Kon Tiki, Oslo

This week, I will be sailing again with Viking Ocean Cruises to explore Scandinavia and Western Europe on a 15-day sailing starting in Stockholm and winding down in Bergen, Norway, with 11 ports-of-call.

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Aboard the MS Viking Jupiter (built in 2019), we’ll enjoy complimentary (and paid-for) excursions, take in sea views (and Norwegian fjords) from a veranda stateroom balcony plus gain a sense of the history and culture of the Viking homelands.

Manfredis Italian Restaurant
[Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant]

The Jupiter contains six levels of passenger staterooms, the Aquavit terrace, Bar, atrium, living room, infinity pool, main restaurant, World Café, Explorer’s Lounge (with Mamsen’s, serving Scandinavian fare), Wintergarden tea room, outdoor gym and yoga area — and a full-service Nordic Spa & Fitness Center, perfect for unwinding after all that exploring!

The Nordic Spa offers a sauna, cold plunge, snow grotto, thermal pool and steam room. There’s also a fitness center and hair salon on board.

Viking Sea-2
[Nordic Spa]

The joy of cruising means having to unpack your suitcase once, place it under our bed, then get set to enjoy! Aside from that refreshing sea air and a new port nearly every day, that is one of my favourite aspects of cruising.

15 days. 6 countries. 11 ports. 929 fellow passengers. Hopefully lots of gorgeous sunsets. Take a look at this wonderful itinerary:

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We’ll begin our journey in Stockholm, Sweden, where Lake Mälaren’s cobalt waters meet the Baltic. This stunning cultural capital extends over 14 islands linked by 57 graceful bridges. The preserved 13th-century Gamla Stan (Old Town) boasts gabled merchant houses and an array of architectural styles, from the enormous baroque Stockholm Palace to the Art Nouveau Royal Dramatic Theater.

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Mariehamn is the capital of Åland, an autonomous territory under Finnish sovereignty. The archipelago spans about 6,700 islands and lies halfway between Finland and Sweden. The compact city center sits between two harbours, and offers a number of restaurants, cafés and shops. Mariehamm’s Viking heritage is a celebrated treasure: it hosts the annual Viking Market, one of the largest of its kind in Scandinavia.

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After sailing the Swedish coast, where maritime battles unfolded in a bid to control Northern Europe, we’ll visit historic Gdańsk, known as the city of glowing amber and Gothic cathedrals. During medieval times, Gdańsk was one of the most prosperous cities in the Hanseatic League, the mercantile powerhouse of the Baltic. The city’s rich history is on display in the remarkably restored Old Town, a splendid mix of Gothic, Renaissance and baroque styles—from the royal residence of Green Gate to the 15th-century Artus Court, a merchant’s palace.

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Rønne, established around the year 1,000 as a fishing community on the Danish island of Bornholm, has played an important role in the maritime trade of the Baltics. Germans, Swedes and Soviets overtook the island throughout its history. Along Laksegade and Storegade streets, historic cobblestone lanes and the low-timbered, red-roofed houses of merchants exude the Rønne of yesterday. Today, Rønne is home to celebrated and talented artisans who uphold a long tradition of glassblowing and, more famously, of crafting long-case grandfather clocks.

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Although Berlin is on the itinerary for day 7 of our journey, I am planning to visit the nearby city of Rostock, with its 13th-century town hall, the Gothic St. Mary’s Church, including an astronomical clock built in 1472 by Hans Düringer. During this included excursion, we will also visit University Square to admire the terra-cotta Hauptgebäude, the university’s main building. There will be time to further explore the pedestrian-only district of Kröpeliner Strasse, which runs east from the Neuer Markt to the 14th-century Kröpeliner Tor, a former town gate.

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Among the Baltic’s most beautiful cities, Copenhagen started as a fishing village and boasts over 850 years of history! It has served as an important Scandinavian port since the Viking Age and remains one of Europe’s most enchanting places thanks to Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second-oldest amusement park, and The Little Mermaid statue sitting in the harbour at Langelinie. Grand palaces also grace the cityscape, including Amalienborg Palace, the royal winter residence, and Rosenborg Castle, home to the Danish Crown Jewels.

Anchers Hus, Skagen
[Anchers Hus, Skagen]

After visiting Copenhagen, we’ll continue to the picturesque fishing village of Skagen, Denmark’s northernmost town, with origins dating back to the 13th century. For hundreds of years, the fishing trade alone sustained this small community. We’ll take a guided tour to view colourful wooden houses along the waterfront, rows of traditional fishing boats bobbing in the water and take in the Coastal Museum, or Kystmuseet. A stroll through the Old Town will lead us back to Skagen Marina, brimming with boutique shops, quaint cafés and restaurants.

Oslo Akershus Fortress
[Oslo Akershus Fortress]

One of Scandinavia’s most vibrant cities, Oslo is set on a splendid bay amid stunning fjords and hills. Founded by Norseman King Harald III, it has grown over the centuries around the cherished Akershus Fortress. The city not only has a rich Viking past with its close ties to the sea, but also boasts an impressive artistic heritage. Oslo’s most famous painter, Edvard Munch, is known the world over for his masterwork The Scream.

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I will take in the sights by bicycle on a morning guided tour to the medieval Akershus Fortress, where our group will spend time walking among the ramparts of a medieval fortress that has guarded Oslo’s harbour since the 14th century. Our tour will also include the pedestrianized City Hall Square, site of the annual Nobel Peace Prize ceremony as well as Oslofjord, containing stunning views of the harbour, nearby islands and surrounding hills.

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Stavanger is home to one of Europe’s most interesting Old Towns. The cobblestone streets of Old Stavanger, or Gamle Stavanger, are lined with the continent’s highest concentration of wooden buildings that date to the 17th and 18th centuries. About 250 of them are protected by a conservancy formed in the 1950’s after developers threatened to destroy these cultural riches. Stavanger profited from an offshore oil drilling boom in recent decades; buoyed by its energy sector, the once-placid city gained a cosmopolitan flair and was honoured as the European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Eidfjord Kjeasen Mountain Farm
[Kjeasen Mountain Farm, Eidfjord]

Nestled in the heart of one of Norway’s most scenic regions is the village of Eidfjord. From the Norwegian Sea, the waters of the expansive Hardangerfjord lead to the smaller Eidfjorden and to this charming mountain hamlet. Eidfjord serves as the gateway to Hardangervidda, Europe’s largest mountain plateau of soaring beauty. Wild reindeer roam here, among stunning, treeless moorlands dotted with pools, rivers, streams and the Vøringfossen Waterfall, a 550-foot cascade that plummets into the cavernous Måbødalen Canyon.

Bergen Bryggen Wharf
[Bryggen Wharf, Bergen]

Our journey will end in Bergen, home to the Hanseatic League’s only kontor (trading enclave) still in existence. Bryggen wharf, a row of timbered Hanseatic warehouses along a quaint quay, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Narrow wooden walkways are flanked by parallel rows of small, vibrantly painted buildings overlooking the picturesque Vågen Harbour. Bryggen is famed for its tight-knit community of workshops where artisans sell their wares to its cafés that serve freshly prepared smørbrød, or open-faced sandwiches.

If you’d like to follow along on our Viking Homelands journey, find the full itinerary here.

Images courtesy of Viking.

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