In the High North archipelago
Kvaløya, with its 1,000 m high mountain protects Tromsø from the furious Atlantic Ocean. If you take a trip out to Kvaløya you will see a lot in a short space of time. And don’t be afraid to go even if the weather is wet and windy. Our favourite route goes along the island’s east and south shores out towards Sommarøy, then on to Kattfjord and back again.
Skavberg, Hella and Straumsbukta
From Tromsø you drive along Kvaløya’s eastern shore. The first stop is Skavberg, where you can see rock carvings that are 2,500 to 5,000 years old. Most famous of these is the so-called “tennis player”, who possibly represents a shaman. Nearby is Hella, a popular destination where the fish are easy to catch in the strong current of Rystraumen, and where a group of old houses relocated from Tromsø form a “settlement”. A few hundred metres to the west is Straumen Gård, a complete farm whose oldest buildings date from the 1600s. The farm is now a museum. Although it is mostly closed, it is still worth stopping to look at the historic buildings.
A mild south coast
Kvaløya’s southern coast offers a wealth of lush pastureland. It is also one of the most exciting archaeological areas in Northern Norway, although you have to have a trained eye to spot the burial mounds and the remains of ancient dwellings hidden in the landscape.
Sommarøy has the best beaches in the area. Here you can visit the village museum at Låvhaugen, say hello to the birds and small animals at the Hillesøy Bird and Small Animal Park (Hillesøy Fugle- og smådyrpark) and enjoy the views over to Senja and the Tromsø archipelago. There is also a restaurant here.
Back through the fjords
The beaches along the route, both in Sandvika and Otervika, are fantastic. The narrow Kattfjord is a surprise out here on the edge of the open ocean, and a small side trip to the old trading posts at Tulleng and Lauklines offer a reminder of the area’s industrial past. From Ersfjordbotn, a small detour, you can see cliffs 1,000 m tall plunge straight down into the sea. This is also one of the favourite spots for people wanting to photograph the northern lights.
A couple of side trips on Kvaløya are worth the journey for those with time to spare.
• A ferry goes 4 times a week from Belvik to the islands northwest of Tromsø. Take a packed lunch and park your car at the quayside.
• The trip to Tromvik and Rekvik also offers the chance to see dramatic coastal countryside. Grøtfjord has some lovely beaches, which are popular with Tromsø’s local population. And in the autumn it is also possible to do some surfing out here.