A round trip in Helgeland entails everything from seeing thousands of islands to meeting mountain folk near the border.
The Northern Lights Arc that towers above the E6 marks the information centre where you can pick up useful details about your trip.
As an alternative to the E6, you can take the "Wilderness Route" from Kappfjell to Korgen in the north, a stretch of road of about 150 kilometres through wild and wonderful scenery, including Børgefjell National Park and Norway’s second biggest lake, Røsvatn.
At Brenna you turn off onto the Tosenveien Road (fv. 76) towards Brønnøysund and the coast. Stop at Velfjord Bygdemuseum, the folk museum where you will about the local history, including that of the Sami people. And then there is the fantastic coastline - all kinds of adventures await you along Kystriksveien (fv. 17).
Take a detour to Bindal, the southernmost of the Nordland boroughs. On the way you will pass Sømna. At Vennesund you can catch the ferry to Holm, the crossing takes 20 minutes. Bindal is on the other side.
In Brønnøysund you will enjoy the lively small town atmosphere. Torghatten, the mountain with a hole right through it, watches over with its waking eye. The hole is 160 metres long, 35 metres high and 20 metres wide, in other words, big enough for a ship to sail through. The Legend of the Nordland Mountains tells of how Torghatten and the other giant trolls along the coast of Nordland were turned to stone at sunrise.
The island realm with its tens of thousands of isles and skerries is an adventure in itself. Many of the islands offer overnight accommodation and stretches of road you can drive along. Just south of the Arctic Circle you will find the Vega archipelago, a cluster of dozens of UNESCO protected islands.
Just north of Brønnøysund you find Tilrem and the herbarium known as Hildur’s Urterarium. Here lies Northern Norway's only vineyard, you can join a fascinating tour of the gardens and enjoy culinary adventures based on nature's own ingredients.
The ferry crossing from Horn to Andalsvågen takes 20 minutes. From Forvik there is a northbound ferry to Tjøtta, via Røøya.
The history of Tjøtta is fascinating. Tjøtta Gård is Northern Norway’s biggest farm and sheep breeding enterprise.
On the island of Alstenøya, we find the realm of the Seven Sisters Mountains. Get to know the clergyman and poet Petter Dass, too, in his domain in Alstahaug. He is best known for his work entitled "Trumpet of the North".
Sandnessjøen is a busy port. It is easy to get out to the isles and skerries from here. Dønna and Herøy are wonderful spots for excursions.
At the head of the Leirfjord, turn off the fv. 17 and onto fv. 78 and proceed southwards along the Vefsnfjord to Mosjøen. Sjøgata street in Mosjøen has been preserved and is Northern Norway’s longest, continuous row of wooden buildings from the 1800s. Today Sjøgata houses restaurants, small cafés, galleries, exhibitions, shops, homes, boathouses and a marina.
Proceeding south on the E6 you will pass by the mighty 17-metre tall Laksforsen Waterfall. The tourist cafe offers the best view of the waterfall and the salmon’s struggle against the masses of water.
In Trofors, you can opt for the rv. 73 to Hattfjelldal, which together with Susendal is known for its cultural life and handicraft traditions. Hattfjelldal is one of the many areas of Sami settlement in Helgeland.
The Arctic Circle Region
The Arctic Circle is the magical boundary of the midnight sun. Driving north from Mosjøen, you can look across to Northern Norway’s highest mountains, the Okstindan Peaks in the east, and to the Svartisen Glacier in the north.
Mo i Rana has been an important centre for the mining industry. A to Moholmen among the old wooden buildings, and a visit to Rana Museum's culture and natural history departments are recommended.
Grønnligrotta Cave is well suited for family visits and there are several guided tours there every day, while Sætergrotta is more demanding. Svartisen Glacier lies approximately 32 kilometres north of Mo i Rana.
From the inland regions your journey continues beneath lofty mountains along the Ranfjord (fv. 12/17). Express passenger boats and car ferries from Stokkvågen can take you out among the islands. Try a trip to Lurøy, Lovund or Træna. On Lovund you can see nesting puffins in the summer. People have lived on Træna for over 9,000 years, and they still do. Visit Kirkhelleren, a cave with remnants of former settlement, or come here for the Træna Festival in July.
