruten Coastal Voyages are anything but fast paced. If getting your heart rate up and your blood pumping on the water appeals to you, then our RIB (rigid inflatable boat) adventures will be a fantastic experience to add onto your Hurtigruten adventure.

The best water-based shore excursion adventures

RIB Adventure in Lofoten

Lofoten archipelago is world renowned for its stunning landscapes, where soaring mountains meet the sea. Make the most of this stunning part of the world aboard an RIB Safari across the sea from Svolvaer to the fishing village of Skrova. Past guests have raved about the experience with a highlight being the sea eagles that come down to pick up fish very close to the boat.

Intimate groups ensure there is no one between you and the amazing scenery.

As it can be quite cold on the water, warm jackets are provided to put over your winter wear as well as automatic life belts. With eight people per boat, these intimate groups ensure there is no one between you and all the amazing nature and scenery!

The seats on the RIB are similar to a motorcyle and allow you to half stand as you go to snap your best photos. As this is an archipelago there are many islands but the RIB ride is in a reasonably sheltered area and so the ride doesn’t often get too rough.

The village of Skrova is a quintessential fishing village, set with the beautiful Lofoten mountains as backdrop. The tour is suitable for all ages and abilities.

RIB Safari to Saltstraumen

Take an RIB out to the world’s strongest tidal current where several million cubic metres of water are pushed through an 150 metre narrow straight. This maelstrom occurs usually twice a day and forms amazing whirlpools. Get up close and personal to this sheer force of nature in an RIB – the best way to see the incredible sight.

You are almost guaranteed close encounters with majestic birds of prey.

Much like the Lofoten RIB trip, guests are first fitted out in warm winter jackets and life belts and are under the guidance of extremely experienced pilots. Bodø is often referred to as the Kingdom of the Sea Eagles and so you are almost guaranteed close encounters with these majestic birds of prey. With a wingspan of 1.8m to 2.54m, they skim the surface of the ocean to fish and bring back to their eyries along the coast.

The journey also takes guests into sight of the Caledonian Ford Belt, a range of mountains dating back over 250 million years with many interesting geological formations.


These are just two of the many fascinating and exciting shore adventures offered along the Hurtigruten Classic Coastal Voyage route. Read our Shore Excursions page for more or contact an agent for full listings.

Explore More: Walking Excursions in Norway

Hurtigruten offer Classic Coastal Voyages with so many excursions it can be hard to pick which ones will make your experience all the more unforgettable. So to help you out, here are some of the most popular walking excursions, as chosen by Hurtigruten guests.

Hurtigruten is a unique cruise company that encourages all of their guests to have an active holiday, where they can thoroughly explore their destination. On the port stops along the Classic Coastal Voyage, Hurtigruten offer a number of active guided walks and hikes.

Although some of these areas are accessible without guides, their added knowledge of history, wildlife and the cultural significance of certain walks make a guided excursion valuable and well worth your time.

Winter Hike Bodø

Bodø is often considered to be the gateway to the true North of Norway. It is the end of the railway line and home to the world’s strongest tidal current, plus it has plenty of personality. One of it’s most charming aspects is its proximity to nature – the beautiful woodlands of Bodøsjøen are just outside the city centre. Surrounded by the sea on all three sides, from Bodøsjøen guests can admire a magnificent view of the breathtaking Børvasstindan Mountains towards the south.

Bodøsjøen has many paths following the small streams and often locals will wander through on a weekend hike. On the guided walk, guests will explore Viking graves, a sombre labour camp for Russian prisoners used in WWII and an outdoor coastal museum.

Bodø was almost completely destroyed when it was firebombed by German fighter jets in May 1940.  It was then invaded by an occupation force of Germans – on bicycles! Today, it has an interesting history and there are many stories about life under occupation.

Walking sticks and spikes are provided, while comfortable walking shoes and warm, waterproof clothes are recommended. A moderate level of fitness is required.

