Fjords, archipelagos, mountain peaks, arctic plains and dramatic coasts. Northern Norway is much nearer than you think; it is a 90-minute flight from Oslo to Bodø, and London-Tromsø takes three and a half hours. The most northerly airport in the world, Longyearbyen, is less than three hours from Oslo. Welcome to Northern Norway.
In summer you can really get close to nature in a river boat up the Alta River. Drive from Alta to Kautokeino at the southern edge of the Finnmarksvidda, and learn about Sami culture and history. Karasjok is the Sami ‘capital’ with its Sápmi cultural park and Sami Parliament, and the Easter festivals in Karasjok and Kautokeino are a cultural highlight. Continue across the Finnmarksvidda, past Lakselv and the Trollholmsund trolls. The nearby Stabbursdalen National Park provides summer grazing for Sami reindeer herds, and excellent walking for us along the Stabburselven river. Before you get to Kirkenes, why not take a detour onto the Varanger Peninsula? Follow the National Tourist Route through a craggy landscape of cliffs to the abandoned fishing village of Hamningberg. Kirkenes is the last port of call on the Hurtigruten, and the E6 ends here. Try some delicious king crab and go right up to the Russian border. Treriksrøysa marks the border between Norway, Finland and Russia.
Start your day in South Troms with a walk between strawberry fields and mountain peaks.Down on the coast, try deep sea fishing from Harstad, then enjoy the town’s art and culture. Learn about the region in Viking times, the Middle Ages and the Second World War at the Trondenes Historical Centre. Viking monuments are particularly profuse at Bjarkøy, once the seat of the Vikings’ most powerful chieftain Tore Hund, who not only founded a trade empire, but also slayed Olav the Holy in 1030, the year Christianity arrived in Norway. The medieval church in Trondenes was erected on the site of Hålogaland’s first church. Harstad itself is a lively town with great restaurants and an art and culture scene as fertile as the green mountainsides. Its Festival of North Norway fills the June evenings with international music, theatre, visual arts and literature.
Summer or winter, Bodø never stops. In summer you can kayak between the islands of the Bliksvær nature reserve, one of the world’s most important wetlands.Carry on to Steigen and Hamarøy, the Realm of Hamsun, an excellent area forwalking. Stop in Tysfjord and look up the fjord to see Stetind, Norway’s national mountain. Continue to Narvik, where every corner is steeped in history from the
Second World War. Take a ride in the cable car, and look down on the city from 600m. Next stop Gratangen and the Northern Norway Boat Museum, with its unique collection of Nordland boats. A visit to the Trondenes Historical Centre will take you on a journey from Viking times to the Second World War. Don’t miss the huge Adolf gun, originally built for German battleships. Visit Hinnøya, the biggest island in Norway, and continue on to the city of culture, Harstad. The Festival of North Norway takes place here in the third week of June every year, attracting artists and visitors from all over the world.