Norway & the Lofoten Archipelago: Rock Carvings, Ragnarök and Reindeer 2024

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28 Jul – 15 Aug 2024

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Norway & the Lofoten Archipelago: Rock Carvings, Ragnarök and Reindeer 2024
Tour Highlights

  • Lectures and site visits by Dr Mindy MacLeod, runologist and former lecturer in Swedish and Old Norse at The University of Melbourne.
  • Explore Bronze Age rock carvings at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tanum where depictions of humans, animals, weapons and boats reveal the life and beliefs of people in Scandinavia.
  • Visit Tønsberg, Norway’s oldest town, to view the Viking trading ship Klåstad, on display at the Slottsfjell Museum, and the nearby burial mounds at Borre.
  • Explore the charming capital of Norway, Oslo, and see the displays at the Historical Museum, the new Munch Museum and the newly-opened National Museum of Art.
  • Enjoy an evening performance of Peer Gynt by Lake Gålå in Gudbrandsdalen valley, the place from which Ibsen drew inspiration for his literary masterpiece.
  • Hear about the remarkable archaeological objects unearthed at the dragon-gabled stave church of Lom and view the magnificent wooden portal of Urnes church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, decorated with Viking-Age zoomorphic ornamentation.
  • Walk to the award-winning Viewpoint Snøhetta, an architectural viewing pavilion overlooking the Dovre-Sunndalsfjella National Park, and learn about wild reindeer conservation in Norway.
  • Cruise past the impressive waterfalls of the UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord and take a troll car to view the world-famous Briksdal Glacier.
  • Stroll the narrow streets of Bryggens the UNESCO World Heritage-listed wharf district of the Hanseatic town of Bergen, filled with beautiful wooden buildings.
  • View the collection of runic texts at Bryggens Museum which bring to life a medieval world of trading, drinking, prayers, enchantments, sex and even stockfish!
  • Explore Bergen’s KODE 3 with the largest collection of Edvard Munch outside Oslo, and Norwegian artists such as J.C. Dahl, Harriet Backer, Erik Werenskiold and Gerhard Munthe.
  • Enjoy a concert at the summer villa of composer Edvard Grieg at Troldhaugen and view the composer’s hut, gardens and gravesite.
  • Experience the magical Lofoten archipelago located north of the Arctic Circle, visiting a number of charming fishing villages and rural museums, the Lofotr Viking Museum, and marvellous beaches and seascapes. The staggering beauty of these islands and the special quality of the Arctic light have long attracted artists, whose work is displayed in galleries throughout the islands.
  • Journey along the Lofoten and Andøya National Scenic Routes: 2 of the 18 selected roads in Norway which run through landscapes with unique natural qualities, along coasts and fjords, mountains and waterfalls.
  • Spend 2 nights in rorbuer (traditional fishing cabins) in the picturesque fishing village of Reine, located on the island of Moskenes in the Lofoten archipelago, and take an express boat around the Reinefjord surrounded by dramatic granite peaks rising out of the sea.
  • Cruise the spectacular Trollfjord, a thriving habitat for various species of birds including  white-tailed eagles and accessible only by sea.
  • Learn about the importance of cod in the Lofotens; preserved cod enabled explorers to cross oceans and reach new continents. See fish and fascinating sea creatures at a special aquarium for Northeast Arctic cod.
  • Learn about Sami life and culture as well as their relationship with their reindeer.
  • From Andenes in the north of the Vesterålen Islands, cruise the waters of the Arctic to spot puffins, sea eagles and sperm whales that linger close to the coast all year round.

Overnight Strömstad (2 nights) • Oslo (2 nights) • Vinstra (2 nights) • Geiranger (1 night) • Leikanger (1 night) • Bergen (3 nights) • Reine (2 nights) • Svolvaer (2 nights) • Andenes (2 nights) • Harstad (1 night)

About the Tour

Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Norse Gods, is described as “a wind age, an axe age, a sword age, a wolf age”. We’ll investigate all of these aspects as we explore Norway in depth, concentrating on the marvellous nature which has inspired the legends and literature, the art and architecture and the Norse and Sami ways of life in this rugged country. Exploring animals from Bronze Age rock art to the whales and sea birds of the remote Lofoten Islands of northern Norway, this tour is a sweeping saga of how Norwegian nature nurtures the souls of those who live there and those who visit.

