From PP Twin Share
✓ Travel with Hurtigruten
✓ Experience a kaleidoscope of history and culture on this incredible cruise from Lisbon to Portsmouth along Europe’s Atlantic Coast, taking in Northern Spain and Brittany
✓ Iberian charm
✓ French connection
✓ Canal cities
This tour is conducted at a medium-fast pace. Some long travel days may be required to complete this itinerary and you will typically spend two nights at each destination, with some one night stays required. This trip includes a mix of sightseeing and free time to explore at your own pace. You will be required to move about unassisted, including getting on and off vehicles, walking up and down stairs and some activities will be conducted on uneven or steep terrain. You will be required to handle your own luggage.
For the true explorer, expedition small-ship cruising is the best way to get off the beaten track.This experience is not just about the ship’s creature comforts but very much the destination, its nature and wildlife. Daily shore excursions by Zodiac inflatable boats allow you to step onshore and explore. A world-class, expert expedition team will help you discover each exciting destination. Onboard you’ll enjoy informative and educational lectures. These trips will be a mix of fully guided or self-guided depending on your chosen package. There’s a land touring component with shared sightseeing and transfers.
✓ Travel with Hurtigruten
✓ Experience a kaleidoscope of history and culture on this incredible cruise from Lisbon to Portsmouth along Europe’s Atlantic Coast, taking in Northern Spain and Brittany
✓ Iberian charm
✓ French connection
✓ Canal cities
From PP Twin Share
Travelling with Inspiring Vacations allows you to explore the wonders of the world in a variety of different ways. We have partnered with a worldwide network of local travel experts to bring you culturally unique and delightfully unforgettable travel experiences. Whether it is meandering through narrow canyons by rail, cruising the idyllic waters of the Mediterranean or touring through the backroads of provincial towns, Inspiring Vacations trips offer amazing value and will leave you inspired.
Built on seven hills along the shores of the scenic River Tagus, Lisbon is one of the most enchanting metropolises in southern Europe; one with a fascinating history. The Phoenicians were the first to discover the commercial potential of the Tagus estuary, but the allure of Lisbon’s well-appointed location led to its occupation by the Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Moors, each leaving their mark on the city.
A walk around Baixa, Barrio Alto and Alfama, the main historic districts of Lisbon, is essential. Almost everything of historical importance is here, and it’s also great for shopping! Start at the Praça do Comercio in the Baixa neighbourhood. Head to Praça Rossio and see the statue of King Pedro IV before going up to Largo de Chiado to explore the narrow streets of the Barrio Alto.
Among the labyrinthine streets of Alfama, the old Muslim quarter, you’ll find Lisbon Cathedral, the archaeological remains of the Roman amphitheatre, and Castelo de San Jorge, the impressive 11th century Moorish fortress, which offers the best views of the city.
But to see two historical gems of Lisbon, you have to leave the centre, follow the banks of the river seven kilometres downstream and visit Torre de Belém and Mosterio dos Jeronimos, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Closely connected to Portugal’s Age of Discovery and explorers like Vasco de Gama, Belém is also home of the famously delicious Pastel de Belém custard tart.
To give yourself enough time to take in Lisbon’s many sights before boarding MS Fridjof Nansen, you may want to extend your stay by booking an extra night or by joining our exciting Lisbon Pre-Programme.
Our ship will dock at Porto de Leixoes, an excellent base for exploring. You can head north towards the small fortification of Forte Leça de Palmeira and continue along the beach to Avenida Liberdade. Or you can visit the Lighthouse of Leça, the Chapel of Boa Nova and the beautiful beach of Praia Azul.
Famous for its port wine and UNESCO-listed historic centre, Porto will win you over with its charismatic past and surprise you with its modernity. It’s a city made for strolling, a maze of narrow streets and unique monuments, where everything eventually leads to the Douro River.
Not to be missed are the Romanesque Cathedral, the Church of San Francisco with its opulently gilded Baroque interior, and the panoramic views from the top of the Church of the Clérigos. You can lose yourself in books among the magical neo-Gothic interiors of the beautiful Lello bookstore, discover the Palacio de la Bolsa and stroll along Avenida de los Aliados.
