Experience Coastal Norway – A Diamond in the Rough

Norway – the often forgotten gem of Scandinavia – has everything to offer a traveler eager for new experiences. The vast coast of western Norway is famous for its Fjords and rough mountains plunging into the sea, but there is a lot more to Norway than the overwhelming unspoiled nature that meets the eye.

For the musically interested, the beautiful coastal city of Molde offers an annual jazz festival, Moldejazz. This is perhaps one of the most comfortable festivals you will ever go to, providing ample opportunity to experience the city itself as well as a great music and festival atmosphere without the port-a-loo or the smelly festival camping experience.

If you would rather throw yourself off a cliff than listen to jazz – well, you can.  The rough landscape along the coast stretching from Stavanger to Ålesund offers several great spots for extreme sports. How about some paragliding over the gorgeous hills surrounding Unnelandstoppen, or flinging yourself off Trollveggen in a flying squirrel suit for that extra adrenaline rush?

Of course there are plenty of ways to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of coastal Norway without any fear of imminent death.  Geiranger has some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world.  For a view that will truly take your breath away, walk all the way up to Preikestolen and you will feel like you are literally standing on top of the world.

By this point you may be thinking the holiday will be costly, and a quick look at the map will tell you the distances between the highlights are long.  A great alternative to the traditional car holiday or interrail is to take a cruise.  Several companies offer trips along the coast, Hurtigruta – the Norwegian coast cruise – being the most established.  However, Celebrity Cruises offer a varied array of cruises including both a Norwegian fjord and Arctic Circle cruise.  Travelling with the latter at the right time of year will also offer a chance of seeing the elusive Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights – and possibly the midnight sun.

Travelling Norway by cruise ship also has an economic benefit: with prices on food and drink nearly twice of average prices in the EU, a holiday on board with food included allows more money for activities on shore.

Should you be a more metropolitan person, Bergen (a stop on all cruises mentioned) has plenty to offer. The historic city has plenty of great shops, bars, and architecture, and still maintains a local community feel.  For the historically interested there is Bergen Wharf, a quaint area filled with traditional Norwegian buildings and some great places to eat.  The wharf is actually on the World Heritage List.

If you would rather combine your history and nature without heading onto long hiking trips, take Fløibanen – a historical funicular – up into the mountains surrounding Bergen for a stunning view of the city and an easy stroll in the Norwegian mountains.  You can easily do both and have time for shopping or a pint in the day or so your cruise is docked.

With a cruise along coastal Norway, there is so much to see.  As a sports fanatic, you can catch a game of footie in Molde or Ålesund with some of Norway’s best teams.  If you’re of a more aquatic persuasion, head to the aquarium in Ålesund for some of the coolest creatures from the Northern Sea.

The most beautiful thing about a cruise along coastal Norway however is that if all you are looking for is a relaxing holiday, few things will be better for you than the peace and quiet offered by the vast and unspoiled views of tranquil wilderness observed from the comfort of a modern cruise ship.