Are you looking for a perfect Nordland travel itinerary that will leave you with unforgettable memories from the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway? I have it all ready for you. It includes the lesser-known Helgeland region with Helgeland Coast National Tourist Route, puffin island Lovund and Hawaiian-looking island of Treana, famous mountain range of Seven Sisters, magical Marble Castle, and second biggest glacier in Norway. It also goes through the western part of Lofoten Islands with spectacular landscapes of Vaeroy and stunning hikes around Reine.
This year we’ve been exploring Norway more than ever. After almost 3 years living in Oslo, we know the southern part of the country pretty well. We’ve tried a lot of hiking and climbing routes like the Trolltunga via Ferrata and we’ve driven through the top-spots in Vestland, Møre og Romsdal, and others, discovering unique spots like the visit-worthy Sunnmøre Alps and Hjørundfjorden.
Therefore for the summer holidays, we decided to travel in Nordland part of the country and go on a Northern Norway road trip. We have taken a few trips there before – including Senja, Svalbard and my Lofoten hitch-hiking trip five years ago. This time, I wanted to visit the lesser-known amongst foreigners Helgeland coast, and also the western part of Lofoten Islands, to show them to Alex. This included the island of Vaeroy, that I haven’t visited before.
We had almost two weeks for our Nordland travel and we loved every moment of it. I was actually quite proud of how well it panned out. Below, I share with you our Northern Norway itinerary with a focus on Helgeland coast and western side of Lofoten. Let me know what you think! And if you have more time to spare for your Norway travel, at the end of the article, I write some suggestions for you to add.
Table of content for Nordland travel itinerary – Salten, Helgeland coast and Lofoten
Day 1 Salten, Bodø and Helgeland Coastal Route
Day 2 Traena
Day 3 Traena – Lovund
Day 4 Lovund
Day 5 Reinesaksla hike, Seven Sisters hike, Sandnessjoen – Mosjøen
Day 6 Mo i Rana – Marmorslottet, Svartisen glacier National Park
Day 7 Bodø-Vaeroy
Day 8 Vaeroy – Moskenes
Day 9 Reine – Bunes beach – hike Hells Peak
Day 10 Horse Beach, Reine, Reinebringen
Day 11- Bodø
Days 12+ Additional places to visit
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Nordland travel – Salten, Helgeland and Lofoten in Northern Norway
Practical info for Northern Norway travel
We started and ended our trip in Bodø, as we rented a car from there. I recommend checking Rentalcars for the best price. If you don’t rent the car, you can plan your route differently.
We used the car only for the Helgeland coast part and dropped it off before traveling to Lofoten. This helped us to save on the rental price and also on the ferries, as they are free for passengers on foot. In Lofoten, we didn’t move far, so we didn’t need the car. However, it turned out that the car was useful in Vaeroy to get to the Nordlanshagen beach – we met our friends there who gave us a lift. Otherwise, you can hitch a ride or order a taxi.
Day 1 – Bodø, Salten and Helgeland Coastal Route
We arrived in Bodø the night before. If you do that too, I recommend camping on the beach up north from Bodø. We camped near the beach Mjelle that looks very interesting with its red sand patches. To get there, you need to drive for around half an hour north of Bodø along Fv834 towards Festvåg. And then it’s a one-kilometre easy walk from the car park. Nearby is also nice beach Auvika and Hovdsundet (but this one requires a longer hike).
After camping, take the Helgeland Coastal Route south of Bodø. Helgeland Norway Tourist Route – Norwegian Scenic Route Helgelandskysten is the longest of the 18 Norwegian Scenic Routes. It starts at Holm and finishes at Godøystraumen with detours to Torghatten. It’s a total distance of 433 km. There are six ferry trips to take and a lot of places to stop. You will also cross the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees northern latitude. I highly recommend you to plan a lot of time for this route. We did part of it in a day and we were very rushed, especially with the ferry times.
We decided to drive the Helgeland Norway Tourist Route route to Stokkvågen, where we broke it up by going off to the islands.
At the beginning of the route driving south of Bodø, remember to stop by the bridge from where you can admire the Saltstraumen maelstrom, one of the world’s strongest tidal currents. Here you can find the times of the highest tides.
When you get to Stokkvågen, where the ferry terminal is located, take the ferry to Traena island. You can find the speed boat schedule here. You can also take a car ferry, which is free for foot passengers, but it has fewer departures.
Day 2 – Traena – Hawaiian looking island off the Helgeland coast
Spend a day on Traena. Traena is an island archipelago situated on the edge of the ocean, 33 nautical miles (65 km) from the Helgeland coast. The Arctic Circle cuts through the islands. From late May to mid-July, you can experience the midnight sun in Træna.
