The town of Harstad enjoys a beautiful and strategic location on Norway's largest island Hinnøya with close proximity to Lofoten to the west, Narvik to the east, Tromsø to the north and Bodø to the south.
When you visit Harstad, you will discover a pleasant town and a surrounding area with a rich array of culture and nature-based experiences. Harstad is a mix of old and contemporary architecture which, in combination with the town's many cafés and restaurants, provide a good atmosphere. In the last week of June, Harstad hosts the annual Festival of Northern Norway, a fantastic cultural celebration featuring a mix of amateur and professional artists.
The area surrounding Harstad is exciting. Kvæfjord with its world famous strawberries and the Viking island of Bjarkøy with 523 islets and rocks.
The area around the region's airport, Harstad/Narvik Airport Evenes, offers fantastic hiking options, white sandy beaches and beautiful fjords. You will also find old Sami settlements and a cultural heritage dating back several thousand years.
By Norwegian standards, Harstad is a relatively small municipality. It covers an area of 364 km², the majority of which is on the islands of Hinnøya and Grytøya. Harstad is a municipality comprised entirely of islands and also covers a large number of smaller islands and islets, including Rogla, Arnøya, Kjeøya, Kjøtta, Kjøttakalven and Åkerøya.
Settlement in the Harstad district dates right back to the Stone Ages. Bjarkøy and Trondenes were power centres in the later stages of the Viking era and in medieval times, and even in those times this area was the region's largest settlement.
Tore Hund from Bjarkøy killed Norway's Patron Saint, Saint Olav, in 1030. The thirteenth century Trondenes Church, the world's northernmost medieval stone church, stands on the site of one of Hålogaland's earliest and most important church centres.
The development of Harstad is attributed to its location and transport patterns throughout the ages. The sea was the old transport artery and the early steam ships had Sandtorg and Trondenes as ports of call. In 1844, Trondenes was replaced by Harstadhamn, which in turn was replaced in 1848 by Harstadsjøen. This was the first step towards Harstad becoming a town. In 2004, Harstad celebrated its centennial.
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