Hop between Norway's biggest islands
Hinnøya is the biggest island in Norway, Senja is the second, Langøya in Vesterålen is third, and Kvaløya near Tromsø is fifth. This tour encompasses all of these islands, running along the outer coast on quiet roads with very little traffic. Since the route generally follows the coastline, it's an easy landscape to cycle in. This route has been prepared by Norske Bydgeopplevelser, and the tour is offered as a package. However, you can also cycle it independently.
Stage 1: Tromsø – Sommarøy: 56 km (35 miles)
You cycle over to the island of Kvaløya and along Kvaløysletta (pedestrian and cycleway). It's flat here and the cycling is pleasant, though there is quite a steep climb up to Kattfjordeidet, at about 200 metres (650 feet) above sea level. From here, the cycling is nice and easy, with a freewheel down towards the Kattfjord, majestically surrounded by peaks of over 1,000 metres (3,300 feet). The route onward to Sommarøy passes fishing huts, jetties and abandoned fishing villages. If the weather is nice, we recommend a stop at the lovely sandy beach in Otervika. Sommarøy is a lively coastal community that depends on fishing and tourism. If today's cycling wasn't quite enough to tire you out, we recommend an evening hike to the summit of Hillesøytoppen, where you will have lovely views across the open sea and down over Senja.
Stage 2: Sommarøy – Brensholmen – Mefjord: 45 km (28 miles)
The day starts with a short cycle ride to Brensholmen. From there, a ferry takes you to Botnhamn on Senja. The tour continues from Botnhamn over undulating terrain with uphill and downhill sections to Senjahopen, the biggest and most important fishing village on Senja. From here, you turn off to the old fishing village of Mefjordvær.
Stage 3: Mefjord – Ersfjorden – Steinfjorden – Hamn: 46 km (29 miles)
A short cycle ride takes you back to Senjahopen, and then up to and through the Geitskards Tunnel. It's downhill from here to Ersjordsstranda and on along the Ersfjord and Steinfjord. At Tungeneset, there is a fantastic view north of the Okshornan rock formation. Today's route ends with a steep climb up to the Skalands Tunnel, after which you can freewheel down to the Senjatrollet theme park and on to Hamn i Senja.
Stage 4: Hamn – Gryllefjord – Andenes: 17 km (11 miles)
There are some steep uphill climbs today, one of which is an impressive 172 metres (564 feet) above sea level at Ballevikskardet, but you are rewarded with some lovely downhill slopes too. Ballevikskardet offers lovely views of the Gryllefjord and the compact fishing village near the open sea. There is a ferry from Gryllefjord to the island of Andøya, which takes 1 hour 40 minutes, and is an attraction in itself, whatever the weather is like. You still have time to do an afternoon whale safari at Andenes if you like. Andenes is also home to the Northern Lights Centre.
Stage 5: Andenes – Bø: 48 km (30 miles)
Today the cycling is easy and pleasant! The tour takes in some of the national tourist route along Andøya's outer edge, past the Andenes Rocket Range, and on to Bleik with its 2.5 km (1.6 mile) long beach. Just off the coast is the bird cliff of Bleiksøya, with a large puffin colony. Now the road heads inland a little, alongside a lake and then across a wide marshy landscape, before taking you back to the coast and more beautiful sandy beaches. You can also stop off en route for some easy hikes.
Stage 6: Bø – Risøyhamn – Sortland: 63km (39 miles)
From Bø, the cycle tour goes on to Risøyhamn, and then across Risøysund sound via a long, steep bridge providing views over Risøyrenna. Anyone wanting a longer cycle tour is recommended to cycle around the southern tip of Andøya (about 35 km or 22 miles), a route that is partly on gravel tracks with no cars. The trip from Risøyhamn to Sortland along wide sounds and beneath sharp peaks is an easy cycle ride, with the only climbs being two bridges. Sortland is known as the 'blue city'.
Stage 7: Sortland – Svolvær: 74 km (46 miles)
Cycle route over easy terrain from Sortland to Stokmarknes and its Hurtigruten Museum, then on to Melbu. A ferry goes from Melbu to Fiskebøl, and from there you cycle beneath the craggy peaks of Austvågøya island to Sildpollnes, and on to Svolvær. An alternative is to take the Hurtigruten boat from Stokmarknes, through the Raftsundet sound and the Trollfjord to Svolvær.
Norske Bygdeopplevelser has prepared an itinerary that includes pre-booked accommodation, evening meals and cycle hire. Read more on their website and on the various tourist information office websites.
- Norske Bygdeopplevelser: http://www.norske-bygdeopplevelser.no/Sykkeltur-langs-Ishavskysten
- Visit Tromsø www.visittromso.no
- Visit Vesterålen www.visitvesteralen.no
- Destination Lofoten www.lofoten.info