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.
Vesterålen has achieved the certification Sustainable Destination. Although this does not mean that the destination is sustainable, it does mean that it has made a commitment to work systematically to reduce the negative effects of tourism, while strengthening its positive ripple effects.
Find more inspiration and information at Vesterålen’s official website.
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.
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.
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.