It’s been quite a while now since we’ve been aboard the Kong Harald, one of the Hurtigrouten-ships. So, how exactly did we get the chance to spend a week travelling along Norway’s beautiful coastline? Lilli’s mother invited us to join her on this trip (thank you so much ♡).
The whole trip was a very spontaneous thing as there was a special offer on the Hurtigruten website. Only a few hours after Lillis mom asked us if we wanted to come, we had everything set in stone and were excited to go and see the land of endless fjords and trolls only a couple of weeks later.
But what are the Hurtigruten you might ask. Well, originally the Hurtigruten are the traditional Norwegian post and ferry ships that have been connecting the small towns and villages along the coast since 1893 – often times the only way to get to remote towns and villages in winter. From the beginning, the ships were used for daily mail and cargo as well as a way of transportation for the Norwegians and for tourists. During the last decades they built newer and bigger ships, renovated the old ones and focused more and more on providing a tourist service along the way. It’s not like a regular cruise ship, but the ships have got the comforts and services regular ferries probably wouldn’t have.
The original route takes you along the coast from Bergen to Kirkenes (or vice versa) in 6 days and lets you explore the beauty of the fjords, the stony shores and the small towns along the way. Keep your eyes open, there might be a troll hidden somewhere along the way..
We boarded the ship at the end of August, just after the hotter summer months but before the onset of winter along the route. The cheapest and most convenient connection for us from Hamburg to Bergen was via Copenhagen. After we arrived in Bergen we took a bus (about a 40 minute ride) into town and walked a short distance from the bus stop to the Hurtigruten terminal.
The ship wasn’t ready for boarding yet so we handed in our luggage and went for a stroll through town. We had about 3 hours left and got the chance to explore the market by the harbor where we grabbed some fresh smoked salmon buns and went on to search for the most essential thing : coffee. Norway is one of the countries driving the third wave coffee movement with superbly talented coffee roasters so you’ll find specialty coffee shops in even the smaller towns. Bergen’s kaffemisjonen is one of these café’s and we got to enjoy one of Tim Wendelboe’s creations from Oslo.
We spent the remaining time in Bryggen, probably the most touristy place in the city, but definitely worth a visit.
Having had dinner with a couple of friends that live in Bergen, we left the harbor as the sun set, excited what the next days on our way to Kirkenes in the north would bring.
During the six days en route we passed many tiny harbor towns where we spent between 15 minutes and a couple of hours.
In most of the harbors the ship stops for about 30 minutes, which is usually enough time to step outside and have a quick look around.
In bigger towns you get more time to explore, usually between two and four hours. The time you spend at the destinations also depends on the current weather situation. In Trondheim we had a meeting set up with relatives but the wind was so strong that day that the ship couldn’t dock at the regular pier and we had to wait outside until the sea calmed down a bit. When we were finally able to dock we only had about 30 minutes left so we only grabbed a quick coffee at Dromedar Kaffebar and were off again.
You can also book guided trips from almost every harbor along the way but I think that most of the trips are crazily overpriced and we aren’t the biggest fans of guided tours to begin with as it is way more fun to go and explore something by yourself. We only went on one trip where we got to see a husky farm. I guess that that trip is way more fun in winter when you can actually go on a little ride with the dog sleds but in the summertime you can basically only pet the dogs – but hey – cute little baby dogs are there as well! That’s never a bad thing!
Our highlight of the trip was the stretch through the Lofoten and we three were a bit sad that we couldn’t spend more time there. I’m sure that we will be back at some point in the future to hike and explore the stunning mountains.
After six days on board of the Kong Harald we reached our final destination, Kirkenes. We didn’t have any time here to explore the town as we had to rush to the Airport to catch our flight. If you travel to Kirkenes in winter I would definitely suggest to spend a few nights at the Snowhotel Kirkenes which is made completely out of snow and ice. How cool is that?
But what about the ship you might ask. We stayed aboard the ship Kong Harald which was recently renovated. The upper decks are now newly furnished, although they left the lower cabins the same it seems.
The upper decks though are very cozy and it’s great to sit in the lounge, read a book and look at the beautiful scenery slowly passing by outside. You can choose between different meal options depending on the duration of your trip. We booked an all inclusive package because its comes out cheaper than eating at the a la carte restaurant every day and better than the light foods available in the café up top. Included in the package is a buffet for breakfast and lunch and a fixed dinner-menu in the evening. The food is amazing – including lots of salmon – and I feel like each of us gained 10 kg during the trip. Oopsi.
There are many different cabins on the ship.
There are some that are already renovated and some that still have the old designs. You can book them with either a window or ‘inside’ the ship, with your own or shared bathroom. We booked cabins with a window (because I thought that I would get claustrophobic in there if there wasn’t anywhere to look outside) but I can now say that I think that you can easily take a room without a window. First of all you don’t really spend time in there anyways and when you do its mostly dark anyways, so a tiny porthole is pretty much negligible. We had our own little bathroom but you have to make sure to shower when its not too wavy, otherwise the water ends up everywhere.
We really enjoyed our time aboard and hope to come back at some point. Thanks again to B. who made this trip possible for us and we hope that we inspired you guys to put Norway on your list of places to visit.