Or soak up the atmosphere as you explore the bustling riverside promenade of the Ribeira Docks, packed tight with pastel houses and beautiful tiled facades. Cross the Douro via the top deck of the Eiffel-inspired Ponte de Dom Luís I bridge, see the warehouses and port cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank, and cross the bridge again, this time along the lower walkway.
Afterwards, you might reward yourself with a refreshing white port and tonic at one of the many lively bars and restaurants on the pier. If you’ve built up an appetite, try some Porto delicacies, like francesinha, a popular grilled sandwich of meats and cheese, bacalhau, locally cured salt cod, or dishes made with tripe.
Our next stop is Ferrol on the rugged coast of Galicia. Originally a small fishing hamlet, it has been Spain’s main naval base for almost three centuries, due to its excellent strategic location. No other harbour in Spain has as many forts, citadels or barracks. Ferrol is one of the best-preserved examples of an 18th century port city and is being considered for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The architectural highlight is the neoclassical design of the Barrio de la Magdalena, with symmetrical buildings arranged in a chessboard grid of streets, surrounded by 18th and 19th century military buildings around the harbour. In this neighbourhood, you’ll also find Art Nouveau buildings, street art, seamen’s chapels, Maritime Museums, and typical Galician gallery facades. Contrast this with Ferrol Vello, Old Ferrol, its narrow streets and alleys more reminiscent of the Middle Ages.
Costa de Artabra, to the northwest of Ferrol with its cliffs, headlands and bays, is one of Galicia’s most spectacular coastal landscapes and an excellent option for a day of exploration. The beaches of Playa de los Doniños and Playa de San Xurxo are just a short drive away. Try Galicia’s delicious seafood, the most famous of which is pulpo á feira, octopus with potatoes and paprika.
One of several pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, Camino Ingles, also known as the English Way, starts at Ferrol. You can walk the first stage from Ferrol to Neda or Pontedeume, or you can cheat a little and join an optional excursion direct to Santiago de Compostela, about an hour’s drive away. Discover this beautiful city and cultural highlight, the most important Catholic pilgrimage site after Rome and Jerusalem.
Gijón enjoys a prime position along the Bay of Biscay, with access to the Cantabrian mountains and the sea. It developed from a small fishing village settled by the Romans over 2,000 years ago to become an important port city in the 19th century, serving nearby Oviedo, capital of the Asturias.
Absorb the atmosphere of old Gijón on a stroll through the charming districts of Cimadevilla and Barrio del Carmen. The hilly peninsula of Cimadevilla is Gijón’s historic centre, an ancient fishing village with narrow alleys, charming squares and old houses full of character.
Here in the Old Quarter, you can explore the Baroque Revillagigedo Palace, the Collegiate of San Bautista, beautiful churches and the Plaza del Marques. Hike to the summit of Cerro Santa Catalina, dominated by the concrete sculpture by Eduardo Chillida, to enjoy the best views of Gijón.
Relax on the long stretch of golden sand on Playa de San Lorenzo, one of the most beautiful urban beaches in Spain. You can enjoy a spectacular coastal walk that follows the cliffs up to Mirador de la Providencia, walk a stage of the Camino del Norte, or for a gentler stroll, follow the River Piles inland.
If you’re in the mood for a gastronomic adventure, then indulge in the culinary delights of the Asturias in Barrio del Carmen. Try freshly caught fish, either grilled or baked, accompanied by a glass of delicious local cider. Or sample Asturian delicacies such as arroz marinero, seafood rice, or calderetas, tasty stews made from fish, seafood or meat.
San Sebastián may not the biggest, oldest or most important city in northern Spain, but it’s the most beautiful coastal town! You’ll be transfixed by the tranquil bay, the golden, crescent-shaped beach of La Concha, the verdant island of Santa Clara and hills of Igueldo and Urgull, and the lively Old Town, Parte Vieja.
Start at the foot of Monte Urgull to explore the historic district of Parte Vieja. Be sure to stop at the Gothic Church of San Vicente, the Baroque facade of Santa Maria, the beautiful squares of La Constitucion and Sarriegi, the Teatro Principal, the Basque museum of San Telmo, and the Mercado de la Brecha.
