Escape the crowds
Northern Norway is hundreds of miles long, with Svalbard an hour and a half’s flight even further north. So you can’t see it all on one holiday. But what you can do is explore Northern Norway a bit at a time. We think nothing of heading to European capital cities for a long weekend, yet for many northern Europeans, Northern Norway is no further away in terms of travelling time. But the experiences you can have there are radically different. Here are some of our suggestions for some fly-in, fly-out weekend destinations up north:
1. Natural therapy in Bodø
Bodø and Salten are perfect for chilling out, relaxing and keeping fit. The magnificent natural environment around the mountain ranges of Børvasstindan and Sulitjelma, the Svartisen glacier, and Saltstraumen tidal current is inspirational, whether you want to detox, work your muscles or recharge your batteries. You can combine spas, yoga and wellbeing with kayaking, mountain hiking and the 1100 Fykantrappa steps near Svartisen. Or you could push yourself with a weekend of really strenuous exercise. Some people come for the vegan cuisine or raw foodism, while others feel that they’ve earned some good old-fashioned Salten comfort food, preferably with a gourmet twist.
Our information page on Natural therapy in Bodø is packed with ideas.
2. Historic Harstad
Harstad has a rich history that goes as far back as the Vikings. Amongst its numerous treasures are: the 18th century farm at Røkenes, the enormous World War II guns, and the northernmost medieval church in the world, which is packed full of ancient artworks. And with its impressive assortment of superb eateries, Harstad has become the gourmet capital of Northern Norway. It’s also a great base for hiking or for an opportunity to take a fast RIB boat trip to the archipelago of Bjarkøy.
- Find out more on our information page about Historic Harstad
The northernmost scheduled flight in the world will take you to Longyearbyen, the northernmost destination in the world. You may be surprised to find you feel at home in this settlement of 2000 people, but the excursions on offer are as High Arctic as they come: boat trips to the abandoned Soviet community of Pyramiden, fossil-hunting, guided tours with an armed guide, and kayaking among the ice floes. You can also buy outdoor equipment at duty-free prices, enjoy a gourmet dinner in the Huset restaurant, and sample specialty drinks at the city’s many bars.
- Book your flights with SAS or Norwegian
- Find more information on http://www.visitsvalbard.com/en/
- Spitsbergen Travel offers package tours
4. Mosjøen and Mo i Rana
At the other end of Northern Norway are the small and friendly towns of Mosjøen and Mo i Rana. Sjøgata in Mosjøen is an entire district of preserved wooden buildings dating back to the 19th century, while Grønliggrotta cave near Mo i Rana is an ideal place for an easy underground excursion. Admire the 11 peaks of Okstindan from a distance, or hike up to the stunning Rabothytta cabin, 1200 metres (4000 feet) above sea level. Cross into the Arctic Circle 700 metres (2300 feet) above sea level in the middle of the mountain plateau, whose northern edge is a perfect place for a hike among the orchids of the Junkerdal valley. If you have a hire car, you’ll find the area really easy to explore.
- Widerøe flies to Mosjøen and Mo i Rana, and often has good deals on tickets
- Helgeland Reiseliv’s website is packed with information.
5. Alta and the North Cape
Alta is the gateway to the Finnmarksvidda plateau, and an ideal place from which to head up the Alta River on a riverboat trip, do some mountain-biking (as tough or easy as you like) or canoe down the river. The rock carvings on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and the Northern Lights Cathedral are also part of the experience. The North Cape, which is the northernmost point in Europe, is three hours north of here by car, and on your return trip you shouldn’t miss a visit to Hammerfest, the northernmost city in the world and a miniature metropolis on the barren Finnmark coast.