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11 Nights aboard Nieuw Statendam
28 May 2023
28 May 2023
A stop in Amsterdam offers the chance to explore the sights of one of Europe’s most colorful, dynamic and historic cities—one with a well-earned reputation as a laid-back and inviting place for people of all stripes. Visitors are naturally drawn to the historic city center where you’ll find some of the world’s top art museums, including the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. And at Dam Square, the Amsterdam’s largest public square, you can tour the Royal Palace before continuing to the tourist attractions on the Canal Belt. The iconic network of waterways that surrounds the downtown area offers a picturesque backdrop for sightseeing by bike or canal boat. Be sure to visit the floating Bloemenmarkt to peruse famed Dutch tulips, and take time to wander and window-shop among the narrow lanes of de Jordaan. And you won’t have to look far in Amsterdam to find delicious Dutch treats along the way. Just duck into a cozy brown café to sample a plate of bitterballen with mustard and a beer, and grab a gooey sweet stroopwafel from a street vendor as you stroll.
Tucked away in a snug corner of the Hardangerfjord, the small, scenic village of Ulvik sits along the shoreline, with orchards filling the green hills behind. This popular little resort is an excellent place to unwind with hiking trails that crisscross the rough uplands to the north of Ulvik, and meander along the surrounding shoreline. The townspeople are justly proud and happy to share their “kulturlandskapsplan” (culture landscape plan), in which four designated areas incorporate both footpaths and historic sights, including the Ljonakleiv crofter’s farm in the hills above the village.
Flåm’s villages and farms perch on steep slopes above gleaming waterways. Sample shore excursion: The Flam Railway.
Ålesund, a quaint fishing town of approximately 45,000 in western Norway, has been called Norway’s most beautiful city. A fire in 1904 destroyed much of it, resulting in the town being rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style—also known as Jugendstil—that was popular around the turn of the 20th century. A year after the fire, Norway gained its independence from Sweden, which led to a campaign to build a “Norwegian town” to mark the creation of the new nation. The colorful buildings feature castlelike turrets and spires with intricate facades of ornamental flowers, gargoyles and Viking-inspired decorations. Bordering the Norwegian Sea, this area is also famous for its mountain ranges and fjords. For those looking for a more active visit, Ålesund offers great hiking, mountain biking and kayaking. One of the highlights is climbing the 418 steps that lead up Mount Aksla for a spectacular view of the city and the Sunnmøre Alps. Nearby is the Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its beautiful waterfalls. This is also home to Atlanterhavsparken, or the Atlantic Sea Park, one of the largest aquariums in Europe.
Beautiful Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, is one of the most popular ports of call on a cruise up the fjords. Step off the ship into the medieval Bryggen wharf area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, where small boats line the harbor and wooden gabled buildings stand proud along the waterfront. Bergen’s rich maritime tradition goes back nearly 1,000 years, including the years the town played an important part in the Hanseatic League, the trading empire that dominated maritime commerce in the region between the 14th and 18th centuries. The city is one of Europe’s oldest settlements, and its cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways lead to emerald-green parks, medieval cathedrals and stone fortresses that kept enemies at bay centuries ago. It’s also eminently walkable, with historic buildings and excellent markets selling everything from fish and produce to trinkets and souvenirs. Surrounded by mountains and thick forest, and sitting halfway between Geiranger to the north and Stavanger to the south, Bergen offers plenty to do outside the city too. Whether you sign up for a guided excursion or venture out on your own, you’ll be sure to fall in love with Bergen.
With Norway possessing countless famous natural landmarks—its glorious fjords practically enjoy celebrity status—the town of Haugesund, in the southern county of Rogaland, can be overlooked despite its history as a center of the country’s Viking rulers. Norway’s first king, Harald Fairhair, whose rule began in the latter half of the 9th century, lived nearby, and he and several other early kings are buried in a mound here along the Karmsundet Strait. Today, Norwegians know the town as a cultural center with popular music and film festivals, as well as for being a beneficiary of Norway’s petroleum wealth. As in many Scandinavian port towns, a long row of handsome old commercial buildings line the Smedasundet waterfront; today, they house busy restaurants. A block inland, the Haraldsgata pedestrian street has a folk museum, the brick Our Savior’s Church and plenty of shopping. At the edge of town, a huge granite obelisk erected in 1872 commemorates the 1,000th anniversary of the seminal Battle of Hafrsfjord, when Harald Fairhair led his forces to victory and united Norway in the process. It is also easy to get from Haugesund to the massive glacier fields of Folgefonna National Park and to the 612-meter-high (2,008-foot) Langfoss waterfall.
Stroll cobbled lanes in the Old Quarter, restored thanks to North Sea oil money. Feeling fearless? Cruise Lysefjord to sail under Prekestolen (Pulpit Rock), a huge cube that looms 1500 feet above your boat.
One of southern Norway’s most picturesque attractions. Take a walk among the white wooden houses, or visit the variety of shops. You’ll discover the town’s interesting geometric layout designed during the Renaissance.
Denmark’s second city often seems to sit modestly in the shadow of its better-known big sister. But this picturesque town of winding canals and cobbled streets has many of the capital’s charms without its crowds of tourists. As well as dictating its waterside confines, Århus’s location on the east coast of the Jutland Peninsula yields a rich natural bounty that the city’s restaurateurs have exploited with aplomb. Dishes such as caviar and wood smoke at Frederikshøj, or rye and rabbit ravioli at Restaurant Substans, have helped win a clutch of Michelin stars for the region’s pioneering chefs and cement it as a frontrunner of the New Nordic food scene; its affordable street food offerings are no less exciting.The city also holds its own on the design and architecture front, boosted by its 2017 designation as a European Capital of Culture, which resulted in a collection of waterside developments that are architecturally innovative, but anchored by a simple and pleasing Danish aesthetic. In short, this is a city in which to relax, imbibe, and enjoy both the bracing Danish sea air and a touch of laid-back metropolitan class.
Copenhagen is one of the easiest European capitals to fall in love with. The sights of old buildings, cobbled streets and the tower- and turret-dotted skyline lend fairy-tale charm—this was, after all, the home of author Hans Christian Andersen. But make no mistake: This is a thoroughly modern city with international clout. Restaurants around the world draw inspiration from the New Nordic cuisine pioneered by Noma and other Copenhagen restaurants, while Danish design from this century and the last is universally admired and coveted. Urban planners flock here to try to work out just how the city remains so livable and yet so functional, and despite its wealth of old buildings, Copenhagen’s not locked in the past; there are also thrilling examples of modern architecture. Copenhagen is a city that’s easy to find things to do and explore on foot or by excellent public transport, where everyone speaks perfect English, the food is fresh and innovative, and there’s plenty of locally brewed beer—which, of course, is best enjoyed sitting by the water on a sunny day.
The Molde area is rich in scenic attractions, including the Trollstigen Mountain Road, the Atlantic Road, and the 222 mountain peaks of Molde Panorama that offer exceptional vistas for photographers to capture. Go for a hike, explore the local caves, or stay in town and enjoy the excellent shopping and dining that Molde has to offer.
11 Nights aboard Nieuw Statendam
Departs 28 May 2023