Helgeland Coast National Tourist Route in the county of Nordland runs between Holm and Godøystraumen and is 269 miles long, including the detour to Torghatten which is also part of the route.
The main urban centres are Brønnøysund and Sandnessjøen in the south, and Ørnes in the north.
Fv. 17 between Steinkjer and Bodø is known as Kystriksveien (the Coastal Highway). And the northernmost part of this road between Stokkvågen, west of Mo i Rana, and Storvika, south of Bodø, makes up the National Tourist Route along the coast of Helgeland.
Driving up the road you will cross the Arctic Circle and enter the land of the midnight sun. The mild coastal climate provides an abundant flora, and the sharp mountain peaks and wild rivers offer many outdoor activity opportunities.
The southern stretch of the road is a journey through lush nature, with the ocean, sheltered bays and beaches on the seaward side of the road and mountains and peaks on the other. This coast is rich in tradition, legends and stories.
The Vega Islands are on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The Seven Sisters north of Alstahaug and Torghatten south of Brønnøysund are well known natural attractions along this stretch of road. The Seven Sisters are a range of seven mountains, all more than 3,280 feet above sea level. The 524-feet-long hole through the Torghatten Mountain was created by the ice age.
In the north the road winds along coast and sea, mountain and glacier and crosses the Arctic Circle towards the midnight sun of summer and the-round-the clock darkness of winter. This route provides an alternative to the E6 to the west of the Svartisen Glacier, with a view of ocean and islands.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Helgeland's nature is rich and fertile. The sea-lanes along this coast were once the country's main thoroughfare for north-south travel. The Svartisen Glacier is easily seen from the road, a 135 square mile demonstration of frozen power. An arm of the glacier, the Engabreen Glacier, reaches down from 3,937 feet above sea level and almost to the fjord itself.
Beyond the tourist route, more than 14,000 islands stretch out into the ocean, offering a wealth of activity and experience. The islands and skerries of the Helgeland Coast have been made accessible to travellers by ferries and express boats.
Viewpoints along the road
Together with the numerous natural viewpoints, there are two panoramic view- and rest areas made in collaboration with the National Tourist Route Helgeland Coast:
Hellåga is a large rest area with services and information boards. Steps down to the water improve access to the sea. Benches on the sloping rock face also provide opportunities for those who like to fish.
Jektvik is a transparent glass building with an outer layer of fibreglass panelling where you will find a waiting room and services. The building is located at Jektvik ferry landing.
What to see
The mythical landscape along Norway's northern coast offers a plethora of cultural heritage sites along the way, and the powerful Svartisen Glacier stretches towards the fjords where a string of islands bedecks the coast out to sea.
Just south of the Arctic Circle you will find the Vega Islands. The archipelago reflects the way fishermen and farmers have, over the past 1,500 years, maintained a sustainable living. The island of Vega and its surrounding islands were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2004.
Visit the UNESCO museum at Vega and learn about the close relationship between the eider ducks and the people still living on the islands. Eider down production is an experience on its own. In May and June you can stay at Lånan and visit the bird keepers and watch them at work.
Just outside Sandnessjøen you can visit the mountains the Seven Sisters - fabled mountain peaks with well marked hiking trails up to all of the summits. The best view of the mountains, however, is from the island of Herøy.
Saltstraumen is the world’s most powerful maelstrom and is situated outside of Bodø, just north of the Helgeland Coast National Tourist Route. Every six hours, 400 million cubic meters of water rush through the 492-feet wide and three-kilometer long sound at speeds of up to 20 knots (40 kilometers per hour). The powerful whirlpools can be up to 32 feet in diameter and 16 feet deep. A tide table for Saltstraumen is available at the local tourist information office.
The Petter Dass Museum and Church are located on Alstahaug. The museum, designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta (the people behind Oslo Opera) and completed in 2007, is a striking piece of modern architecture. Be sure to join a guided tour and perhaps take a walk to the wharf to visit the local café.
Read more about Attractions in Helgeland.
What to do
Try a guided boat ride and fishing in the Vega Islands. Vega Opplevelsesferiehas fishermen’s cabins, kayaks and boats for hire, and a big fishing vessel to take visitors out to sea.
