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The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Norway’s North: New Tourist Routes

Norway’s North is an off-the-beaten-path destination that would absolutely blow your mind. Here, you can find some of the country’s most stunning and captivating hiking trails, such as the trail to Segla and the hiking path to Måtind (we have even listed them in our top 10 hikes in Norway). From Senja’s rugged mountainous landscapes to the fishing villages of Andenes, this region has something to offer to every traveler.

However, one issue persisted for a long time among the would-be adventurers: if you didn’t drive a car, it would be almost impossible to travel around this region. Unlike the rest of Norway, the country’s North did not offer a decent intercity bus connection to travelers. Not anymore.

The launch of Arctic Route buses has changed everything. Now, travelers who don’t have a driving license or who would prefer to travel eco-consciously can hop on the newly launched Arctic Route buses.

The introduction of these routes is great news for everyone who has yearned to explore the country’s North. The region’s midnight sun, stunning coastline, and intimidating mountains will make this trip memorable for many years to come! Travel to Senja, Vesterålen, and Lofoten with comfort.


What Are the Arctic Route Buses?

Arctic Route Buses: Norway Map

So, the Arctic Route buses are hop-on/hop-off buses that run in both directions in the country’s North. Currently, there are two Arctic Routes: from Tromsø to Kabelvåg and from Narvik to Å. The concept of hop-on/hop-off means that you can get on the bus and take off at any stop along the route. These buses will run on a regular basis, every year during the summer season (from June to August).

Moreover, these Arctic Route buses are not simply a means of transportation. On these buses, you can listen to the stories and educational information about this region. On top of that, you will receive practical advice in regard to what to do, what to see, and which activities to try.

There are three types of stops the Arctic Route buses make:

  • Hop-on/hop-off. Here, you get on or get off the bus, and then the bus continues to drive further down the road.
  • Photo stop. In this instance, the bus stops for 15-25 minutes, so all the passengers can walk out, take photos in a scenic place, and stretch their legs. Then, the passengers can hop on the same bus and continue the journey.
  • Activity stop. At such a stop, the bus stops for an hour. This type of stop is ideal for food breaks, buying souvenirs, or visiting a fjord or a beach. Then, the passengers get on the same bus and continue their journey.

If you want to travel more than one day and make stops that last days, you may consider buying a travel pass. When you have a travel pass, you can travel an unlimited number of times during your journey as long as your travel pass remains valid. Here, you can view the prices of travel passes for Arctic Route buses in 2024:

  • 4 days: NOK 2,790
  • 7 days: NOK 4,590
  • 10 days: NOK 5,690.


Tromsø — Kabelvåg Route

Arctic Route from Tromso to Kabelvag. Explore Norway's North

The Arctic Route from Tromsø to Kabelvåg can deservedly be named the “main route” since it runs through the fabulous islands of Senja and Vesterålen. Besides, it is easy to reach Tromsø – flights to this city are available from all over the country and from the capitals and biggest cities of other Scandinavian countries.

At the moment, there are nine stops along this route. Below, you can see the description of the main stops: Tromsø, Senja, Andenes (Vesterålen), and Lofoten.

The prices for this route in 2024 are the following:

  • From Tromsø to Svolvaer: NOK 1,750
  • From Svolvaer to Andenes: NOK 880
  • From Tromsø to Sommarøy: NOK 260.



Things to do in Tromso, Norway. Explore Norway's North.

Known as the Northern Capital of Norway, Tromsø is considered to be among the most popular winter destinations in the entire Scandinavia. And our articles on the winter activities in Tromsø and the best ideas for Christmas holidays in Norway shed light on why the best season for visiting this beautiful Arctic city is exactly winter. But rest assured, Tromsø is absolutely worth a visit in any season, and there are tons of things to do here! Actually, our travel guide to Tromsø lists and describes all the attractions that you can visit in this city.

When you arrive in Tromsø, you must visit the city’s iconic Arctic Cathedral, the actual Norwegian church with a peculiar design. Located in a serene place, far from the city’s noise, you can reach it by walking 30 minutes from the city center. If you are a fan of explorations and expeditions to the world’s most remote places, don’t miss a chance to drop by Polar Museum. This institution exhibits a variety of unique artifacts from the famous Norwegian expeditions, such as those of Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen.

