The following itinerary lists a range of site visits which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. Furthermore, a number of the sites have not yet confirmed their opening hours for 2024. Therefore the daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight/ferry schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunch and evening meals as indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal.
Strömstad, Sweden – 2 nights
Day 1: Sunday 28 July, Arrive Oslo – Blomsholm – Strömstad
- Tour commences at the Oslo Airport at 2.00pm
- Transfer from Oslo to Strömstad
- Blomsholm Stone Settings
- Welcome Meeting
- 2-course Welcome Dinner at Laholmen Restaurant
Meeting Point: The tour commences at 2.00pm in the Arrivals Hall of Oslo Gardermoen Airport.
We commence the tour with a private coach transfer to Scandic Laholmen located in the historic city of Strömstad on the west coast of Sweden, and a 30-minute drive from Tanum’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed rock carvings. En route we make a brief stop to view Blomsholm stone ship setting which is one of the biggest in Sweden, more than 40 metres long with 49 stones. The bow and stern are about 4 metres high and date from the early Scandinavian Iron Age (c. 400 – 600 CE). The size and prominent position of the grave shows that an important person must be buried here. Nearby are impressive burial mounds and one of Sweden’s biggest stone circles. After checking into our hotel, there will be time at leisure followed by a welcome meeting and dinner at the hotel’s restaurant which offers views of Koster Fjord and the Skagerrak Sea
After checking into our hotel, there will be time at leisure followed by a welcome meeting and dinner at the hotel’s restaurant which offers views of Koster Fjord and the Skagerrak Sea. (Overnight Strömstad) D
Day 2: Monday 29 July, Strömstad – Tanumshede – Strömstad
- Full day with archaeologist, Lars Strid, visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Rock Carvings of Tanum: The Vitlycke panel and rock carvings at Aspberget, Litsleby and Fossum
- Vitlycke Museum
- Lunch at Café Bronze (Vitlycke Museum)
- Free time in picturesque Strömstad
We start the day with an introduction to the Bronze Age in Scandinavia by archaeologist Lars Strid. The region of Tanum covers an area of 18 km2 and consists of more than 600 sites of hugely diverse rock carvings dating from the Bronze Age. The artwork we’ll see today describes the Bronze Age people’s social life, spiritual experiences and rites and includes motifs such as animals, people, ships, sleds, hand and footprints, trees and weapons.
Next, we visit the Vitlycke Museum where you can walk among carvings dating from 1700 to 300 BCE and view world-famous examples of rock art, including the famous ‘Bride and Groom’ petroglyph apparently depicting some kind of sacred marriage or copulation ritual. After visiting the reconstructed Bronze Age buildings, we also visit other nearby outcrops, including the massive ‘Speargod’ of Litsleby.
At Fossum there are scenes of male figures carrying ceremonial axes and horns surrounded by ships. There is also a beautiful unpainted carving of a ‘Sun Horse’ which was a popular motif during the Scandinavian Bronze Age, and a way to illustrate how people imagined the sun and its journey across the sky.
At Aspeberget we view several panels. These include magnificent carvings of the powerful bulls which in mythology represented fertility, bravery and strength. Another panel depicts a procession of ten men and a woman with braided hair, most likely representing a dance, while a third panel displays a unique symbol of the sun – a round disc with fork-like sunbeams held by two female figures. There are also carvings of other animals including ducks which were, like other birds, important in pre-historic religions and myths.
In the late afternoon we return to Strömstad where you may wish to stroll along the marina or walk along the art trail. (Overnight Strömstad) BL
Oslo, Norway – 2 nights
Day 3: Tuesday 30 July, Strömstad – Tønsberg – Borre – Oslo
- The Slottsfjells Museum, Tønsberg: Guided tour
- Midgard vikingsenter, Borre: Guided tour
Today we take the ferry to the ancient capital of Norway, Tønsberg, founded in the ninth century by King Harald Fairhair. We’ll be guided through the Whale Hall at Slottsfjell Museum and learn about sealing and whaling in 19th-century Norway. We also visit the Medieval Exhibitions and the Viking Hall containing Norway’s fourth Viking ship, the Klåstad (the only preserved Viking ship currently on display while Oslo Viking Ship Museum undergoes renovation) and learn about the spectacular burial, located only 3 km away, where the renowned Oseberg dragon-ship with its fabulous zoomorphic carvings was unearthed.
