Countless islands, islets and skerries, deep fjords and steep mountains, as well as sheltered bays, sandy beaches and a settlement dating back 10,000 years: the coast of Northern Norway is full of surprises. It was hard to narrow our favourites down to five!

1. Lovund on Helgeland is an idyllic destination with its 20,000 puffins on screes right beside the houses, views of Træna and fantastic hiking, but it's also an important centre of modern salmon farming.

2. Havnnes on the island of Uløya is the northernmost of the old trading posts, with well-preserved buildings including the Maiden's Bower and shop, and impressive views of the Lyngen Alps.

3. Engeløya in Steigen is an idyllic green island, nestling beneath steep mountains, with a Viking assembly mound, a thirteenth-century church, the remains of what may have been an Iron Age military camp, and a vicarage garden full of golden Steigen lilies. The Batteri Dietl battery from World War II sends shivers down your spine, but you can chase these away with a Møsbrøm flatbread from the rural museum.

4. Hamningberg is an abandoned fishing village on the Varanger peninsula that was saved from the wartime destruction by a twist of fate. Here, you can see what Finnmark looked like before the war. The road to the village passes through an unusual lunar landscape.

5. Røst is a tiny flat island 100 km (60 miles) from the mainland, with only 600 inhabitants, dried fish racks and a tremendous view of Lofoten and the distant mainland. A trip to the bird cliffs on the nearby mountainous islands is a must.