Jan Harald Finstad

Bodø – your gateway to the most refreshing and beautiful coastline

Nordland is often called the “World’s most beautiful coastline”, where Bodø is the hub for the most refreshing experiences. Explore the spectacular nature and vibrant culture around the Arctic Circle. Now you can travel more smoothly from abroad via Helsinki!

Bodø is a hub for memorable experiences

In just a few hours from most European airports, you can now fly across the Arctic Circle, via Helsinki with Finnair to Bodø, to the coastline of Nordland this summer! As the airplane (or train) rolls into Bodø, it marks the completion of the first leg of the “grand journey” to Northern Norway. This is a perfect starting-point to explore Nordland (Helgeland, Bodø/Salten, Lofoten, Narvik/Ofoten and Vesterålen).

New direct flight to Bodø!

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu. and Sun. 17 June – 12 Aug.
Helsinki – Bodø 2 1/2 h (e.g. Milano – Helsinki – Bodø 7 h)

Visit all these regions? Expect to spend at least a week or two, but you don’t have to spend that long time, nor travel that far. You can pick one or two destinations. You will also find enough to see and do just around Bodø. Just scroll towards the end of this article, to learn more about the closest attractions and experiences.

Reasons to go?

Let’s roll out some reasons-to-go along the Nordland coastline right away; Spectacular views, vibrant fishing villages, white beaches, steep mountains, deep fjords and fishing experiences, deep sea rafting, sea cabin holiday, city breaks, art galleries, island hopping, sea kayaking, bicycling, hiking and trekking trails, seabird and whale safari. Torghatten, Okskolten, Svartisen, Saltstraumen, Kjerringøy, Steigen, Reine, Nusfjord, Henningsvær, Narvik, Andenes… Okay, let’s stop there for a while.

Take some deep breaths, lower your shoulders and recharge your body and mind – this is the region for exactly that:

On the sea voyages – to the south, west and north – you can stand outside on deck and admire the seascape you travel through. A highlight for me is seeing the unique light that often appears early in the morning and in the evening. If you are out on the deck in the autumn or winter, perhaps you will experience the sky exploding with the mystical Northern Lights or lit up by the moonlight. Regardless of the season or the time of day, standing outside on the deck soothes the soul and provides an energy boost

(Kathrine Sørgård, travel journalist and writer)

You can travel by train, bus, express boat and ferry in several directions from Bodø – the European Capital of Culture 2024 and your holiday hub:

Go south

Helgeland – the long coastline and archipelago

You can travel south by express boat or Hurtigruten to Sandnessjøen and then continue from there out to the islands of Herøy and Dønna or to Brønnøysund and Vegaøyan – The Vega archipelago UNESCO World Heritage site. Torghatten, the mountain with a hole right through it, is not just a beautiful and famous landmark, it is also an easy walk which rewards you with superb panoramic views.

The article continues under the tips from Helgeland

You really must include a island hopping on the magnificent Helgeland coast by kayak or bicycle in your itinerary. Among the 13.000 islands along this coastline you will find several vibrant communities and villages. Experience the special “island life” below the Arctic Circle on Træna, Lovund or Myken.

Sjøgata in Mosjøen is a street of historic, 19th century wooden buildings. The colourful houses are a delight for the camera lens, with shops, artists’ workshops and a local museum inviting you to enjoy a relaxing visit. But the best thing of all is the coffee break, for it comes with a view!

The article continues under the tips from Helgeland

Go west

Bodø has several thousand islands at their doorstep

Værran archipelago is one of best kept secrets in Bodø and Salten. While most of the islands are small and uninhabited, many are a favorite summer holiday destination for island hoppers, like Landegode, Helligvær and Fleinvær. Some people bring their bike, while others being hiking boots or climbing ropes. Besides magnificent scenery, certain places offer unique accommodation and exquisite cuisine. Read more about Island hopping around Bodø? By taking the local route out to the low-lying islands off the coast of Bodø, you experience unique communities. For tickets and timetables, please check Reis Nordland.