Since Tromsø is located within the Arctic Circle, you may way to learn more about the Arctic. And that is possible to do at Polaria, a thematic museum where you take part in many interactive experiences! And when you are in this city, don’t miss a chance to observe the city from the nearby Storsteinen Mount. Take a Fjellheisen, or the cable car, to the mountain!

In terms of activities, summer is the perfect season to try many things in Tromsø that you wouldn’t be able to do in winter! For example, fishing during the midnight sun (when the sun doesn’t set for 24 hours straight) is a truly memorable and unique experience! Also, don’t miss the chance to hike in this region and relax on one of the Arctic beaches, such as Telegrafbukta. And, of course, taking a fjord and wildlife cruise and visiting a reindeer farm is a must in any season of the year!

Most popular attractions in the area:

  • Arctic Cathedral. Visit one of the world’s most extraordinary cathedrals that was constructed back in 1965.
  • Cable car. Take Fjellheisen (cable car) and reach the peak of Storsteinen to enjoy a captivating view of the city.
  • Polar Museum. Discover about Arctic expeditions that were led by legendary Norwegian explorers.
  • Polaria. Learn about the Arctic region in a thematic museum with interactive experiences.

Most popular activities in the area:

  • Reindeer farm visit
  • The midnight sun fishing
  • Fjord and wildlife cruise
  • Chilling out on an Arctic beach
  • Hiking and camping.



Travel to and explore Senja island, in Norway's North

Norwegians call Senja “Little Norway.” The country’s second-largest island is one of Norway’s most picturesque places, which boasts an unbelievably beautiful and diverse nature – from lush greenery inland to the rugged coastline with towering mountains facing the ocean. And, obviously, there are plenty of things to do in Senja.

First of all, you must take in the fabulous views of Senja’s scenery from Tungeneset and Bergsbotn viewpoints. Besides, one of the 18 National Tourist Routes runs through Senja, which is actually a driveway that offers epic views and scenic landscapes.

Norway’s North has plenty of fishing villages, and Senja is not an exception in that regard. Husøy, a fishing village and a small island (connected to the rest of Senja by a tunnel), is a genuine gem of this region. By the way, locals on Husøy still practice siesta, an early afternoon nap that the Spanish sailors brought to this area centuries ago. Gryllefjord is another adorable local fishing town that you may consider visiting. After all, you may even end up in Dyrøya, a picturesque island south of Senja and attached to it by road.

But there is little use in visiting Senja if you are not ready for outdoor activities. This fabulous nature almost screams at you, pushing you to try all sorts of exciting activities on all this unbounded expanse. And one sure way to do is by visiting the Anderalen National Park, which features many hiking trails and paths. There is even a hiking path through the entire island, but there are 2- and 3-hour long routes as well.

Two of the island’s most picturesque hikes run through this national park:  hikes to Segla and Hesten (we have added the first hike even to our list of the top 10 hikes in Norway). Both routes are strenuous and take 3 to 4 hours to complete, but the views are absolutely rewarding! The island of Senja is also known for its wildlife and fishing traditions, which you can explore and try on a fjord cruise. You can also relax on beautiful beaches with white sand (such as Ersfjord and Bøvær) or go cycling through the island.

To sum it all up, Senja is all about the stunning, almost unbelievable nature. And now, it is easy to understand why the locals call it “Little Norway.”

Most popular attractions in the area:

  • Tungeneset Viewpoint. A rest area with accessible toilets, it features a wooden walkway that leads to rugged rocks on the shore of the fjord.
  • Bergsbotn Viewpoint. A wooden platform that offers stunning views of the island but features no facilities.
  • Senja National Tourist Route. One of the country’s 18 designated driveways that runs through scenic landscapes and past natural sites.
  • Fishing towns. Among other settlements, consider visiting the small breakaway island of Husøy and the cozy fishing town of Gryllefjord (ferries to Andenes depart from the latter).
  • Anderalen National Park. Visit this national park to explore the nature and wildlife of the island, as well as hike to the two most scenic peaks: Segla and Hesten.
  • Dyrøya Island. Travel to the smaller island south of Senja and explore its pristine nature.
  • Husøy Island. This small breakaway island is home to the fishing village (of the same name) where the locals, oddly enough, practice the famous Spanish tradition – siesta.

