There is a famous quote by Saint Augustine that goes, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
With that thought in mind, then it must also be true that every new country you visit must be a new page in your book. And wouldn’t it be nice if you could find an easy way to knock off several pages in your book?
Well, if you embark upon the 2019 Holland America Grand World Voyage, you’ll enjoy cruising northern Europe as part of the trip.
And the best part? You won’t have to drive across unfamiliar roads or pack and unpack your belongings to enjoy the wild, untamed scenery and charming cities — including the following three — that make Northern Europe so captivating.
Here are three of the ports we’re excited about and why!
Oslo is the cosmopolitan capital of Norway. It is located on the waters of the Oslofjord and framed by pretty forested hills, so outdoor activities, such as biking, sailing and hiking are very popular. Oslo also boasts numerous museums and is known as being a “city of music,” hosting more than 5,000 concerts each year.
While in Norway, make sure to keep a spot open on your itinerary so that you can check out:
Vigeland Sculpture Park
Home to more than 200 pieces by Gustav Vigeland, this is the world’s largest sculpture park created by a single artist. There are more than 200 bronze and granite sculptures that depict the many different forms of the “human condition” in this 80-acre park. Some show figures doing innocuous things, such as holding hands, while others are more thought-provoking — perhaps even disturbing to some — such as the man fighting off some baby-like creatures.
The most popular statue is said to be The Monolith, which is 46 feet high and depicts a tower of 121 nude humans climbing upwards toward heaven. Vigeland Sculpture Park is located in Oslo’s Frogner Park, which is a popular recreation area that also contains more than 14,000 rose plants.
Akershus Castle and Fortress
This imposing medieval castle, which dates back to 1299, dominates Oslo’s harbor and once served as the seat of the king. Today, it still houses government offices, the Royal Mausoleum and the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum.
Because of its location, Akershus offers visitors breathtaking views of the city and the fjord. Access to the grounds are free, but there is an entrance fee if you want to take a tour of the actual castle.
The National Gallery
This museum not only contains Norway’s largest collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures, it is also home to one of the most famous pieces in the world — Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” The National Gallery also includes many other important pieces by Munch as well as works from other leading Norwegian artists and also international painters and sculptors.
The Isle of Skye is located off the west coast of Scotland and is the country’s second-largest island. It is famous for its wild beauty. Here, you’ll find jagged mountains, sheer sea cliffs, lovely waterfalls and beautiful lakes (lochs). Portree is its capital and the town from which most visitors begin their exploration of the Isle of Skye. If you’ll be visiting Portree, make sure to check out these spots.
Dunvegan is a stately Hebridean castle that has been continuously occupied by the same family, the MacLeods, for 800 years. First established in the 13th century, this castle sits in the middle of 42,000 acres and overlooks Loch Dunvegan. Tours of the castle and the gardens are available for a fee. If you love animals, the castle also offers a boat tour that will take you out on Loch Dunvegan to see the resident colony of seals.
The Fairy Pools are one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces. They are, in fact, so stunning that they are often included on lists of top attractions. For example, they made Weather.com’s “World’s 17 Most Amazing Swimming Holes” and Mother Nature Network’s “30 of the Most Beautiful Places in the World” lists.
So if you happen to be on the Isle of Skye, try to make the short hike out to see the Fairy Pools. Fed by a series of small, picturesque waterfalls, these stunning crystal clear pools appear blue and green. If you’re a brave soul and have your swimming suit handy, consider taking a dip into the chilly waters. Or you can just go for the pretty scenery and the many photo ops provided by the Fairy Pools.
Set on the River Lee, Cork is a pretty college town and the third largest city in Ireland. This is a very walkable city that is known for its foodie scene and friendly locals and for the following attractions.
Blarney Castle and Gardens
Located about four miles outside of Cork, this medieval castle was built approximately 600 years ago. Visitors from around the world flock to this castle so that they can kiss its famous Blarney Stone, which will supposedly then reward them with the gift of eloquence.
In addition to the stone, this castle also has approximately 60 acres of parklands, including beautiful gardens that are perfect for long strolls. There is even a Poison Garden for those interested in the more macabre side of plants.
The English Market
If you love sampling the local fare when you visit a city or checking out its fresh produce, make sure to stop at Cork’s The English Market, which bills itself as “Ireland’s Most Famous Covered Food Market.”
In addition to being an excellent place to grab a bite to eat, this popular local gathering spot is also a fun place to do a little people watching.
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Cruise consultant Teresa Skeim can help answer your questions about cruising Antarctica or a Grand Voyage!