While many people associate Norway with winter, it really comes alive in Summer with its long days, short nights and incredible picturesque scenery. From waterfalls and flower meadows to fantastic architecture and glittering waterways, Norway is a fairy tale world during the Summer months.
So, it’s great news that P&O Cruises has announced that its new flagship, the Iona, will be launched in 2020 and will exclusively sail to the Norwegian Fjords during its inaugural season, starting in Summer 2020. This area of the world is best experienced by sea and, best of all, bookings are now open.
Here, we look at seven bucket list-worthy experiences in this spectacular region, which you can book when you book your Norwegian Cruise on the P&O Cruises’ Iona. Please note that not all cruises stop at all these destinations, but you can book the one which includes your favourites.
This lovely town offers visitors views of the best-preserved examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Europe. Because Alesund was completely rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 1904, it looks quite different to other Norwegian towns along the country’s west coast, now better known as ‘Fjordland’. You will arrive early and depart early evening in case you want to make separate plans for your day here.
If you want a big city with small town flavour, Bergen is the spot for you. It is the country’s second largest city and is known as the ‘city of seven hills’. A great way to navigate this meandering landscape is to take the Fløibanen funicular railway up Fløyen Mountain for panoramic views and lovely mountain walks.
This former ‘European City of Culture’s cruise port nestles amongst the magnificent mountains strung along Norway’s western coastline and is a gateway to Fjordland. If you’re more interested in the city itself, the centre has a youthful vibe because of its big university. Here you will find plenty of street art, as well as plenty of museums and galleries to explore. You will have from early morning to the afternoon to look around.
Geiranger & Geirangerfjord
It is just nine miles long but the snaking Geirangerfjord is the most photographed of all Norways fjords because of the sheer beauty of its setting.
Those in the mood for a kayaking experience can see one of nature’s masterpieces from the water that will float them past the amazing waterfalls this Fjord is famous for. Or if you prefer a two-wheeled adventure, you can descend the 17km by bike from the shores of a lake more than 1000m above sea level.
The Hardangerfjord region has been an important European tourist destination since the 19th century. The area offers spectacular nature and living culture and is a perfect choice for active or more relaxing holidays. At 79 km long, and 900 metres deep, the Hardanger fjord is third longest fjord in the world. (If you’re wondering: the definition of a fjord is a long, narrow inlet from the sea with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion during the ice ages.) It’s a spectacular sight, even if your ship just sails by it.
Hellesylt is a UNESCO World Heritage listed village which is surrounded by picturesque snow-capped peaks. It has an incredible roaring waterfall cascading through the centre of the village and directly into the fjord, which makes for great pictures and or adventures.
If its adventure you’re after, you can take a fast-paced rafting adventure along 8km of fast flowing river followed by lunch around a bonfire. Or if you just want to look around relax, this former Viking settlement is every inch the quintessential snap worthy Norwegian fjord town.
The peaceful village of Olden has the perfect Fjordland cruise setting – nestling at the southern end of one branch of the beautiful Nordfjord and at the entrance to the gorgeous Oldedalen Valley.
If you do stop off here, be sure to visit the Loen Skylift which was just completed and opened last year. (2017.) It’s a spectacular new attraction and adventure arena in Loen, which is only 6 km from the Port of Olden and offers unrivalled views and picture opportunities.
Booking Your Norwegian Cruise on the P&O’s Iona
Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020. Holidays on Iona has gone on sale in September 2018. Iona will offer seven-day holidays to the Norwegian Fjords from May 2020, each leaving from and returning to Southampton.