Cruising the coast of Norway all the way up to the Arctic Circle is high on many a traveller’s must-do list, and who can blame them? With the midnight sun in the summer and a good chance of the Northern Lights in the winter it’s going to be a spectacular experience no matter when you go.
And don’t forget the fjords – these incredibly steep, long valleys are an integral part of the country’s image. Although not unique to Norway, just like the Vikings and Santa Claus they are symbols Norwegians will try to convince you are theirs alone. No matter, because while New Zealand and Alaska have them too, nowhere does fjords like Norway.
To really experience the natural beauty of the country it’s definitely hard to beat a cruise along its coastline. There are a wealth of options, routes and activities but one feature they all have in common is scheduled stops along the way. Often these last just a few hours but you wouldn’t want to waste the opportunity to visit new places while in port, now would you? I thought not.
You may be able to choose the option of a guided tour and if this sounds appealing you’ll likely get a good introduction to the town while the ship is docked. But chances are that you will have an hour or two to yourself – longer if you forego the tour – so we’re going to help you get the most our of your all-too-brief visit with this new series of articles.
Rather than start at the most southerly or northerly harbour town I’m going to defy logic and begin kind of in the middle with my adopted home, Trondheim. It’s a wonderful ‘city’ (for most visitors, it’s a town – but in a country of so few people, it is in fact the third largest city) in which I’ve lived for 15 years. It was the original capital of Norway too – when it was known as Nidaros. Check the Hotelspecials site for some deals on accommodation.
Let’s face it, you can only scratch the surface in a few hours but rather than waste your precious time gasping at the prices in the ubiquitous chain stores you can find in any European town, here are far some better ideas:
- Start by making for the Nidaros Cathedral, and then work your way back. This stunning Gothic building is still an important place of pilgrimage and was first completed in the 14th century. Several major fires in the city damaged the cathedral and the latest version dates from the late 19th century restoration. This is a rather untraditional aerial view I shot while paying with my drone recently
- Next door is the Archbishop’s Palace where you can view Norway’s national regalia as well as other historical treasures from the cathedral
- Time to walk off that culture: Continue through the grounds to the river where you’ll find an attractive park – Marinen.
- Follow the river to the left and out of the park to reach Gamle Bybro, the old town bridge.
- Everyone takes a photo or two here up and downriver, so don’t beat them, join them
- Cross the bridge to the cobbled streets of Bakklandet. There are some interesting independent shops here selling arts, crafts and souvenirs.
- Grab a coffee at Dromedar – ask for a Sweet Chili, the house speciality. You can thank me later 🙂
- Cross back over the river and walk north, taking in the old wharf buildings on the right
- If you are lucky enough to be in town at lunchtime Monday to Saturday then don’t miss Bakgården Restaurant just a little further along the same road – Kjøpmannsgata – but on the left side as you walk from the old bridge at number 40. Here you’ll find the best local ingredients served as a Norwegian version of tapas. Service is superb, the dishes are amazing and prices are reasonable for Norway.
Hopefully this brief list will have whetted your appetite – we’ll have similar articles on other port towns in Norway and much more on Trondheim in the near future.