The road north from Stokkvågen to Storvika in Gildeskål is Nordland's tourist route.
From Kilboghamn there is a one-hour ferry crossing to Jektvik. The characteristic mountains of Hestmannen (the Horseman) and Rødøyløva (the Lion of Rødøy) watch over the seaward approach.
The next ferry goes from Ågskardet to Forøy. Along the way, there is an impressive view of the Engenbreen Glacier, an arm of the Svartisen Glacier. Take the boat across from Braset or Holand and meet the giant at close quarters. At Brestua Café, you can have coffee and a bite to eat.
On the road to Glomfjord, you will drive through one of Norway’s longest tunnels, no less than 7,600 metres in length. Glomfjord is an important industrial town.
It is recommended that you take a detour to Inndyr (fv. 838) and Gildeskål Old Church. This beautiful mediaeval church dates back to about 1130.
If you have brought your fishing rod along, the ideal spot is just around the corner. Both Kjellingstraumen and Saltstraumen offer oceans of fish. From Saltstraumen, the road leads to Bodø or Fauske, but you should opt for the route along the fv. 812. And why not take a trip to Beiarn along the fv. 813? Beiarn offers a wide range of outdoor adventures from caving to fishing in the river Beiarelva.
Storjord is the gateway to the Junkerdalsura Nature Reserve with its unique flora which includes orchids and other rare plants. The National Park Centre provides quality information about nature and the county's national parks. You can also make a detour along the rv. 77 to the Junkerdal Valley and the road to Sweden.
You are now approaching the Arctic Circle again and the Arctic Circle Centre.
Salten and Lofoten
Bodø, the county capital, is a node of communications and a lively city. Cultural life there is vibrant all year round. The Nordland Music Festival is a major annual cultural event with a range of famous artists. In the city itself, you will find the Norwegian Aviation Museum, a great place to visit for young and old.
Saltstraumen, the world’s strongest tidal current, is a well-known paradise for sport fishermen and is only 33 kilometres from Bodø city centre. You can also gain insight into the local history there, all the way back to the Stone Age.
North of Bodø lies the beautiful Kjerringøy Old Trading Post. In its heyday this was one of Northern Norway’s mightiest trading posts, today it is one of the best preserved in Northern Norway.
There are ferries from Bodø to the Lofoten Islands. Some of them call at Røst and Værøy on their way to Moskenes. Here you will find some of Northern Europe's biggest seabird colonies. Puffins are particularly popular visitors, staying out there from late April to early August.
The E10through the Lofoten Islands finishes up at Å, approximately five kilometres from the ferry docks. In the village of Å you find the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum and the Stockfish Museum. On the way from Å, the fishing villages lie like pearls on a string: Tind, Sørvågen, Moskenes, Reine and Hamnøy. The view from Reine towards the Kirkefjord was the reason why Reine was once voted the most beautiful place in Norway.
The next Lofoten island we encounter is Flakstadøy, where the very inviting white, sandy beach at Ramberg brings to mind a more southerly latitude. Motorists reach the biggest of the Lofoten Islands, Vestvågøy, via the 1,780 m long underwater Nappstraum Tunnel. Leknes is the island’s municipal centre.
On the eastern coast of Vestvågøy you find villages like Ballstad with its picturesque settlement, together with Mortsund and Stamsund. On the western coast we find Utakleiv, Unstad and Eggum with its magnificent midnight sun panorama. In Eggum you will find the sculpture "Head" by the Swiss artist Markus Raetz which is part of the Artscape Nordland project.
Follow the E10 to Lofotr Viking Muesum at Borg.
At Lofoten Golf Links in Hov, on the island of Gimsøy, you can play golf 24 hours a day during the summer in magnificent scenic surroundings.
The mountains become more alpine again on the island of Austvågøy. Henningsvær is a lively community both in summer, and in winter during the Lofoten fishery. Back on the road, the E10 leads us towards Kabelvåg and Svolvær. In addition to Kabelvåg’s charming wooden architecture, you will find Gallery Espolin, the Lofoten Museum and the Lofoten Aquarium in historical Storvågan, one kilometre from the town centre.