It’s a steep climb up to the fortifications of Monte Urgull but worth it for the fantastic views of the bay. Afterwards, take a well-earned rest with a refreshment on the terrace of one of the many cafés on Boulevard Zumardia. Revitalised, you can enjoy a stroll around the new town, stopping at City Hall, Teatro Victoria Eugenia, the Neo-gothic cathedral of Buen Pastor, and Plaza de Gipuzkoa.
From Avenida de la Libertad, a grand boulevard of historic buildings, you can walk east towards the spectacular glass structures of the Kursaal Congress Hall. Walk west and you’ll hit the popular Playa de la Concha, where you can people-watch along the beach promenade. Further along at Playa de Ondarreta, you can take the cable car up to Monte Igueldo for more spectacular views.
Before returning to the ship, you might have the opportunity to try the traditional Basque cuisine. San Sebastián is a celebrated foodie destination, famous for its pintxos, small bites bursting with flavour. Hop from one bar to another, ordering their best plates before moving on to the next.
Welcome to the City of Wine! Bordeaux has been exporting wine since antiquity. Founded by Celts, enriched by the Romans, raided by Vikings, ruled by the British and rebuilt by the French, Bordeaux is the eighth biggest city in France and its Old City is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 350 listed monuments and churches.
Wine is the soul of Bordeaux and with over 8,500 chateaux and producers in the region, it’s not hard to find. You’ll discover vineyards and wineries just a short tram ride from the centre. Taste and compare some of the 60 appellations, from the stellar Red Bordeaux Supérieur to sweet Sauternes.
Stand in front of the Place de la Bourse and admire the effect of the famous water mirror, as the grandeur of the finest 18th century French architecture is reflected back at you in the Miroir d’Eau. Tour the Grand Theatre, the Esplanade des Quinconces, the Monument of the Girondins, the Quartier des Chartrons and the Place du Parlement.
The 18th century Neoclassical movement almost erased the history of Bordeaux, but there remain several impressive examples of the French Gothic style. Visit the beautiful Cathedral de St André, Porte Cailhau, and the lively quartier de Saint-Michel, built around the flamboyantly Gothic Basilique St Michel.
The museums here should not be missed. Learn about the history of wine at the Cité du Vin. Art lovers will enjoy the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. And for a deep dive into the region’s history, head for Musée d’Aquitaine.
At 3km long and 500m wide, it’s impossible to get lost on Ile d’Aix. While the island is small, its location in the Pertuis d'Antioch strait, at the approach to the cities of La Rochelle and Rochefort, made it strategically important.
Ile d’Aix is filled with fortifications, castles, and batteries from all the wars than France has fought in, from the Middle Ages to the Second World War… so there’s plenty to see! And it can all be done on foot or by bike. Explore the island at your leisure, along the paths, past quaint houses painted with multi-coloured shutters.
As you explore, you’ll discover a Vauban-style fort village, the charming centre of Le Bourg, vestiges of a priory, lighthouses, the fortresses of Liédot and La Rade, and the Napoleonic Museum, housing objects connected to the Emperor’s stay on the island before being exiled to Saint Helena. Look to the sea for Fort Boyard that resembles a stone ship, now famous as a game show location.
Away from military history, you’ll find tranquillity on the island’s five white sand beaches. Enjoy the views from Saint Catherine Point, Saint Eulard Point, the Pointe du Parc, and the headland of Coudepont. And if it is birds that you’re after, 200 species of birds can be spotted on the island.
Jutting out into the Atlantic, Brittany sits on a peninsula with a jagged coastline, marked by countless cliffs, bays, coves, islands and islets. Breton culture is distinct from French culture, with its own language, food and traditions. We’ll spend today exploring the region of Morbihan, encompassing Belle Île, Quiberon Bay, and the Gulf of Morbihan. The area offers some of Brittany’s finest natural scenery and most famous sights.
We may anchor at Port Haliguen on the tip of Quiberon Bay, from where you can explore the local area or join optional excursions to historical sights. If we anchor at Belle Île, you’ll first encounter its formidable 17th century fortress, Citadelle Vauban, in the charming port of Le Palais. Enjoy the bustling activity around the docks and lock, and stroll through its historic centre.
