Quietly applauding silent fjords and snowy rooftops in a bashful blaze of glory, what wizardry twinkles across the skies of evening? A faded fog of fluorescence illuminates the heavens in ethereal green, bathing the world in an otherworldly light bordering on the celestial. What dreams are made, what spells cast; what wishes are granted chasing the everglow of Aurora Borealis?
Having previously travelled extensively within Australia and overseas both with tour groups and independently we were absolutely blown away with the quality and service provided on this tour, our very first “Captains Choice Tour”.
R & R Stephenson, Back of Beyond by Private Plane
Distant dreams of the Northern Lights are illuminated boarding a late evening Emirates flight from Australia.
It may be nearly spring, but an icy frisson is in the air as we arrive into Stockholm at lunchtime. The standard is set at the Royal Viking hotel, an ideal base for exploring this majestic city. Perhaps you'll lose yourself in the intriguing web of Gamla Stan's Old Town with time to yourself this afternoon? We look forward to hearing your stories over dinner.
A certain waterside charm, an artful luminosity and cutting edge modernity mingles effortlessly with the age old stories of paintbox antiquarian houses lining the city. Find colour and context to a rich maritime heritage at the Vasa Museum, before we become statesmen on a guided tour of Stockholm City Hall. Local delicacies are enjoyed over lunch by the water.
With an afternoon of free time, you have a chance to see where the avenues lead. This evening, expectations will be elevated with our Welcome Dinner in a suspended setting at the illustrious Gondolen Restaurant.
We may hope to rub shoulders with Swedish aristocracy at Drottingholm Royal Palace, an ambassador of the capital since the 1600s this morning. The royal treatment continues with a winter lunch cruise around the striking archipelago of Stockholm. After lunch, it’s a blast to rug up in expedition grade jacket and snow gear as stop for a tipple in the Ice Bar Stockholm.
Following in the footsteps of the Vikings, we cut a path through the waters between Stockholm and Helsinki. But you’ll be decidedly snug inside a deluxe private cabin where it’s smooth sailing bound for Finland overnight aboard the Tillink Silja line ship.
Our ship has glided northwards through the night. As breakfast is served, Helsinki is on the horizon. It’s a pleasure to pay homage to a city that holds the water so close to its heart. Stepping off a ship to experience it for the first time, hidden treasures of a chic hub with style as a paramount concern.
Be it a fondness for age old tradition remembered in cobbled streets and cobalt fishing boats, or the contemporary fervour that emanates from the foundations of its experimental art galleries, you'll delight in surrendering to forward thinking Finnishness on our city tour. You’re sure to feel at home in a classic hotel among friends and heritage at the centrally located Hotel Kamp.
If you’re looking forward to exploring Finland outside the capital, you’re in luck with a choice of plans to strike out further afield.
If a history of a country is told in its food, you can look forward to a course by course lesson in Finnish culture over authentic local fine dining at A21 Restaurant this evening.
The excitement in the air is palatable as we embark on a journey frosted with promise this morning, onward to Lapland. Further towards the top of the world we go in search of the dazzle and luminescence of the elusive Northern Lights. A short flight takes us to Kemi, an important deepwater harbour and industrial centre for Finland. We uncover the hidden dazzle of this mineral rich landscape, discovering treasures aplenty at the Jalokivi Gemstone Gallery.
The Sampo was a former charge of the Finnish government and now spends her days introducing curious landlubbers to the great white wilderness. Stepping aboard this decommissioned icebreaker, we cruise the rare wonders of the Gulf of Bothnia in a perfect portrait of steel and ice.
A day to remember is finished with yet another highlight as we cosy up in style at the Arctic Light Hotel in Rovaniemi. Built during WWII by celebrated local architect Ferdinand Salokangas, you’ll find original antique fixtures and fittings set to impress.
If you always wanted to know about the Arctic, you'll find all the answers you're looking for on a morning tour at Arktikum Museum and Arctic Science Centre.
It may be March, but it's always Christmas in Lapland. Whether you've been naughty or nice, you're never too old to be charmed by Santa, especially in his own 'home' village, where a festive lunch awaits among twinkling lights and a dusting of snow.
The air is iced with anticipation as we begin the journey to Inari, land of the Sami people. As picture postcard views of the Lappish countryside unfold out the window, a morning coach journey becomes a snug scenic drive. Rolling into Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort later today, it's been worth the drive.