We also stop at Midgard Viking Centre, a historical site located near the famous collection of burial mounds often connected with the Yngling kings of Vestfold. We’ll take a tour of the museum and visit the reconstruction of a great Viking hall before continuing to the modern capital of Oslo. (Overnight Oslo) BL
Day 4: Wednesday 31 July, Oslo
- Historical Museum: Guided tour
- National Museum of Art: Guided tour
- Time at leisure
This morning we visit Norway’s Historical Museum with its archaeological and ethnographic collections of objects from the Stone Age to recent times. We’ll be guided through the museum and have some time for exploring individually.
We then walk to the new National Museum of Art, Scandinavia’s biggest art museum, where there will be time to explore the art, architecture and design after enjoying a tour. Don’t miss Norway’s “national painting” Winter Night in the Mountains by Harald Sohlberg.
The remainder of the afternoon is free for you to enjoy Oslo on your own. Why not stroll over to Vigelund’s sculpture park or cross the Fairytale Bridge with its sculptures of Peer Gynt and the Polar King? You could also soak up the sun in the Aker Brygge area, do some shopping on Karl Johans street, or simply enjoy an ‘utepils’ (outdoor beer) at one of Oslo’s many cafés or bars. (Overnight Oslo) B
Vinstra, Gudbrandsdalen Valley, Norway – 2 nights
Day 5: Thursday 1 August, Oslo – Lillehammer – Vinstra
- Oslo Opera House
- Munch Museum: Guided tour
We start today with a short walk to the Oslo Opera House, which appears to rise from the surrounding waters. Norwegian nature is free for everyone to walk in, and the Opera House has extended this idea, inviting everyone to walk over the marble-topped roof. We continue on to the new Munch museum where a guide will walk us through thirteen floors of artwork (you’ll also have time to explore at your own pace).
In the afternoon we travel by coach to Vinstra, stopping for coffee in Lillehammer, site of the 1994 Winter Olympics. (Overnight Vinstra) BD
Day 6: Friday 2 August, Vinstra – Hjerkinn – Tverrfjellet – Lake Gålå – Vinstra
- Norwegian Wild Reindeer Foundation Snøhetta Viewpoint: Guided Tour
- Spectacular outdoor performance of Peer Gynt by Lake Gålåvatnet
The word reindeer comes from the Old Norse word “hreinin,” which means “horned animal,” and are defined by their thick coats and large antlers. They are a circumpolar species, meaning they can be found in every country surrounding the arctic circle. One of the best places to view reindeer is at the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Foundation’s, award-winning Viewpoint Snøhetta which enables visitors to watch reindeer in their natural habitat. The pavilion borders Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park, home of the last remaining reindeer herds that are direct descendants of the original mountain reindeer in Europe. The mountain range has a rich cultural history – inhabitance dates back to the Stone Age. It’s also the birthplace of some of the country’s oldest legends, myths and poems.
Today we meet with a local guide from the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Foundation which manages wild reindeer populations. We will learn about the importance and history of the reindeer from the last Ice Age (10,000 years ago) up until modern times, as well as interesting facts about the animals themselves and the challenges they face today. Our 1.5km (1 hour) walk along the gravel path takes us to the Snøhetta Viewpoint; this pavilion was awarded “World Building of the Year” in 2011. From here we may enjoy amazing views of Dovre-Sunndalsfjella National Park and will hopefully see musk ox. On rare occasions we also see wild reindeer.
After an early dinner back at our hotel, we take the coach to Lake Gålåvatnet for an outdoor theatre production of Peer Gynt. The centrepiece of the annual Peer Gynt festival which dates back nearly a century, the drama tells the story of Peer Gynt, the famous and fickle folk hero immortalised by Ibsen in his literary masterpiece. This is an evening you won’t soon forget and it’s tailored to international audiences with summary booklets and audio guides available. (Overnight Vinstra) BLD
Geiranger, Western Norway – 1 night
Day 7: Saturday 3 August, Vinstra – Lom – Geiranger
- Lom Stave Church
- Scenic drive to Geiranger
Following a leisurely breakfast we depart Vinstra and journey 90km west to Lom, a National Park Village in Oppland. Located at the foot of mighty Lomseggen, the village is divided by the wild Bøvra river which runs through its centre. In ancient times an important trade route passed through Lom enabling fish and salt to be exported to various parts of the country.
