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With the holiday season in full swing, visions of snowy white landscapes dotted with evergreen trees dance in our heads, and depending how festive your imagination can be, maybe your picture-perfect winter wonderland includes some reindeer and a jolly old man dressed in red, too! And while you might assume such scenes are only in visions of wishful Yuletide thinking, this classic holiday image can actually be found in real life: in Norway!
Picture perfect winters, with sightings of Santa and his reindeer, are just one of the reasons Norway should be on your “Where To Travel” Shortlist; there are also the famous fjords, the Northern Lights in Winter, the Midnight Sun in Summer, the trend-setting cities and the quaint fishing villages, the legendary Viking heritage, and of course, the familiar sights from one of the most beloved Disney films, Frozen (more on this later).
As one of the Scandinavian countries, Norway prides itself on its natural beauty, and the protection and preservation of that natural beauty, too. The picturesque landscapes are sustained with acute attention to eco-friendly practices throughout the country, and are available to everyone, with no charge for entry into National Parks and the ability to camp on any land (unless otherwise posted). Plus, Norway has repeatedly been deemed the Happiest Country in the World, and also one of the best countries to live in the world, too. Like the snow that blankets the land every winter, Norway as a whole is peaceful, serene and magical.
And, as mentioned, if you have any Frozen fans in your family, Norway is an absolutely must-visit destination! The real-life castles, the traditional Scandinavian designs, and the majestic fjords will make every member of your family (Frozen fan or not) feel like royalty, and perhaps even help them find their inner magic, too.
Oh, and did I mention that this Inspiring Itinerary takes you through the epically famous fjords on a CRUISE!? That’s right, you get to see the most famous sights of Norway from the balcony of your room, where you only have to unpack once! What are we waiting for?
Although this Itinerary features Norway, your journey will begin in England, as you touch down in London, and then travel to England’s south coast to the maritime city of Southampton. This coastal city has been a bustling seaport for hundreds of years, and as such, has a very rich history; Southampton is known for being the original departure port of both the Mayflower in 1620, and also the Titanic (with much of the crew being locals from Southampton).
Depending what time your flight arrives in London, after the short trip to Southampton and checking in to your hotel, you might have some time to explore the SeaCity Museum, which highlights the city’s maritime history, the Titanic Trail, and God’s House Tower (a 700-year-old monument in Old Town that has become a venue for artists over the years). Whatever you have time for, you’ll definitely want to visit a local pub for dinner after all of your traveling, and before your big embarkation day tomorrow!
If you’re not too jet-lagged from your travels, you can get up early and use the morning to see any of the sights around Southampton that you may not have gotten to yesterday. You may want to visit the Tudor House and Garden for a glimpse of what life in Southampton was like from the 15th century through more recent years thanks to meticulous restorations and unique artifacts. And, if you realize there’s anything you may have forgotten, or if you just feel like some retail therapy before you board the ship, there are plenty of options for shopping throughout the city.
After your morning of exploring or relaxing, whichever you choose, it will be about time to make your way to your ship and home for the next seven days! Just as some of the Norwegian sights will be familiar to any Frozen fans, so will the faces of some favorite characters who will greet you as you board your ship! Get ready, because this voyage is about to be one of the most Magical experiences you’ve ever had at sea!
Your first day on board will be spent at sea, sailing through the English Channel and up the North Sea towards Norway! Days at Sea with your favorite characters for company are never long enough! Between the Broadway-style shows, the clubs for kids of every age, the character meet-and-greets, and the endless activities to do around the ship, your first day at sea will fly by faster than the glistening waters of the North Sea below your stateroom balcony! Not to mention, you’ll have a full day of high end dining experiences, as well, which will be capped off with one of the ship’s exhilarating rotating dinner restaurants.
