The Norwegian fjords are one of the world's top tourist destinations to see on a cruise. Here are the top cruise ship destinations in Norway.
Have you ever taken a cruise to Norway? While not to everyone's tastes, they have proven to be an ever more popular, and affordable, way to see some of the highlights of Norway and Scandinavia.
Despite fears that the health criss of the last few years could spell the end of many cruises, 2022 is set to be a bumper year for the industry in northern Europe.
Record cruise visits expected in 2022
As reported in Forbes, four million cruise passengers are expected to visit Norway during 2022. That's more passengers than ever before, on more cruise ships than ever before.
But where will those passengers be stopping? Thanks to new figures from Cruise Norway and the Norwegian Coastal Administration, we can bring you the 15 most popular cruise ports in Norway for 2022.
If you're planning a Norway cruise this year, this list should give you a taster of what to expect. Enjoy!
The largest town on the Lofoten Islands makes the list at number 15. Svolvær is a fantastic base to explore the islands and the nearby Trollfjord. There's also some nice seafood restaurants along the pleasant harbour.
However, Svolvær is also an important stop for the Hurtigruten coastal voyage, so capacity for cruise ships is limited. This means cruise operators must use alternate ports to show off the Lofoten Islands to its guests.
And so that's why Leknes makes the list! The second biggest town on the Lofoten Islands is closer to the Viking museum at Borg and the western end of the islands, known to be the most visually spectacular.
This one was a surprise to me! Alta bills itself as a great place to see the northern lights. It has some other things to do of interest to tourists, but it tends to play second fiddle to Tromsø in tourist terms.
My guess is that capacity at the port in Tromsø means more ships are having to use Alta as an alternative this summer.
My adopted home town Trondheim is the twelfth most popular Norwegian cruise port for 2022. From experience I've seen the German-speaking Aida Cruises seem especially keen on Trondheim.
The city has a lot for cruise visitors to see in one day, including the famous Nidaros Cathedral. The entrance to Trondheim along the Trondheimsfjord includes the distinctive red, octagonal Kjeungskjær lighthouse.
The most popular port along Norway's Hardangerfjord, Eidfjord is a charming fjordside town. Nearby attractions popular with cruise visitors include the Vøringsfossen waterfall and the Hardangervidda national park.
For those unable to make it up to the park itself, the Norsk Natursenter Hardanger in Eidfjord acts as a visitor centre not just for the national park, but all of Norwegian nature.
One of only two ports on this list that show off the ‘West Norwegian Fjords' UNESCO World Heritage site, Flåm is well known among international visitors to Norway.
The Aurlandsfjord is one of Norway's most picturesque fjord, but the nearby Nærøyfjord takes things up a notch. On the way in and out of Flåm, make sure to spend your time out on deck to take it all in.
Another slightly surprising entry is Haugesund, although its status as a relatively large port on the west coast makes it an obvious alternative to Bergen or Stavanger for cruise operators.
Southern Norway's biggest city is the first port most cruise ships meet upon arriving at the Norwegian coastline so is unsurprisingly high on the list.
It's known as a sunny part of Norway in the summer, so cruise passengers often enjoy strolling around the city or even relaxing on the city centre beach. Other nearby attractions include the amusement park and zoo Dyrehagen.
Norway's capital city only makes number seven on the list.
In some ways it's surprising to see Oslo so high given how many cruises focus on the fjords or the northern lights.
Yet Oslo's good capacity for cruise ships is no doubt the main reason that the city ranks at number seven. Of course, the capital is also packed with things for day visitors to see and do.
Some visitors will enjoy a bus tour of the city's highlights including the Holmenkollen ski jump and Vigeland sculpture park. Others will enjoy some of the country's best museums including the Norwegian museum of cultural history, Kon-Tiki museum and Fram museum.
The other port within the UNESCO World Heritage area, Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord has long been a cruise favourite.
While the port feels cramped when there is more than one ship in port, the town is usually a charming place to spend a few hours exploring the local shops, attractive shoreline and hiking trails.
If you're offered a bus trip up to the viewpoint at Dalsnibba (known as the Geiranger Skywalk), I highly recommend it as long as there are not too many clouds. The perspective you get on Geiranger and the fjord and mountain surroundings is simply spectacular.
Olden is the most popular destination on the Nordfjord and in fact the most popular fjord port in the entire Norwegian fjords region. The small town has plenty to see and do including two charming churches.
Popular trips include the nearby Briksdal glacier, and the Loen Skylift in the nearby village of Loen. The five-minute ride on the skylift is an expensive trip but the view from the top is absolutely wonderful.
As with all fjord ports of call, it's well worth getting up early to enjoy the approach if you are due to arrive in the early morning.
Back up to the north we go! Most cruises to Norway don't get this far north so it's says a lot about the popularity of Tromsø that it sits fourth in the list.
The biggest town in Northern Norway has a spectacular island setting with mountainous surroundings. The best place to appreciate this is from the top of the Fjellheisen cable car.
Tromsø's Arctic Cathedral is a popular stop with cruise visitors, with concerts often put on in association with cruise visits. Many winter cruises to Norway focus on Tromsø as a destination for one big reason. The northern lights.
Tromsø is one of the best places in Europe to see the lights. But remember, you're more likely to get a glimpse from the ship on the way to or from the city because of the lack of artificial light. So keep your eyes peeled at all times!
Norway's oil and gas capital is known to international cruise visitors for its lovely old wooden town Gamle Stavanger. Cruise ships dock right by this neighbourhood of white, wooden houses, so it's impossible to miss.
Stavanger is the starting point for many trips offered by the cruise operators. The nearby Lysefjord may be included on a cruise or offered as a separate boat trip. Keen hikers should look out for the possibility to join a hike to Preikestolen.
For those passengers staying around the city, the Norwegian Petroleum Museum is a surprisingly interesting museum that tells many tales of the development of Norway's oil and gas industry. Also keep your eyes out for Stavanger's fantastic and diverse street art.
Ah, Ålesund. No-one who has been to Ålesund will be surprised that so many cruise companies want their passengers to experience this delightful coastal city.
Almost completely surrounded by water, Ålesund's central area has a spectacular setting. Yet it's full of beauty itself in the form of its architecture, which is totally unique in Norway.
Simply taking a walk around the central area is enjoyable enough, but I highly recommend a visit to the Jugendstilsenter (Art Nouveau Museum) to dig deeper into the story.
The nearby Hjørundfjord is a popular stop for cruise ships and/or day trips from the town. Kayaking in the waters around the town, visiting the town's aquarium or climbing the steps up to Mount Aksla for the iconic view across Ålesund are all popular activities.
Last but certainly not least we have Bergen. Norway's second biggest city is almost always the country's most popular cruise port. In 2022, Bergen is set to welcome 290 cruise ships.
Known as the ‘gateway to the fjords', Bergen is a common stop with cruise lines setting out for the fjords or travelling the coastline. The city has a picturesque location, which can best be appreciated by the short ride on the Fløibanen funicular railway.
While many cruise passengers join excursions out into the fjords and surrounding countryside, those who stay in Bergen are not short of things to see and do.
Are you planning a cruise to Norway this year? If you've been before, what are your favourite ports of call?