Experience life in the Arctic Circle and feast like a Viking
Travel the length of Norway aboard some of the world's most impressive railway lines, discovering its delightful cities and island communities along the way. Experience life in the Arctic Circle and feast like a Viking on our new eleven day tour.
Following a direct flight from London to Bergen, we transfer to our hotel for two nights, enjoying dinner on our arrival.
The city of Bergen is surrounded by seven mountains and is based around its harbour. In the Bergenhus district there are well-preserved medieval buildings. On the other side of the harbour is the Klosteret area, which has beautiful 18th century wooden houses and charming alleys, where you can take a stroll out to the Nordnes peninsula. The city centre extends from the main square (Torget) to the Nygård area, where most of the shops and restaurants can be found. In the Middle Ages, Bergen was the largest city in Scandinavia, it wasn't until the 1830s that it was overtaken by Oslo, and we begin our sightseeing on Day 2 with a guided walking tour of the city that includes the old Hanseatic waterfront of Bryggen, the narrow streets of Bergen, and the local fish market.
Please Note: For departure AYJ1801 you will stay at the Scandic Ornen Hotel in Bergen.
Today we enjoy two scenic journeys by rail, beginning with the Bergen Railway. The train makes its ascent into the rugged mountains, travelling alongside deep fjords and passing through numerous tunnels hewn out of the solid rock before arriving at Myrdal, where we board the famous Flåm Railway for an unforgettable ride along one of the steepest lines in the world.
A branch line of the Bergen Railway, the scenic Flåm Railway takes passengers on a wonderful 12.5 mile (20km) journey up one of the steepest railway lines in the world. On its journey from Flåm, located at the innermost corner of the Aurlandsfjord, the train negotiates horseshoe curves, twists, turns and 20 tunnels - 18 of which were drilled by hand.
The scenery is truly spectacular, with rivers and waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and remote farms passing by the window as you travel towards Myrdal at 2,838 feet (865m).
This evening we enjoy a Viking plank feast, with a selection of local beers, in the atmospheric Ægir Brewery, a traditional Norse-style building set beside Aurlandsfjord, its focal point an imposing central fireplace. We set out by coach into the rugged landscapes of southern Norway on Day 4, making our way to Geiranger. En-route we visit the rare Borgund Stave Church and the Dalsnibba viewpoint, Europe's highest fjord view at a staggering 4,500ft elevation. On Day 5 we enjoy the beautiful scenery of Geirangerfjord by boat, cruising the calm waters of this UNESCO-listed site. Acclaimed for its stunning, unique landscape this nine-mile-long branch of the Storfjord (meaning 'Great Fjord'), the magnificent Geirangerfjord boasts towering walls that overlook some of Europe's finest scenery.
Along Geirangerfjord's shores, a number of high waterfalls - including the Seven Sisters and the Suitor - plunge straight from the lofty forests to the smooth waters below. There are also a scattering of abandoned farm buildings dotted along the steep shores. In sunshine, this UNESCO World Heritage site is alive with colour and contrasts - the lush greens of the trees clinging to the rock contrasting with the deep blue water and the brilliant white of the snow-capped peaks in the distance. When it rains, countless waterfalls appear from nowhere, flowing majestically and crashing down into the water below.
We make the journey to Åndalsnes today along the serpentine Trollstigen mountain road*, which offers cinematic views over the mountainous valleys and their crystalline waterfalls. From here we travel on the famous Rauma Railway to Trondheim, our base for the next two nights. The 71 mile long railway line delivers a spectacular journey through magnificent, contrasting landscapes. We navigate the same course as the emerald waters of the River Rauma for much of the trip, the tracks following the river as it winds around the hillsides below jagged mountain peaks.
On Day 7 you are at leisure to explore Trondheim's broad avenues, old warehouses and pretty timber dwellings. Founded in the 10th century, Trondheim is one of the oldest cities in Norway - as well as one of its largest - and is brimming with history. Having been the former seat of the Norwegian kings, the wealthy city of Trondheim was also a Scandinavian spiritual centre throughout the Middle Ages. In 1681 a huge fire damaged much of the city, though this was swiftly rebuilt in a grand style, much of which survives today. Trondheim is widely regarded as a leading city of culture; Norway's first newspaper was published here, and the country's very first theatre opened its doors here a few years later. As well as discovering the city's broad avenues, old warehouses and pretty timber dwellings, you could visit the Ringve Museum which features a collection of musical instruments from all over the world. Trondheim's association continues with the Rockheim Museum, exhibiting the historic of popular music. The pilgrimage site and stunning green-roofed cathedral of Nidarosdomen is a must-see.
Departing Trondheim, we catch the train to Bodø. We travel north on the Nordland Railway for a 452-mile journey to Bodø. The route takes us through the beautiful and varied landscape of northern Norway, past gently sloping hills and distant mountains, majestic lakes and deep forests, rocky coastline and views across small islands and out over the open sea. We cross the Arctic Circle - 66 degrees north - shortly before reaching the town of Lonsdal, the highest point of the railway. The train reaches Fauske before turning due west for the final short section of the journey to Bodø. Also known as the 'Polar Express', the Nordland Railway is rightly one of the world's most famous, passing unconquerable landscapes that are a delight to experience. Vast, ever-changing environments as far as the eye can see stretch out from our comfortable carriages as we strike out across Norway's dramatic landscape, watching as clear blue lakes, sparkling fjords and the spectacular Svartisen Glacier roll by our windows.
On Day 9 we board a speed ferry to Svolvaer, the tiny capital of the stunningly beautiful Lofoten Islands. Described as Europe's most dramatic and spectacular islands, the Lofoten Islands are tethered to mainland Norway by a series of bridges and resemble spikey, wired teeth. The islands are home to small fishing communities, their houses built on timber piles with seawater under the floorboards and imposing cliffs towering 3,000ft above. This evening, after a late dinner, we experience the true unique nature of the Midnight Sun with a visit to Gimsøy beach at witching hour. Here white sands and glacier clear water combine with views stretching right out to the horizon, and being north facing, it means we are perfectly placed to soak up the rays, even though it's the middle of the night.
We continue to explore the Lofoten archipelago today on an excursion that includes the traditional fishing village of Nusfjord, 'Europe's most romantic beach', Uttakleiv, and some free time in Henningsvær. Uttakleiv has an untamed beauty that is irresistible for photographers and those seeking rugged isolation. With its wandering tidal pools and emerald waters, punctuated with black boulders, your time here represents the quintessential natural experiences Norway has to offer. Back in Svolvaer this evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner before transferring to the airport for our flight home. Travelling via Oslo, we arrive on Day 11.
*The opening date of Trollstigen Road varies due to road and snow conditions. Early departures before mid-June may travel on alternative route.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Experience life in the Arctic Circle and feast like a Viking