When you visit the Givær islands, for an authentic experience of everyday life and nature out here, you can stay overnight in a basic, old rorbu (fishermen’s cottage). Travelling to the Givær islands requires advance planning because there are no shops or restaurants here. However, if Olaug knows you are coming, you can rest assured that you will be looked after. It’s also possible to experience the majestic seascape and Givær islands on a return trip on the express boat from Bodø. Learn more about the life at Givær on the NRK TV-series “Where no one would think that someone could live“. Or join an organised trip out these islands with Nordland Adventure, where you can meet Olaug, who may be considered a living legend.

When the express boat departed, the locals at Givær actually jumped from the quay

Kathrine Sørgård, travel journalist and writer

To the delight of those on board the express boat, the tradition of jumping into the sea remains very much alive. The locals from Givær have been doing this for decades, even though the temperatures near the entrance to the Vestfjord as just as low as in the Norwegian Sea. As young and old depart from the wooden quay at Givær, we find this open display of joy of live infectious. Every time a boat arrives and departs, Olaug handles the ropes that moor the boat. Before she took on this job, she was one of those who jumped into the cold waters in euphoria.

Anyone who goes ashore and experiences the small Givær islands in the magnificent seascape is lucky, because Olaug and her family offer wonderful hospitality. They like to show visitors how they live here, and how their ancestors before them have lived here, in harmony with nature and the animals. The sheep graze, the hens cluck and the rooster crows. As for the eider ducks (common eiders), they leave valuable eider down behind in their nests as payment for brooding in small e-houses built following important principles that protect the ducks from danger.

Ivar Sandland from Nordland Turselskap (Nordland Adventure)

Off-the-beaten-wake to Røst

Do you like to travel off-the-beaten-track? In fact, the islands of Røst is so low and far out, that is almost beyond the horizon, seen from Bodø. Røst is a far west as possible among the Lofoten island, but it is quite easy to reach from Bodø. Take the ferry to a less trafficked island kingdom and explore Røst, which is surrounded by sea and sky. With many times more seabirds than people and a lucrative export trade in dried fish, the outermost island in Norway, is full of surprises.

For heritage explorers, Italians, stockfish- and bacalao-lovers, the history of Røst is quite interesting. In 1432, Pietro Querini’s ship foundered en route from Crete to Bruges in Belgium. The survivors made it to Røst in a lifeboat, where they were given food and lodging by the locals. Querini took the first dried fish from Røst back to Italy, and that was the start of the export trade of Stoccafisso, dried fish. Read more about Røst – Norway’s outermost islands.

The article continues under the tips from western Lofoten

Værøy – with a view and beach among the World’s Best

Closest to Røst, you will find Værøy – the mountain island with long sandy beaches. Værøy has everything typical of Lofoten: Midnight sun, white beaches, a rich bird life and a rich fishing history, all while still being a living fishing village. Due to the favorable climate, the island is perfect for drying fish and stockfish production. The most famous mountain hike is Håheia (Håen). The reward is a fantastic panoramic view of Lofoten and the Vestfjord. From here you can also see the abandoned place Måstad, where the rare Puffin dog comes from. It is also possible to hike to Måstad. Learn more about Værøy – an exotic gem in Lofoten.

From the mountain Håheia, you look down to the beautiful beach Puinn Sand (Værøy Beach), recently awarded as #30 among The Worlds 50 Best Beaches.

This beach is absolute magic and unlike any other stretches of sand, with its remote location, peering mountains, towering cliffs, and refreshing emerald waters. The beach is located near the shores of a quaint and homey town known for its delicious Norwegian cuisine and warm coffee, providing plenty of things to do. We also recommend the hike to Håheia, where you’ll reach the top in just over an hour and be rewarded with a view that will make your heart race, as emerald seas meet beautiful sandy beaches.

The Worlds 50 Best Beaches; #30 Vaeroy Beach

PS. This beach is not accessible as a hike. You have to take a boat ride or sea kayak trip to enjoy it, but it’s absolutely worth it.

