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Northern lights over the fishing village Nyksund in Vesterålen, Northern Norway
Northern lights over Nyksund in Vesterålen.
Photo: Tor Ynvge Andreassen
Stokmaknes in Vesterålen, Northern Norway
Stokmarknes in Vesterålen.
Photo: Robin Fiksdal
Sami woman petting a reindeer in Vesterålen, Northern Norway
Sami experiences in Vesterålen.
Photo: Trym Ivar Bergsmo /

Vesterålen’s islands have everything from white sandy beaches and quaint fishing villages to jagged mountain peaks that rise straight out of the sea. But the largest attraction – in every sense of the word – is the whales!

Vesterålen is the only place in Norway where you can go whale watching any time of year. The reason is that the continental shelf is closer to the mainland up here compared to the rest of the Norwegian coast. Even on short trips, you are almost guaranteed to see whales.

The 1,330 large and small islands in the northern part of the Nordland region offer great experiences on land too. Walk along chalk-white beaches and continue up steep mountains. Winter adventures include snowshoe hiking and ski touring.

Along the coast, you’ll see old fishing villages with colourful cabins (“rorbuer”) that have housed fishermen and traders for centuries. One of the most well-known is Nyksund, where the houses are now filled with artists, galleries, museums, and quality restaurants.

In the summertime, you can enjoy the magnificent nature around the clock under the midnight sun, while winter offers optimal conditions for the northern lights.

Find more inspiration and information at Vesterålen’s official website.

Explore all the options below, or go directly to:
Things to do | Where to stay | Food and drink | Getting here and around

Top things to do in Vesterålen

Historical sites and cultural gems – explore some of the highlights.

Where to stay

From comfy hotels to cosy cabins. Find your home away from home in Vesterålen.

Food and drink

From local food gems to high-end restaurants. Get a taste of what Vesterålen offers.

Getting to Vesterålen

Get in-depth travel information on Vesterålen’s official website.
Plan your trip to Vesterålen with Entur.

