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Hurtigruten journey: route, ships & our tips for Norway's fascinating coast

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Rough fjords, colorful Norwegian wooden houses and the endless expanse of the ocean – a Hurtigruten cruise along the Norwegian coast is considered the most beautiful sea voyage in the world. We don’t dare to confirm whether the superlative is really appropriate, but one thing is certain: our cruise with the Hurtigruten is one of our absolute travel highlights.

15 A trip along the classic post boat route takes days of Hurtigruten. 15 Days filled with breathtaking nature, deceleration and – depending on the season – with the northern lights or the midnight sun.

Perhaps you are considering traveling through Norway on a Hurtigruten ship? Then you are right here. In this article on our travel blog, we have summarized all the information you need to plan and prepare for your Hurtigruten trip. Of course, as always , there are also our personal travel tips.

1. Hurtigruten Journey: First Info & FAQs Hurtigruten – what is that anyway? Are you thinking of the German word “fast”? Then you’re not even that wrong. Translated from Norwegian, “Hurtigruten” means something like “the fast route” and is the name of the traditional Norwegian mail ship line.

Hurtigruten were once intended as a means of transport for mail or freight and passengers. Especially in winter, the Hurtigruten used to be the fastest way to get from A to B. A trip on the Hurtigruten has now become a popular trip for tourists . Nevertheless many locals still use the boats.

The classic route the Hurtigruten runs 12 Days (11 nights) along the coast of Norway. From Bergen in the south, head north to Kirkenes and then back to Bergen.

For whom is a trip with Hurtigruten suitable? Nature: No question – the number one reason for a trip with Hurtigruten is to see the Norwegian landscape go by in this very special way. Spectacular fjords, colorful Norway houses and sea as far as the eye can see – the natural scenery is particularly unique here in the far north. Slowness & Deceleration: The nice thing on board is that there isn’t much to do – apart from enjoying the journey. If you really want to switch off and relax, aboard a Hurtigruten ship is the place for you. What should NOT be expected? Luxury: Or in other words: A journey with the Hurtigruten is not a cruise! The cabins are small, the equipment is rather simple, the atmosphere on board is cozy, and there are noises when the ships are loaded. In short: a trip on the Hurtigruten is an experience, but certainly not for someone who compares the journey to the standard of a cruise. Cheap Travel: The above would suggest otherwise, but unfortunately the opposite is the case. A journey with the Hurtigruten is a rather high-priced undertaking. Norway is an expensive travel destination per se and Hurtigruten is no exception. Lots Landing: If you look at the timetable of the Hurtigruten journey (the link to it is below), you will quickly notice: You see many places on the coast, but only get to know very few of them enough time for extensive exploration. The focus is therefore on experiencing nature from on board. However, great excursions are offered, thanks to which you can also see a lot of the country. We will tell you more about this later. Atmosphere & Flair: How can you imagine a Hurtigruten trip? Relaxed, cozy & informal – this is how the atmosphere on board a Hurtigruten ship can be described. You learn to appreciate the deceleration. You often sit on deck for hours and let the fjord landscape pass you by. (Speaking of the deck: It’s really impossible to miss a highlight, because there are always loudspeaker announcements beforehand. For example, the crossing of the Arctic Circle is also duly celebrated.)

Luckily, you won’t find “schickimicki” on board a Hurtigruten ship. Expedition instead of a cruise is the motto. If an extensive entertainment program or a fine gala dinner is important to you, you are definitely better off on a cruise ship.

We all found the Hurtigruten passengers to be very open-minded, close to nature and relaxed. Most are dressed in a sporty, casual way – nobody would give you a strange look if you showed up to breakfast in sweatpants. And there is no need to dress up for dinner here, either – which we find very pleasant!

One notices immediately that people on a Hurtigruten journey are concerned with nature. The experience, the adventure and the journey itself are in the foreground. The average age of the passengers is indeed higher, although that didn’t bother us in any way – quite the opposite. We even got into conversation with incredibly exciting people who were young at heart.

