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Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun itinerary combines wild and beautiful ports with magical days at sea on a journey above the Arctic Circle and into the land of Nordic legends. The 15-day Viking Ocean Cruises trip between London and Bergen stops in 10 ports, with an emphasis on Norway. Three days at sea fill out the two week itinerary with incredible scenic cruising through beautiful rivers, fjords, and islands along the coast.
Our Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun highlights were captured on a trip from London to Bergen in July 2017. The itinerary is also offered in the reverse direction, with multiple sailings in June and July.
Viking Cruises offered us a special media rate so we could share our experience with the McCool Travel network. All opinions, text, and photos are our own, and we did not receive any direct compensation for the cruise.
Here are Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun highlights of the spectacular sites you will enjoy on the voyage, along with tips to add to your fun.
Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun United Kingdom Highlights
Viking’s itinerary lists the first port as London, but the ship actually docks in Greenwich, England. Greenwich is the site of the prime meridian from which the world’s longitude is measured, which seems a fitting start for an epic journey. The location immediately put us in a historical mood as Viking checked us in surrounded by a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ship is docked overnight in Greenwich, so you can take a nighttime outing either on your own or with Viking’s optional London by Night tour. Day two offers an included (i.e. no extra cost) tour of London Highlights along with several optional tours.
The voyage at sea begins with an exciting journey on the Thames River. You will enjoy excellent views of historic Greenwich and the O2 Arena before you pass through the Thames Barrier and head out to sea.
McCool Travel Tip: If you have already toured London (like us), you can skip the tours and spent more of your time exploring Greenwich and your new ship. Allow extra time to tender between your ship and the shore.
Day at Sea: Greenwich to Edinburgh Scotland
The first full day at sea, as your ship sails through the North Sea to Scotland, is the perfect opportunity to relax and explore your ship. There is not a lot to see except sky and ocean, so you will not have anything to distract you from the spa, lounges, pool, and other onboard spaces. If the weather cooperates, you may enjoy a gorgeous sunset as you cruise north.
McCool Travel Tip: We set a goal of walking a 5K on every day at sea. You will find a nice quarter-mile jogging and walking track on deck two. Complete 13 circuits on this 360 promenade to complete a 5K.
Our second port (and second country) on the Midnight Sun itinerary was the Port of Rosyth in Scotland. The port is about 15 miles from your true destination, Edinburgh, and traffic can reduce your free time in the city, so prioritize your stops.
Take the included tour for an introduction to Edinburgh and a stop for photos at lovely Hollyrood Park. Once in town you are on your own to wander the city until “back on board” time (4:30 during our cruise).
Dramatic Edinburgh Castle is a good starting point for your visit. There is a fee to tour the interior, but you can also capture nice views and photos from outside. The Glassmarket historic area is a short walk away and we recommend a stop in The Last Drop for a pint .
McCool Travel Tip: To maximize your time in Edinburgh, skip the return bus and take a taxi back to the ship. We pre-arranged a meeting spot and shared our taxi with another couple, saving us both a little money.
Orkney Islands, Scotland
On day five, Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun itinerary heads onto “the road less travelled” with a port stop in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. This beautiful region is filled with rich history, rugged scenery, and fascinating relics from the Viking age. With just over 8 hours in port, you will have time for the included tour and a trip into Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkneys.
The included excursion highlights the Orkney’s history and includes a stop at the Standing Stones of Stenness. This Neolithic monument dates to 3100 BC, making it one of the oldest stone circles in the United Kingdom. Allow time before or after the tour to stroll through the town of Stromness, where your ship is docked. We followed alleyways up the hill to a beautiful view and stopped in a few stores to shop and sample the local ice cream.
The town of Kirkwall is about 15 minutes away via complimentary shuttle bus. Visit St. Magnus Cathedral, Bishop & Earl’s Palace, and Orkney Museum, all clustered together in the center of town.
McCool Travel Tip: After you look at the Stones of Stenness, follow the path beside the fence to the Barnhouse Village ruins. The fascinating 5000-year-old ruins are just a short walk from the stone circle but we were the only ones from our group to check them out.
Shetland Islands, Scotland
The next port is Lerwick, capital of the Shetland Islands and your last stop in the United Kingdom. The Shetlands are known for their stout and sturdy ponies, but beautiful scenery and Viking history also run strong here. Take the included tour for scenic views and a visit and photo opp with some of those lovely ponies.
