Norway, the ultimate winter wonderland
Let it snow! Bundle up and embrace all that winter has to offer on a cruise holiday to Norway
When winter rolls around, our thoughts often turn to sunnier climes. And while a warm-weather escape is a welcome reprieve in the middle of a grey British winter, it’s not the only way to beat the chill.
A cruise holiday to Norway offers a completely different way to experience the snowy season. Scandinavians know the best way to tackle winter is to enjoy it, and cold-weather-only activities abound in Norway – from husky sledding and snowmobiling to searching for the spectacular Northern Lights. And, if all else fails, it’s hard to beat the feeling of warmth and comfort that comes with cosying up with a hot drink.
For our top tips on how to embrace the beauty of Norway in wintertime, snuggle up and read on…
The concept of hygge – pronounced ‘hoo-ga’ and roughly defined as a general sense of cosiness and wellbeing – has been a major lifestyle buzzword in recent years. And while it’s often associated with Denmark, the term originates from a Norwegian word, and the concept applies to any country with long, dark winters. Naturally, Norwegians are experts at hygge. Try your hand at it by finding a comfy café, curling up under a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate, and watching the world go by.
Naturally, food plays a big role in hygge. Scandinavian cuisine has been in the spotlight in recent years – think New Nordic or the even more au courant Neo-Fjordic. Somewhat surprisingly, fish and seafood is at its best in winter, so dig into local delicacies such as scallops, lobster, salmon and trout. Or try Norway’s version of meatballs, kjøttkaker – they’re seasoned with warming spices, such as ginger and nutmeg, and usually served with vegetables and a rich sauce. Thirsty? Craft beer is huge in Norway, with microbreweries popping up across the country. Aquavit, a potato-based spirit flavoured with herbs, is the national drink, and makes for a wonderful winter warmer. Winter is also the perfect time to sip a mug of gløgg, a local take on mulled wine that uses dried almonds and raisins.
For an evening that will warm both body and soul, sign up for the Arctic Cathedral Evening Recital in Tromsø. After a sightseeing drive around the city, you’ll enjoy a 30-minute music recital in the Arctic Cathedral, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
Norwegians know that getting outside is the best way to make the most of the season, embracing activities that can only be enjoyed in winter. Skiing is a hugely popular pastime. Locals hit the trails for downhill action (Norway is widely credited with inventing alpine skiing), and cross-country is just as big, both on forest trails and city sidewalks – don’t be surprised if you see locals skiing around town. Snowmobiling is another fun and fast way to get around. Organised snowmobile safaris can get you deeper into the countryside, as the machines can take you places your own two feet can't.
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, see the sights by reindeer or dog sled. Try the Alta Husky Adventure shore experience, on which you’ll be taken through breathtaking scenery on a dog sled ride before warming up with refreshments around a log fire in a traditional lavvu (Sámi tent).
See the sights
Norway is famous for its breathtaking scenery, and few sights are more breathtaking than the Northern Lights. The natural phenomenon is typically visible from September to April, illuminating the night sky with vibrant, dancing colour. We offer a number of cruise holidays that travel to ports such as Tromsø and Alta in search of the aurora borealis, and also offer shore experiences to give you the best possible chance of catching this awe-inspiring show.
Of course, there’s much more to Norway’s scenery than the Northern Lights. The famous fjords are even more dramatic in wintertime when the sun’s golden light reflects off the snow and ice, and waterfalls that cascade freely in summer freeze over. Picturesque villages, meanwhile, look postcard-perfect covered in a dusting of snow. The Romsdal Valley and Bjorli shore experience in Åndalsnes takes you past rivers, valleys, mountain peaks and waterfalls before returning for warming coffee and cake.