For most people, when looking to find an autumn or spring holiday destination it can be quite difficult to sway yourself away from the alluring thought of warmer climes and look to seek out a new adventure. Most city breaks these days can make even the hardiest traveller feel claustrophobic squeezing down streets packed with tourists. Sometimes it is good to just get away and take a trip where you can switch off from the world and take a step back into nature. With all the trappings of modern life sometimes it’s difficult, even in retirement, to seek out new adventure and rediscover the simplest pleasures in life. The Norwegian fjord’s offer travellers a chance to see a different type of natural beauty that doesn’t involve sun, sea and sangria.
According to the ‘World Happiness Report 2017’ Norway is now the happiest country on earth, and what better way to discover ‘friluftsliv’, the Norwegian essence of ‘free air life’, than by taking a Norwegian Fjord cruise. From a young age Norwegians are encouraged to go out and discover the beauty of Norway from hiking through fjords and kayaking in the short summer months to ski-trekking in the long glittering winters, the fresh Nordic air is rumoured to perform miracles. This is also something which can be reflected in the fact that the average life expectancy in Norway is 80.9 according to the website Geoba, making it number 24 in the world life expectancy rankings, three places higher than the U.K., the habit of outdoor and healthy living goes through from childhood to retirement in Norway and the results speak for themselves!
Norway is one of those spectacular countries that no matter what time of year you visit it shows its best face for visitors. By taking a cruise in autumn the Norwegian fjords take on a beautiful glow of reds and oranges as Norway’s short lived summer (June-September) disappears for another year. This is the perfect time of year to still be able to enjoy the best of Norway’s outdoor pursuits without having to contend with sub-zero temperatures and prolonged nights. In October the temperature sits around 7°C during the day and even if the weather is decidedly cooler than a beach in Marbella it’s always useful to remember the Old Norwegian adage “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing”, so there really is no excuse not to explore. Cruising offers the perfect way to enter and view the fjords, each time you look out of a window or porthole you’ll see a spectacular new sight as you cruise the untouched Norwegian valleys.
There is a split in passenger opinion when it comes to the best time of day to view the fjords from the top deck. Some passengers swear that an early morning sun rise over the snow-capped peaks is a sight which is unrivalled as you watch the light hit the sparkling snow and light-up the dark mirror-like surface of the fjord and its valley. Others however argue that sunset best shows the valley as the sun slowly slips below mountain and valley peaks to allow the waters to glow and darken with the shadows casting across the valleys with the autumn colours warming the scenery. I would however argue that night time is one of the best times to get something truly unique from the Norwegian Fjords, the clear night sky and star spotting. October through to March is normally the best time to view the layers of stars in the northern hemisphere. For those who are willing to risk a cold evening on top deck the green and purple glows from the aurora borealis can make a show like no other. Dependent on atmospheric conditions and the time of year, passengers on the Norwegian Fjord cruise stand a good chance of catching a glimpse of nature’s very own light show. The lights are a physical phenomenon that occurs when electrically charged particles from the sun move towards the gases in the earth’s atmosphere. However if the lights do not come out, general star gazing in the fjords is an opportunity not to be missed, whilst on board and nestled in deep valleys light pollution is very low and makes the night sky appear clearer and closer. The northern hemisphere offers a host of classic constellations which even the most novice of star gazers among us would be able to recognise from Pegasus and Andromeda to Orion’s Belt and the bright Northern Star. On a very clear evening the Milky Way is another, visible, beautiful sight that can only be seen to be believed, the pastel clouds and bright stars cluster together to create a giant scar shape across the night sky which is brighter in the winter months than its fainter summer counterparts.
A definitely highlight for any trip to the Norwegian Fjord’s would definitely be an excursion to the stunning Vøringfossen waterfall has a free fall of 145 metres and a total fall of 182 metres. After disembarking in the beautiful Eidfjord you will be driven up past the old mountain roads reaching heights of 750m (2,460ft) above sea level before entering the Hardangervidda, the largest mountain plateau in Northern Europe. After a short stop it’s onwards to the Fossil Hotel where a short walk leads you to the viewing platform from where you can enjoy the beautiful Vøringfossen waterfall.
For those looking to really embrace the ‘friluftsliv’ culture, why not sign yourself up for the Flåm RIB trip? The RIB (rigid inflatable boat) takes you along the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord, both branches of the Sognefjord, at high speeds and also a few more leisurely stops along the way. This would definitely ensure that any cobwebs are well and truly blown away! This is a good way to get a 360° view of the Sognefjord as you marvel at its sheer impressive size.
For those who are looking to cruise to Norway but who are feeling adventurous why not head to some of Norway’s more northerly fjords and northern points with The Land of the Northern Lights to Norway cruise. One of the stops, Tromsø, holds claim to the world’s ‘northernmost’ titles, is the ‘Capital of the Artic’ and sits 220 miles north of the Arctic Circle and in winter is the perfect stop for passengers to hope for a glimpse at the northern lights.