Your adventures in Norway begin in Stavanger, one of the oldest cities in the country. Its first settlement dates all the way back to the Ice Age, and the city itself was founded in 1125, the same year that the Stavanger Cathedral was completed, a cathedral that still operates to this day. Surrounded by natural beauty of fjords, lakes, mountains and forests, the small seaside town has grown into a busy little city known as the “oil capital of Norway,” where medieval history and modern fine and culinary art combine into a unique blend of old and new!
There are a number of options for your excursion through Stavanger, including small boat rides through the fjord, tours of the city and visits to the maritime and science museums, and even helicopter rides through the fjords. For this itinerary, you’ll venture into the surrounding areas of Stavanger for a hike up to Pulpit Rock, one of the most famous cliffs in Norway, overlooking Lysefjord. On the way, you’ll pass through forests, and by lakes and marshes, but don’t worry, you’ll have a picnic lunch for the appetite you’re sure to work up with all the hiking! Once you reach the top and take all the pictures that time (and safety) allows, you’ll head back down the trail and back towards town.
Before you board the ship for the evening, you’ll have time to explore the town, perhaps wandering around Old Stavanger, or the Street Art Scene of the city.
Back onboard your ship, you’ll cap off your evening with your nightly dining rotation, and likely some classic character interactions, depending how tuckered out you are from your adventures of the day!
As you continue to sail North, the landscape of Norway becomes even more picturesque and dramatic with majestic fjords and soaring mountains. And your port of call today, Alesund, is a perfect example of quintessential Norwegian beauty. Located at the entrance of a grand fjord, Geirangerfjord, the town of Alesund actually spans multiple small islands, the surrounding glistening waters of which make it a fishing town and popular destination for visitors. Once a Viking Village, Alesund now has a distinct Art Nouveau style complete with medieval towers and turrets that make the town an architectural wonder, as well.
You’ll start your visit in Alesund with an energizing hike up the 418 steps to Mount Aksla, where you’ll be rewarded for you climb at the Fjellstoua Viewpoint, with aerial views of the town and fjord that will take your breath away (if the climb already didn’t!). Be sure to stop for some refreshments near the outlook at the small outdoor cafe before heading back down to town. Once there, you’ll board the Town Train for a tour of Alesund highlighting the Art Nouveau architecture, including the Yoogan Trolls hidden in the decor of many buildings all over town.
Once you’ve toured the town, you can decide if you’d like to spend the rest of your time exploring one of the museums, the Sunnmore Museum, an open air museum of over 50 buildings dating back to Medieval times, or the Art Nouveau Centre, dedicated to celebrating the architectural inspiration of the town. Or, if you aren’t in the museum-mood, you can spend the rest of your time in port shopping for local wares such as hand-knit sweaters, ceramics and other artisan handicrafts.
Once back onboard the ship, you’ll have some time to marvel at the natural beauty of the fjords that surround you either before or after your nightly dinner rotation experience.
Today you’ll sail along one of the most famous fjords, Nordfjorden, a 66 mile long fjord through the heart of Norway, as you make your way to the small town of Olden. It is difficult to imagine a place more beautiful and breathtaking than Olden, where the glaciers sparkle, the waterfalls dance and the mountains rise up around you to impossible heights. You don’t have to be an artist or photographer to appreciate the natural beauty of Olden, but it is a popular destination among artists for exactly that reason.
Your excursion today will take you into Oldedalen Valley and through Jostedalsbreen National Park, where you’ll get to see and explore one of the many glaciers in the area, depending on your activity choice. You may get to hike through the storied Norwegian forest to see the Briksdal Glacier, the largest glacier on mainland Europe, or the Jostedalen Glacier as you float along the glacial lake, catching fish for the traditional Norwegian lunch you’ll enjoy at the lodge, or the Kjenndalen Glacier before enjoying Norwegian waffles and then boarding a small boat to glide through the serene waters of Lake Loen. The choices for experiencing the pristine beauty of Norway’s fjords each offer something unique, but all deliver some of the most beautiful views you’ll ever see.
