The Norwegian Scenic Route winds around Senja’s outer coast

Senja has two coastlines — a green and gentle inner coast, and a grim, exposed outer coast. So why are the most important settlements on the outer coast? Because that’s where the best fishing is.

Senja’s outer coast has been a place of beauty for millions of years — so why haven’t we heard of it before? The reason is that, until recently, only a few dead-end roads wound their way over from the inner coast. Now the villages are linked by roads and tunnels, so you can drive along most of outer Senja. In summer, ferries run from Botnhamn to Brensholmen, one hour from Tromsø, and from Gryllefjord to Andenes. Below are a few of the highlights on the trip from Botnhamn in the north to Gryllefjord in the south, today one of the 18 designated National Tourist Routes. 

Information about Senja

The Norwegian Scenic Route, previously the National Tourist Route, on Senja starts in Gryllefjord in the south, and follows the coast from Skaland to Botnhamn.

Absolutely. There is a ferry in the summer to Andenes, where the national tourist route on Andøya has its starting point. From Botnhamn, on the other end, there is a ferry to Brensholmen near Tromsø

Senja has many different offerings, but is probably best known for its enormously beautiful nature.

Husøy, tied down and bustling

The island of Husøy isn’t really part of Senja; it is linked to it by a pier that’s been blue since the island community appeared in a reality TV programme a few years ago. Cod is fished here and exported for a huge profit every year, so the village always seems busy. But its exposed location means that the roofs of some of the houses have had to be tied down.

Senjahopen and Mefjordvær are twin villages

The twin villages of Senjahopen and Mefjordvær have a different pace and mood. Senjahopen is bigger, with an active fishing fleet and a busy fishing industry. Mefjordvær is more historic, with many old buildings. The best photos are taken from the lighthouse, which offers views of both the village and the steep outer coast of Senja.

Okshornan is a must see when visiting Senja

In the middle of this stretch, the sheer, saw-toothed peaks of the Okshornan range tower 6-700 m (1970-2300 ft.) over Erfjorden. This is a favourite spot for photos, as the view of the peaks on the horizon is so striking. Access has been made easier thanks to an award-winning, modern platform — so you can view Okshornan easily and in style.

Bøvær has great summer beaches

The beautiful location of Bøvær is another favourite detour, with its white beaches and a fantastic view of the 98 islands of the Bergsfjorden and out to the Atlantic. Kråkeslottet, the former village owner’s home, is now a small gallery. 

Hamn in Senja was the first to have electricity

Hamn in Senja is now a tourist attraction, but it was formerly an industrial and trading town. Nickel was extracted here for a short but hectic period in the 1880s, and it was the first place in Northern Norway to benefit from electricity.

Torsken and Gryllefjord are only a few kilometres apart

These two rival coastal villages are separated by a few kilometres and a small mountain. Gryllefjord, the larger of the two towns, has compact, colourful houses and is reliant on the fishing industry. Torsken is much smaller, but boasts a delightful wooden church from the 1780s, with beautiful adornments dating back to medieval times.