Beyond the port, see ancient forts and lighthouses perched on craggy cliffs. Relax on beautiful Donnant beach or visit colourful Sauzon, La Pointe des Poulains, former home of Sarah Bernhardt, and Les Aiguilles de Port Coton, famously painted by Claude Monet.
Morbihan has a fascinating history and culture. Its successive occupation by the Romans, Celts, French and the Bretons each left its mark. Among the many highlights of Morbihan are the medieval city of Vannes and the Carnac Stones, that rival Stonehenge.
The walled city of Vannes has a well-preserved historical centre packed with half-timbered houses and medieval churches, notably Cathedral of St Pierre, La Cohue and Château Gaillard. Around Carnac and Locmariaquer, is one of the most impressive megalithic areas in Europe. Here, you’ll find ancient stone circles, carved dolmens, burial mounds, and hundreds of menhirs, lined in rows.
The area also attracts hikers, keen to brace the spectacular landscapes of the Côte Sauvage, along cliffs, pierced by wonderful caves, arches and tunnels. Others prefer the less exposed trails along the GR340 on Belle Île, where you can enjoy incredible coastal scenery.
The coastal landscape of Douarnenez inspired painters like Renoir and Boudin. This picturesque seaside town, known for its sardine fishing, has sandy beaches, steep cliffs, colourful quaysides and four harbours. Finistère, the Land’s End of France, is proudly Breton. Be sure to try some galettes, filled buckwheat pancakes, and the famous Kouign-Amann, a buttery, savoury pastry, both specialties of Breton.
In Dourarnenez, the fishermen’s huts and seaman chapels of St Helene and St Michel are reminders of the town’s bygone fishing boom of the 19th century. The maritime museum of Port-Rhu houses boats from around the world, including tall ships, an Irish currach and a Cornish steam tug. Outside town, relax on fine sand beaches or take in the dramatic scenery of Douarnenez Bay along the GR-34 coastal path.
Douarnenez sits in an open bay and can at times be exposed to swell making landing difficult. Its harbour is also occasionally used by the French Navy for drills. In either eventuality, we have plans in place to land at Brest, a little further north. From Brest, you’ll still have access to the same highlights and excursion programme.
With its strong naval history, Brest is a fascinating maritime city, and home to the National Naval Museum. It sits inside the military fortress, Chateau de Brest, still used by the navy today. Brest has many medieval fortifications, notably the Tour Tanguy tower.
Brest is also a modern city, with lively quays and docks. Take a scenic stroll along the harbour and the River Penfeld, or walk along the Cours Dajot where you can see the whole ‘Rade de Brest’ bay. A cable car ride across the river offers a great vantage point of Brest and the modern vertical-lift Recouvrance Bridge.
The gateway to Brittany, Saint Malo from the sea is a quite a sight, fringed by impenetrable bastions and shallow beaches. Saint Malo considered itself an independent city state for much of its modern history, and its residents refer to themselves as malouins, separate from the French and even the Bretons.
Whatever you do today, make sure you include a circular walk of the ramparts on your schedule. From atop the city walls, you’ll get the best views of the walled city and surrounding islands! See tributes to Saint Malo’s most celebrated locals…a statue of Robert Surcouf, the famous pirate, and a monument to Jacques Cartier, the maritime explorer, credited with mapping the Gulf of St Lawrence and naming Canada.
The corsairs of Brittany were ruthless privateers operating under the protection of the king of France. Back home in Saint Malo, they built fine country homes and were treated as respectable gentlemen. Tour the Château Saint Malo museum and visit the Privateers House, where you can learn about the city’s pirate heritage.
At low tide, you can walk across the sand to the island of Le Grand-Bé, where local writer Chateaubriand is buried, and see across to the Vauban-designed bastion of Fort National on a nearby island.
Within the city walls, follow a historical trail through the maze of charming, cobbled streets and discover what remains of the original St Malo before the Allied bombings of 1944. Visit the gothic St Vincent Cathedral and the Chateau de la Duchesse Anne, with its distinctive turret.
