The Arctic is an aesthetic wonderland

Sponsored by Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express

Make sure you have a camera ready when you visit the Norwegian Arctic, a truly jaw-dropping destination you can photograph in spectacular style.

Think of travel photography and you might think of blue tropical seas, or bright silks in hot markets. Go beyond the clichés, however, and you’ll find joy through the lens in the Arctic.

The quality of the pale, crystal-clear light is superb. It lasts 24 hours in summer, while in winter the swirling wonder of the Northern Lights compensates for darkness. Ice creaks, coastlines crinkle and landscapes display rugged power and beauty.

Then there’s the wildlife, so you’ll need a zoom as well as a panoramic lens. Consider a close-up option too: flowers like Arctic poppies and purple saxifrage provide pops of colour on the tundra.

Get in some photographic practice before you hit the Arctic proper and get used to contrast, snow glare and the subtle light. The coastal city of Ålesund has colourful Art Nouveau architecture and, if you climb up 418 steps to Mt Aksla, you’re rewarded with a prime outlook over confetti islands.

Climb 418 steps up Mt Aksla to view Ålesund's colourful Art Nouveau architecture from above.

Climb 418 steps up Mt Aksla to view Ålesund’s colourful Art Nouveau architecture from above. Photo: iStock

Nearby Hjørundfjord is a magnificent fjord carved out of mountains and draped in waterfalls whose spray sprinkles your upturned face. Soaring cliffs make for dramatic photos: the only challenge is fitting such grandeur into the frame.

Further north, the Helgeland Coast is magnificent too. Just off Brønnøysund lies a scattering of thousands of islands and islets, while behind rise salty, weather-beaten mountains fit for stories of trolls.

Aboard a small-ship cruise, there is an abundance of opportunities to get up close and personal to some of nature’s greatest sights as you sail along the coastline. Boasting unparalleled views and a perspective that you won’t be able to experience anywhere else.

An experience unmatched

A journey along the Norwegian coast and into the Arctic is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Endless archipelagos, indented fjords and rearing mountains unfold, often best admired from the water, which makes a small-ship cruise a great way to travel; local company Hurtigruten has been sailing the Norwegian coast since 1893 and visits its most spectacular corners.

In the Lofoten Islands you’re above the Arctic Circle. This is one of the world’s most beautiful places. Red-roofed houses and white-sand beaches are set against green cliffs, jagged mountains and seemingly tropical-blue bays, so you only have to point and shoot and you have a scene fit for a calendar.

Marvel at magnificent views while hiking Reinebringen in the Lofoten Islands.

Marvel at magnificent views while hiking Reinebringen in the Lofoten Islands. Photo: iStock

Another outstanding photographic opportunity awaits at Tromsø. The capital of the Norwegian Arctic is surrounded by fingers of intense blue-green water and backed by the jagged, snow-capped Lyngen Alps. You can capture wonderful alpine scenes simply by heading to Folkeparken, or views of the city from the Arctic Cathedral, which rises like an errant iceberg on a hill.

Ascend Mt Storsteinen on the cable car and you get an eagle’s-eye view of Tromsø’s fjord setting with the Lyngen Alps arrayed like the summits of a gigantic pavlova along the horizon. For a great photographic safari, head to Senja, often ranked as one of the world’s most beautiful islands for its rearing peaks and pale-blue bays: just the place for a hike or kayak.

A good swathe of northern Norway lies within the Arctic Circle, but remote archipelago Svalbard is as close to the North Pole as you’ll ever get without being a polar explorer. These dramatic, rocky islands are tattered with splendid fjords and crowned with snow-encrusted mountains.

Wonderful wildlife

Photography enthusiasts will be thrilled at the wildlife. Half of Svalbard is protected by nature reserves and national park, and you’ll spot walrus, seals, reindeer and Arctic foxes. Rugged cliffs are filled with puffins, and kittiwakes swirl above.

The once-in-a-lifetime dream is encountering polar bears. Svalbard is home to some 300, a greater concentration than almost anywhere else. The deck of a small ship is the best way to spot them, since polar bears favour the icepack edge for seal hunting. Hurtigruten launches a new Svalbard Express cruise next year, and runs an on-board seminar in how to photograph the landscape and wildlife to best advantage.

Meet reindeer in Svalbard.

Meet reindeer in Svalbard. Photo: iStock

It isn’t only nature that thrills the photographer in Svalbard. At administrative capital Longyearbyen, you’ll want to capture the red church and brightly painted houses against a backdrop of raw rock and glaciers.

Turn the lens on snow-slumped mountains and use buildings in the foreground to show the mighty scale of this Arctic territory. It’s another stunning Norwegian landscape, and you’ll have another hundred photos to recall an extraordinary journey that takes your breath away.

To fully enjoy such an unforgettable experience, travel in style. Norwegian premium small-cruise company Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express launches its revived Svalbard Express in 2023. The cruise on the refurbished MS Trollfjord takes you along Norway’s coast in unparalleled comfort and revisits a route to Svalbard popular in the 1960s, evoking that period’s nostalgia and chic style. For more information, contact your travel agent or see hurtigruten.com.au

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