Most popular activities in the area:

  • Hiking to Segla and Hesten
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Visiting local beaches
  • Taking fjord cruises.


Andenes & Stokmarknes

Explore the archipelago of Vesteralen. Andenes Village, Norway's North

Andøya is the westernmost island of the Vesterålen archipelago, which is located between Tromsø and Lofoten. And the beautiful, cozy town of Andenes lies on the northern tip of Andøya. Just like the other legs of this bus journey, Andøya, as well as Vesterålen in general, are all about nature.

One of the most exciting things to do on this island is hiking to Måtind, from where you would get a spectacular view of the coastline (we consider it one of the most picturesque hikes in Norway). You can add a detour towards the fishing village of Bleik and complete the full Stave-Bleik Coastal trail, the distance of which is around 10 kilometers. But overall, the hike is moderate, and the views are rewarding.

Whale safaris and wildlife fjord cruises are also popular among travelers, and Andøya is one of the best places in Norway to observe whales in their natural habitat. Fishing enthusiasts may enjoy learning about the local fishing traditions that have been cherished here for centuries and even embark on a fishing cruise. To get the most out of it, set out on a deep-sea fishing fjord cruise!

This island is also the place where you can find northernmost surfing at Arctic Aloha Surfing School. To put a cherry on the cake of your adventures, don’t miss a chance to relax in a hot pool or local sauna.

Of course, there are other travel attractions in this area. For example, you may drop by the Andøya Space Center and learn many exciting facts about space exploration! Or, alternatively, visit the local Andøy Museum and marvel at the pictorial lighthouse. If you have an appetite to explore this island, you will find out there are actually plenty of things to do here! And, of course, don’t forget to stop by the sumptuous public toilet in, perhaps, the most beautiful place (as for a toilet) in the world!

Most popular attractions in the area:

  • Andenes Lighthouse. Constructed back in 1859, this coastal lighthouse is a Norwegian heritage site managed by the local Andøy Museum (guided tours are available during the summer season).
  • Andøya National Tourist Route. It runs past the picturesque Bleik fishing village and along the coastline.
  • Andøya Space Center. Learn more about the northern lights and space exploration at this visitor center, which also features a thematic escape room and a virtual reality mission to Mars. Booking in advance is highly recommended during the summer season.
  • Alveland. Get to know more about natural soap, discover how it is made, and seize this chance to buy a few authentic soap bricks for yourself.
  • Gammelbutikken. This is an old grocery store that was transformed into a museum where you can buy gifts for your family and friends.
  • Atelier Nøss. This artist-run gallery is located in the small village of Nøss, exhibiting a wide range of artworks, paintings, sculptures, and graphics.

Most popular activities in the area:

  • Whale and wildlife watching
  • Fishing & deep-sea fishing
  • Surfing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Cycling
  • Saunas & hot pools.



Visit the Lofoten Archipelago in Norway's North, Itinerary and Route

Kabelvåg is a lovely small village in the Lofoten islands, known for its charming and peaceful atmosphere. It is also renowned as the first known settlement in Norway’s North, as it was a thriving fishing village since at least 793 AD. Today, around 2,500 residents live in this town.

There are just a handful of things to do in Kabelvåg. Once you have found yourself in this settlement, drop by the striking Kabelvåg Church that sits by the main road. Constructed in a Gothic Revival architectural style that originated in England in the 18th century, this church can accommodate up to 1,200 people.

Other attractions include three sites that are collectively called SKREI Heritage Center. The first attraction of that center is the open-air Lofoten Museum, where you can see a perfectly preserved fishing village from the 1800s. The museum exhibits several old wooden buildings, including the main mansion (dating back to 1815), fishermen’s cabins, and boathouses with boats. The other attraction is the Lofoten Aquarium, where you can witness all the wildlife from the sea and fjords nearby. After all, you can drop a visit to Gallery Espolin and witness the masterful artworks of Kaare Espolin Johnson.