The town of Lerwick is fun to explore on foot. Visit the fort for a dose of history and nice harbor views, then head to the Shetland Museum and Archives to learn about island history and culture. Shetland is also famous for its traditional wool garments so allow time for shopping in town.
McCool Travel Tip: Shetland wool is warm and beautiful but it can be itchy to some. We found a stall selling scarves in traditional patterns but with a finer wool. In Lerwick, the ship docks at the port so there is no need for tenders to visit town.
Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun Norway Highlights
Viking Cruises are very much at home in Norway. The ships are Norwegian through and through, reflected in the beautiful interior design, the on-board spa, several dining choices, many of the crew, and even the Norway flag flying from the mast.
Viking’s Norwegian heritage connects ship and shore as you sail through fjords and islands, stopping at six ports along Norway’s coast. Here are Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun highlights in Norwegian ports and at sea.
Day at Sea: Shetland Islands to Lofoten Islands
Your second full day at sea, sailing north to the Lofoten Islands, is another wonderful opportunity to explore the ship. You are further from Norway’s coast than you will be for the rest of the cruising days, so take advantage of the time to hang out in the spa, relax in your stateroom, or catch up on laundry.
Fortunately, the Viking crew adds some unique fun to the day. As you approach the Arctic Circle, guests and crew gather on the pool deck for the Blue Nose Order Ceremony. Guests who want to be initiated into the Order must jump into the pool (which the crew has “helpfully” filled with ice), kiss a fish, and drink a shot of Aquavit, after which your nose will be painted with a blue stripe.
Participation in the Blue Nose Ceremony is optional, but it is a lot of fun to watch even if you do not want to jump in the ice-filled pool. Several members of the crew took the plunge first, most wearing uniforms.
Celebrating the Arctic Circle the Viking Ocean Cruises way. The Blue Nose Ceremony includes an icy dip, kiss a fish, shot of Aquavit. #MyVikingStory
McCool Travel Tip: Check the daily bulletin for the projected time that the ship will cross the Arctic Circle. If the weather is good, you may want to be on deck to celebrate the moment. On our voyage, we crossed the circle just before 11:30 PM, on our way to the Lofoten Islands.
The Lofoten Islands are known for their stunning and rugged beauty. Cod fishing is an island staple and the shores are lined with scenic fishing houses on stilts. We had stormy weather in the Lofotens but still enjoyed the included scenic tour to two famous Lofoten Beaches.
Haukland has been named the most beautiful beach in Norway and nearby Uttakleiv is known as the most romantic. Walk a short distance from the parking area at Uttakleiv Beach to see a large heart on the ground made from white stones, and a heart-shaped black stone balancing on end. The views are spectacular, even on a rainy day.
Viking uses tenders to ferry passengers from ship to short in the Lofoten Islands. Take it slow and use caution when you get on and off the tenders on stormy days.
McCool Travel Tip: The top-level Sports Deck is an excellent spot to enjoy scenic cruising on the Viking Oceans Into the Midnight Sun voyage. The deck is open to the sunshine (and clouds), but fairly well protected from the wind.
Honningsvag and North Cape
For many guests, Nordkapp (North Cape) is a highlight of the Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun journey. The “northernmost point in Europe” is as far north as many of us have ever been.
The included excursion is a fantastic bus trip to Nordkapp. The scenic ride passes fishing huts and rolling tundra as you climb into the mountains. You will stop at a Sami shop, and you may see wild reindeer along the road.
Nordkapp sits on a 1,000 foot plateau, with dramatic views of the northern coast and out to sea. You will have plenty of time to explore the views, take a picture at the globe monument, and check out the displays and museums at the Visitor Center. There is also a cafe and a large gift shop.
Back in the port town of Horningsvag, you can shop and wander the streets. Brightly colored fishing boats in the harbor offer plenty of photo opportunities on bright days.
McCool Travel Tip: On a warm day, watch for reindeer keeping cool in the snow fields as you approach Nordkapp. We even saw a reindeer walking around the plateau during our visit.
In Tromso we took our first optional excursion and it was a blast. Our “Husky Trek Through Arctic Hills” excursion took place on a rainy day but that did not dampen the fun. The bus ride to the Tromso Wilderness Center passed through the longest tunnels we have ever encountered. There were even rotaries inside the tunnel!
We met the Alaskan Husky dogs and pups, then several guests were harnessed to a husky and we trekked out into the rolling hills. We enjoyed a fun workout as the dogs pulled forward at a good pace. Stops along the way let us switch dogs, learn more about the Wilderness Center, and enjoy spectacular views. The excursion finished with hot drinks and cake by a warm fire.
