The drive from Bodø to Harstad is full of dramatic natural scenery, with a cultural heritage spanning from rock carvings and the Sami to modern industry – dominated by wooden boats, lighthouses, jetties and traditional coastal culture.

By the Saltenfjord

The trip from Bodø takes you along the north edge of the Saltenfjord to Fauske.

  • Bodø: Lively coastal town with a good selection of restaurants, shops and cafes in a compact centre.
    • Bliksvær: Archipelago near Bodø — the ideal place for canoeing, in a protected nature reserve with rich bird life. 
    • Væran: Boat service to the islands near Bodø. Take a round trip, or get off and catch another boat back to Bodø, making sure to read the timetable carefully!
    • Norwegian Aviation Museum: The history of Norwegian aviation, including early pioneers, World War II and the construction of the small airstrips of Northern Norway.
    • 18-hole golf course
    • Kjerringøy: The best preserved of all the trading posts along this northern coastline. Beautifully preserved buildings and interiors. 42 km (26 miles) plus short ferry crossing of 1 hour.
  • Bodin Church: 13th Century stone church with many fine old interior fittings.
  • Saltstraumen (detour of 12 km (7.5 miles)/12 minutes from Løding): The world's strongest tidal current occurs at the narrowest part of the fjord. Bodø's tourist office can advise you when it's at its most impressive. Fishing.
  • Fauske:Town and traffic hub, famous for the white Fauske marble with its shades of pink and grey. The Fauske Museum is a collection of old local houses, and Fauske's untitled contribution to Artscape Nordland is also housed here.  
    • Sulitjelma: Former mining village in the mountains, with museum and mine trips. Great place for lovers of the great outdoors in summer and winter. Detour of 38 km (24 miles)/45 minutes; the road follows the old railway line.

Distances:

Bodø — Fauske: 55 km (34 miles)/1 hour

The Realm of Hamsun

Among beautiful natural scenery, the E6 between Fauske and Narvik passes through wild mountainous areas and pine forests, through tunnels and across narrow fjords on spectacular bridges. The road tends to avoid populated areas, so take a detour for a dose of culture and history. It's the place of Vikings, war memorials and literary giants.

  • Detour to Steigen: From Tømmernes on the E6, it's about 60 km (37 miles) or a 1-hour drive through the Steigen Tunnel (8 km (5 miles) long) to Engeløya, the old centre of Steigen.
    • Tømmernes rock carvings: Just as you turn off for Steigen, there is a small site with 9000-year old rock carvings.
    • Steigen Church/history and hiking: Parts of this church date back to the 13th Century. A marked path leads to ancient monuments such as a large assembly mound, several burial mounds and the remains of what may have been an Iron Age military site.
    • Batterie Dietl: Huge World War II coastal battery, built for the enormous Adolf guns. Regular guided tours in summer, but you can explore the area on your own, look over to the Lofoten Wall and swim off the beaches.  
  • Arran: Centre for Lule Sami language and culture. Exhibitions on this small people's history and culture. Regular guided tours in summer. 4-km (2.5-mile) detour from Drag on the Tysfjord
  • Detour to Ulvsvåg: 31 km (19 miles)/40 minutes to Tranøy lighthouse
    • Knut Hamsun Centre: Learn about the famous author in this unique building at Oppeid that was inspired by his work and is built as an enormous sculpture. It complements the exhibits in their interpretation of his life and writings.
    • Tranøy lighthouse: Picturesque, historic lighthouse facing out to the Vestfjord with spectacular views. You can climb the lighthouse.
  • Rock carvings at Leiknes: up to 9000 years old; large, naturalistic depictions of reindeer, elk, seals and whales. Fantastic views towards Stetind. 3 km (2 miles)/5 minutes, just before the ferry at Bognes. 
  • Bognes — Skarberget ferry: 25 minutes www.torghatten-nord.no. Fantastic onboard views of Norway's national mountain, anvil-shaped Stetind, at 1392 m (4567 ft.). 