2. Route of a Hurtigruten voyage Classic mail route: Bergen – Kirkenes – Bergen When people talk about a journey through Norway with the Hurtigruten, then it is usually that so-called “classic mail route”. This journey with Hurtigruten takes 12 Days ( nights) and always starts in Bergen, a nice town in the southwest of Norway.

The ship leaves Bergen heading north, passes the Arctic Circle and after six days reaches Kirkenes. There the ship turns and drives back towards Bergen.

On its journey, the Hurtigruten ship calls at countless ports. (To be precise it’s from south to north alone in six days 34 Ports!). There it usually lays briefly (often only 10 until 15 minutes), sometimes for several hours, so that you can visit the site or take a shore excursion.

The exact timetable with all arrival and departure times in the individual ports can be found under this link: Timetable Hurtigruten

Additional Info: Other Hurtigruten Itineraries In addition to the classic mail boat route, there are numerous other travel routes through countless countries, that you can take with you can cover the ships of the Hurtigruten.

In Norway, for example, an expedition trip is offered that partly calls at the ports on the mail route. This journey is called “expedition on the traces of the mail ship route”. On board an expedition ship (currently MS Otto Sverdrup) you do not control all here (from Hamburg) , but only selected ports. The advantage: You have more time at the individual locations and are usually on a very modern ship. The classic mail ship feeling is probably missing a bit.

Expedition trips to Greenland or even to Antarctica must be a very special experience – definitely a lifelong dream that we will someday want to fulfill.

Info: Northbound vs. Southbound route (mail ship route) Although it may appear at first glance that you are driving the same route twice (once north and once south), this is only partially true.

The time (and length of stay) at the ports headed for and sometimes also the exact route differ for the northbound and southbound routes. Therefore, many travelers decide to do the whole route (ie Bergen – Kirkenes – Bergen), although it is of course also possible to book only a partial route (eg half the route).

Our tip: If you really only want to drive halfway, then we would rather take the northbound route, ie Bergen bis Kirkenes, guess. There are two reasons for this: On the one hand, you only drive through the imposing Geirangerfjord on the northern route (but only in summer). And on the other hand, nature is getting more and more spectacular going north. The further north you go, the more arctic and impressive it gets.

How do I book a Hurtigruten voyage? You can book your Hurtigruten trip at your trusted travel agency, but also simply online via the official website in just a few clicks.

First you select your desired itinerary, ie either the entire mail boat route or, for example, only a section (such as the north course from Bergen to Kirkenes or the south course from Kirkenes to Bergen).

Every day a different ship leaves , so if you want to go with a certain ship, then you have to look for the Set the date – but this is shown very clearly when booking online.

Then you select your desired cabin . Whether inside or outside cabin is a question of price and taste. We would opt for an outside cabin. You can now directly select your desired cabin based on the deck plan. Alternatively, there is also a cheaper option, where you will only be assigned your cabin number on site. You will find more information about the cabins later in this blog article. Finally, you can choose shore excursions (more on that in a moment) and that’s about it.

You can book the cruise here: Hurtigruten (official website)

Additional info: book arrival You book the journey to the Hurtigruten cruise separately. You can either use the support of Hurtigruten here, but the flights booked via Hurtigruten are often (not always) more expensive.

You can flights so easily on your own Reserve. Our tip: It is best to check the flight prices before you book your Hurtigruten trip – don’t expect any nasty surprises.

We strongly recommend that you book a night in Bergen in advance as Buffer to schedule. On the one hand you never know if the flight might be delayed and on the other hand en Bergen is a nice city that you should definitely visit. Many then spend another night in Bergen at the end of the trip, but that is a matter of taste.

You can book cheap flights here: Skyscanner

Shore Excursions on a Hurtigruten voyage Shore Excursions on a Hurtigruten voyage are like this something like the icing on the cake. Precisely because the ship is often only in port for a short time, the excursions offered are a good (and sometimes the only) option to get more to see from the land.

It is not uncommon for the exit port and port of entry to differ. This means that the Hurtigruten ship continues according to the timetable and you board again at a different port at the end of your trip (e.g. after 5 hours). The shore excursions are really well organized, so you don’t have to worry about missing the ship.