On arrival we take a guided tour of Lom’s famous stave church. This is one of the largest of Norway’s 28 remaining stave churches, probably built around 1160, with a large collection of paintings, many of them made by Eggert Munch, a distant relative of the famous painter. Archaeologists have also discovered over 2000 coins buried underneath the church as well as Norway’s oldest proposal of marriage carved in runes and a parchment roll with medieval music notation.
After time at leisure for lunch we take a spectacularly scenic 2-hour drive through the countryside immortalised by Ibsen and other Norwegian authors to arrive at the charming village of Geiranger. (Overnight Geiranger) BD
Leikanger, Sognefjorden, Norway – 1 night
Day 8: Sunday 4 August, Geiranger – Hellesylt – Olden – Fjaerland – Leikanger
- UNESCO World Heritage Listed Geirangerfjord: 1-hour cruise from Geiranger to Hellesylt
- Troll Car excursion to Briksdal Glacier & Lunch
- Afternoon drive to Leikanger via Fjaerland
The Geiranger Fjord region is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s easy to see why. After an early breakfast at our hotel we will cruise the dramatically deep and narrow Geiranger Fjord, marvelling at the Waterfall of the Seven Sisters who dance on the mountain opposite the Suitor waterfall on the opposite side of the fjord. The nearby Bridal Veil waterfall which drops delicately over the cliff edge suggests the success of one of the suitors.
We disembark at the picturesque village of Hellesylt (we recommend NOT watching the Norwegian disaster movie The Wave until you’ve left there). From here we drive to the village of Olden where we take open-topped ‘troll cars’ up to visit the world-famous Briksdal Glacier (be prepared to get wet!). We’ll enjoy a typical Norwegian lunch with views of the breathtaking blue glacier.
In the afternoon, we make our way with coach and ferry, passing through more fabulous landscapes, including the beautiful glacier village of Fjærland to arrive at Leikanger, a stunning village on the shores of Sognefjord. (Overnight Leikanger) BLD
Bergen, Norway – 3 nights
Day 9: Monday 5 August, Leikanger – Solvorn – Ornes – Bergen
- UNESCO World Heritage Listed Urnes Stave Church
- Express ferry from Leikanger to Bergen
Even today, the village of Urnes seems remote – the fjord had always been the main artery of communication with the outside world until the first road appeared in 1982. After breakfast we travel by coach and ferry to visit Urnes stave church, beautifully located on a promontory deep inside one of the branches of the Sognefjord. An outstanding example of traditional Scandinavian wooden architecture, the carved portal of the church, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979, includes panels from an even earlier building and features scenes of disputed symbolism. Does this famous imagery, reproduced the world over on everything from art books to whisky bottles, show intertwined serpents signifying the struggle between Good and Evil, a symbolic representation of Christ as a lion, the deer of Norse mythology nibbling at the World Tree, or even the dragon of Ragnarök? (Mindy will tell you what she thinks as well as discuss a number of runic inscriptions found inside).
After a guided tour of the church, we return to Leikanger for a leisurely lunch before boarding the express ferry to the beautiful medieval town of Bergen, capital of the fjords. (Overnight Bergen) BL
Day 10: Tuesday 6 August, Bergen
- Walking tour of Bergen
- Bryggen Museum
- Walking tour of the Bryggen incl. the Schøtstuene
- Time at leisure
Bergen was founded in about 1070 by King Olaf III Kyrre (“The Peaceful”), after the end of the Viking period. It was one of the most important towns in Norwegian history from the Middle Ages to the 17th century. It was the medieval capital, and by the 14th century it had grown to a major trading centre as a Hanseatic town. Bergen therefore provides us with insights into the development of post-Viking Norway. We start the day with a walking tour of Bergen.
