Fjords, food and fantastic destinations! Why a cruise holiday is one of the best – and most delicious – ways to enjoy the tastes and landscapes of beautiful Norway
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Miles of untapped coastline punctuated by soaring snow-capped mountains, plunging waterfalls and lush farmland surrounded by epic glacial valleys: the natural wonder of Norway’s UNESCO-protected fjords is something everyone should experience at least once.
From the awe-inspiring beauty of the midnight sun to picturesque ports and quaint traditional villages clinging to the mountainside, there’s so much to see and enjoy on a trip to the Norwegian Fjords.
The stark beauty of the Norwegian Fjords is matched only by the quality of the Nordic cuisine
One unmissable highlight is its food scene. And while Nordic cooking is emerging as the new cool in culinary spheres, the unparalleled natural landscape also plays host to some of the most incredible produce and rare ingredients in the world. Think uber-seasonal cloudberries, spectacular seafood, and mouth-watering delicacies such as fenalår (cured leg of lamb).
Western Norway’s breathtaking vistas stretch as far as the eye can see, and mean that the best way to experience the magnificence – and deliciousness – of the fjords is by cruise.
The spectacular new ship in the P&O Cruises fleet, the ultra-modern Iona, features stunning three-deck high glass walls to allow guests to experience uninterrupted fjordic scenery in comfort from the very heart of the ship.
Fabulous drinks and food, premium accommodation, on-board entertainment and access to state-of-the-art gyms are all included in your P&O Cruises holiday – and you can get away on a 7 night cruise holiday to the Norwegian Fjords from £599pp (Cruise G329) †.
Raise a glass as you sail through cold, clear waters into the Viking port of Stavanger where 200-year-old white wooden cottages nestle alongside the quirky independent shops, markets and galleries of the Old Quarter.
At Olden, goggle at the biggest glacier in mainland Europe before joining a crayfishing excursion then feasting on your catch with a well-earned bottle of crisp white wine.
The beautiful and wild landscape of Norway is home to fantastic local produce
Stop off at the lively fishing town of Ålesund to take in the panoramic archipelago views from Mount Aksla before warming up at a local coffee shop (we like Racoon Coffee) for a hot drink.
Make sure you try a svele, a traditional Western Norwegian snack similar to an American pancake, best served with brunost (brown cheese) – another speciality, best described as a delicious caramelised milk and cream solid spread.
Mouth-watering Norwegian fare: Enjoy delicious heart-shaped waffles, topped with berries
Cute heart-shaped waffles, known as vafler, are also a popular treat; thinner and softer than the Belgian variety, these can be topped with cheese, egg or sausage, or berries, cream and brunost (a type of whey cheese).
Two thirds of the world’s klippfisk (dried, salted cod) originates from Ålesund, and both preserved and fresh fish are a significant part of Norwegian cuisine.
Foodies should make a point to visit the town’s famed seafood restaurant Fisketorget Delikatesse, where sparklingly fresh salmon and Arctic cod are shown off to their best in simple open rye sandwiches.
When dining at Epicurean on board Iona, be sure to sample the fantastic local trout
Norwegian smoked salmon is world class thanks to its higher fat content, which makes it better suited to smoking: the best tends to be hand salted then slightly cured in a brine before being cold smoked using beechwood – enjoy with lemon and pepper or sour cream and flatbreads.
More intrepid foodie explorers can sample delicacies such as classic, creamy fish ball soup or love-it-or-hate-it Tørrfisk. This is cod fished locally then left to air dry in the cold wind for three months before being either eaten as a high-protein snack or rehydrated and made into traditional Lutefisk, a winter warmer of a stew with peas, potatoes and bacon.
Flavours of the fjords
Back on board, be sure to reserve a table at Epicurean, Iona’s stylish fine dining restaurant where the flavours of the fjords spring to life with a six-course taster menu overseen by award-winning Norwegian chef Kjartan Skjelde, one of the P&O Cruises Food Heroes. This really offers the ultimate in Nordic gastronomy.
Chef of the moment Kjartan Skjelde has designed a delicious menu for Iona’s Epicurean
Kjartan has appeared as a judge on MasterChef Norway, and owns two highly acclaimed restaurants, Tango and Fish & Cow in Stavanger (both worth a visit!) and has curated for Iona a mouthwatering six-course tasting experience celebrating regional fjordic flavours.
His menu uses hand picked local ingredients and innovative cooking techniques to deliver fresh new Nordic dishes: think fillet of Jaeren coastal lamb that has been grazed on salt marshes, beetroots picked from the wilds of a small fjordic island, and sumptuous smoked trout sourced directly from the icy cold mountain waters.
Lucky guests may even find themselves on board with Kjartan; book a spot at his live cooking demos to learn how to recreate the magical flavours of the fjords at home.
Some of the most jaw-dropping views of the fjords are found in the most peaceful and serene locations: sleepy Innvikfjorden is host to sensational waterfalls, breathtaking cliffs and the cleanest, clearest air on earth.
Its natural beauty is best experienced from the water, where you can take in the stillness and silence leaving Mother Nature undisturbed while you feast on Norwegian street food in the cosy comfort of the ship.
Known for its food and home to two Kjartan Skjelde restaurants, Stavanger is a must-visit
Sample dishes such as traditional meatballs (similar to Swedish but larger and often served with lingonberry), potato dumplings and must-try gravlaks with mustardy dill sauce as you cruise by the wonders of Nordfjord and its Ice Age backdrop, and raise a toast with a cocktail at the Sunset Bar. Skål!
FOOD OF THE FJORDS
Norwegian cuisine is as varied and exciting as its landscape. Look out for these can’t-miss dishes on your travels:
Skolebolle – literally, ‘school bun’, a yeasted dough filled with raisins, custard or cinnamon and named after a WWII tradition whereby children would take a sweet bun to school to combat hunger from rationing
Cloudberries – rare Arctic berries that resemble an orange raspberry and taste juicy and tart
Sursild – salted herring pickled with a host of aromats that tastes delicious on open sandwiches or with potato and sour cream
Fårikål – Norway’s national dish, a tasty peppery mutton and cabbage stew that even has its own festive day. Served throughout the colder months at stew parties with cranberry jam, wafer thin crispbread and plenty of beer and aquavit.
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