The summers in Northern Norway are brief but busy – the precious midnight sun brighten up the landscape, allowing you to explore the fabulous surroundings with mountains, fjords, islands and high plateaus by bike around the clock.
The coastal areas are perfect for road cycling. Traffic is limited as the main traffic arteries go inland, and even in the wildest, rockiest terrain, the road follows the shoreline. Villages and settlements are found in every sheltered cove, sheep look at you as you cycle past, and there are lots of small museums, old churches and archaeological sites to stop at along the way.
Every stretch of the coast has a distinct personality: the undiscovered island of Senja with its dramatic coastline, the green archipelago of Vesterålen with sperm whales and puffins, the jagged peaks and picturesque fishing villages of the Lofoten Islands, and the 20,000 islands and rich cultural heritage of Helgeland immediately south of the Arctic Circle.
You can easily include detours like hiking to the nearest viewpoint, kayaking, boat trips, visits to bird cliffs and a sample of events from the rich summer culture calendar. The ferry to the next island gives you a chance to have a coffee, and there is a range of charming accommodation options.
In the high north, you will find the Finnmarksvidda plateau – a vast, untouched area with soft heather, small-grown willows and birch trees. Barely visible trails lead across undulating hills, and occasionally you will carry your bike across a gushing river or a marsh. This is proper wilderness cycling where you sleep in rustic mountain cabins, enjoy a sauna followed by a dip in the river, and have reindeer for dinner.
Further south, where towering mountains rise from the fjords, there are exhilarating trails going down the steep mountains. Around the Lyngenfjord you will also find exciting tracks of different levels, notably trail riding in the pine forest around Skibotn or the Lavka cross mountain trail. Holiday bungalows, small guesthouses and hotels on the fjord ensure a good night’s sleep, and there are some lovely eateries around.
Another option is to go with the shipping line Hurtigruten, which stops at 25 ports in Northern Norway, including Vesterålen, Tromsø, Hammerfest, Nordkyn and Kirkenes.
Driving is a scenic way of getting around in Northern Norway - but be aware that distances between the bigger cities can be larger than you think. It is possible to rent a car at all of the airports in Northern Norway.
There are airports in Bodø, Harstad/Narvik, Tromsø, Alta, Kirkenes and Longyearbyen, plus 20 short runway airports. Travel time from Oslo to Tromsø is around one hour and 45 minutes.
When cycling on the roads in Norway, the same traffic regulations and road signs apply to you as to cars and other vehicles: Keep to the right, give way to those coming from your right, and don’t drink and bike.
You may cycle on the pavement, but adapt your speed. You may not cycle on motorways and dual carriageways. Always wear a helmet when cycling. A high visibility vest is a good idea, especially on busy roads. Only children under the age of 10 may be carried as passengers.
In darkness and poor visibility make sure your bike is equipped with a white or yellow light in the front, and a red light in the back. You also need a red reflector in the rear and white or yellow reflectors on the pedals.
Make sure your bike has two brakes that work independently of each other and a bicycle bell.
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