Top attractions in Vesterålen
Now you can experience whale watching even closer to sea level from a RIB boat (rigid inflatable boat). Read more
Whale safari with RIB - Sea Safari Andenes
Sami adventures We offer our guests a unique experience of pure and authentic local Sami culture. Participate in our work with the reindeer and become… Read more
Sami Culture - Inga Sami Siida
Bring out your inner explorer at Andøya Space in Vesterålen! Located on Norway’s most scenic coastline you can join one of our virtual space missions,… Read more
Møysalen is the highest mountain in Vesterålen and Lofoten which also was rated Norway's Most Splendid Natural experience in 2009. Read more
A moose in it self is majestic sight, but to see it under the northern lights in moonlight is magical. Read more
Moose Safari under the northern lights
Destinations in Northern Norway
From local food and mountains soaring above deep blue fjords to the midnight sun and the northern lights – discover the Arctic capital,… Read more
The UNESCO-protected islands of Vega, just south of the Arctic Circle, is named one of the world’s top undiscovered island gems. Read more
Vega Islands
Lofoten is known for excellent fishing, nature attractions such as the northern lights and the midnight sun, and small villages off the beaten track.… Read more
The Lofoten Islands
Far above the Arctic Circle, the North Cape offers arctic adventures like dog-sledding in the winter and months of never-ending sunlight in the… Read more
The North Cape
In the city of Alta you can experience Sami culture up close, see UNESCO protected rock carvings, sleep in a ice hotel or hunt for the northern light. Read more
Bodø is home to the world’s strongest maelstrom Saltstraumen. The largest city in Nordland is also just a boat ride away from the old… Read more
Experience the cultural hub of Bodø as well as untouched nature, the world’s strongest tidal current, and remarkable, windswept… Read more
Get ready for an Arctic adventure with whale watching, cool museums, hiking and snowshoeing. In Vesterålen, you can combine wow experiences with… Read more
Go hiking in the mountains, explore the archipelago in a kayak or RIB, and join exciting cultural events. Harstad is the perfect base for a holiday in… Read more
The Svalbard Islands are located in the Arctic Ocean, halfway between Norway and the North Pole. Here, you will find untouched arctic wilderness and… Read more
The Svalbard Islands
In Helgeland, you can paddle around the UNESCO-protected Vega islands and climb mountains like Torghatteen and The Seven Sisters. Or try the… Read more
Teeming bird rocks in Hornøya, a snow hotel, dramatic war stories and a witch monument in Vardø are among the attractions awaiting… Read more
Kirkenes and Eastern Finnmark
Join a dogsled expedition, learn to throw a lasso, and experience the Sami culture first hand in Karasjok and Kautokeino. Read more
Land of the Sami
Discover Narvik, a town above the Arctic Circle where nature is your playground. Go hiking, skiing or climbing and experience the midnight sun in… Read more
Go kayaking and hiking in the midnight sun, or skiing and dog sledding under the northern lights. Or simply kick back and enjoy some of the most… Read more
Senja and Central Troms
An urban surprise along a barren, mostly uninhabited coast, Hammerfest is an arctic town full of life and outdoor adventurous. Read more
In Nordkyn, the northernmost region on the European mainland, you can enjoy beautiful scenery, world class fishing, Arctic adventures and… Read more
The Lyngenfjord and the Lyngsalpene mountain range form an Arctic area of exotic and family-friendly outdoor activities based on pure fun… Read more
The Lyngenfjord region
Kystriksveien is one of the most scenic drives in the world. Along the road you can climb the mountains Torghatten and De syv søstre,… Read more
Kystriksveien – the coastal route
Norwegian Scenic Routes in Northern Norway
Norwegian Scenic Route Varanger is 160 kilometres long and travels between Varangerbotn and Hamningberg. Read more
Norwegian Scenic Route Havøysund is 67 kilometres long and travels between Kokelv and Havøysund. Read more
Norwegian Scenic Route Senja is 102 kilometres long and travels between Gryllefjord and Botnhamn. Detours to Mefjordvær and Husøya. Read more
Norwegian Scenic Route Andøya is 58 kilometres long and travels between Bjørnskinn and Andenes. Read more
Norwegian Scenic Route Lofoten is 230 kilometres long and travels between Å and Raftsundet. Detours to Nusfjord, Vikten, Utakleiv, Unstad, Eggum, and… Read more
Norwegian Scenic Route Helgelandskysten is 433 kilometres long and travels between Holm and Godøystraumen, with a detour to Torghatten. Read more
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    Statens Kartverk, Geovekst og kommuner - Geodata AS
    • Vesterålen boat

      By boat

      The Norwegian Coastal Voyage Hurtigruten calls daily at Risøyhamn, Sortland, and Stokmarknes in Vesterålen.

      There is a year-round ferry service between Lødingen and Bognes, and between Melbu and Fiskebøl. In summer, there is also a ferry connection between Andenes and Gryllefjord.

      For travel to Lofoten, there’s a ferry connection between Melbu and Digermulen.

      Ad: Hurtigruten – “The World’s Most Beautiful Sea Voyage”

    • Vesterålen road

      By road

      Vesterålen is connected to the mainland and the E6 with two-lane highways. Several bridges and tunnels link the island group of Vesterålen together.

      Note that Norway has a unique traffic culture, in the way that it might be the only country in the world where pedestrians cross roads without paying much attention, expecting cars to slow down or even stop. The same goes for cyclists – they use the roads, but often don’t follow traffic rules. There has been many dangerous situations and accidents between cars driven by tourists and cyclists and pedestrians. For many car tourists, it can be a new experience to share the roads with these groups.

      There are daily buses from larger cities in Northern Norway to Sortland, the largest town in Vesterålen.

      Ad: AutoEurope – always a smooth rental experience

    • Vesterålen plane

      By plane

      There are frequent and regular flights from all the major cities in Norway to Harstad/Narvik Airport, which is the closest airport to Vesterålen. An airport bus service takes you to Sortland in Vesterålen in about 2 hours.

      Other airports in Vesterålen are Stokmarknes Airport and Andøya Airport.

      Ad: Widerøe – the largest regional airline in Scandinavia

    Travel through Northern Norway

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