In terms of activities, there is not much to do in Kabelvåg really. Kayaking is the most favorite pastime among travelers here. But if you wish to experience an adrenaline rush, consider climbing the Svolværgeita peak. If you want to try more activities, head in the southern direction towards other, bigger settlements in Lofoten (such as Reine).

If you would like to learn more about Lofoten, read our article about the Lofoten Islands.

Most popular attractions in the area:

  • Kabelvåg Church. Vågan Kirke is a majestic church that was constructed in the place of a smaller church that had been demolished.
  • Lofoten Aquarium. Discover the life in the sea and fjords surrounding the Lofoten archipelago up close.
  • Gallery Espolin. Witness the artworks of Kaare Espolin Johnson (1907 – 1994), who depicted Lofoten and the North of Norway in his own extraordinary way.
  • Lofoten Museum. This open-air folk museum is the place where you can see how the old town of Vågar looked in the 1800s.
  • Svolværgeita. Climb the famous pinnacle and get a fantastic perspective of the Lofoten archipelago.

Most popular activities in the area:

  • Sea Kayaking
  • Chilling out on local beaches
  • Fishing
  • Hiking and rock climbing.


Narvik — Å Route

Travel from Narvik to Lofoten Archipelago, A Village. Route and Itinerary

This route runs from the city of Narvik (Norwegian ski resort) to the fabulous Lofoten archipelago. In fact, this route is ideal for those who wish to explore Lofoten as much as possible and visit many of the archipelago’s settlements. Below, you can find a guide to the main stops/regions on this route: Narvik, Svolvaer, and the south of Lofoten.

The prices for this route in 2024 are the following:

  • From Narvik to Å: NOK 1,820
  • From Evenes to Reine: NOK 1,470
  • From Evenes to Svolvaer: NOK 690.


Narvik & Evenes

Travel to Narvik and Lofoten, Northern Norway

The bus departs from Narvik, the town famous for the battle that took place during WWII. And the first stop would be Evenes, which lies between Narvik and Harstad. The truth is that this region is best to visit during the winter and enjoy all its awesome skiing facilities. But there are a couple of things that you can do here in summer, too.

First of all, you can enjoy the mesmerizing Arctic landscapes from the window of an Ofotbanen train, which runs as far as the border with Sweden. Secondly, you can take a cable car to the peak of Narvikfjellet Mount and enjoy the captivating scenery of this region. And, after all, if you are not lazy to make a trip to Harstad, you can explore this town and relish in fishing activities (something this town is famous for).

Polar Park, the world’s northernmost animal park, is located in this region, and here you can observe wild animals in their natural habitat. The list of animals that live here includes bears, wolves, lynx, deer, moose, reindeer, muskox, and many others, and you can explore the park on your own or order a guided tour. If you are not scared to go deep underground, take a guided tour to Trollkirka, one of Norway’s longest limestone caves. And on top of that, there are a couple of decent hiking routes in this region.

Most popular attractions in the area:

  • Train ride on Ofotbanen. Set out on a mesmerizing train journey and marvel at the stunning Arctic landscapes.
  • Cable car to the Narvikfjellet peak. Take a cable car to the top of Narvikfjellet Mountain and observe this region from above!
  • Polar Park. This northernmost animal park is a genuine haven for nature lovers, as you can encounter a diverse array of predators that populate the Arctic.
  • Trollkirka limestone cave. Embark on a guided tour through one of Norway’s longest limestone caves, featuring pot-holes, cascades, and deep ravines.

Most popular activities in the area:

  • Fishing (all types: fly fishing, lake fishing, deep-sea fishing)
  • Hiking
  • Fjord cruise.



Travel to Svolvaer, Lofoten Islands. Discover Norway's North. Our Route and Itinerary

Svolvaer is the capital of Lofoten and the gateway to this beautiful archipelago, serving as the entry and exit point (and yes, this city has an airport). Kabelvåg is located in the vicinity of this town, so you can easily change the bus for the one heading north (to Tromsø).

