The UNESCO-protected islands of Vega, just south of the Arctic Circle, is named one of the world’s top undiscovered island gems.
There are more than 6,500 reasons why you should visit the Vega archipelago in the county of Nordland. This is in fact the number of islands, islets and reefs waiting to be explored.
For the bird-watching enthusiasts the Vega archipelago is simply a true gem, as the area has more than 230 species of birds. Chief among the bird population are eider ducks, raised for their feathers. The houses built for them to nest in can still be seen, alongside lighthouses, fishing villages, and dramatic landscapes.
In 2004, the archipelago’s cultural landscape was inscribed on the UNESCO List of World Natural and Cultural Heritage as representative of “the way generations of fishermen and farmers have, over the past 1,500 years, maintained a sustainable living in an inhospitable seascape near the Arctic Circle, based on the now unique practice of eider down harvesting”.
The Vega Islands have also received the Sustainable Tourism certification, a quality label awarded to destinations that work systematically to reduce the environmental impact of tourism while maintaining a high-quality experience for visitors, as well as preserving the destination’s history, character and nature.
Many locals would claim that spending time in Vega means to “live your life slowly”. This is the place to relax in beautiful surroundings. It doesn’t mean that nothing happens, but you control your own pace.
Enjoy everything from shallow beaches at Eidem in the south, to fishery harbours at Nes, Holand and Kirkøy in the north, rolling stones and panoramic views in the west and green deciduous forests, bays and coves in the east. You can travel to Vega by boat.
For foodies, Vega offers local food from the archipelago and the rest of Helgeland. Get a taste of freshly fried cod tongues and “Vegagomme” (curd from Vega), or enjoy a more traditional meal.
Go hiking or cycling and enjoy the islands’ special atmosphere, whether it be heavy storm clouds or bright, sunny summer evenings. Hire a boat and explore the coastline, maybe even cast a line – fishing is popular among locals. And what better way to end the day than spending the night in an old fisherman’s cabin?
At Nes The World Heritage Exhibition and The Lånan Exhibition give an insight into the UNESCO status and the unique industry with eggs and eider down production, in a true fisherman’s environment. Other attractions include Vega Church in Gladstad, a wooden church dating from 1864, and the war memorial at Ylvingen, where you can explore remains of bunkers and tunnels from World War II.
Get more inspiration at Helgeland’s official website.
Many places follow sustainable principles, but being certified as a sustainable destination is an honour few qualify for. It takes years of work demonstrating their lasting commitment to providing the best possible experiences for their guests, while keeping the negative impact of tourism to a minimum. In addition, the destination must work to continually improve its business practices and relations with the local community, whilst safeguarding their natural and cultural assets, history and traditions.
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You can get to Vega with an express boat from Brønnøysund or a car ferry from Horn, which is a 15-minute drive outside of Brønnøysund.
The famous Hurtigruten calls at Brønnøysund, Sandnessjøen, and Nesna twice a day.
The Vega Islands are located off the coast of Helgeland. You can reach the islands by Kystriksveien (“the Coastal Route”, Rv17), which stretches from Steinkjer to Bodø. Take a car ferry from Horn, 15 minutes outside of Brønnøysund.
If you drive the E6, follow the signs to Brønnøysund.
There are direct flights from Oslo to Brønnøysund, which is the closest airport. From there, you can take a taxi (6–7 minutes) to the express boat pier, and then an express boat to Vega.