Andøya National Tourist Route is a 36-mile-long stretch of road between Andenes and Bjørnskinn in the Vesterålen Archipelago in the county of Nordland in Northern Norway.
The region has been shaped by the rough Norwegian Sea. The fishing hamlets of Bleik and Nordmela reflect the interplay between people and the harshness of nature over the course of millennia (there are traces of Stone Age human settlement here).
Also on Andøya are some of Norway's biggest marshes, where peat is cut. The island is also known for its cloudberries. From the flat expanse of bog and marshland, steep cliffs rise up more than 2,296 feet above the sea. In summer, the island is turned golden by the midnight sun.
Together with Senja, Andøya offers a more coastal alternative to the E6 and Hurtigruten. The island's undisturbed location beside the open sea and the presence of the Gulf Stream make it possible to see both whales and seals. The bird cliffs on Bleiksøya, where sea eagles circle above the puffins, and sea fishing trips offer other possibilities.
Viewpoints along the road
Kleivodden: The viewpoint at Kleivodden is located at the half-way point between Andenes and Bleik, and offers a majestic view of the wide ocean, Bleik hamlet and Bleiksøya island. A viewing platform for visitors has been built near the road. This installation is also adapted for wheelchair users.
Børra: At Bukkekjerka, there are plans for a large rest area with toilets. This will become the main stopping place on the route. The place is a Sami cultural heritage site (place of sacrifice) and the area is rich in history. There is a fantastic view from Børra and it is a great place to see the midnight sun in summer.
What to see
At Bleik, you will find Northern Europe's longest sandy beach. Bleikstranda Beach is also incredibly beautiful with its white sand and the surrounding steep cliffs.
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon which takes place when the sun does not set during the summer months. At Andenes you can see the midnight sun from 22 May to 21 July.
Nordmela is a fishing village on the west side of Andøya. Sandy beaches around Åkvika south of the site are a popular tourist attraction.
The Whale Centre at Andenes offers a combination of tourism, education and research. A multi-media show on whales and their environment is shown several times a day.
The Northern Light Centre in Andenes is a science centre, which has the northern lights in focus. The northern lights belt hits Northern Norway in the Lofoten Islands and Vesterålen, and follows the coast all the way up to the North Cape. The lights are at their most frequent in late autumn and winter/early spring.
Atelier Nøss, the family Tollefsen's atelier on the west side of Andøya, in the village of Nøss, is also well worth a visit.
Read more about Vesterålen.
What to do
The Vesterålen Archipelago consists of five islands, including the island of Andøya, which are linked together by bridges. Several cycle routes cover all the five islands.
Visit the seabird colony on the island of Bleik, the nature reserve with common seals off Nordmela. The island is the nesting ground for more than 150,000 puffins.
Visit Stø and Andenes in Vesterålen and go for a whale safari. The season is from mid-May to mid-September.
Fishing on the open sea is a North Norwegian Adventure. Join a deep-sea-fishing-trip with starting point at Bleik, and have your catch cooked and served on board.
The Stave – Bleik coastal trail in Andøy stretches over a distance of 5 miles through a landscape of beaches, rocky shorelines, hills and mountains. The trip, including a detour to Måtinden, takes five to six hours.
Andenes Lighthouse at Andenes was opened in 1859 and is still in use. The lighthouse is 131 feet tall and has an inside staircase with 148 steps. You are welcome to visit the lighthouse, and certificates are awarded to those reaching the top.
Visit Stave Hot Pools, 100ºF hot water pools overlooking the ocean on the west coast at Stave.
Read more about What to do in Vesterålen.
Where to stay
Andøy Friluftssenter at Buksnesfjord has been built to blend in with nature and consists of a campsite and well-equipped cabins.
Junibakken at Fiskenes is located on a beautiful spot with a view over the ocean and the mountainside. Fishing, as well as seal, bird and whale safari, are all options from here.
Beach Camping & Cabins at Stave: Apartments on the west coast of Andøya with steaming 100ºF hot pools built into the landscape – the beach sauna allows guests to combine sauna with a dip in the Arctic Ocean.
Situated in Andenes, Norlandia Andrikken Hotel offers overnight accommodation in the centre of Andenes or in fishermen's shacks at the nearby Lankanholmen.
Marmelkroken in Risøyhamn offers apartments or cottages with ocean views.
Read more about Where to stay in Vesterålen.
Where to eat
The kitchen at Andøya Friluftssenter in Buksnesfjord provides a taste of the wilderness through its traditional and contemporary meals made from the farm's own resources.
In authentic North-Norwegian surroundings, Riggen Restaurant in Andenes offers both traditional and modern dishes served pier side.
Also in Andenes, Lysthuset Sørvesten Restaurant serves many ocean's delicacies in a tasteful, maritime environment.
- Road: Fv. 82, fv. 976 and fv. 974 between Andenes and Bjørnskinn on Andøya in Vesterålen, in the county of Nordland.
- Length: 36 miles. You can choose ferries as an alternative form of transport on this stretch. The Andenes - Gryllefjord ferry route operates during the summer season, connecting the Andøya and Senja National Tourist Routes. On parts of the route, especially over the mountains to Røldal, the road is narrow and winding. There are currently no restrictions on buses, but the recommendation is short buses.
Getting to Andøya National Tourist Route
Andenes is the north end of the Andøya National Tourist Route and also the region centre in the area.
The Hurtigruten ships stop at the port of Risøyhamn, 31 miles south of Andenes. The ships can accommodate cars, making it easy to combine the cruise with a drive along the Andøya National Tourist Route.
There are also daily bus service to/from Andenes.
Distance between Bodø and Andenes:
247 miles, including one ferry crossing
Distance between Trondheim and Andenes:
617 miless, including one ferry crossing
Distance between Oslo and Andenes:
920 miles, including one ferry crossing
Read more about Getting to Vesterålen.