After a break for coffee, we visit Bryggens Museum, built to house the thousands of objects uncovered when part of the wharf area burned down in 1955. These include a large collection of medieval runesticks, indicating the everyday quality of later runic writing, and bringing to life a medieval world of drinking, trading, praying, cursing, and romance. We also take a walking tour of the Bryggen and visit the Schøtstuene, a unique meeting room of the Hanseatic merchants.
The remainder of the day is at leisure. You may wish to take the nearby funicular train up Mt Fløyen for a panoramic view over the city, fjord and mountains, or visit one of the Kode art museums. (Overnight Bergen) B
Day 11: Wednesday 7 August, Bergen
- Edvard Grieg’s Home at Troldhaugen: Guided tour of villa and short piano recital
- KODE 3: Rasmus Meyer collection: Guided tour
- Time at leisure
This morning we drive to nearby Troldhaugen ‘Troll hill’ to visit the house of Norway’s most famous composer, Edvard Grieg, set in a forest overlooking a fjord. There is also a fine auditorium which overlooks the small cabin in which the composer worked. Grieg built this house to escape from the frantic concert tours which dominated his life. He saw it as a place of solitude, which he soon proceeded to destroy by inviting large numbers of friends to visit. He thus was forced to build a small cabin to escape his guests so he could work. We will tour the house where Edvard Grieg lived. There’ll be time after the tour to wander the gardens, see the burial site of the composer and his wife and visit the museum before a piano recital in the concert hall Troldsalen.
Following some time at leisure for lunch we visit Kode Art Museum (actually a number of different art museums spread over four different buildings) where we’ll visit Kode 3, a fabulous collection including the most important collection of Munch’s works outside Oslo as well as paintings by J.C. Dahl, Harriet Backer, Erik Werenskiold and Gerhard Munthe from the Golden Age of Norwegian art.
The remainder of the day is at leisure to stroll the boardwalks of this charming Hanseatic town, sample some local delights at the bustling Fish Market, or visit more of the Kode museums. (Overnight Bergen) B
Reine, Moskenesøya, Lofoten archipelago – 2 nights
Day 12: Thursday 8 August, Bergen – Bodø – Moskenes – Reine
- Fly Bergen to Bodø (Wideroe 1215-1405rs)
- Ferry from Bodø to Moskenes (1645-2000)
- Transfer to Reine
After a leisurely breakfast, we fly north to the city of Bodø, known as the gateway to the Arctic Circle and the Sea Eagle Capital. The city has the world’s most dense concentration of white-tailed sea eagles!
On arrival we transfer to the Port of Bodø and board our ferry to Moskenes, located at the southern end of the Lofoten Tourist Road, arguably Norway’s most scenic national tourist road. As we leave Bodø we should get an excellent view of the city skyline and the mountains behind it. About halfway into our journey we gain our first sight of the Lofoten archipelago. The islands are famous for their dramatic, unspoilt scenery and the staggering beauty of the mountain peaks and sheltered beaches which are best appreciated from sea.
Tonight we stay in typical Lofoten fishing cabins in the fabulously photogenic town of Reine. (Overnight Reine) B
Day 13: Friday 9 August, Reine – Rambergstranda – Flakstad – Nusfjord – Å – Reine
- Lofoten National Scenic Route incl. Akkarvikodden Viewpoint & stroll along Ramberg Beach at Jusnesvika Bay
- Flakstad Church
- Fishing village of Nusfjord
- Lofoten Stockfish Museum & Norwegian Fishing Village Museum, Village of Å
- Reinefjorden Express Boat
This morning we depart Reine and commence our journey along the Lofoten National Scenic Route which combines magnificent scenery with a vibrant coastal culture. We may enjoy ocean views backed by jagged mountain peaks, visit tiny sheltered fishing villages, and take a walk along one of Loften’s magnificent white beaches with crystal clear waters.
We make our first stop at the Akkarvikodden viewpoint which provides panoramic views to the ocean in the southeast, before continuing to the idyllic beach of Ramberg where we can take an easy walk by the ocean and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. We then drive to the oldest church on the islands at Flakstad, admiring its red wooden panelling, ridge turret and onion dome.