Which excursions can I book – and how? The offer is wide and ranges from comfortable City walks to rapid rubber boat rides. We dare to say that there really is something for everyone – whether comfortable, adventurous or suitable for families. You can read which excursions we can recommend in our detailed blog article: The most beautiful Hurtigruten shore excursions.

The shore excursions offered differ according to the season, ie in summer there are sometimes different excursions than in winter. Also good to know: Different shore excursions are offered northbound and southbound.

You can either book your shore excursions online in advance (both directly when booking the trip or later) or spontaneously on the ship. For popular excursions with only a few seats or those that you really want to do, it’s better to book from home. Otherwise, we would rather advise not to pack your trip full and to decide spontaneously (depending on the weather) on site.

Small (or rather big) drop of bitterness: The excursions are unfortunately really quite expensive and often cost 200 or even 300 euros per person – and that for a few hours. This is one of the reasons why we advise you to limit yourself to a few well-chosen excursions.

You can search & book excursions here: Hurtigruten Shore Excursions

3. Best travel time Well, with the best travel time that’s one of those Matter. If you ask die-hard Norway fans what is the best time of year, they will reply that you have to see every season.

The fact is that every season is completely different – if only because of the strange light conditions . Which travel period you choose depends on your personal preferences.

Winter: Northern Lights & Polar Nights One of the most popular travel times is clearly winter and there is a good reason for that: Northern Lights! If you want to see the colorful lights dancing in the sky, you have to come in winter. The Northern Lights season in Norway lasts from October to March.

Hurtigruten grants the so-called Northern Lights Promise for this travel period. If during the voyage no auroral sighting is called out through the onboard speakers, then you can within 28 days again Cost of Hurtigruten travel.

For a Hurtigruten voyage in winter, it is important to know that some months north of the Arctic Circle it is almost continuously dark or twilight. The phenomenon is called polar night. In areas north of the Arctic Circle, the sun sometimes does not rise for months. (In Tromsø, for example, the polar night lasts from the end of November to mid-January.

However, it is not always pitch black, but often rather twilight a trip from the middle/end of February could be interesting, when the days are significantly longer again.

Summer: Midnight Sun The counterpart to the polar night is the midnight sun. The sun shines in northern regions of the polar circle partly for several months 24 from the sky for hours at North Cape (not directly part of the route, but in nearby and can be booked as an excursion), for example, this spectacle lasts from mid-May to the end of July

We ourselves were in July with the Hurtigruten and therefore exactly at the time of the midnight sun.The light atmosphere is simply fascinating and a unique experience. However, you should be prepared for the fact that it can be difficult for the body to get into sleep mode when the brightness is high. You can read about our experiences in this article: Midnight sun in Norway.

Important to know: Even in midsummer in Norway rough weather is possible. It never gets really hot – here in the July the temperatures were always between 10 and tight 20 Degree. We often had rain, lots of wind and fortunately lots of sunshine. Always keep in mind that you are venturing up north and the weather can be very changeable.

Transitional times: Spring & Autumn A Hurtigruten professional told us that spring should be beautiful. In April/May , for example, you can watch hours of sunsets. In general, March is a very popular time of the year because you still have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights here, but the days are very long.

The autumn is a very colorful travel time when the weather is stable. In September/October the forests change color and provide great photo opportunities. However, the weather can also be quite rough and stormy.

4. Hurtigruten Ships & Cabin Info The Hurtigruten fleet includes about a dozen ships, each of which differs in size, equipment, design and age. So the question of all questions is: which ship should I choose?

The more you long for luxury, the more rather, we would advise you to choose one of the newer ships or one that has been refurbished in recent years.

This includes, for example, the MS Spitsbergen. The ship is furnished very tastefully and with lots of wood, but is by no means ostentatious or even cheesy. The sauna is also great: it is equipped with a huge glass window. This means that you can see the crazy landscape pass you by during the sauna session.

