Cultural Experiences

Experience the present, the past, and the bounty of nature coexisting in time


Discover the countries of Scandinavia as they were meant to be experienced—via the sea. Learn about the people who’ve inhabited this region and traded along its shores over millennia, as well as the more modern artist movements that defined the region.  Here are just a few of the fascinating cultural and historic highlights you’ll discover along the way:

Skagen

Dotted with yellow and red clapboard houses, Skagen is perched along windswept dunes at the northernmost tip of Denmark.  Located in the most northerly section of Jutland, Skagen occupies a small peninsula.  Originally a small fishing village, with the advent of impressionist art in the latter part of the 19th century, Skagen was prized for its beautiful evening light, its unbroken seascapes, and its iconic fishermen.  The artists who recognized and celebrated these charms became known as the Skagensmalerne, or “Skagen Painters”.  The works presented by these artists and the continued success of local fishing made Skagen a very popular place to visit or settle, despite its remote locale.  Skagen is also known for its tremendous bird life and it is an extremely popular place for birdwatchers to gather.  Its location at the tip of mainland Europe and near to mainland Norway makes it an important stopover site for many migratory birds.  Discover this rich birdlife with our naturalists, and delve into the history of the Skagen Painters—a community of Scandinavian artists who settled here beginning in the late 19th century, drawn by the town’s magnificent landscapes and remarkable light. We’ll explore all over and then cap off the day with a taste of the famous “Skagen sild,” a local herring dish best enjoyed with a cold Danish beer. 

Oslo, Norway

Oslo is a world-class city boasting many great museums and parks and a fascinating array of architecture.  It also celebrates many years of maritime history through museums celebrating Nansen and Amundsen’s ship Fram, Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki, and a superb Viking ship, likely the world’s best-preserved of its kind.  Situated on a long fjord at the southeastern corner of Norway, Oslo is a city that has evolved over time, and has many different sections, highlighting many different eras in the city’s past.  From the imposing medieval Akerhus Fortress, poised above the harbor, to the late 19th century apartment where Henrik Ibsen made his home, to the lush expanse of the Royal Palace Gardens, the city has many things to offer.  In addition, there is a thriving art scene that is celebrated in the more classical choices of the National Museum and the varied and quirky modernist take of the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. 

Risør

We will spend a day outside the coastal town of Risør, known for its collection of white wooden houses and wooden boat festival.  Located in a prime location for trade, Risør was popular with the Dutch as a place to buy timber for much of the 16th and 17th centuries.  Over many years, the town’s prosperity grew, so much so that when the town was destroyed by fire in the mid-19th century, the locals painted the new buildings white, as white paint was considered a sign of wealth at the time.  Risør is also known for traditional boat-building and every August hosts a wooden boat festival that brings in up to 15,000 people every year.  We’ll enjoy a walk through the quaint center, viewing historic 17th-century buildings that were once home to merchants and sailors. In the afternoon, we’ll take a short Zodiac ride to nearby Stangholmen skerry for a walk to its lighthouse and perhaps go kayaking near one of the island’s ancient “potholes”—small lagoons formed over the centuries by waves.

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