You can also enjoy a scenic walk to the nearby village of Aleth, where you can discover more about Saint Malo’s history during the Second World War at the Cap-Horniers Museum.
Enjoy the day on board relaxing on deck, in the Explorer Lounge or in the Science Center, while we navigate the waters of the channel that separate continental Europe from the British Isles.
While the British call it the English Channel, it’s more commonly known on the continent as La Manche, or derivations of that. The Dutch may have the most diplomatic name for it… they simply call it Het Kanaal - the Channel.
Whatever the name, a quarter of the world's maritime trade navigates through this passage. If you want to learn more, our expert Expedition Team will tell you everything you want to know about the Channel.
Harlingen is one of the 11 cities of Friesland. Its harbour was the only seagoing port in Friesland and the area has a strong nautical heritage: fishing, trade, and whaling. Nowadays, Harlingen is the busiest port in the north of the Netherlands.
Harlingen is a city of canals, warehouses and pretty harbours, located on the southern shore of the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage area. It’s perfect for walking, but this is the Netherlands, so why not rent a bike and cycle around? You can also easily rent a boat to explore the canals, harbours and local villages for yourself.
In the Old Town, you can visit the 18th century City Hall, Hannemahuis Museum, Blauwe Hand - the city’s oldest warehouse, and St Michael’s Church. Look out for landmarks like the old Lighthouse, which is now a hotel; the statue of Anton Wachter, a character in the novel series by local writer Simon Vestdijk; and 46 Stumbling Stones, a memorial to the 46 local Jewish residents murdered by the Nazis.
Explore the old harbours of Noorderhaven and Zuiderhaven, where you’ll see historic warehouses and a fleet of traditional sailing ships. Out by Zuider Pier, look out for the life-sized sculpture of a sperm whale, which spouts a powerful stream of water into the air at regular intervals.
The 16th century Arctic explorer, William Barents, was born on the nearby island of Terchelling. The reproduction of his expedition ship is a must-see for anybody interested in Arctic exploration.
The Harlingen Aardewerk Museum will delight those interested in Frisian pottery. Harlingen is home to the last traditional pottery factory in the Netherlands, still using the original majolica technique, entirely handmade and painted with tin glaze. This style has been used since 1598, and the local tiles and ceramics make for wonderfully original souvenirs.
The second-largest city in Germany is one of the greenest urban areas in Europe – boasting parks, botanical gardens, and nature reserves. It also offers up fascinating history, plenty of culture, magnificent museums, as well as great shopping and a vibrant nightlife.
If your cruise ends here, why not extend your stay in Hamburg by booking our Post-Programme? And if you continue on board with us, make the most of your day in this great city. Often called the Venice of the North, you can enjoy a boat tour to explore the city’s canals and harbour front. You can also easily explore on foot, by bike or by hop-on, hop-off bus.
The obvious place to start your Hamburg experience is at the port, the second largest in Europe. Visit the old floating dock of Landungsbrücken, see the old ships and yards, waterfront buildings, and the Old Elbe Tunnel. Climb the 132m-high bell tower of the famous St Michael’s Church for stunning views of the city.
Then head towards the city centre, maybe taking a detour to the Elbphilharmonie concert venue, one of Hamburg’s newest landmarks in the up-and-coming district of HafenCity. Many places of interest are concentrated in the Altstadt or Old Town. Visit St Catherine’s Church and the St Nikolai Memorial. Discover the timber-framed houses of Deichstraße Historic Street and see the impressive City Hall on Rathausmarkt Square.
Visit the world’s largest warehouse complex at Kontorhausviertel and Speicherstadt, which together with Chilehaus, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you must choose just one museum to visit, Hamburg Kunsthalle ranks as the nation’s best art museum. You can break up the sightseeing with some shopping on Mönckebergstraße, or stop for some traditional Hamburger fare like aalsuppe, a ham soup with dried fruits, or labskaus, corned beef with potato and pickles.
Today we cruise along the shores of southern England, heading towards Portsmouth harbour. As we sail the waters of the Channel again, it is time to recap on all the fascinating sights that we have seen during our journey along the Atlantic coast of Europe. Our Expedition Team will be eager to share with you the best moments of the trip and offer the final lectures of the cruise.