What's the most unique hotel you ever stayed in? Prepare to raise the bar. For the next two nights, you will call a luxurious glass igloo home. Jutting out of the snow, they are warm and cosy private oases with an open view of the starry night sky – a perfect opportunity to view the Aurora Borealis if she dances her celestial ballet tonight.
Warmly welcomed the Finnish way, you're at liberty to thaw your tootsies in one of the resort's spacious sauna rooms before a free afternoon to explore and convince yourself that this magical setting is not a dream. Reconvening for a traditional Lappish dinner tonight, it may be cold out there, but local hospitality and rich flavours will keep you toasty from the inside out.
With the Arctic playground at our disposal today, childhood dreams will be realised as you make footprints in the snow:
Dinner is served by the fire back at the resort, before we look to the heavens for a night of guided Aurora hunting. Will the skies put on a show of lilac, emerald and midnight blue with Northern Lights for you tonight?
Join MS Nordnorge
Our quest for the Northern Lights takes us to the icy ocean aboard the newly refurbished MS Nordnorge, a flagship in Hurtigruten's prestigious fleet and veteran of countless polar expeditions. We have secured the finest Expedition Mini Suite for our five night voyage to the northern reaches of the globe.
Kirkenes is known as the gateway to the Barents Sea. You may while away an afternoon at Art Museum Savio, appreciating painted tributes to the region's reindeer. Back onboard for dinner we set sail through the evening.
From the wilderness of Batsfjord to Honningsvag, the North Cape's capital, the spirit of Scandinavia will yawn and stretch to life. A gallery of sleepy fishing ports and fjordland serenity concludes at Hammerfest, the world's most northerly town.
Wild and remote, the untouched Arctic is encapsulated in our pristine journey today. Impossibly dramatic mountains admire their own mirror image in glassy waters as we drift past, stopping to admire the fjordlands' most celebrated icons. After exploring Tromso's Arctic Cathedral, the shining Bronze Age history of Harstad and the Blue City of Sortland, we call it a night.
The essence of the Arctic is encapsulated in our pristine journey today. Tasting saltspray on our lips, we visit the tiny village that's the birthplace of Hurtigruten cruise liners. With eyes cast ever skywards, we chase flocks of birds who know the secrets of the Aurora Borealis from Helgeland to Lofoten and Svolvaer. As dinner is served onboard, we nestle in for the night in the radiant shadow of the Seven Sisters Mountain Range.
Casting out among the 6,000 islands of Rorvik today, we plot a course for Trondheim. There's plenty of time to admire Nidaros Cathedral in a triumphant university city that proudly celebrates its youth while paying homage to history and heritage.
Disembark MS Nordnorge
If you thought the journey couldn't get any more stunning, you haven't prepared yourself for Norway's most famous fjord. Come face to face with the icons of Geiranger as we sail into Molde and Alesund today, dumbfounded by the enchanting beauty of the place. Back on dry land, we look forward to two nights in contemporary style at the Radisson Blu Royal Bergen, where dinner is served.
In the shadow of seven hills and flanked by seven fjords, the Bergen region is one of raw natural beauty.A city tour here precedes another foray into the fjords as a tranquil cruise introduces the quiet delights of Mostraumen.
There is no better way to explore Norway's back country than by rail. This is known as one of the most scenic train journeys in the continent. As city gives way to town and field gives way to forest, we ascend higher into increasingly snowy hills, until it's 'all change' at Flam where a new journey begins in the slow – and scenic – lane to Oslo.
Staying at the chic Hotel Continental, in an ideal location for a city tour. Locally caught seafood and harbour views are on the menu over dinner at Solsiden restaurant.
Your final day in Norway is a chance to reflect on the beauty of where we have been. It's your choice how you enjoy it.
Taking our time over breakfast, we enjoy a relaxing morning before our afternoon flight home.
Arriving back in Australia this evening, we hope to have brought a dash of Northern Light home to the Southern Hemisphere.
Imagine a trip where you won’t have to lift a finger, or worry about bringing your wallet.
All meals are included with your tour price along with beer, wine and soft drinks. Dining experiences can range from Michelin-starred restaurants to intimate local eateries.