The oldest ship in the fleet is the MS Lofoten, which since 1964 is in operation. Although the ship was 810 but is most suitable for nostalgics. Away 2021, however, the MS Lofoten will leave the Hurtigruten fleet.

The new hybrid expedition ships (MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Roald Amundsen) are certainly also an experience, but are primarily used for trips to the Arctic and Antarctic and not on the mail ship route deployed.

Cabins on the Hurtigruten ships Important information in advance: A trip with the Hurtigruten is definitely not a luxurious cruise – and that also applies to the cabins. There are also more exclusive cabins with a balcony (especially the suites), but this is not the rule – and it costs accordingly.

The cabins tend to be quite small, the equipment is more functional, but still comfortable. Personally, we would recommend a outside cabin (no inside cabin). Experience has shown that you spend most of your time in the public areas or on deck, but it’s just nice to be able to look outside from time to time.

Important: There are also outside cabins with a restricted view (e.g. because a lifeboat is hanging in front of them). Some are also on the wrap-around deck, which means other guests can walk past your window. However, the Hurtigruten website has great plans so you can easily find and book your preferred cabin.

Whether you prefer to be on the starboard side (right) or the port side (left) is a matter of taste. Important to know: The ships dock with the port side at the port. From here you can better observe the hustle and bustle in the port, but you may have the disadvantage that you hear loading noises more on this side.

MS Spitsbergen Restaurant MS Richard With Cabin (these have now been renovated!) 5. Prices and costs: How much does a trip with Hurtigruten cost? The bad news first: Norway is one of the most expensive travel destinations in Europe – and unfortunately a trip with the Hurtigruten is no exception.

There is no standard price. The price of your Hurtigruten trip depends on several factors. On the one hand, there is the question of your travel route – for example, it makes a big difference whether you travel the entire postal route (12 days) or just cover a leg of the journey.

The second important factor is the choice of cabin: There is often a world of difference between the cheapest category (inside cabin) and the expensive suites . The shore excursions, which are quite expensive, have to be paid extra. Of course, there are also huge differences here: Some do without it completely, others book a lot of shore excursions.

And last but not least, you have to get to Norway somehow (in this specific case to Bergen). Depending on , whether you find a bargain here or not, of course there is still a lot of money to be paid.

Roughly speaking, the prices for the Bergen-Kirkenes route (ie the mail boat route one- way) at approx. 1.300 € per person (full board, without shore excursions).

6. Hurtigruten Packing List: What should I pack? Some things should – regardless of the season – always be in your luggage for a Hurtigruten voyage to Norway. These include:

Sufficiently warm clothing (e.g. thermal shirts, fleece shirts, long-sleeved shirts, warm jumpers, long trousers; we recommend an onion look – ie many thin layers that are as warm as possible)Jacket (If it is only to be one, then it must be rain and windproof .)Hood & GlovesWaterproof, comfortable, non-slip shoes Rainproof trousers (we found this when kayaking, for example very practical, but may not be necessary if you are not planning trips in this direction.)Backpack (ideally rainproof)Binoculars Sunglasses & SunscreenBikini or swimming trunks (for the whirlpool) Earplugs (if you are sensitive to noise – after all, the ship also docks at night and ab) And of course very important: Camera & enough memory cards (and a rainproof bag to go with it) What you can leave at home with a clear conscience is fine clothing. You hardly ever see chic dresses or even suits on board (apart from New Year’s Eve). When choosing clothing, really focus on what is comfortable and functional.

In summer you can also take sandals and some lighter clothing with you – but on our trip in July we always have long pants Worn because otherwise it was really too fresh. We would have been more happy about an additional thick sweater.

In winter shoes with a good tread are definitely worth it. Some even swear by spikes because it can be quite slippery in the cities. Then you should definitely take a warm winter jacket with you.

Transparency: Invitation & Affiliate Links We were invited to this wonderful trip by Hurtigruten – thank you very much! Of course, this has no influence on our honest opinion.

This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Tell me: Have you ever had a Hurtigruten trip made? How was your itinerary? Tell us about your experiences. We look forward to your additional tips in the comments. 7607