Mid-morning we continue to the former fishing village of Nusfjord: renowned for its unique architecture, it has been selected by UNESCO as a place worthy of protection (although not actually featured on the World Heritage List). The entire town has been preserved, allowing us to walk around the old cottages and visit the blacksmith, fish oil factory, shop and boathouse.
We then transfer to the best preserved traditional fishing village in Northern Norway, Å, where we have time to wander among the old houses and fishermen’s cabins, visit Europe’s oldest fish oil factory, buy a bun from the bakery which has been in operation since 1844, and even visit Europe’s only stockfish museum.
We return to Reine in time to board the public Express Boat for a round trip journey along the majestic Reinefjord, passing spectacular mountain peaks, waterfalls, and small fishing villages, and looking out for seabirds and other marine wildlife. (Overnight Reine) BLD
Svolvaer, Austvågøya, Lofoten archipelago – 2 nights
Day 14: Saturday 10 August, Reine – Haukland – Uttakleiv – Bøstad – Svolvaer
- Lofoten National Scenic Route: Skreda, Torvdalshalsen and Gimsøystruamen Viewpoints
- Haukland Beach to Uttakleiv Beach: 4km coastal walk (rated easy)
- Lofotr Viking Museum, Bøstad
- Optional Walking tour of Svinøya Island
This morning we depart Reine and continue our journey along the Lofoten National Scenic Route. At Skreda we stop to enjoy magnificent views along the fiord towards Gravdal, Offersøystraumen, Nappstraumen and the mountains in the south before continuing to the white sands of Haukland Beach. Here we may take an easy 4km coastal walk from Haukland Beach around the headland to Uttakleiv Beach. The trek is an easy walk, mostly flat and suitable for all ages.
We then continue to the Lofotr Viking Museum, where a hearty Viking soup awaits. After lunch, there’ll be time to see the film and the exhibitions as well as the Chieftain’s House, a reconstruction of the longest Viking building found in Europe (based on the excavations which commenced here in 1983). A 1400m gravelled pathway takes us to the museum’s small harbour where we may view the historically accurate Viking ship, the blacksmiths forge and boathouses.
The evening is free for you to explore Svolvær, the harbourside ‘capital’ of the islands or you may wish to take a leisurely walk to Svinøya ‘Pig Island’ which retains many of the original houses and fisherman’s cabins of the old fishing village. (Overnight Svolvaer) BL
Day 15: Sunday 11 August: Svolvaer – Trollfjord – Kabelvåg – Henningsvaer – Svolvaer
Cruising the majestic Trollfjord is one of the acknowledged highlights of any trip to the Lofotens. Waving goodbye to the statue of the ‘Fiskerkona’ (the Fisherman’s Wife), we pass through the narrow opening of the fjord to experience the scenic views and serenity only available to those who travel by boat. We should spot white-tailed eagles soaring overhead and will scour the seabed for fish and marine life with the help of an underwater drone.
Extending our exploration of the natural world of the Lofotens, we’ll visit the Aquarium to see fish and other fascinating sea creatures. We’ll watch the seals being fed, admire the otters, and see the special aquarium for Northeast Arctic cod. We also explore the history of Lofoten’s Fishery at the Lofoten Museum which includes the 1815 main building, fisherman’s cabins and traditional boathouses. Nearby we also visit a gallery dedicated to artist and illustrator, Kaare Espolin Johnson (1907-1994), whose work explores the region’s dramatic history and life along the coast. Espolin Johnson is also represented in Norway’s National Museum of Art in Oslo.
We end the day with a visit to the lively fishing village of Henningsvær where we’ll have time to explore the town and visit Galleri Lofoten with its permanent exhibition of Lofoten painters. (Overnight Svolvaer) B
Andenes, Andøy, Vesterålen archipelago – 2 nights
Day 16: Monday 12 August, Solvaer – Sortland – Bleik – Andenes
The Sámi are an indigenous culture native to Sápmi – the Arctic region of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola peninsula in Russia. Approximately half of the estimated 100,000 indigenous Sámi live in Norway. They are traditionally associated with semi-nomadic reindeer herding, which they have been practicing for more than a thousand years. Reindeer meat is used for cooking, leather and fur are used to make shoes and clothing, and antlers and bones make useful tools and decorative objects.
