You can reach a myriad of islands from the small coastal town in the south of Helgeland. However, we recommend allowing time to walk through the hole in the famous landmark Torghatten before heading out to the islands.
Brønnøysund town is spread along a long and varied harbour promenade overlooking a spectacular archipelago. From here, you can head out to the Vega islands, which are like a North Sea paradise. While in Brønnøysund, you can explore the fascinating rock formation Torghatten only a short distance from the town centre.
Strolling along the Brønnøysund waterfront on a late summer’s evening is a lovely experience
Visitors and residents alike enjoy going down to the harbour to enjoy the beautiful view late on bright summer evenings. It’s nice to chat with strangers who share your enthusiasm. Even though Brønnøysund is just south of the Arctic Circle, which marks the start of the realm of the Midnight Sun, it’s possible to see the sun shining late at night. It sets momentarily before rising again. With the sea on your doorstep and mountains in the background, many opportunities await you when you in Brønnøysund.
The Vega archipelago barely sticks out of the sea at high tide
However, it’s claimed that the mountains are the soul of Vega. As you approach the archipelago, the mountain island of Sømna and the mountains on the main island of Vega rise from the sea like sea blue shadows. The beaches, covered with the finest shell sand, are like terraces before sloping gradually towards the deep sea. You can travel by express boat out to the main island of Vega, Ylvingen known from the Norwegian drama series Himmelblå, or Skogsholmen out in Vega islands where locals run a charming guest house in a former school building during the summer. There is a worn globe here that has no doubt been spun around by many children over the years. Imagine what it was like growing up in an exposed seaside paradise, before the Internet and TV, and then venturing out into the big, wide world. The reasoning for Vegaøyan – The Vega archipelago being inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List was as follows:
The Vega Archipelago reflects the way generations of fishermen/farmers have, over the past 1,500 years, maintained a sustainable living in an inhospitable seascape near the Arctic Circle, based on the now unique practice of eider-down harvesting, and it also celebrates the contribution of women to the eider-down process.
At one stage, 59 islands in the Vega archipelago were inhabited. These included Lånan, Hysvær, Skogsholmen (where the guest house is), Tåvær, Muddværet, Skjærvær, Halmøyværet, Flovær, Store Emårsøy and Lille Emårsøy. Today, only the main island Vega, Ylvingen and Omnøy are inhabited year-round. However, there is also human activity on many of the other islands, especially during the summer. Many travel to their ancestral homes on islets and skerries out at sea that can be flooded during spring tides.
Lagoons with shell sand give the sea a splendid azure colour in places
A classic example of this is at Store Emårsøy. Although the name means ‘big Emårsøy island’, it is not a big island. However, it’s larger than the nearby Lille (little) Emårsøy. A lagoon near the traditional, red Nordland house is enchanting in the right weather conditions. During a tour of this small, well-restored house, we get a visual reminder of what the fate of this house could have been if Turid and Gisle had not taken pity on the magnificent building. An old house on the neighbouring island is clearly in a state of disrepair after decades of being torn apart by weather and wind. Although this is a natural process, it reinforces our joy that many of the old houses out here on these remote islands are tended with love and care. The house on Store Emårsøy sparkles with unreserved love for the place.
It’s like Vega was created for sea kayaking enthusiasts
However, the archipelago is no playground in stormy weather. Before heading out to sea in a kayak, you should be well prepared and familiar with the area. The safest way to experience the sheltered lagoons of this kayaking paradise and the stretches of open sea between the islands is on an organised trip. The local providers have a high level of seamanship, which is important because the weather can change so quickly out here. Take care and always follow the sea safety code. Liberating and momentous experiences await out here, barely above the fine shell sand. You will discover many wonderful places to go shore for a beach foray.
Vega has plenty to offer, so it’s well worth spending several days here
One day trip out to the Vega archipelago may not be enough. In recent times, local initiators have ensured that the archipelago has plenty to offer visitors searching for experiences. Within the space of a few years, Vega has developed into a comprehensive destination. On the outer coast, you can easily get up into the mountain via the new Vega Stairs. The brave ones can continue further on a staggering via ferrata over a canyon! If you want to experience the outer coast without testing your sense of height, you can sway in a tent strung between the trees. Children are sure to love this tented camp. This is a place I need to bring my young nephew!