The importance of nature is etched into the landscape in Scandinavia, where we’ll start by investigating the depictions of animals and humans on the vast rock outcrops of Tanum, where we find Europe’s greatest concentration of Bronze-Age carvings. Moving forward in time, we’ll explore Viking towns such as Tønsberg with its remarkable Viking ship and burial mounds. We’ll even visit a reconstruction of the world’s largest Viking long-house in the Lofoten isles, perhaps the home of the Viking chieftain Olaf Trennumbruni, a great sacrificer and shapeshifter.

In the charming capital of Oslo we’ll admire historical artefacts and artworks at the museums, walk over the mountain-inspired roof of the Oslo opera house and spend time at the brand new Munch Museum. Best known, for The Scream, Munch was greatly inspired by the Norwegian landscape and surrounded himself with animals which often appear in his artwork. Of course we’ll also visit the new National Museum of Art and the Historical Museum, where Mindy will point out some of the remarkable runestones.

Outside Oslo, we’ll visit a number of more localised museums such as the remarkable Kode in Bergen and enjoy artworks inspired by the local environment at Galleri Lofoten. We’ll see for ourselves the landscapes depicted there, enjoying cliffside walks, coastal scenery and spectacular seascapes as we spot puffins, sea eagles and whales. We’ll cruise the spectacular fjords of Geiranger and Trollfjord and even visit a glacier.

Architecturally we will visit some of the oldest preserved wooden buildings known to Norway, the bizarre stave churches of Lom and World-Heritage-listed Urnes with their gaping dragons, snarling serpents and pagan iconography. We can contrast buildings such as these with the most northerly church building in Norway on the Trondenes peninsula, probably financed by the profits from the dried fish trade. Some claim the cod built Norway and we’ll ponder the importance of fish (try some fish pudding if you dare!) in the picturesque medieval trading town of Bergen as well as the tiny fishing villages of the Lofoten archipelago, including Henningsvær, Nusfjord, Reine and Å.

We’ll hear a piano recital at the home of Edvard Grieg and enjoy more of his music at an amazing evening performance of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, the folkloric reindeer herder and restless wanderer. We’ll visit the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre at Hjerkinn and read the history of Dovrefjell over the last 10000 years as we trek to the award-winning Snøhetta viewing point, appreciating the architecture, culture and the natural environment. We’ll also experience the importance of the reindeer in Sami culture by spending time with their reindeer herders learning about their unique culture and see the seals, otters and of course the cod by the water’s edge at Lofoten Aquarium. Bring your outdoor gear and your birdwatching binoculars as we buckle up for the raw beauty of this land of vikings and valkyries, fjords and fish, and puffins, painters, and pine trees!

Mindy’s video describes some monstrous Viking beasts best avoided as well as some more appealing ones you may encounter on her upcoming Norwegian tour. Watch it here.


Latest News



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 circlesAfter 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
  • Lillehammer

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
  • Sortland
  • 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



ASA has selected 3- to 5-star hotels that are themselves historical buildings and/or are located in historical centres. All hotels provide rooms with en suite bathroom. Further information on hotels will be provided in the ‘Tour Hotel List’ given to tour members prior to their departure.