Once you return to Olden, you’ll have time to peruse the local shops and support Norwegian artisans by bringing home wooden carvings of the fabled trolls, and hand-knit sweaters. Then, back onboard your ship, your favorite characters will be waiting to entertain you for the evening.
Your last stop in Norway will bring you to Haugesund, a city rich with Viking history going back over a thousand years! In the year 872, the Viking King Harald Fairhair became the first King of Norway, uniting the region into one country, and set the country’s royal seat in Haugesund. As an enduring seaport with the classic Norwegian fjord coastline, Haugesund is certainly fit for royalty (and perfect for Frozen enthusiasts to visit, too!). Over the years, Haugesund has become known as a vibrant port city, all the while keeping close ties to its Viking roots through cultural traditions and museums dedicated to the Viking way of life. Today, the quaint coastal streets and glistening fjord waters make Haugesund a fantastic stop on your Norwegian adventure.
Your visit to Haugesund will start with a stop at Haraldshaugen, Norway’s National Monument, and the burial place of King Fairhair, where an obelisk stands surrounded by 29 standing stones that represent the original territories of Norway. Next, you’ll explore an ancient Viking settlement at Avaldsnes, and learn about the Viking way of life, including the history and lore of Viking traditions at the Norwegian Settlement Centre.
Don’t miss a visit to the St. Olaf’s Church; the architecture is extraordinary and unique, and Frozen fans will recognize the inside as the inspiration for a certain someone’s coronation!
Then, you can visit the Karmsund Folkesmuseum, highlighting local history and culture, and even don traditional Norwegian garb for a great souvenir photo! Or, if you’re ready for some shopping, make your way to Haraldsgata Street, where you’ll find plenty of boutiques and cafes to grab any last-day souvenirs before leaving Norway. Make sure to try Queen Maud Fromage in one of the cafes; it’s a local delicacy made with layers of egg mousse and chocolate! With all the sightseeing of the day, you’ll be ready for your nightly dinner rotation back on board your ship as you sail away one final time from Norway!
Even though you’ll have left Norway, you still have one more full day onboard your ship to enjoy! As you sail back across the North Sea toward the United Kingdom, you’ll have plenty of time to relax and take in everything the ship has to offer, from Broadway shows to spa treatments.
Or maybe you’d prefer sitting in the sun on the ship’s deck, stretched out on a lounge chair, scrolling through the hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of photos you took throughout the week, remembering your favorite moments of the trip. Or you could even finally pick up that book you bring on every vacation and never quite get around to reading…whatever you choose for your last day onboard, the ship and the crew and characters who make it so special, will not disappoint!
Oh, disembarkation day, how do you sneak up so quickly every time? Alas, your Norwegian adventure has come to an end, and it’s time for your journey home. But what stories you’ll have to share! What pictures you’ll have to show! What souvenirs you’ll have to give! As you bid farewell to your ship in Southampton, you’ll have countless memories to take with you on your trip back to London, and on to wherever you call home, and maybe you’ll have even brought back some Frozen magic from Norway, too.
Ready to Plan?
If you are ready to experience some Scandinavian Magic and Nordic beauty for yourself, and would like to plan your Perfect Norwegian Fjords Experience, contact your Love of the Magic Travel Agent today, or email hello@LOTMV.com. And of course, whether you want to journey to Norway, or plan your next adventure somewhere totally different, your LOTMV Travel Advisor will work with you to create the unique experience you’re looking for.
Looking for more of our Inspiring Itinerary series?
You can find links to all of 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries in this Blog: A Year of Inspired Travel: 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries, Month by Month.
Just like last year, a new Inspiring Itinerary will come out each month!
So far, we have:
And don’t forget to check out our Friday Blog Series: Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s, where our favorite Travel Planning Aficionado shares her wealth of knowledge and experiences about traveling the world! You can find links to all of Jamie’s 2022 Travel Tips at this Blog: Jamie’s 2022 Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: A Recap.
Ready to plan The Perfect Norwegian Fjords Experience? Contact your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor today or email hello@LOTMV.com