Go northwest

Lofoten – full of natural beauty, exciting history and fun people

You can continue by ferry from these islands to Moskenes at the southern tip of Lofoten. Everybody loves these magic islands off the coast of Northern Norway; hikers and skiers looking for a challenge, nature lovers seeking natural beauty, deep sea fishermen hunting the biggest cod, golfers looking for Midnight Golfing, surfers looking for the wave to end all waves, hipsters seeking other hipsters, history buffs seeking the unexpected. It’s all there. Read more about Lofoten.

This is our home, be responsible and make yourself at home

Lofoten is a place of contrasts. It’s a natural wonder with thriving local communities. It’s where mountains meet the sea, and where local businesses meet recreation. Lofoten’s distinctive magic lies in its ability to bring together everyday local life with a global interest in its natural beauty. Find your things to do, eat, drink and accommodation at Visit Lofoten.

The article continues under the tips from Lofoten

Vesterålen – villages and trails surrounded by whales, seals and seabirds

Vesterålen has many wonderful experiences with beautiful scenery, majestic mountains and fjords, white beaches and a magnificent westside with the great ocean close by. Kingdom of the whales and hikers’ paradise! Vesterålen is the home of the whales, the birthplace of Hurtigruten, the favourite of the puffins, the mild Northern Lights location; Vesterålen is a tasty archipelago of stunning nature, teeming wildlife, old fishing culture and even fine dining.

The article continues under the tips from Vesterålen

Create holiday memories with family, friends or your dear one in the beautiful archipelago of Vesterålen. Relaxing on a beach or active hikes under the midnight sun. Find your experience at Visit Vesterålen.

Go north

Steigen og Hamarøy – the realm of Knut Hamsun

If you go by train from Bodø to Fauske, hop on the bus to Narvik, you are already on an important historical track that goes back to the second World War. Nevertheless, from Fauske and northwards, what will strike you is all the deep fjords, the high mountains, the winding E6-mainroad and all the tunnels, making the car or bus drive quite exiting. Passing the realm of the famous author Knut Hamsun over Hamarøy. You can even take a turn left, out to Steigen and the spectacular cabins at Mannshausen. Or out to the Hamsun Centre to learn more about his literature and the famous architecture.

The article continues under the tips from northern Salten

Ferries – here, there and everywhere

Further on this sidetrack you can take a shortcut over the Vestfjord onboard a minor ferry from Skutvik to Svolvær (towards Lofoten). If you are following the E6-mainroad northwards, you can cross the Vestfjord further north onboard a major ferry ffom Bognes to Lødingen (towards Lofoten and Vesterålen). Most drivers are crossing the Tysfjord by a major ferry from Bognes to Skarberget (towards Narvik), but it is also possible to cross the Tysfjord onboard a minor ferry from Drag to Kjøpsvik. For timetables, please check Reis Nordland.

The article continues under the travel tips

Narvik – a living historybook, surrounded by high mountains and deep fjords

Passing the Tysfjord you will find Narvik and the Ofoten region surrounded by an arctic landscape and nature. Where you do not need to be a world champion to participate in world class alpine activities. The town is known as an important harbor for shipping iron from the Swedish mountains, transported by train down to the ice-free Narvik harbor.

Have you seen the movie “The Battle of Narvik?”

This is where the huge battles were fought. Where history was created. Let’s go back to the dramatic April days in 1940. Back to when Norwegian and Allied soldiers fought desperate battles against the German forces. Through unique activity packages you can visit the historical places where the film ‘The Battle of Narvik’ was filmed. Learn more about the War History Experiences, in which you can participate!

The article continues under the tips from Narvik

Narvik and Ofoten offers a range of outdoor activities, stunning views, and fascinating history, making it an excellent destination for a stop or vacation. Find your experiences and accommodation at Visit Narvik.

