Slowly but surely, Norway is becoming a year round cruising destination. With the soaring interest in winter cruising to see the famous Northern Lights adding to the already large number of cruise ships sailing the waters of summertime Norway, the country is in itself one truly amazing, scenic smorgasbord that everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
In downtown, bustling Bergen, the view down over the harbour from the top of the funicular is incomparable during daylight. In that same city, a walk among the ancient, clapboard shops and restaurants of the waterfront Bryggen district offers a glimpse into how people traded back in the fourteenth century.
In stunning, secluded Flam, take the train to the summit at Myrdal, as it winds through a landscape of pastures full of cows that gives way to dramatic, plunging ravines and fierce, tumbling waterfalls. The journey is rated as one of the most spectacular in the world, and with very good reason.
If the chance arises- and it mainly does on winter cruises- I definitely recommend that you try a sleigh ride under the stars. The two man wooden sleds, each hauled by a team of eight Arctic Huskies, shudder, swoosh and swerve through an amazing twilight hinterland, across a sea of snow bracketed by looming pine trees. Often as not, your gaze is fixed on a sky full of stars but, if you are lucky, there is a good chance to see the flickering, enigmatic, shimmering Northern Lights.
In terms of food, Norwegian cuisine tends to be simple, fresh and devoid of pretension. The local fish- typically Norwegian Salmon and, further north, Arctic Char, require little by way of sauce for emphasis. With the water in the local fjords so clear and pristine, the taste and texture of fish served here is amazing.
For meat lovers, the reindeer is usually superb, if sometimes a little salty. And for dessert, try the locally picked cloudberries. They usually come with whipped cream, and form a welcome, sharp contrast to the main course.
Remember that in terms of local prices, Norway is jaw dropping compared to the UK. Everything from beer, to coffee, to bottled water costs many times more than at home, so budget accordingly. Many of the local souvenirs, such as reindeer pelts, woollen mittens and hats, are of absolutely superb quality, but inevitably they come at a matching price.