An arc along the outer edge
In Northern Norway, it's always worth continuing to the end of the road, since that's where many of the most beautiful places. That's even more so in Vesterålen than in other places, and this cycle route takes you from Stokmarknes out to Bø, on through the islands of Øksnes Vestbygd to the once-abandoned fishing village of Nyksund, and finally to the 'Blue City' of Sortland. This route was prepared by Norske Bygdeopplevelser, it is offered as a package or independently.
Stage 1: Around the island of Hadseløya
The starting point for this tour is Stokmarknes, famous for its Hurtigruten Museum. Today you cycle around Hadseløya – a distance of 43 kilometres (27 miles). A quiet rural road runs along the western edge of the island, as far as the village of Melbu. Here you can visit the Norwegian Fishing Industry Museum and the Melbu Hovedgård mansion dating back to 1902, and watch the busy comings and goings of the ferry quay. Along the eastern edge, you will come to the 1824 octagonal Hadsel Church, with its beautiful triptych that has been there since about 1520. There is also a marked cultural trail with ancient monuments. From Stokmarknes, you are picked up in a RIB boat and taken to Ringstad in Bø, on the west side of Langøya island. Overnight accommodation is in Ringstad in Bø.
Stage 2: Relaxing tour of Bø
Bø is a beautiful rural area on the outer edge of Langøya, full of culture and offering fantastic and unusual views of the 'back' of Lofoten. Here you can cycle along tiny roads where you are rarely disturbed by cars, and the detours here can be lovely. Some of the main sights are Bø Museum with its exhibitions about local history, the 'Man of the Sea' sculpture, perpetually looking out over the ocean, the characteristic Gaukværøya island and the Lofoten Wall. There is a lovely day trip from Ringstad of about 30 kilometres (19 miles), and you can also go canoeing and hiking. Overnight accommodation is in Ringstad in Bø.
Stage 3: Bø – Nyksund
The cycle route along the inner part of Bø to Sandset (41 km, 25 miles) is entirely on quiet rural roads with very little traffic. From Sandset, the express boat passes through the archipelago of Øksnes Vestbygd, calling in at tiny settlements. The trip ends at the modern, bustling fishing village of Myre. From here you take a quiet, narrow, road that winds between the sea and the mountains to Nyksund (14 km, 9 miles). Overnight accommodation is in Nyksynd for the next two nights.
Stage 4: In Nyksund
Nyksund was once the second most important fishing village in Vesterålen, but was abandoned around 1970. Now the village has had a new lease of life, and in summer is buzzing with lively activity. The options for cycling here are extremely limited, but as an alternative, you can hike along the 'Queen's Route' to the fishing village of Stø and back, about 15 kilometres (9 miles). There are also shorter hikes in the area. Otherwise, a highlight is to enjoy the unique atmosphere here at the ocean's edge. Overnight accommodation is in Nyksund.
Stage 5: Myre – Sortland
Cycle trip back to Myre and on across Langøya to Sortland, a distance of 54 kilometres (34 miles). From the raw, untamed outer coast, the route then passes through fertile forests to the green fields along Sortland sound. The tour ends after an overnight stay in Sortland.
Norske Bygdeopplevelser sells this trip as a package that includes accommodation and baggage transfers; see http://www.norske-bygdeopplevelser.no/Sykkeltur-Vesteralen . Of course, you can also choose to organise the trip yourself. Visit Vesterålen is the local tourist organisation, and their website is packed full of ideas for Vesterålen. www.visitvesteralen.no