There are only around 500 people living on the whole archipelago. The main island and municipal centre is Husøy, and here is where the ferry arrives. You can find there a shop, a restaurant and a great place for camping, as well as a sauna. The camping place is maintained for the summer after the famous Træna Festival. There are toilets, showers and flat ground to pitch the tents.
Træna is Norway’s oldest fishing community. The oldest archaeological finds from there are almost 9000 years old. But what really strikes me about Traena is the shape of the island seen from the sea – it doesn’t look like Norway! It really made me think that we are abroad (which helps, especially in these weird times when we cannot really travel far as in the years before).
From the camping area, you can see the island of Sanna with jagged mountains, that look like straight from Hawaii. You can take a boat to Sanna and climb some of the mountains and explore the big cave.
Day 3 – Lovund – puffin island in Helgeland
Take a morning speedboat from Traena to Lovund.
Lovund is home to one of Norway’s largest puffin colonies. Every year between 200,000 to 300,000 puffins arrive at the island and you can admire them sitting on the cliffs, which is a short walk from town. Read more about Lovund island here.
Lovund is also a place where you can try an unusual way of golfing – from the cliff, using golf balls made from fish food. In the Lovund hotel, you can try some of the best local dishes. This is where we stayed for the night and I can highly recommend it, especially for the amazing views from the roof terrace (and free coffee, I love free coffee).
Day 4 – Lovund
The weather on our second day in Lovund wasn’t great, so we just had a lazy breakfast in the hotel admiring the views, and then we went for a short coastal walk looking for the little sculptures on the rocks and the turquoise lagoon. If you have nicer weather, consider climbing the highest peak of Lovund, Lovundfjellet.
After that, take a ferry back to Stokkvågen in the afternoon or in the evening.
Day 5 – Seven Sisters, Sandnessjøen, Mosjøen
This day you can spend for hiking.
Drive to Meisfjord gård for a hike on Reinesaksla. It’s a short 2,5-hour hike offering great views to Helgeland coast and Seven Sisters. It is one of Leirfjord’s most popular hiking destinations, because of the amazing views.
If you have more time and you’re up for a challenge, drive to Sandnessjøen to climb the Seven Sisters. The Seven Sisters form a chain of peaks overlooking the islands of the Helgeland coast. The hike up there is long and challenging. Most people climb one or two of the Seven Sisters in one go. We decided to go for the easiest ones – Skjæringen 1037 m.a.s.l (+ Tvillingene). It’s around 4-5 hours round trip, longer if you also add Tvillingene.
After that, you can drive from Sandnessjøen to Mosjøen, and explore the oldest town in the Helgeland region with a street of cute wooden houses. If time allows or you didn’t do previous hikes, hike to the Helgelandstrappa in Mosjoen (long stone staircase up the mountain) or try the most northern via Ferrata in Mosjøen.
We didn’t stay there, but if you have some more time, I recommend finding accommodation in one of the cute houses in Mosjøen, or in their beautiful Fru Haugans Hotel by the river. Check prices and availability here.
We decided to drive to Mo i Rana and stay in Fjordgaarden Mo hotel. It was nice and clean with a beautiful terrace and cosy library area, free tea and coffee and breakfast included. Check the prices and availability here.
It turned out to be a good idea since the main road to our next day planned attraction was closed and it took us much longer to get there.
Day 6 – Mo i Rana – Marmorslottet – Svartisen glacier
After a stay in Mo i Rana in Fjordgaarden Mo hotel by the fjord, looking at the famous water statue and eating some crazy big breakfast, we hit the road again. The main place we wanted to go to was a Marble Castle – Marmorslottet.
As usual, we did some detours stopping by the stunning caves – Gronligrotta Cave and Setergrotta Cave. If you have time, I highly recommend visiting them, as well as the Svartisen Glacier National Park, which is the second biggest glacier in Norway. To get to the glacier you need to take a boat and then walk for a few kilometres.
The Marmorslottet or Marble Castle of Norway was worth a drive on a gravel road – the rock formations eroded by the water looked like straight from the fairytale. We also saw a moose!
Day 7 – Vaeroy Lofoten
We needed to come back to Bodø to take a morning ferry to Vaeroy (Værøy). In Bodø we stayed in the Bodø City Hotel, which was only a 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal. It was very central and quiet, so we could have a good night sleep. Check the prices and availability here.
Vaeroy is a less-visited island in Lofoten, and this fact, together with the views of the island, was enough for me to decide on the trip there. There is plenty to see on the island, especially if you like hiking, with some longer and shorter hikes.
