Renowned for their love of nature, music, art and literature, the Nordic countries celebrate the arrival of summer with a smorgasbord of cultural events. This tour includes performances, in Oslo, Reykjavik and the highlights of the Bergen International Festival.
Enjoy performances in legendary venues such as the Harpa in Reykjavik, the Oslo Opera House and Grieg Hall in Bergen; explore the great museums of Oslo and Iceland’s thriving visual arts scene; and, together with Rosamund, discover the rich literary heritage and cultural history of Norway and Iceland.
And at every turn, marvel at the breathtaking scenery of fjords, mountains and sea.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Suggested evening departure on Emirates/Qantas via Dubai to Oslo. Renaissance Tours can assist you with these travel arrangements.
Arrive in Oslo around lunchtime and check in to your hotel, one of Oslo’s most luxurious and well situated hotels. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
This evening join Rosamund Bartlett and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing and dinner.
Enjoy a morning orientation tour of the Viking capital, passing by the Royal Palace, the City Hall, Oslo Cathedral and the Akershus Fortress, dating from 1299. Take a walk through the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which showcases the life’s work of the sculptor Gustav Vigeland. After lunch, visit the Viking Ship Museum, which houses the Tune Viking ship dating to about 900 A.D.
After breakfast, join Rosamund for a talk followed by a visit to the Munch Museum, containing Edvard Munch’s bequest to the city of Oslo – a vast collection of his own paintings, drawings and graphic works. Return to the city centre for a guided tour of the Oslo Opera House. Opened in 2008 as the home of the Norwegian Opera and Ballet, the Oslo Opera House is one of the world’s most spectacular, with a magnificent location beside the harbour – and the first opera house in the world to let visitors walk on its roof!
In the morning, visit the Norsk Folkemuseum, Norway’s museum of cultural history featuring large indoor collections and the world’s oldest open-air museum. Afterwards, visit the National Gallery and enjoy a guided tour through art history from antiquity to 1950, with an emphasis on Norwegian art after 1800.
The afternoon is at leisure.
Tonight, return to the Oslo Opera House for Puccini’s La Bohème. Stefan Herheim’s version of this popular work is led by conductor Antonino Fogliani and stars Marita Sølberg as Mimì with Marius Roth Christensen in the role of Rodolfo.
Please note, you will need to pack a small bag for travel on the train and the two-night stay at Balestrand. Your main suitcase will be transferred directly to the hotel in Bergen.
In the morning transfer to the Oslo S station and travel to Myrdal on board the famed Bergen Railway, considered one of the world’s most scenic train rides (4hr 30m). Change trains at Myrdal to the Flåm Railway. The Flåm Railway is one of the world’s steepest railway journeys on a natural track, and takes you through spectacular scenery down the steep mountain trails to the village of Flåm by the Aurland fjord.
Continue by ferry to Balestrand, a small village located on the edge of the main Sognefjord. Your hotel, named in 2014 as Europe’s best historic hotel by the water, is modern with old-world charm and atmosphere.
Today, travel through a constantly changing landscape of fjords, rivers, lakes and farmland surrounded by mountains to Astruptunet, the home and gallery of the famous Norwegian artist, Nikolai Astrup (1880 – 1928). A painter, illustrator, graphic designer and printmaker, Astrup took inspiration from the Norwegian landscape. The gallery contains permanent exhibitions of Astrup’s art, graphics, paintings, lithographs and sketches.
Following a talk, travel by ferry to Bergen. Surrounded by seven hills and seven fjords, Bergen is a beautiful, charming city. Transfer to your hotel, which juts out over the water, and is housed in 1904-built warehouse buildings, across the fjord from the medieval wharf area.
The afternoon is at leisure, followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
Embark on a morning tour of Bergen, including the old Hanseatic warehouses at Bryggen, Haakon’s Hall, dating back to the 12th century, and the Rosenkrantz Tower, from the 15th century. Pass the bustling market place with its famous fish market and the old white wooden houses at Rosegrend and Skuteviken which show how people in Bergen lived some 250 years ago. Finish with a visit to the Hanseatic Museum, situated in one of the oldest and best preserved wooden buildings in Bergen and furnished in the style of the 1700s, providing an intimate picture of the life of a Hanseatic merchant. Travel on the Floibanen funicular to the top of Mount Floien and enjoy fantastic views of the city, and the fjord and islands beyond. Lunch atop Mount Floien at a local restaurant.