Vega has many nice meeting places
One such example is the old school in the middle of the main island. The building has been transformed into a charming café serving simple and refreshing treats. If you enjoy photography, ask the competent photographer who runs the place for tips of the best photo spots. He knows the island well through his camera lens, after living out here for years. The café is the ultimate place for an informal chat, outside in the sun or inside in the former gym.
Vega also offers delicacies from the land
Stavsmarken gård og pølsemakeri (farm and sausage factory) has created a catchy slogan: Time and love. Running a small livestock farm and receiving guests is a task reserved for those who are not afraid of hard work. This is the case for the people here following proud traditions dating back to the early 20th century. You can order a tasty plate of cured meats from the farm shop. It’s nice to enjoy this outdoors on a fine summer day in authentic, rural surroundings with nice views of the mountains.
The Vega World Heritage Centre has an idyllic location on the outer coast of the main island
The new building, which forms natural outdoor spaces sheltered from wind and weather, is a long-awaited attraction on the island.
The centre offers an insight into the extensive history of the Vega archipelago. The large and airy exhibition rooms and the café serving tasty dishes all offer majestic views of the sea, sky and an island kingdom without parallel. If you travel out to Vega, I strongly recommend starting your exploration of the island here. If you are a foodie who appreciates painstakingly made meals, you should book a table at Vega Havhotell for a culinary experience signed by master chef Jon Aga.
Sleep like royalty at Thon Hotel Brønnøysund
If your planned itinerary falls through and you need to continue south in a hurry, Brønnøysund itself has a lot to offer. At Thon Hotel Brønnøysund, you can seek shelter for the night in a room dedicated to UNESCO World Heritage. Gat a good night’s sleep in a genuine eiderdown duvet, as royalty around Europe did a century ago and perhaps still do. Cleaning the eider down in the traditional way, like they do out at Lånan, is a time-consuming process. Consequently, a single eiderdown duvet may have a price tag of over NOK 40,000!
The fascinating rock formation Torghatten is just a few kilometres from town
Torghatten is a natural wonder. This famous mountain has a hole pierced right through it! It serves as a landmark for seafarers and a popular destination for visitors. A path leads up to the famous hole at 260 m above sea level via a combination of wooden steps and some scree. While royalty from afar have previously sipped champagne here, we satisfy our thirst on this midsummer day with a refreshing drink from our water bottles. The base of the hole takes us down to 110 m above sea level. The middle of the hole – or tunnel – is 160 m long, 12 m wide and nearly 35 m high.
Brønnøysund has a nice sea promenade with viewpoints and new benches
Walking along the quayside in an authentic environment is also nice, especially on late summer evenings, when the evening sun glows in the sea and colours the surroundings. It’s a memorable experience in the soft light as the sun dips briefly below the horizon. In some places, the harbour promenade consists of a wonderful parade deck with ledges that resemble balconies facing the strait and the sea beyond. Further to the north, it’s an authentic port area with asphalt pavement and warehouse buildings. It’s also visually appealing for those with an eye for such things. This is where the express boat from Sandnessjøen and the Vega islands docks.
Seafood tastes heavenly, and at Svang you savour heavenly seafood dishes
Eureka! What a wonderful culinary experience just behind the harbour promenade. We hope you won’t be disappointed because expectations rise significantly with such an outbreak. What a joy it is with such passion for food when you can savour such well-composed dishes. They serve fish landed at the fish reception just a stone’s throw away, while the cured meat is from Stavsmarken Gård out in the Vega archipelago. Local suppliers provide the lamb and berries. Svang Restaurant og Vinbar, under the direction of chef Atle Strand Karlsen, is reason enough to make the trip to Brønnøysund. Bon appetite!
Frequently Asked Questions
Brønnøysund is located furthest south in Northern Norway, along Kystriksveien. The city is the center in the south of Helgeland, and is the starting point for experiences in Brønnøy, Sømna, Bindal, Vevelstad and Vega.
Brønnøysund is approached on the north and south scedule by Hurtigruta. From Trondheim there is a train to Grong, which corresponds with a bus to Brønnøysund, a journey that takes approximately 7 hours. Brønnøysund has its own airport with connections to Trondheim, Bodø and the other airports on Helgeland.
There is a express boat from the center of Brønnøysund to Igerøy on Vega, which also stops at Ylvingen if necessary. Car ferry runs from Horn north of Brønnøysund to Igerøy on Vega.
Check out everything you can experience on the websites of Visit Helgeland.