I know how hard it can be researching an upcoming cruise when you’re planning on arranging all your own excursions, so I’ve complied a list of tried and tested activities in some of Norway’s most popular ports, as recommended by the amazing members of Cruise Addicts – Rate Rant & Review. I’ve added links to most of the things listed below so if you’d like any more information or to book any of these activities you know where to go.
I hope this blog helps takes the hassle out of planning so you can just get on board and enjoy your cruise! 😊
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is open through the summer season, usually late June to mid August. It’s where the king and queen reside, the king also holds his formal dinners here. You can pay and follow a guided tour which last approximately 1 hour and will take you through some of the most important rooms in the palace. Also around 1.30pm there is a “change of guards ceremony” which is not to be missed!
The Palace Gardens
If you’d prefer not to do the guided tour many visitors say that the gardens on the walk up to the palace are spectacular, there’s lots to explore like ancient trees, a selection of small lakes and some modern sculptures. You could take a little picnic or a few local snacks for the walk and you can still watch the change of guards ceremony outside the palace!
The Viking Museum
If maritime history is your thing then the Vikings Museum is for you. It has 3 ships over a thousand years old on display. The vessels are burial ships so along with their contents they are very well-preserved. There’s a smartphone audio guide, a short film of a Viking voyage and the occasional special activity. You can pick up a free brochure in English and several other languages too. The entry will cost you NOK 100 per adult (around £10) and children under 18 are free, so it’s a fairly inexpensive activity!
Another one for the fans of maritime history is the Kon-Tiki Museum. It holds original boats and artefacts from Thor Heyerdahl’s famous expeditions. It also has a replica of a family cave from the Easter Islands and is known for having the most comprehensive Easter Island exhibition ever. There is a showing of the Oscar-winning Kon-Tiki documentary every day at 12.00 and there’s even a separate children’s exhibition so there’s something for everyone! Adult admission is NOK 120 (£12) and children’s (ages 6-15) is NOK 50 (£5)
Oslo IceBar is another must try experience, it has ice sculptures, a bar made of ice along with ice chairs and glasses! It’s -5° in the bar so you’ll be given an insulated suit to keep you warmish whilst you’re in there. It’s advisable to book tickets online as it’s just a small venue and cruise ships book a lot of places so it’s hard to get in on the day. Visitors say it is expensive (even for Norway!) but it’s a must if you haven’t been in an ice bar before. Admission is NOK 180-195 (around £18-£20) with a welcome drink included. For the fee you get access for 30 minutes however it’s quite cold so you wouldn’t really want much longer.
The Oslo Pass gives you free entry to 30 museums and attractions, free travel on all public transport, free entry to outdoor swimming pools, free walking tours, discounts on sightseeing, ski simulator, Tusenfryd Amusement Park, concert tickets, climbing, ski rental, and special offers in restaurants, shops, entertainment and leisure venues. You can pre-order your pass online or you can just buy one on the day at various venues. All the information is here and you can find a list of all the other interesting museums in Oslo here.
The Suspension Bridge
When sailing into Bergen you’ll go under the suspension bridge, the bridge is only about 3 metres higher than the funnel of most ships so it is worth getting to top deck to experience this.
There is park in Bergen called Nygardsparken, it’s got great woodland to walk around, a cafe (great coffee and free water!) and a lovely play area for little ones to enjoy. This is the perfect day trip if you’re cruising as a family and want to keep your costs down.
Like Oslo, Bergen also has an IceBar you can visit. So if you don’t get chance to do it in Oslo you can always book this one instead!
Bergen’s Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus
You can explore the whole of Bergen on the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus, get on and off at any of the 13 stops. Discover attractions like the fish market, St Mary’s Church, Bryggen, Bergen museum and loads more. The bus also gives an audio commentary in 8 different languages and a ticket will last a full 24 hours allowing you to explore Bergen at your own pace. It’s the equivalent of £30 per person for a ticket.
Julehuset Christmas Shop
Bergen has a fabulous all year round Christmas shop called Julehuset. The shop has everything you could possibly want for the perfect Scandi Christmas from baubles to nativity scenes, lights to advent and much more! If you love all things Christmas then this shop is a must.
Bergen Fish Market
The Fish Market in Bergen is one of Norway’s biggest and most visited outdoor markets and has been around since the 1200’s, you’ll find it in the heart of the city between the fjords and Bergen’s 7 mountains. The market doesn’t just sell seafood, you’ll find local farm foods like berries, fruits and vegetables plus lots of flowers and plants. The indoor market is open all year and the outdoor market starts on the 1st of May and lasts for the duration of summer. Visitors recommend trying some fresh seafood from one of the restaurants in the indoor market if you do decide to eat whilst ashore.
The Famous Funicular
The Fløibanen Funicular is a 10 minute walk from where the ships dock and is one of Norway’s most famous attractions. It costs around £5 and will take you 320m above sea level giving you wonderful views of Bergen. There are lots of things to explore whilst your up there, here are 10 suggestions for walks and hikes in the mountains around Bergen with Mount Fløyen as starting point. If you’re feeling energetic you could take the 3 kilometer walk back down, it only takes 45 minutes and you can enjoy those beautiful views for longer!