Fishing Village Walk

EXCURS_fishingvillageVisit the fishing village of Svinøya in Svolvær for a guided tour through the quaint streets. This postcard-perfect village has been
doing a vibrant fishing trade since 1828. The walk will take guests amongst the rorbuer (fishermen’s huts), to the fish processing plant, the iconic fish drying racks and a famous fish restaurant where you can taste the locally caught stockfish.

Svinøya is made up of many small islands with small bridges connecting each one and since the 1930s it has developed into something of an art hub of Norway’s Northern and Arctic artists. The tour also encompasses a visit to Gunnar Berg’s small art gallery within the North Norwegian Art Centre, with works that reflect the importance of fisheries and in particular, cod fisheries in Lofoten.

This walk is suitable for most people and all ages.

Trondheim City Walk

Trondheim is now a cosmopolitan city, albeit small, but was once the capital of the Norse Viking Kingdom. This guided walk takes guests to the city’s main attractions including the Royal Residence, the old town bridge and Nidaros Cathedral. The old town bridge was first built in 1681 and is nicknamed ‘the portal of happiness’ because it was an important link between two areas of Trondheim. Here you will see lines of brightly painted houses propped up on stilts.  This is the perfect spot for photo opportunities!

Nidaros Cathedral is the national sanctuary of Norway. Works began there in 1070, built over the grave of Saint Olav, the once King Olav Haraldsson who was killed in the battle of Stilkestad in 1030.

 


There are many other walks around port towns available – such as the Polar History Walk or the Art Noveau Walk. For more information, visit our Shore Excursions page or call your agent for a full listing.

Explore More: Best Food Excursions

Hurtigruten offer Classic Coastal Voyages with so many excursions it can be hard to pick which ones will make your experience all the more unforgettable. So to help you out, here are some of the most popular foodie excursions as chosen by Hurtigruten guests.

For some of us, so much about discovering a new culture is about the food – learning about it, creating it and most importantly, consuming it. Throughout their long history, Hurtigruten have always had an important role in supporting the coastal community and this continues today, with meal ingredients sourced daily from local producers.

Using local foods for their Coastal Kitchen menu, the Hurtigruten chefs create traditional Norwegian meals with a modern twist, so it is guaranteed that you will always be eating the freshest and most innovative dishes onboard. But then there are those of us who want a little more than just delicious food – we want to know where it comes from and how to prepare it ourselves. So whether you are a professional chef, a home cook, or just someone who has a passion for food, these excursions are perfectly suited to enrich the World’s Most Beautiful Sea Voyage.

The best Hurtigruten excursions for foodies:

King Crab Safari:

One of the most popular excursions for taste connoisseurs aboard Hurtigruten ships is the King Crab Safari. For those who love the taste of crab and don’t shy away from the cold, this afternoon excursion is an ideal adventure.

Enjoy the sweetest, most tender crab imaginable.

During the winter months, guests who choose to participate in the safari are driven by snowmobile across the frozen fjord to an ice hole, where, with various tools, they lay the King Crab traps and then wait to haul them in. While waiting, the guide explains Norway’s use of the King Crab and various cooking methods that have developed since the Russians introduced the species in the 1960s.

The guides are friendly and informative, and will explain the process, and importance of crab to Norwegian history. This experience is followed by a snowmobile ride to a fisherman’s cabin-turned-restaurant that is only accessible by snowmobile. Here guests warm up under reindeer hides as their freshly caught meal is prepared. The meal will be a highlight of your trip to Norway, as you enjoy the sweetest, most tender crab imaginable.

In the summer months, the King Crab Expedition is out on the water, with an exciting RIB ride on the Barents Sea to bring in an equally large bounty. This is followed by a similarly delicious feast in a fisherman’s hut. The crab is the freshest possible, from the sea to your plate in under an hour.

No matter what time of year, this is a wonderful experience and one that many of guests recommend. Get in early and book today!

Lofotr Viking Feast:

Immerse yourself in Norway’s Viking Heritage at the Lofotr Viking Museum excursion, finished off with a wonderful Viking Feast. The museum itself is fascinating, with many archaeological artifacts and in the summer, the feast is conducted in the largest Viking building ever discovered.