Distances and traffic information:

  • Ferry: Bognes — Skarberget: 25 minutes www.torghatten-nord.no
  • Distance: Fauske — Narvik: 250 km (155 miles)/4 hours
  • Distance: Fauske — Engeløya/Steigen: 167 km (104 miles)/2.5 hours
  • Distance: Fauske — Ulvsvåg: 142 km (88 miles)/2 hours

Ofoten

The southern part of this stretch is through a unique landscape of smooth rock slopes, pine forest and sculptured mountains. Narvik has a scenic location on a peninsula between high mountains and fjords, and the area is dotted with monuments to commemorate events at the Battle of Narvik in 1940. These form part of the wartime history landscape project.

  • Efjord bridges: Three elegant bridges that cross the Efjord.
  • Ballangen: The Ballangen Museum documents the mining that has been taking place in Ballangen since the 17th Century.
  • Skjomen Bridge: Suspension bridge over Skjomen fjord (711 m/2333 ft. long). Detour to Narvik Golf Park (19 km (12 miles)/25 minutes), 18-hole golf course on a dry, fine, sandy heath between the mountains.
  • Narvik: Port from which Swedish iron ore is shipped. Rebuilt after the wartime destruction in 1940, with a lot of functional architecture from the 1940s onwards. Good restaurants and shops.
    • Red Cross War Memorial Museum: The battle for Narvik in April–June 1940 was the first great battle of World War II, involving soldiers from Norway, Germany, Great Britain, France and Poland.
    • Ofotbanen Railway: Short journey from Narvik to the Swedish border with the iron ore line, through magnificent, untouched nature.
    • Rallarveien: Hiking trail along the railway line. Take the train up and walk back along this beautiful trail with past reminders of the navvies who built the line.
    • Cable car: Gondola to the viewpoint at 656 m (2152 ft.) above sea level. Fantastic views of the city, Ofotfjord with its iron ore boats, and the impressive peaks on all sides.
  • Rombak Bridge: 765-metre (2510-ft.) long suspension bridge over the Rombak fjord.
  • Bjerkvik: Village and crossroads. Rebuilt after it was destroyed in 1940.
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Distances:

  • Narvik — Harstad: 145 km (90 miles)/2.5 hours on the Coastal Heritage Road.
  • Narvik — Harstad: 117 km (73 miles)/1.45 hours via the E10.

Coastal Heritage Road and into Harstad:

The winding road from Bjerkvik takes you up into Troms. RV 825 off the E6 runs along Gratangen and the Asta fjord towards Tjeldsund Bridge, an area of green forests, fertile rural areas and steep peaks, with a varied cultural heritage from coastal communities to the Sami. Over the bridge is the beautiful town of Harstad.

  • Northern Norway Ship Preservation Centre and Boat Museum displays a wide range of regional boats, demonstrating the variety and developments in boat-building along the coast.
  • Vilgesvarri/Blåfjell: Old Field Sami settlement with turf huts, showing what life was like for the Sami who gave up the nomadic life. 3-km (2-mile) walk along a marked trail.
  • Evenskjær: 7-km (4-mile)/7-minute detour from Tjeldsund Bridge.
    • Helleren power station: Uniquely well-preserved power station from the first industrialisation around the turn of the last century.
    • Skånland Church: Large wooden, Swiss-style church, built in 1902.
    • Steinsland Cluster Farm: A rare sight since the agricultural areas were reorganised. 4.5 km (2.8 miles) south of Tjeldsund Bridge.
  • Tjeldsund Bridge: 1007-metre (3304-ft.) long suspension bridge connecting Hinnøya to the mainland.
  • Sandtorg Rural Museum: Local museum with seven old buildings from the Harstad area.
  • Harstad: A beautiful, well-kept town on the gentle slopes beside the Vågsfjord, with fantastic views of the fjord and mountains. Good selection of shops, restaurants and bars, with an ambitious cultural calendar, the highlight of which is the Arts Festival of North Norway in June.
    • Trondenes Church: The world's northernmost 13th Century medieval church, and one of the biggest stone churches. Flamboyant, baroque interior and the remains of even older fortifications.
    • Adolf Gun: The world's biggest land-based gun, brought here during World War II. Guided tours in summer.
    • Trondenes Historical Centre: The rich history of the Harstad region, from the Vikings to the Middle Ages and World War II is explained in this modern museum, directly adjacent to Trondenes Church.
    • Anna Rogde: The world's oldest preserved schooner, built in 1868, is usually berthed in Harstad