This morning we depart Svolvaer and journey 115km north to Sortland located on the island of Hinnøya in the scenic region of Vesterålen. Here we visit a Sámi reindeer farm run by Inga Sámi Siida, to learn about their culture including their myths and legends, taste Sámi food and hear about traditional reindeer herding and husbandry.
From Sortland we continue our journey to the fishing village of Bleik located on Andøya, the northernmost island in the Vesterålen archipelago. On arrival a traditional fishing boat will take us to Bleiksøya bird colony, home to 80,000 pairs of puffins, the colourful clowns of the sea. We also hope to see other bird species such as sea eagles, cormorants, auks, gannets and loons.
In the late afternoon we arrive in Andenes which will be our base for the next 2 nights. (Overnight Andenes) BL
Day 17: Tuesday 13 August, Andenes
- Andøya Space Center: the science behind the northern lights phenomenon
- Whale Museum
- Whale Safari Andenes
This morning we visit Norway’s only operational space centre. This educational science centre will provide a unique insight into life at a real space centre (one which launches several rockets every year) as well as teaching us about the northern lights and space.
The small village of Andenes, the northern most settlement of the island Andøya, is famous for whale watching due to its geographic location. Just 10km from its shores, the continental shelf dives into the ocean, making it a point for swells of cold, nutritious waters to rise. This guarantees schools of fish and krill in a small area, and therefore, the flocking of migratory whales who come to feed on them.
This afternoon we take a guided tour of the whale museum before heading out to the Arctic seas in search of sperm whales, killer whales, fin whales, pilot whales, humpback whales, and white-sided dolphins. On the way to the diving grounds, we pass by the islands of Senja and Bleiksøya, again looking for seabirds such as puffins, fulmars, gulls and shags. (Overnight Andenes) B
Harstad, Hinnøya Island – 1 night
Day 18: Wednesday 14 August, Andenes – Risøyhamn – Sortland – Trondenes – Harstad
- Andøya National Scenic Route: Kleivodden and Bukkekjerka Viewpoints
- Trondenes Historical Centre
- Medieval Trondenes Church
- Farewell Dinner
This morning we depart Andenes and journey along the Andøya National Tourist Route, one of Norway’s famous scenic drives which runs along the west coast of Andøya Island. The route winds its way through staggering scenery. Along the road it’s possible to see seals, whales and eagles from our coach window and enjoy magnificent views of white sandy beaches, cragged peaks and the wide expanse of the ocean. We will make short stops at the Kleivodden Viewpoint which overlooks Bleik village and the bird cliffs of Bleiksøya island, and the rock formation of Bukkekjerka which is an old Sami sacrificial site. Our journey continues south to the small village of Risøyhamn where we stop for morning coffee and then cross the Andøya Bridge to the neighbouring island of Hinnøya.
From Hinnøya we continue south and take the bridge over Sortlandssundet (Sortland Sound) to Sortland, capital of the Vesterålen Archipelago and commonly referred to as ‘Norway’s Blue Town’. Here we enjoy a light lunch before travelling to Flesnes where we cross the Gullesfjord and continue our journey to the Historical Centre located on the Trondenes peninsula overlooking the spectacular Vågsfjorden. Here we visit the exhibition on the history of the region from the Stone Age to the 1950s with a focus on the Viking and Middle Ages as well as WWII. There’ll be time to explore the reconstruction of a medieval farm complex with barn, forge and stave church, and enjoy the cultural trail though a landscape occupied from the Bronze Age up to modern times. We also visit Norway’s northernmost medieval church at Trondenes with its marvellous medieval altarpieces.
We spend our last night in the historic town of Harstad, traces of which date back to the Viking Age, and enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. (Overnight Harstad) BLD
Day 19: Thursday 15 August, Depart Harstad
- Tour concludes in the morning
- At leisure/Check out
Our tour ends in Harstad after breakfast. In the morning you will be required to check out of the hotel. Please contact ASA if you require assistance with a transfer to Harstad/Narvik international airport (EVE) which is located 46km south of Harstad (approx. 1hr). B