Svolvær, the capital of Lofoten, is a bright and busy town. The twin peaks of the Svolværgeita are the town’s trademark, posing a challenge to climbers to jump from one horn to the other. Do not miss a trip on the spectacular Trollfjord. There are several daily trips there during the summer.
There is a car ferry from Svolvær via Skrova to Skutvik in Hamarøy. Drop in at Tranøy, a tiny village with charming architecture.
At Ulvsvåg on the E6 you turn south. Turning off onto the rv. 827 from Sommerset, you drive to Drag in Tysfjord, where you find Arran, the Lule–Sami centre where you can learn about the Sami people’s history, language and culture.
Turn off along the fv. 835 to Steigen with its contrasting natural surroundings and cultural landscape with relics from the Iron Age, World War II and more recent times.
Fauske is perhaps best known for its marble, Norwegian Rose. Fv. 830 from Sulitjelma was built on the old railway line. The former mining town of Sulitjelma was founded in the 1890’s. Today, there is a mining museum and show mines in Sulitjelma. Leaving Fauske, you return to Bodø along the fv. 80. From Tverlandet it is only 13 kilometres to every angler’s paradise, Saltstraumen.
Ofoten and Vesterålen
From Fauske you drive northwards along the E6. A side road at Bognes leads out to the Leiknes range, one of the best preserved rock carving ranges in the country. The carvings are 8 - 9,000 years old and consist of about 40 full-scale figures.
The ferry from Bognes to Skarberget offers a spectacular view of the untamed Tysfjord and Efjord Mountains. Alternatively, you can turn off to Drag, from where there is a ferry to Kjøpsvik. Subsequently, follow the rv. 827 to the E6 and drive on to Narvik.
Stetind Mountain is a natural obelisk towering 1,381 metres straight up from the fjord. In 2002, Stetid was voted Norway’s national mountain.
The road now crosses the elegant Efjord bridges to Ballangen and on to Narvik where you will fin Europe’s biggest iron ore shipping plant. In Narvik, visit the War Memorial Museum and the Ofoten Museum. The mountain lift will take you 650 metres above sea level and give you a magnificent view of Narvik and the fjord.
Drive westwards to Sortland and continue to Andøya. The Andøya Bridge crosses the strait of Risøysundet that used to be so shallow that it had to be dug out so that the Hurtigruten (the Norwegian Coastal Voyage) ships could get through.
The island of Andøya should be seen from both sides. It is full of cultural relics, burial mounds from the Middle Ages and the Iron Age. On the outer side of the island the road traverses an open coastal landscape with a view of the Norwegian Sea. The tiny communities are clustered together, as though for protection against the ocean and strong winds, where even the tarmac has been blown off the roads.
While you are here, visit the seabird colony on the island of Bleik, the nature reserve with common seals off Nordmela, and go for a whale safari.
Next stop is Sortland, regional centre of Vesterålen and also known as the Blue City.
The fishing village of Nyksund, on fv. 821, is a fascinating experience overlooking the open sea. From being hard hit by stagnation, depopulation and decay, this old fishing hamlet is continuously making a name for itself as a dynamic centre of art and cuisine. Here, you can stay in original quayside buildings and feel the atmosphere of former glory.
Stø is a distinctive fishing village on the northern point of the island of Langøya. Stø offers daily whale, seal and seabird safaris. On fv. 820, new nature experiences await you.
Just off Nykvåg you find the peculiar Nykan – round, steep mountainous islands that accommodate many species of seabirds. On the way to Stokmarknes, you choose the road along the Eidsfjord. The economic boom caused by the fishery, led to, amongst other things, the establishment of the first Norwegian Coastal Voyage company, the Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab.
At the Coastal Voyage Museum (Hurtigrutemuseet) in Stokmarknes you will find exhibitions and an AV show.
The small town of Melbu is known for its active cultural life and characterised by its modern fishing industry.
There is a car ferry from Melbu to Fiskebøl in Vesterålen. Your route now turns north again to Sortland. On the way you can view the majestic Møysalen Mountain, the highest peak in the regions of Lofoten and Vesterålen (1,261 metres above sea level).
Leaving Sigerfjord on the rv. 85 along the Gullesfjord, you proceed to Kanstad and then to Lødingen, from where there is a ferry to Bognes.