The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.
This morning visit two sites associated with the rich musical heritage of Bergen, starting with the beautiful and extraordinary villa on the island of Lysøen – the ‘Island of Light’ – which was built in 1873 as a summer residence for the Norwegian violin virtuoso, Ole Bull (1810-1880).
Continue to Troldhaugen, the home of composer Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) and his wife Nina. Grieg lived here for 22 years and composed many of his best-known works in the little garden. Enjoy a concert in the Troldsalen concert hall and visit the museum.
Return to Bergen for an afternoon at leisure.
This evening attend the first of your Bergen International Festival performances, with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece Peter Grimes, at Grieg Hall. Conducted by Ed Gardner, the concert features superstar tenor Stuart Skelton as Peter Grimes.
A day at leisure to further explore Bergen on your own.
Following a pre-concert dinner, attend the Bergen National Opera’s performance of Handel’s Messiah at Bergen’s National Theatre. Conducted by Bjarte Eike, the cast features Malin Christensson (soprano), Renata Pokupic (mezzo-soprano), Pierre Derhet (tenor) and Igor Bakan (bass).
This morning transfer to Bergen airport for a flight to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. On arrival, transfer to the hotel for a talk. Your hotel, a new cutting-edge Icelandic designed building, is set across six connected houses and adjoining Reykjavik’s most vibrant and colourful neighbourhood.
In the afternoon visit the National Gallery of Iceland, which features the works of famous Icelandic artists and other artwork that portray traditional Icelandic culture.
Discover the world’s northernmost capital with a morning orientation tour. First settled in the late 9th century by the Viking Ingólfur Arnason, Reykjavik is today a modern but compact city of 200,000 with a vibrant arts scene, striking contemporary architecture and stunning natural surroundings. See Hallgrímskirkja Church – at a height of 75 metres the tallest building in Iceland – and Hofdi House, built in 1909 and best known as the location for the 1986 summit meeting between presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that effectively marked the end of the Cold War.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant on the harbour, followed by an afternoon and evening at leisure. We suggest exploring Reykjavik’s multitude of art and craft galleries.
During your stay in Reykjavik, you will attend two performances at the Harpa concert hall. Performances to be advised in early 2017.
After breakfast join Rosamund for a talk, followed by a visit to the Blue Lagoon, where you can relax in the rejuvenating geothermal water rich in minerals and believed to have healing properties. This unique spa is surrounded by a surreal environment of lava fields.
Journey out of Reykjavik for a full-day tour of what is commonly known as the ‘Golden Circle’. Visit some of Iceland’s most beautiful natural phenomena, including the site of the ancient parliament at Thingvellir National Park, the impressive waterfall at Gullfoss and the original Geysir and nearby Strokkur, which hurls boiling water to heights of up to 20 metres.
Discover more of Iceland’s unique landscapes on a South Shore Adventure tour. You will have an opportunity to stand behind a plummeting waterfall, walk along a beach of black sand, gaze at a natural rock formation and feel the amazing presence of a glacier (depending on road conditions).
Enjoy a farewell lunch or dinner (depending on performances)
(B L or D)
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast. If returning to Australia today, we recommend an early morning departure from Reykjavik to Stockholm on Icelandair, to connect with Emirates / Qantas flights. Arrival in Australia late evening of Wednesday, 07 June. Renaissance Tours can assist you with your travel arrangements.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
21 March 2017
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Emirates / Qantas Airlines
Outbound flight: Emirates to Oslo.
Return flight: Reykjavik to Stockholm or London with Icelandair, connecting with Qantas / Emirates to Australia.
Please contact Renaissance Tours for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian passport holders do not require visas for Norway or Iceland.
Tour prices includes
- Accommodation in centrally located 4 and 5 star hotels with daily breakfast (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner).
- A-reserve (or best available) tickets to five performances (concerts, opera or ballet)
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader
- Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Economy class flight from Bergen to Reykjavik (included 20kg luggage allowance)
- Comfortable air-conditioned coach, rail and ferry transportation as per itinerary
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour prices does not include
- International airfares
- Transfers on arrival and departure
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, minibar, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (recommended; please contact Renaissance Tours for assistance)
Oslo – The Continental Hotel *****
Balestrand – Kviknes Hotel ****
Bergen – Clarion Admiral ****
Reykjavik – Canopy Reykjavik City Centre ****
NB: Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.