There are several ways of experiencing Saltstraumen. Saltstraumen Naturopplevelser offers eagle safaris and sea rafting. And Saltstraumen is famous for its diving and extremely good fishing opportunities.
Explore the Helgeland Coast in a RIB boat out to the islands of Sandsundvær, or to Ytterholmen, Floholman and Åsvær Lighthouse. Seløy Kystferie also arrange photo safaris to sea eagle colonies, cormorant colonies, seals and old fishing communities.
Cycling along the coast from Brønnøysund in the south, can take you to the Vega Islands and the island of Ylvingen, known from Norwegian TV. Then you can go to the borough of Vevelstad further north before you continue to Alstahaug or another of the many islands in Helgeland.
Hiking to Torghatten, the famous mountain with its distinctive hole, is popular. The walk up to the hole along the well-prepared path takes about 30 - 40 minutes. Location: 9 miles from Brønnøysund, near Torghatten Camping.
The Svartisen Glacier is the second largest glacier in Norway. A popular excursion is the Austerdalsisen Glacier, 19 miles north of Mo i Rana. Join a 20-minutes boat trip across the lake followed by a three-kilometer-long walk up to the impressive glacier.
Learn more about fish-farming and marine life. At the Norwegian Aquaculture Centre, you can learn about modern aquaculture and the environment around the aquaculture facility.
Read more about What to do in Helgeland.
Where to stay
In the midst of the realm of the eider duck, far out at sea, you will discover the small islands of Hysværet and the family-run guest house Gåkkå Mathus. Hysværet is part of the Vega Islands.
Vega Havhotell, also in the Vega Islands, is well known for its kitchen and atmosphere.
Galeasen Hotel is situated in the centre of Brønnøysund, on the harbour. Some of the rooms and the restaurant overlook the harbour and the inner archipelago.
Just north of the Arctic Circle lies the charming island of Rødøya. Here you will find Klokkergården, previously one of the first boarding schools in the borough. Today, Klokkergården offers good standard accommodation and excellent food.
Read more about Where to stay in Helgeland.
Where to eat
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.
Handelsstedet Forvik (the Old Forvik trading post) has been a trading place since 1792. Here you can enjoy local and international cuisine based on local products. Handelsstedet Forvik is a member of the Arctic Menu.
Vega Havhotell serves tasty homemade food of the finest and freshest ingredients that the sea, land and the Vega Islands can offer. Lavish wine cellar.
Experience life in the Stone Age, and prepare your catch in a cooking pit at Tyvsjyen. Exciting, tasty food is served in a reconstructed Stone Age turf hut or out by the fjord.
In the historic restaurant at Klokkergården on the island of Rødøya (see above), you can enjoy local food in beautiful surroundings in old, refurnished buildings.
Read more about Eating in Helgeland.
- Road: Fv. 17 between Holm and Godøystraumen in the county of Nordland.
- Length: 269 miles, including the detour to Torghatten, which is part of the route.
Getting to Helgeland National Tourist Route
Distances from Bergen, Oslo and Trondheim:
- From Bergen to Brønnøysund (31 miles north of Holm, the south end of Helgeland Coast National Tourist Route): Approximately 664 miles (16 hours)
- From Oslo to Brønnøysund: Approximately 553 miles (13 hours)
- From Trondheim to Brønnøysund via the scenic coastal road rv. 17: Approximately 236 miles (6 hours)
- From Bodø: Helgeland Coast National Tourist Route lies approximately 62 miles southwest of Bodø. The main route from Bodø is eastwards on fv. 80 to Tverlandet, and then continues southwest on fv. 17 to Storvika, the north end of Helgeland Coast National Tourist Route. The drive takes approximately one-and-a-half hours.
Hurtigruten (The Norwegian Coastal Voyage) starts out in Bergen and takes you across the Arctic Circle to Kirkenes in Finnmark, through the heart of coastal Norway.
You can choose to join for a short trip, or take the whole cruise to Kirkenes and back. The journey Bergen - Kirkenes - Bergen takes 11 days.
Departures are daily and there are frequent stops along the coast. The ships can accommodate cars, making it easy to combine the cruise with a drive along the Helgeland Coast National Tourist Route.
Read more about Hurtigruten and Getting to Helgeland and around.
National Tourist Routes in Norway