Compared to other settlements in Lofoten, Svolvaer, with a population of over 4,700 inhabitants, is quite a large town. And while this town is not as picturesque as Lofoten’s gems – Reine and Henningsvær, there are plenty of things to do in Svolvaer. First of all, have a walk in the downtown and visit Svolvaer’s impressive art galleries (get more information about the galleries below). Then, you can have a relaxed walk to the Svinøya island, where you can find red rorbuer (fishermen’s cabins) that have been ideally preserved.

And, of course, you can have a lot of fun on your visit to Svolvaer. For instance, don’t hesitate to drop by the Magic Ice Bar and appreciate the sophisticated ice sculptures while sipping a drink from the ice glass. Or set out on a guided tour to the local Lofotpils Brewery and try their outstanding craft beer.

After all, try yourself at solving puzzles and riddles at the thematic Lofoten Escape Room. Or you can relax in the newest attraction in Svolvaer: the floating fjord sauna. Naturally, there are certain activities that travelers prefer to try here, and taking the Trollfjord cruise from Svolvaer is a must.

Most popular attractions in the area:

  • Svinøya Island. Literally translated as the “pig island,” Svinøya is the preserved old part of the town. When it was downtown Svolvaer, the city planners ruined the old Venetian area, where modern houses stand nowadays.
  • Magic Ice Bar. The bar is open next to the Magic Ice Gallery, where you can enjoy icy-cold drinks while admiring the artworks made of ice.
  • Lofotpils Brewery. This is a small brewery that produces craft beer and uses water from the Lofoten mountains as the main ingredient. Their most famous beers include Trollsfjord and Lofotpils, and you can taste them on a guided tour to the brewery.
  • Art Galleries. There are several interesting art galleries in this town, including Art Gallery Gunnar Berg on Svinøya, as well as Art Gallery Stig Tobiassen and Art Gallery Dagfinn Bakke in the downtown of Svolvaer.
  • Lofoten Escape Room. Opened back in 2019, there are two escape rooms – “The Heritage” and “Odin’s Eye,” both of which focus on the local history of this archipelago.
  • Floating Fjord Sauna. The newest and hottest addition to Svolvaer’s attractions, here you can swim in the fjord and get back to the warmth of your sauna while enjoying fabulous views of the mountains.

Most popular activities in the area:

  • Trollfjord cruise
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking.


Moskenes and Å

Travel to Moskenes and A village in Norway, Lofoten. Explore the North

Further down the road, the bus will drive past other notable towns and villages in Lofoten, including Henningsvær, Nusfjord, and Reine. In our opinion, all three settlements are worth a visit, and that’s why we have added them to our list of the top 17 charming small towns in Norway. In that article, you can find detailed information about each town and our recommended to-do list. Here, let’s focus on the last two stops of this bus route: Moskenes and Å.

Apart from the Lofoten Stockfish Museum, this area does not have as many attractions. However, if you fancy sophisticated, delicious local cuisine, visit the town of Ballstad. There, you can drop by the Lofoten Food Studio, which is undoubtedly the best restaurant in the entire archipelago (and the travelers absolutely love it!).

Regarding things to do in Lofoten, it’s all about activities. Here, you can relax, have fun, and soak up all the unbelievable nature around you! Consider hiking to Reinebringen or visiting the beaches with white sand, some of which attract thousands of surfers every year. Kayaking, fishing, fjord cruises – there is something up to everyone’s taste. Get the most out of your trip to the fabulous Lofoten!

Most popular attractions in the area:

  • Lofoten Tørrfiskmuseum. Lofoten Stockfish Museum is located in the village of Å and is dedicated to the production of Norwegian stockfish. Here, you can learn everything about the entire process – from catching the fish to making it ready for export.
  • Haukland Beach. This is one of the most picturesque and fabulous beaches, featuring crystal blue waters and white sand with mountainous landscapes in the background.
  • Reinebringen Hike. Reine is located just next to Moskenes, so don’t hesitate to try the famous hike and get an astonishing view of the Lofoten archipelago.

Most popular activities in the area:

  • Hiking
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Fjord cruise
  • Surfing
  • Climbing.

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