  • Strömstad (2 nights): 3-star Scandic Laholmen – an historic hotel and restaurant overlooking the marina providing superior rooms with a seaview. www.scandichotels.com
  • Oslo (2 nights): 4-star Clarion Hotel The Hub – centrally located modern hotel, within easy walking distance of restaurants and Oslo’s major sites. www.strawberryhotels.com
  • Vinstra (2 nights): 3-star Fefor Høifjellshotell & Hytter  surrounded by the Jotunheimen Mountains, the hotel is located on the shores of Lake Fefor. www.fefor.no
  • Geiranger (1 night): 4-star Hotel Union Geiranger – offering rooms with spectacular views of the UNESCO World Heritage-Listed Geiranger Fjord. www.hotelunion.no
  • Leikanger (1 night): 3-star Leikanger Fjordhotel – family run hotel situated by the Sognefjord, offering basic rooms all overlooking the fjord. leikangerfjordhotel.no
  • Bergen (3 nights): 4-star Clarion Hotel Admiral – housed in a 19th-century building, overlooking Vagen Bay, 300m from Bergen’s fish market, directly across the water from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bryggen. clarionhoteladmiralbergen.h-rez.com
  • Reine (2 nights): 3-star Reine Robuer by Classic Norway Hotels – located by the Reine Fjord and surrounded by the Lofoten Mountains, accommodation is provided in traditional fisherman cottages. Accommodation is provided in 2 or 3 bedroom cabins, with each bedroom having access to own private bathroom. www.classicnorway.no
  • Svolvaer (2 nights): 5-star Thon Hotel Svolvaer – located 400m from the town centre, accommodation is provided in superior rooms with a view. www.thonhotels.com
  • Andenes (2 nights): 3-star Hotell Marena – a modern and central hotel, located 300 m from Andenes Ferry Terminal and the Polar Museum. www.hotellmarena.no
  • Harstad (1 night): 4-star Thon Hotel Harstad – centrally located by the quay and in the heart of Harstad, a short walk from the cultural centre and the city’s shops and restaurants. Offering rooms with a view of the Vågsfjord. www.thonhotels.no
How to book

How to Book


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $1000.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 19-day tour of Norway involves:

  • Long distance travel by air-conditioned coach; several days involve mountainous windy roads.
  • 3- to 5-star hotels with nine hotel changes.
  • Ferry Excursions including: Geiranger to Hellsylt Fjord Cruise (Day 8), Solvorn-Ornes-Solvorn Public Ferry (Day 9), Leikanger to Bergen Express Boat (Day 9), Bodø to Moskenes Ferry (Day 12), Reinefjorden Public Express Boat (Day 13), Silent Trollfjord Cruise (Day 15), Puffin Safari (Day 16), Whale Safari Andenes (Day 17)
  • You must be able to carry your own luggage. Several hotels do NOT have porters. Porterage is also not available at airports or ferry terminals.
  • A daily schedule generally involving an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (5.00-5.30pm).
  • 2-3 site visits most days, involving up to 1-2 hours of walking at each (regularly on uneven terrain, cobbled streets, and steep slopes) and/or standing, interspersed with coach or ferry travel.
  • The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $15,980.00 Land Content Only – Early Bird Special: Book before 14 April 2023

AUD $16,180.00 Land Content Only

AUD $2390.00 Single Supplement

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3- to 5-star hotels
  • Breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals indicated in the tour itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal.
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Ferry Excursions including: Geiranger to Hellsylt Fjord Cruise (Day 8), Solvorn-Ornes-Solvorn Public Ferry (Day 9), Leikanger to Bergen Express Boat (Day 9), Bodø to Moskenes Ferry (Day 12), Reinefjorden Public Express Boat (Day 13), Silent Trollfjord Cruise (Day 15), Puffin Safari (Day 16), Whale Safari Andenes (Day 17)
  • Flight from Bergen to Bodø (economy)
  • Porterage where available. Note: Porterage is NOT available at some hotels or at airports
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Evening Performance of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt at Lake Gålåvatnet
  • Entrance fees
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Oslo, Harstad/Narvik-Australia
  • Porterage at some hotels and airports
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Tour Map

Tour Map

Terms & Conditions

A non-refundable deposit of $1000.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on this ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 120 days before departure: your initial deposit of $1000.00 is non-refundable.
  • 120-46 days prior 30% of total amount due
  • 45-0 days prior 100% of total amount dueWe take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 120 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 120 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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