Be made Chieftan or Queen for the evening!

Go back in time to visit the Vikings with a history lesson, delicious meal and mead, as well as singing and a dancing round the fire. Local hosts are dressed in archaeologically approved Viking dress and guests are encouraged to participate in the joyous festivities.

If you’re lucky, you may even be made Chieftan or Queen for the evening, for a truly unforgettable experience. This Viking excursion is available as an excursion on the Northbound route of the Classic Coastal Voyage and gives an insight into the truly unique Viking culture of Norway.


There are many more Local Food excursions to choose from – check out our other shore excursions or contact an agent for full listings.

Cruising into Canada

Follow in the wake of Viking legends and travel to the High Arctic in Canada. Home to the first European settlements in North America, this journey will encompass some of the most beautiful national parks that Canada has to offer.

Along a number of different routes through the Canadian Arctic, guests will have the chance to visit L’Anse aux Meadows, a sleepy fishing village that holds secrets to a Viking past. In the 1960s, the Norwegians Anne Stine and Helge Ingstad, together with their daughter, Benedicte, made the discovery of an ancient Viking settlement on this land. Perched on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978 and dates back to about the year 1000 C.E.

“Guests have a chance to follow in the footsteps of the first Viking explorers.”

This site has been linked with Vinland the attempted settlement of North America by pioneer explorer Leif Erikson. Benedicte Ingstad is now a 72 year old professor of medical anthropology who has spent her life devoted to research, and joins guests on some of the Hurtigruten voyages to Canada, to recount her family’s discovery of the site.

Learn about Canadian wildlife and culture

Hurtigruten expedition voyages emphasise activities, adventure and gaining insight into the wilderness around us. The Canadian Arctic voyages are no exception. From the ‘floating classroom’ guests will have the chance to learn about the fascinating Viking history, the Indigenous people of Canada, zoology, botany and environmental science. Plus Hurtigruten ships are perfectly equipped for adventure with lecture halls, a photographic and optics centre and are an optimal size for manoeuvring up close to the shore and all the action.

Canada is an exciting area to explore with a combination of beautiful nature and fascinating history. On some Canadian routes, guests get close to the Torngat Mountains national park, an Inuit homeland. The park is 9700 square kilometres and of great spiritual significance to the Inuit people – a place where they have lived, hunted and harvested for thousands of years. From onboard the ship, guests can admire sloping glaciers and keep a look out for polar bears and North American caribou.

Another UNESCO World Heritage site, the fishing village of Red Bay is on the itinerary. Guests can wander among picturesque streets and learn about the history of the Basque whaling operation that took place on the nearby Saddle Island.

Also along some Canadian routes are Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, small towns that preserve the strong French influence over parts of Canada in fashion, food, fine wine and delicious cheese. Nearby is Gros Morn, a national park of soaring mountains that are geologically unique. At The Tablelands, a plateau 600m above the sea level, guests are invited to hike on ancient stone that was pushed up from the Earth’s core after a collision of tectonic plates millions of years ago.

Conquer Iceland and Greenland…

Follow the trail of Vikings further with exploration of Iceland and Greenland. From Reykjavik in Iceland, guests can see the bird cliffs where Vikings would hunt. Take in the best of Iceland at sea, visiting archipelagos and the famous volcanic island of Surtsey.

Some routes may also visit the southern tip of Greenland, where the Norse Chieftan Eirik Raude is said to have lived or even the stunning Ilulissat glacier  on the Western Coast.

Itineraries include Exploring the Arctic Land of the Caribou, Baffin Island – High Arctic Jewel and Crossing Baffin Bay, plus many more cruise expeditions.


These incredible new routes will enable Hurtigruten guests the chance to discover Canada in the same way as the Nordic Vikings did many years ago. With Hurtigruten’s trademark hospitality, amazing cuisine and a number of Shore Excursions, a trip in the Canadian Arctic promises to be unforgettable.