Like the Oslo card the Bergen card gives you free or discounted entry to museums, attractions, events and loads more for a whole 24 hours! It also gets you on the busses for free. It costs 260 NOK (£26) for an adult or 100 NOK (£10) for a child aged 3-15 years old. Find out more about it here.
Stavanger’s Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus
Stavanger has its own Hop-On, Hop-Off open top bus like Bergen’s. There’s a bus every 30 minutes and they stop right outside the cruise terminal. The tour operates from mid-May to the end of August. You’ll stop at Stavanger Cathedral, 7 different museums & the king of Norway’s royal residence along the way. admission is around 300 NOK (£30) and includes headphones and on board commentary in 8 different languages.
Flor & Fjare Gardens
Flor & Fjare is described as the place where a rainbow hit earth. If you decide to book this trip you can expect a fantastic day. First you’ll be taken on a 20 minute boat trip on the Fjord followed by a walking tour around the luscious gardens filled with over 50,000 vibrant flowers. The day is then finished off with a buffet loaded with mouth-watering food made by chef Andre Mulder inspired by food from around the globe, seasoned with herbs fresh from the gardens you’ll have just explored. The tour is available Monday to Saturday from early May to late September and must be booked in advance. You can find more info here.
Old Stavanger is a fantastic place to explore on foot, it’s made up of 173 wooden buildings dating from the turn of the 18th century. Stavenger has received many awards for its efforts in preserving Old Stavanger. This part of Stavanger is also a popular residential area and has lots of independents, boutiques and art galleries for you to investigate. This is the best way to see Stavenger on a low-budget.
The Canning Museum
The Canning museum in Stavanger is an interesting part of Old Stavengers history as canning was Stavengers most significant trade until the 1960’s. The museum will give you an insight into the working conditions, show you the complete process from arrival of fresh fish to the cans leaving the factory and you can even taste freshly smoked brisling straight from the oven if you’re lucky enough to visit on a Tuesday or a Thursday! There’s also a workers cottage with traditional 1920’s decor on the first floor and 1960’s on the second floor along with household items acquired from each decade to give you a real feel for what life would have been like for the residents in old town Stavanger. Adult admission is NOK 95, children cost NOK 50 and infants who are 5 and under are free.
The Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum is another one of the many things to do in Stavanger. It’ll take you through the last 200 years of maritime history, development and trade. The exhibitions range from a merchant’s apartment from 1910, a shipowner’s office, the 1910 general store and working at the docks in the 1950’s. Adult admission is NOK 95 (approx £9.50) children are NOK 50 (£5) and infants from 0-5 are free of charge.
Flam is a small village situated at the end of Aurlandsfjord. It’s a nice place to wander around taking in the sights, a walk along the river is recommended. There’s a few shops in the area should you feel like a spot of retail therapy too.
The Hike to Brekkefossen Waterfall
There is a Brekkefossen waterfall hike that starts at Flam station. It’s a 1.5 hour round trip hiking on steep terrain. The hike is well-marked and will give you incredible views once you have reached the waterfall. Its a great way to kill some time if you’re booked on the Flam railway later on in the day.
The Flam railway journey will take you 20km from Flam station to Myrdal and show you some jaw dropping landscape. You’ll pass the stave church, see spectacular waterfalls, climb 866 meters above sea level, travel through the steep mountains and see the snow-covered mountain tops, there’s even a few surprises along the way. The journey lasts approximately 2 hours and costs NOK 550 (£55) for adults or NOK 274 (£27.50) for children. A tip from a Cruise Addicts member is to book the train online before you leave home, (it’s best to book months in advance) then when you board the train, sit on the right hand side as you face the front to get the best views. The left hand side is pretty much rock face for most of the way.
The Seven Sisters Waterfall
On the way into Geiranger you must look out for the seven sisters waterfall. It’s the 39th tallest waterfall in Norway and is made up of 7 different streams, the tallest of the seven has a free fall of 250 meters. It’s definitely not to be missed!
The Fjordsenter is the authorized visitors center for the West Norwegian Fjords World Heritage Site. Inside the center you will find exhibitions about many things including the people of the fjords and the history of its landscapes. There’s interactive rooms perfect for inquisitive children, a cafe, playground, gift shop and lots more! Adult admission is NOK 120 (£12) and children will cost NOK 60 (£6) The staff here are known for being very friendly and helpful so if you’ve got any questions or want to know where to go next whilst you’re in Geiranger then these are the people to speak to.
Hike to Storfossen Waterfall
You can take a waterfall hike starting from the Fjordsenter. The 327 step hike will take you high up to the Storfossen waterfall and give you access to great viewpoints so you take in the sights. Be careful on the descent as wet rocks can be problematic, this walk is best suited to travellers who are confident on their feet.
The Chocolate Shop – Sjokolade
If you get chance the chocolate shop in Geiranger is worth a visit. Why not try a few of the samples they give out for free and find your favourite chocolate flavour. They’ve got plenty to choose from including plain chocolate, blue cheese chocolate and everything else in-between. A member of the Cruise Addicts community recommends trying the blue cheese chocolate… me? I’m not so sure! Look out for the Iconic blue bike parked outside, that’s when you know you’ve found this chocolate heaven.
Whatever you decide to do in Norway, enjoy yourselves and make amazing memories. It’s a magical country with lots to be explored. We’d love to see your Fjords cruise pictures in our Facebook community so don’t forget to join!