Anybody choosing to embark on one of our holidays that take in the sights of Norway will get to see varying sides of this fascinating country. Some regions have immense natural beauty, whilst others seem completely wild and untamed, but all are amazing in their own right.
Due to the nation’s passion for adventure in the early 1900s, Norway has overseas territories that stretch as far south as the sub-Antarctic dependency of Bouvet Island and the volcanic Peter I Island, located just off the Antarctic Peninsula. But it is the following regions in the northern hemisphere that perhaps display the most contrasting landscapes, from thriving modern cities to uninhabitable rocks in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.
The Lofoten archipelago is one of the most picturesque areas of Norway. The islands lie in the north of the country and are well known for their beauty and dramatic landscapes. The main areas are dotted with quaint little fishing villages which play a pivotal role in the local economy, whilst the mountainous peaks which dominate the skyline offer a great challenge for those who like to pursue mountain climbing.
The name comes from the two old Norse words which mean lynx foot; describing the shape of this archipelago that protrudes from the mainland. During your Lofoten expedition, you are likely to experience almost twenty-four-hour daylight as you chase the midnight sun, whilst the northern lights may provide the focus of your adventures during the autumn months. You may also get the chance to explore the many whirlpools in the area, including the world’s strongest maelstrom in nearby Bodo. The mild weather, caused by temperature anomalies, is sure to be a pleasant respite in the frozen Arctic region.
Tromso is a large, thriving community which is spread across the mainland and various islands in the north of Norway. The different parts of the city are joined together by bridges and tunnels; the most famous of these being the iconic Tromso Bridge which is a fantastic piece of architecture and allows people to drive straight into the city centre.
Just like in Lofoten, the weather here is surprisingly mild and this is also a great place to witness the northern lights. Another popular attraction is the cable car which transports those looking for unrivalled views up the side of Mount Storsteinen. During the months that this part of Norway is bathed in 24-hour daylight, the cable car stays open past midnight to offer an even more magical spectacle. A wide range of museums, art galleries and impressive buildings also make this an important cultural area.
From a modern city to the wild and vastly unexplored terrains of Spitsbergen. As the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago, Spitsbergen is the only permanently inhabited land in the group, but this makes it perfect for Arctic expeditions. Many of our cruises will take you to these untamed lands, with the main focus being the search for polar bears. From the research centre of Ny-Alesund in the north to the central hub of Longyearbyen; these ferocious predators prowl the pristine landscapes in search of food.
Your adventures here are sure to involve a lot of hiking as you take a closer look at a landscape which includes enormous peaks, beautiful fjords and stunning glaciers. Whether your expedition cruise circumnavigates the island or just visits certain parts, you are sure to get an instant feeling that this is what Arctic exploration is all about.
Another fascinating thing about Spitsbergen and the rest of Svalbard is the number of fossils that have been recently unearthed in this part of the world. As well as depicting just how old these lands are, they show that the waters around the archipelago were once home to gigantic, prehistoric sea creatures that sat unchallenged at the top of the food chain.
The island of Jan Mayen is often spoken about in the same breath as Spitsbergen and lies in a south-westerly direction, closer to the Norwegian mainland. Fewer expeditions visit this uninhabited landscape but anyone on those that do will be able to witness the contrast between the peaceful lakes and striking Berrenberg volcano.