Church in Hammerfest
See the Arctic
Circle, the Lofoten Islands, the Helgeland coast & the North cape
ships have been cruising the amazing Norwegian coast for more than 100 years!
Today it offers a fascinating mixture of first-class passenger vessels and local
In the home waters of the Norwegian coast, Hurtigruten has been part of the country’s very lifeline for over a century. Beneath the
Midnight Sun or the mystical Northern Lights, daily departures across the Arctic
Circle from Bergen to Kirkenes, takes you right to the heart of coastal Norway.
Calling at 34 ports, most never visited by commercial cruise liners, the ships
deliver freight, post and passengers to remote communities, some of which are
home to just a few hundred people. Sailing along this beautiful coastline,
through magical fjords to enchanted islands, you enjoy a genuine, friendly and
unpretentious voyage which is truly Norwegian.
View our Hurtigruten
Read about Hurtigruten's history
In 1891, August Kriegsman Gran, the national steamship advisor, came up with the
idea of providing an express boat service between Trondheim and Hammerfest.
Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab, a relatively young steamship company based in
Stokmarknes, took up the challenge. For some time, Captain Richard With and his
pilots had been keeping accurate notes on courses, speeds and times taken to
sail the route and felt that the service would be viable. A compass and a clock
were the only navigational aids necessary in the Polar Night. In 1893, the
government entered into a 4-year contract with Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab,
providing the company with the backing for a weekly sailing between Trondheim
during the summer and, Trondheim and Tromso during the winter. There were nine
ports of call on the route.
On the morning of 2 July 1893, the steamship ‘Vesteraalen’ left Trondheim for
Hammerfest. This started a communications revolution, giving industry and
coastal inhabitants better access to the outside world. Letters from Trondheim,
which had previously taken up to three weeks to reach Hammerfest during the
summer, and five months during the winter, could now be delivered in just a few
Once Richard With and Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab had shown the way, several
shipping companies followed. In 1894, Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab and Det
Nordenfjeldske Dampskibsselskab were granted permission to operate ships on the
route. The number of ships serving the route constantly increased. In 1898,
Bergen became the southernmost port on the Coastal Express’ route. Vadso was
included on the route in 1907 and Kirkenes in 1914. For a short period, there
were weekly sailings from Stavanger but, from 1936 to the present day a ship has
left Bergen daily heading north. This service was only interrupted by the war.
From its conception, it was believed that tourism would form the basis of the
Norwegian Coastal Steamers’ operations. Early on, brochures were printed in
several languages promoting the Norwegian Coastal Steamer and the wild and
beautiful Norwegian coastline. These were distributed to travel agents and
individual customers abroad.
Exotic and unique destinations such as the Lofoten Islands, Troll Fjord,
Skjervoy Island, Hammerfest and the North Cape became accessible to
international travellers who wanted to visit the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Tourists came in their thousands, making Hurtigruten one of Europe’s
Today, the route is internationally known as “The world’s most beautiful
Northern Lights in Norway
The Northern Lights - nature's own light show - are solar winds that meet the
atmosphere in a zone around the magnetic North Pole, forming arches, waves and
curls of light moving across the sky, with sudden rays of light shooting down
The Northern Lights are visible between November and March when the sky is
clear, depending on the Northern Lights activity.
The best place to see the Northern Lights is in the Northern
parts of Norway, and the area around the Arctic city of Tromso offers a maximum
of Northern Lights activity.
about the Northern Lights
Midnight Sun in Norway
phenomenon occurring in latitudes north to the
Arctic Circle and south and nearby to the north of the Antarctic
Circle where the sun remains visible at the local midnight.
Given fair weather, the sun is visible for a continuous 24
hours. The number of days per year with potential midnight sun
increases the further north of the Arctic Circle or south of the
Antarctic Circle one goes.
The Arctic Circle in North Norway is located close to the Arctic
town of Bodo and south of the Lofoten Islands.
South of the Arctic Circle in Norway the nights are bright
("white") as well during spring/early summer due to the
altitude, although the sun is not visible all night
The Midnight Sun is visible:
May - 29 July
May - 27 July
May - 22 July
May - 18 July
June - 8 July