Go to the hub

Bodø – where the steep mountains meet the white beaches

If you travel just a few miles north of Bodø, you can take the express boat to Steigen and Hamarøy. And even across the Vestfjord to Svolvær, the capital of Lofoten. Even though you plan plan to travel around the Vestfjord and explore many of the places on our wish list, we recommend a few days to experience Bodø first.

Several of the nice white coral beaches around Bodø are surrounded by spectacular mountains, just within one hour drive. The Børvasstindan mountain range, which you can see out towards Saltstraumen, seduces many into the mountains. If you are looking for a nice view of the Vestfjord and the Lofoten mountains, we recommend walking up to the easily accessible Keiservarden (“Emperor’s cairn”).

After listening to the famous Norwegian singer Terje Nilsen, on the train from Trondheim to Bodø, we wish to add the long Mjelle beach to the list. Kjerringøy, the peninsula with its famous old trading post, is also high on our bucket list.

Kathrine Sørgård, travel journalist and writer
The article continues under the tips around Bodø

Just experience the City of Bodø

Maybe you let the weather prevent you from travelling on purpose? When you are on a longer trip, it’s always nice to spend a few days in a city that has everything you need. It’s nice to have time to prepare and get ready for the next leg of the trip.

Did you pack more than you need, or is your suitcase full of souvenirs that you have bought along the way? When it comes to making more space in your bags, Norwegian Post’s parcel boxes come in handy. You can send one to your last destination in Norway or back to your home country.

Kathrine Sørgård, travel journalist and writer

While looking for necessities, you may discover eateries with flair, delicious food and excellent coffee from Bodø’s very own coffee roastery, “Bønner i byen”. This coffee is served at Melkebaren near the main square and at the Kock shopping-center in “Glasshuset” in downtown Bodø.

The article continues under the video from some visitors

Cafés with a view offer an overview of Bodø

Bodø’s high-rise hotel Havet is a great place to start. The lift takes you to great heights and you can enjoy good food, stylish interiors and a formidable view! If you would prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, head to one of the cafés and restaurants just outside the Stormen Concert Hall, which overlook the recently renovated harbour. Weather permitting, you have the option of enjoying a delicious meal outside on deck of the floating restaurant Hovda. After your meal, perhaps you can stroll out to the breakwater to enjoy nice views. This nice, easily accessible walk is also popular among the locals, who are known as Bodøværinger.

Norwegian Aviation Museum – exciting for young and old

Just a stone’s throw from downtown Bodø, you can see real aircraft – and lots of them – indoors.

This place makes a big impression on my travelling companion: eight-year-old nephew Adam. It’s exciting to pose for a quick selfie under a military aircraft. Thanks to solid wires, this mighty aircraft is still airborne. The dimensions make a real impression. The extensive exhibition of military and civilian aircraft, helicopters and much more really impresses us. However, when standing in the car park outside, it was hard to envisage what was inside. As soon as we entered, we went crazy at the museum shop, where there are many nice souvenirs to choose between. We opt for a toy aircraft.

Kathrine Sørgård, travel journalist and writer

Once you enter the main halls at the Norwegian Aviation Museum, a large-scale exhibition of aircraft and helicopters awaits. There is so much to take in that time flies and if you think you can see everything in an hour, then think again. This is a place you need to return to when you have more time.

The article continues under the tips from Bodø

You can even test your skills as a pilot

You can simulate a journey to any airport in the world under the guidance of an instructor.

Adam is eager and, when he insists on flying under the Saltstraumen Bridge, his instructor warns him to be careful. The flight simulator is much more than a toy. This advanced technology is used during the training of pilots. Talk about an upgrade of the gaming console the eight-year-old has at home!

Kathrine Sørgård, travel journalist and writer

The flight simulators are popular, so we recommend booking a time slot in advance. Just do it at The Flight Experience – Norwegian Aviation Museum. Other museums worth visiting are the brand new Norwegian Jekt Trade Museum and the Nordland Museum in one of the city’s oldest buildings.

Bodø – European Capital of Culture 2024


Have a safe travel and a nice journey of your lifetime to Bodø and the regions around!