Our adventure comes to an end as we dock in Portsmouth. But if you have time, why not stay and explore this vibrant coastal town, with its long and proud naval heritage?
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, with its fascinating exhibitions, museums and world-famous ships through the ages, showcases the very best of the Royal Navy and is a highlight for any fan of naval history. You can spend a day exploring aboard Nelson’s HMS Victory, Tudor ship Mary Rose, the warship HMS Warrior, and even a Cold War submarine.
Outside the Royal Docks, the D-Day Story in Southsea will delight those interested in the Second World War. You can also take a stroll around Southsea beach and promenade or visit Southsea Castle.
If you’re not in the mood for military history, head for Old Portsmouth. You can explore the remains of the sea facing ramparts, the Round Tower and Square Tower, visit St Thomas Cathedral and the ruins of Garrison Church. Take the elevator to the observation deck of Spinnaker Tower and enjoy the best panoramic views in town. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even abseil down to the base!
If you still have time, Portchester Castle, a little way out of town, is worth a visit. A 3rd century Roman shore fort, it is one of the most impressive of its kind in Europe.
Cabin Bedding and Upgrades
Bedding on board the cruise is restricted to the following configurations. If you wish to upgrade your cabin, the following amounts are payable in addition to the package price prior to travel:
Polar Outside (RR): INCLUDED
The Polar Outside cabins are primarily on the middle decks with windows, most are spacious, have flexible sleeping arrangements and TV for excellent and high standard accommodation. Can accommodate two to four passengers.
Arctic Superior (XTJ)
Arctic Superior class cabins are comfortable and roomy accommodation and most have balconies. Flexible sleeping arrangements, sofa beds, TV and other features make this one of our most popular categories. Our Arctic Superior concept includes an amenity kit, kettle, tea and coffee. Can accommodate two to four passengers. Upgrades from AU$2,468 per person, twin share or AU$3,579 per person, single (subject to availability).
Expedition Suite (ME)
These suites are large, well-appointed cabins with expansive windows and most have balconies. Some have a private outdoor hot tub. The suites feature flexible sleeping arrangements with comfortable sofas, sitting areas and TV. They can accomodate up to four people. Expedition suites are exclusively in upper and mid-deck locations. Our Expedition Suite concept includes a bathrobe, espresso maker, and more. An exciting welcome gift awaits all suite guests in their cabin. Upgrades from AU$4,548 per person, twin share or AU$12,389 per person, single (subject to availability).
Please request your cabin upgrade in the 'special requests' field. Availability and price will then be confirmed and added to your invoice upon acceptance.
MS Fridtjof Nansen is designed for unforgettable expeditions in the spirit of Norwegian polar hero Fridtjof Nansen. From the innovative hybrid electric-powered engines that enables us to quietly glide into the pristine wilderness to the elegant, modern cabin furnishings, everything is created with your adventure in mind.
To know more about your ship, please click HERE.
Deposit & Payments
Booking On Request
Due to COVID there maybe disruptions to standard operating schedules of particular components of this itinerary. Should a component be effected a substitute will be confirmed prior to departure.
While the tour itinerary should give you some guidance and overview to the expected requirements, to determine if this tour is right for you we categorise each of our tours in terms of their intensity.
These guidelines are to ensure that each tour group is conducted as expected and to ensure the overall satisfaction of all Inspiring Vacations customers. As a general rule, porterage is not included, therefore at all times you are expected to handle your own luggage where help may not be available.
The accommodation listed is subject to change. Any changes will be of an equal or higher standard. Bedding configurations (double or twin) are requests only and subject to availability. All efforts will be made to meet your preferences, however any changes are beyond our control.
Please follow the 'book now' prompts and select 1 passenger to view the single supplement cost.
Travel insurance is required to protect yourself against the unexpected.
Final documentation including, e-tickets and cruise details, will be provided approximately 30 days prior to travel.
Children must share a room with parents at all times and are charged the same price as adults.
For all international voyages, it is the traveller's responsibility to ensure that they have a valid passport and they meet the visa requirement. The passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from the intended date of return.
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