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Tromsø Tromsø
Photo: Bård Løken / www.nordnorge.com / Tromsø

Whatever floats your boat

From ancient times, we Norwegians have been a seafaring people, not just because we love the sea, but because we have had to be. These days, bridges and undersea tunnels are appearing everywhere, but not that long ago, there were many places you couldn’t get to unless you went by boat.

Even today, car ferries are a fact of life in Western and Northern Norway, where fjords cut deeply into the landscape and make it impossible - or at the very least inconvenient - to get up or down the coast by car without crossing the odd fjord.

Hurtigruten, the coastal steamer that serves over 30 ports along the Norwegian coast, had a similarly crucial role in the olden days. Today it is a journey more of pleasure and relaxation than necessity, but the many ships still traffic the coastline from Bergen in the south-west to Kirkenes in the far north.

Far from all the passenger boats in Norway accept cars, by the way. In many towns and cities there are small passenger ferries, from tiny “Beffen” in Bergen and “Sundbåten” in Kristiansund, to the ferries that connect Oslo to the islands in the Oslofjord.

Not to mention in the Lofoten Islands, where the various boat services from the geographical glue that keeps the many islands connected. Along the coast, express boat services also serve to bridge the gaps that the trains cannot cover. From Stavanger, via Bergen and to various communities in the Sognefjord area, for instance, catamarans provide speedy and convenient travel from one place to the next. The same goes for various small villages in the fjords, which in earlier times could only be reached by rowboat.

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