For camping, I recommend Nordlanshagen beach with toilet and running water, and the wonderful panorama from your tent (it’s still wild camping but with facilities).
For hiking, don’t miss Måstadfjellet viewpoint (Heia trail), which is the famous lookout point on the way to the Heia peak. It’s around one hour hike one way from Sørland or two hours (including very steep ascent) from Nordlanshagen. Unfortunately, we had a day full of fog, so when we made it to the top we had no views. We need to come back! The view is supposed to like the one from Nusa Penida in Bali in Indonesia (at least, it’s what I think of it).
Another famous route on Vaeroy in Lofoten, is a walk to Måstad, which is an abandoned town by the coast. The route also follows the path where locals used to collect puffins with the unique puffin dogs.
You can also visit Sørlandshagen with smooth round stones – “the Rolling stones beach“.
Day 8 – Vaeroy Lofoten – Moskenes
Spend another day in Vaeroy and do the hikes you haven’t managed before. Take the evening ferry from Vaeroy to Moskenes. Beware of the ferry schedule, as it’s not very frequent.
Day 9 – Reine – Bunes Beach – Helvetestind (Hell’s peak)
Next day, we spent on the other side of the Reinefjord – on Bunes Beach. The hike to the beach is 5.4km return, 2-3h easy (return).
The trail begins in Vindstad, a ferry ride from Reine – check schedule here. The boat is small and if you want to pay a cheaper price, get there early. Otherwise, you’ll be put on the second boat which is more expensive.
Bunes Beach is perfect for camping, so we stayed there for the night. Since it’s the summer season it means that the sun is up for a long time. So in the evening, I went for a hike to Helvetestind (Hell’s peak) that rises up as a pinnacle between Bunes beach and Horseidstranda. It’s a demanding hike of 8.4 kilometres return, 3-4 hours return (starting from the ferry terminal. From the beach, it’s shorter).
Day 10 – Horseid Beach (Horseidstranda) – Reine – Reinebringen
If time allows go to Horseid Beach (Horseidstranda) from the Kjerkfjord (the same ferry boat goes there) or come back to Reine. Visit the fishing town and climb Reinebringen for sunset. It’s a short but steep hike – 1.4km (two ways) 2-3 hours return. Now, there are steps almost all the way up, however, it can get slippery on the top, so I recommend good shoes.
After the hike, we stayed in a really nice hotel in Reine – Catogården – Boutique Home & Activity Centre. The interior was beautiful and cosy, each room had an amazing view, there was a yoga room with a gym (all wooden!), the terrace, free tea and coffee, tiny cute kitchen and homely feeling. I can highly recommend a stay there, I didn’t want to leave. (This is not sponsored, I just really loved it there). Check the best prices and the availability here.
Day 11 – Reine – Bodø
If you want to finish your Lofoten trip here, take a ferry back to Bodø from Moskenes.
Visit places in and around Bodø, climb Keiservarden hill with views to the sea and the city, and walk around the city centre to admire the street art.
If you want to stay longer in Lofoten or visit more places around Bodø, check the suggestions under that Days 12+.
If you have a few more days you can visit more places in Lofoten, and come back through the other side towards Narvik. You can also extend your trip towards the south, to visit more of the Helgeland coast.
Additional places to see in Lofoten:
- Svolvaer with Svolveargaita climb – & Fløya hike
- famous beaches: Ramberg Beach, Ytresand Beach, Uttakleiv Beach, and Haukland Beach – easy to get to by car. Kvalvika Beach accessible on foot
- Ryten hike with its spectacular view over Kvalvika Beach
- Festvagtind short hike with sweeping views across the archipelago
Additional places to see in Helgeland:
- Vega – UNESCO Heritage island
- Rødøya – with sandy beaches and beautiful mountains
- Støtt with Støtt Brygge fisherman’s cabin
- Dønna with Dønnamannen mountain
- Herøy with turquoise water, sandy beaches and amazing view to Seven Sisters
- Torghatten – a granite mountain on the island of Torget in Brønnøy, known for its characteristic hole through its center. It is possible to see it from the road or walk through the tunnel.
- The island of Leka for its amazing geology
Additional places to see around Bodø:
- Kjerringøy (1 h from Bodø) – Fjære reserve, nice beaches and hikes to Trolltindvatnet or Seta, museum in Handelssted
- Auvika beach
- Hovdsundet beach and a hike – approx. 8 km round trip.
Read more about Norway:
Have you traveled to Northern Norway before exploring Helgeland coast, or Lofoten? Let me know in the comments!
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