If you're considering one of the famous Baltic Cruises of the Scandinavian countries that also include a couple of days in St. Petersburg, Russia, contemplate combining this with a Norway element, if you have the time. Many Baltic cruises don't include Norway as part of them since they require more time to cover both Norway and the rest of the Baltic Sea with St. Petersburg.
My husband and I were on a Baltic Cruise a number of years ago that was fabulous and included a 2 night stop in St. Petersburg, but did not include Norway. I've been planning a client's tour fairly recently and they elected to extend their vacation to include a cruise that includes Norway and it's such a gem!
Norway is such an incredibly beautiful Scandinavian country rich in history with the Viking heritage and so much natural beauty everywhere. In particular, Norway has some of the longest, deepest, and most beautiful fjords in the world. Along its' 2100-mile coast, there are over 1000 fjords! There is much to discover including their large metropolitan cities, these picturesque fjords and the charming fishing villages.
Here are some of the wonderful places to visit in Norway either on a cruise or a land tour, depending on your preference. And there are so many more places to visit in addition to those I'm mentioning here.
OSLO is the capital city of Norway and is also the most visited city there as well. It not only has all the modern innovations expected of a large city but also has an incredible natural beauty. The city has panoramic mountain views on one side while on the other it overlooks the Oslo Fjords. You can check out some of the great history by visiting the Norwegian Folk Museum and the Viking Ship Museum. They have trendy galleries and cafes, alongside traditional palaces and historic sites including a former prison that houses more galleries. Oslo has definitely done their urban planning well!
BERGEN is the second-largest city in Norway and happens to be the main gateway to the famous Fjords of Norway. It's a quintessential Norwegian town that has the most colorful waterfront with painted, old wooden Hanseatic boathouses with some dating back to the 12th century. Over the centuries, Bergen has suffered a great many fires with the largest one destroying 90% of the city back in 1702. Bergen is a Designated World Heritage City and the old Bryggen wharf is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site with its old cobblestone streets and colorful buildings.
FLAM is a small village considered to be one of the most popular destinations in Norway and Scandinavia as a result of its location and absolutely stunning scenery. Flam is surrounded by narrow valleys, steep mountains and thundering waterfalls. Whether you want to cruise the picturesque fjords, bike or hike on dry land or ride the iconic Flam railway taking in the massive mountains, gushing rivers and waterfalls, the choice is yours.
ALESUND tends to be the most northern point for larger cruise ships like the one my client is taking, and also happens to be touted as one of the most beautiful towns in Norway. It's a bustling seaside port and is the entrance to some of the most dramatic fjords. Alesund is also one of the world's finest locations for Art Nouveau architecture. Fairy tale cobbled streets are graced with buildings that have dainty turrets and decorative swirls designed by approximately 20 master builders and 30 Norwegian architects after a devastating fire in 1904. On the sea trade side, they also happen to produce two thirds of the world's supply of dried, salted cod known as klipfish in this area.
KRISTIANSAND is the largest city in the southern section of Norway. Summers there are long and warm and boast experiences of coast and ocean, culture and history, not to mention culinary and cuisine! New to the city is their Kilden Performing Arts Centre on the spectacular waterfront. They also have a summer schedule packed with open-air festivals to enjoy. Kristiansand is located in one of Norway's best kept secret areas fondly called the Norwegian Riviera filled with great beaches, quiet islands and scenic fjords.
Norway truly is a fascinating country with breathtaking scenery, stunning architecture, a rich history and culture and a lot to keep you happily occupied. In fact, it's been one of the top 10 happiest countries worldwide for many years. Maybe it's time for you to start planning one of your next trips there?