Simply, this is a full appreciation of Scandinavia’s city greats. And, alongside, Oslo’s contemporary swagger, Helsinki’s contrasting charms and Stockholm’s island-bound heritage, you’ll also take in the national capitals of old, from medieval Turku to Gothic Trondheim and mercantile Bergen. It’s all knitted together by ultra-scenic rail journeys and cruises, including a river-valley sprint and coastal overnighter with Hurtigruten. Indeed, it’s not all urban exploration, with the famous Flåm Railway bringing you out into fjord Norway’s rural serenity.
Days 1-2: UK/Trondheim
Flying out to Norway’s third-largest city, make your way to your hand-picked accommodation – a contemporary jewel where, each day, you’ll be treated to “Norway’s best breakfast”. And, beautifully positioned on the city’s main artery, the Nidelva River, you’ll be perfectly poised to explore over the next two days. As Norway’s capital from 997 to 1016, Trondheim is a medieval treasure trove, best experienced with the thousand-year-old Nidaros Cathedral. There’s also a superb collection of museums, alongside a 17th-century fort and the Archbishop’s Palace – Scandinavia’s oldest secular building. Just remember to find time for coffee and cake in the old town area of Bakklandet, where cafés are housed in painted wooden houses.
Day 3: Hurtigruten cruise
Boarding your Hurtigruten ship today, you’ll set off to sail Norway’s dramatic Atlantic coast. Dipping between cragged skerries and islands, you’ll be treated to views of towering mountain peaks and even the Atlantic Highway – that great rollercoaster road that sweeps between archipelago islets. You’ll also pause at Kristiansund, a historic cod-fishing town with clapboard houses that date to the 1600s. In between it all, there’s time to settle in to your cabin before tucking into your included full-board dining. The onboard restaurant showcases the best in local ingredients from the ship’s route.
Stay: Hurtigruten ship
Days 4-5: Bergen
After a morning spent cruising pretty bays, you’ll arrive into Bergen, Norway’s second city. Here, you’ll be staying in a neoclassic, 1920s dame of a hotel, enjoying delightful breakfasts and light suppers. However, its sleek, contemporary rooms belie its historic location. Indeed, found right off the city’s Hanseatic wharf, you’ll have Bergen’s UNESCO-listed jewel on your doorstep. Here, strings of painted timber warehouses remember all the mercantile past of the trading league that once ruled the seas of northern Europe. For something more active, perhaps take a cable car or funicular ride up to the city’s mountain frame, enjoying scenic hikes and spectacular views of the fjord below.
Day 6: Norway in a Nutshell tour
Today, you’ll be treated to a full day’s introduction to fjord Norway, travelling by road, rail and sea. You’ll begin with a train ride out of the city, winding through verdant valleys to arrive at Voss – a pretty riverside village. Here, you’ll swap to a bus, sweeping along the hairpin bends of the famous Stalheimskleiva road to arrive at Naeroyfjord for your fjord cruise. Its steep, green-dappled banks will then see you on to Flåm, where you’ll pause at its waterside idyll before boarding its famous railway. It’s unarguably one of the world’s finest, and will bring you on to hill-station Myrdal where you’ll change for your train on to Oslo.
Stay: Clarion Collection Hotel Folketeateret
Day 7: Oslo
Having been welcomed to your historic, Art-Deco accommodation by a complimentary light dinner, you’ll have today to explore the Norwegian capital at leisure. Oslo is a city in an upward swing, best tasted in its superb restaurant scene, heard in its buzzy bars or witnessed in its ultra-modern waterfront. This is where successive contemporary jewels compete to outdo each other, with the Opera House the shining centrepiece. It looks, for all the world, like a giant sheet of ice slipping into the Oslofjorden. There’s also plenty of heritage, found in the Royal Palace, Munch Museum and bustling city centre.
Stay: Clarion Collection Hotel Folketeateret
Days 8-9: Stockholm
After breakfast today, you’ll board the train to Stockholm. Travelling through the Scandinavian flat, you’ll sweep past farms and Norwegian fir trees before kissing the giant Vänern Lake and rolling into the Swedish capital. Once arrived, you’ll make your way to your central accommodation. It’s a lesson in Gustavian architecture, all chandeliers and statement staircases. From here, you’ll have the Swedish capital’s many delights within easy reach. Indeed, simply wandering down the street will bring you past the royal park and the frescoed Opera House before a bridge hop sees you right into the old town – a world of cobbled streets, Gothic cathedrals and Baroque mansions.
Day 10: Cruise to Turku
You’ll set off early this morning for a full day’s scenic sailing. Boarding the day ferry, you’ll weave between the cragged islands that make up the Åland Archipelago as you cross the Baltic Sea to arrive at Finland’s Turku. While you’ll make land in the early evening and have some time tomorrow to explore, those who can’t wait to take in Finland’s second city will be rewarded with 13th-century castles and cathedrals. Even simply ambling around its cobbled streets will see you between colourful old towns and squares abuzz with cafés and bars. You’ll end the night in your contemporary hotel, housed in a protected building just off the central plaza.
Stay: Scandic Plaza Turku
Days 11-12: Helsinki
After breakfast and further time to explore Turku, you’ll board your express train for the short journey on, through the Finnish countryside, to Helsinki. Thanks to its rich and varied past, it wears its unique combination of Nordic and Russian influence on its sleeve, making it a true meeting point of east and west. There’s everything from bustling market squares and fantastic food halls to one of Europe’s largest Art Nouveau districts. It’s all watched over by a giant 19th-century cathedral, keeping the denizens honest. Be sure to also b...
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