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Best cruises to Scandinavia
How to cruise the Northern European gems of Norway, Denmark, Sweden and more.
From colorfully painted port towns to breathtaking fjords, Scandinavia is candy to the eyes. It’s also a hotbed for winter Northern Lights activity.
Take a deep exploration of Norway, Denmark of Sweden or hop among them — and to Finland, Russia, Estonia and more — with a wealth of cruise options available throughout the year.
Best cruises to Scandinavia
From luxurious ocean liners to intimate ships whatever your cruise style or budget, you’ll not fall short of options to experience the best Scandinavia has to offer by ship
Best for longer trips: Norwegian
Best for Northern Lights expeditions: Hurtigruten
Best for extras: Viking Ocean Cruises
Best for fjord cruises: Princess
Best for families: Royal Caribbean
Best for budget: Cruise & Maritime
Best for luxury: Holland America
How we picked the best destinations
We chose these specific cruise lines based on their itineraries, honing in on lines that offered a wide variety of high-quality Scandinavian cruisings. We then assessed them by their price-points to pick out those we felt were the best value and used their on-board features to determine who they were best suited for. We factored in our We factored in our personal experiences in Scandinavia, the Baltics and Russia, as well as our experiences onboard small and luxury liners and third-party reviews and guides to narrow down our list.
When is the best time to cruise to Scandinavia?
Scandinavian cruises run all year-round, but the time of year you decide on comes down to what you wish to get out of your vacation.
Travel during the winter months from November to February to immerse yourself in the festivities of the Christmas season, including markets in Russia and reindeer racing in Norway and Lapland, Finland. It’s also peak season for the Northern Lights.
Travel over summer from July to August to experience the Land of the Midnight Sun. It’s a time in the Arctic where the sun never dips below the horizon, providing you with 24 hours of sunlight. Due to the long days and warm weather, summer is also ideal for outdoor exploration, including fjord cruising and day hikes.
Winter and summer each offer perks, but it’s cheapest to cruise through Scandinavia during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. You’ll find the weather pleasant, though few events or festivals during these months.
What should I wear on a Scandinavian cruise?
It depends on the time of year you’re cruising through Scandinavia. Winter temperatures can drop to 27°F in cities like Gothenburg, Sweden, and 22°F in Arctic cities like Tromsø, Norway.
If you’re traveling over winter, you’ll want to bundle up in waterproof jackets and sturdy boots to combat the cold and ice on deck.
Summers are more pleasant, reaching temperatures of 72°F in Denmark. Pack T-shirts, shorts and lighter clothes, but bring a jacket, as the weather can still turn.
Spring and fall are pleasant but can be chilly and rainy. Pack a mix of summer gear and options for layering in case.
What are must-do cruise excursions in Scandinavia?
Every port of call is an opportunity to unearth a hidden gem, from old town wanders to brisk husky sledding. Here’s our recommendations for the top of your list:
- Trondheim city tour, Norway. In the summer months, catch the world’s northernmost tram for a city tour or kayak the River Nid, passing by colorful waterside buildings.
- North Cape Arctic adventures, Norway. Feel the cold air on your face as you dog-sled, cross-country ski or snowshoe across the Arctic landscape.
- Copenhagen canal cruise. Soak up the city’s iconic sights from the Amalienborg Palace and Church of Our Savior to Christiania to the old Nyhavn waterfront.
- Archipelago Island hopping in Gothenburg, Sweden. Choose the road less taken and hop the dots off Sweden’s coast as you discover the medieval islands of Öckerö, Fotö and Hönö.
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