If you prefer a more relaxed outing, the included excursion is a panoramic drive through Tromso, highlighting the architecture and beauty of this “gateway to the Arctic.” Allow time to explore the downtown shops and waterfront views before you board your ship.
McCool Travel Tip: Head to the top deck as you depart for great views of the Arctic Cathedral, the modernist Polaria Museum building, and the snow-capped mountains that surround Tromso.
Day at Sea: Tromso to Molde
The journey from Tromso to Molde is a highlight of the Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun itinerary. During your day at sea you will cross the Arctic Circle, pass the Seven Sisters Mountain Range, see “The Mountain with a Hole in it,” and pass under Rorvik Bridge.
McCool Travel Tip: Pay attention when the Captain announces the expected time you will pass each highlight, then be on deck early so you do not miss the sites. We nearly missed the Arctic Circle marker by cutting our timing too close.
Every town on the Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun itinerary offers beautiful examples of Norwegian architecture. Molde goes a step further at the Romsdal Museum, one of the most extensive folk museums in Europe. The included excursion buses you a short distance to the museum where you can explore 40 historic buildings on your own.
We skipped the planned excursion, in favor of a hike. A very steep but well-marked trail leads past the Romsdal Museum and up to the spectacular Varden Viewpoint. From the viewpoint you can see the Molde Panorama, an incredible range of 222 peaks. The stunning view was well worth the effort of the climb.
Molde is home to one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe. If your port stop happens to align with the Moldejazz schedule, as it did during our trip, you will find a street fair in town and music filling the air.
McCool Travel Tip: We wanted to take the optional excursion to the Troll Church, but it was fully booked by the time we tried to make reservations. Make excursion reservations as early as possible, and put yourself on the waiting list if the trip is booked. Additional groups are sometimes added when there is high interest and time allows.
The day in Geiranger, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, combines our favorite scenic cruising and bus excursion of the entire Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun trip. Be on deck early to enjoy spectacular views as you cruise through a narrow fjord and past the Seven Sisters Waterfall. Morning sunshine lit up the falls as we glided past on the way to the village of Geiranger.
Do not miss the included excursion in Geiranger, a bus ride high into the mountains with stops at two stunning viewpoints. Your bus navigates winding roads and hairpin turns as you climb into the mountains to a beautiful glacial lake. Then you will descend the mountains and up another winding road to the Eagle’s Bend viewpoint.
Back in town, you will find shopping, cafes, an historic church, and likely many other tourists. There were four cruise ships in the small port when we visited.
McCool Travel Tip: We highly recommend a climb up the stairs beside Fossevandring waterfall. It is a short walk through town to the base of the stairs, and the views of the falls and back to your ship are stunning.
All good things must come to an end, and your final stop on the Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun itinerary is the beautiful and historic city of Bergen. You will dock right in the heart of Bergen, just steps from the major sites.
Stroll into town to visit Bergenhus Fortress, the ancient wooden buildings at Bryggen Wharf, and the Torget Fish Market. Then spend time walking away from the touristed sites through the narrow streets and alleys of Bergen. Picturesque white-painted houses line the streets offering plenty of photo opportunities.
The included Bergen excursion offers a big picture view of the area, with stops at a scenic harbor overlook.
McCool Travel Tip: You will stay in Bergen overnight before departing the ship. Walk into town early if you want to take pictures of the Bryggen Wharf area without all the tourists.
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Viking Cruises Into the Midnight Sun itinerary is an exceptional travel experience. The combination of unique and beautiful ports with incredible scenic cruising creates once-in-a-lifetime memories. We heartily recommend the journey, especially for those who like to explore the road less traveled.
If you are considering a journey with Viking Cruises, you will find more helpful tips in these related articles:
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- Viking River or Viking Ocean Cruises: Which is Right for You?
- 8 Great Viking Cruises Secrets
- Viking Star Dining Options That Will Blow Your Mind
We received a media discount for our Into the Midnight Sun cruise with Viking Ocean Cruises. We sailed aboard the Viking Sea in July, 2017. For more information, follow Viking Cruises on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.
Article by Julie McCool, whose Northern Virginia travel site FuninFairfaxVA.com helps locals and visitors find fun places to explore, dine, drink, and play in the Virginia, Washington DC, and mid-Atlantic area. Follow Fun in Fairfax VA on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.