This lightly-trafficked, summertime road trip is a great way to experience Northern Norway's stunning coastline from late May to early September. The adventure starts with a half-day in Tromsø—"Paris of the North"—before you continue to Sommarøy, the first of many islands. You'll then take car ferries to Senja island and Andoya island to enjoy remote nature where fewer travelers venture. Finish the adventure in Lofoten's stunning, and yes, more popular, islands for hiking and kayaking while based in the charming village of Reine.

Highlights

  • Swim at one of the many sandy beaches on Senja island
  • Go whale watching in Andenes, known for its year-round whale spottings
  • Hike a famous waterfront trail on Norway's 3rd largest island
  • Go sea kayaking with a private guide

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tromsø - Drive to Sommarøy Sommarøy
Day 2 Ferry to Botnhamn - Explore Senja Island Senja
Day 3 Ferry to Andenes - Explore Andøya Island Andenes
Day 4 Hike the Queen's Route Andenes
Day 5 Drive to the Lofoten Islands - Hiking in Reine Reine
Day 6 Kayaking Tour of the Lofoten Islands Reine
Day 7 Ferry to Bodø - Depart Norway  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tromsø - Drive to Sommarøy

Sommaroy
Sommaroy

Welcome to Tromsø, the largest city in Northern Norway!

Surrounded by mountains and sea, Tromsø is a lively place with 65,000 inhabitants. In addition to its lovely scenery and rich history, the city has a large student population and is famous for its robust music and film culture, so get out and explore this self-proclaimed "Gateway to the Arctic".

A good place to start is taking a ride on the cable car that runs up to a mountain ledge in just four minutes. The two gondolas, known as Seal and Polar Bear, each have a capacity of 28 passengers. From the viewing platform at the upper station, you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Tromsø and the surrounding islands, mountains, and fjords below. If you want to stay for lunch, an early dinner, or a snack, Fjellstua café on top offers great views and a place to unwind. Otherwise, head back down to Tromsø for a variety of pubs and restaurants. 

When you're ready to hit the road, you'll drive 35 miles (56 km) west to Sommarøy with views of several small islands in Tromsø County, as well as beaches and vibrant fishing villages where you can stop and take photographs. Sommarøy is a fine getaway destination from Tromsø and makes for a great stop-off point along the coast.

Day 2: Ferry to Botnhamn - Explore Senja Island

A remote beach on Senja island
A remote beach on Senja island

After breakfast in Sommarøy, you'll take a 10-minute drive to Brensholmen where you'll connect to the car ferry to Botnhamn—a small village that acts as a jumping off point for Senja Island. The ride takes about 45 minutes and you can pay on the spot. 

Upon arrival, make your way along Senja's National Tourist Route, where charming villages are linked by roads with amazing views. You can drive along most of Senja's coast, stopping to wander around rocks sculpted by the elements and colorful fishing villages in sheltered coves; meanwhile, Senja's inland is infused with mountains, lakes, and forests, while its mainland-facing coast offers unexpectedly green fields.

There are a wealth of hiking and biking trails to choose from, as well as one of the world’s best fishing areas. Another option is to rent a kayak and paddle the calm waters, taking in the bird life and majestic scenery. Hop out for lunch or a swim at one of the many sandy beaches on the island and stay well into the night, watching the landscape become bathed in golden light from the midnight sun.

Day 3: Ferry to Andenes - Explore Andøya Island

A lighthouse in Andenes
A lighthouse in Andenes

Following breakfast at your hotel on Senja Island, you will pack up your car and take a 1.5-hour ferry to Andenes. This is a village on Andøya Island within the archipelago of Vesterålen, which lies just north of the more touristy Lofoten Islands. 

Nature lovers will be in heaven here, for the varied landscapes span from calm and peaceful beaches to craggy, alpine mountains and dramatic fjords.

Most Norwegians know Andenes as a year-round whale watching destination and the northernmost point in the world where you can observe sperm whales. Even short trips offer a very high chance of spotting a whale, so take the afternoon to enjoy a 2-4 hour boat trip with a local whale watching operation, where you can get a glimpse of the mighty sperm whales as well as other aquatic life and seabirds. 

Alternatively, you can go walking or biking between the five different islands linked together by bridges or tunnels. The routes are mostly flat along asphalted roads that were originally built where people lived. Traffic is heaviest in the mid-summer season, but it is still moderate—apart from the E10. To avoid crowds, skip the E10 highway in favor of lesser-traveled roads.

Day 4: Hike the Queen's Route

Aerial view of this lesser-visited region in Norway
Aerial view of this lesser-visited region in Norway

After a hearty breakfast, set out towards the fishing village of Stø — a beautiful 2.5-hour drive from Andenes, 93 miles away (151 km).

From here, you'll hike along Dronningruta, the Queen’s Route. This moderate, 9-mile (15 km) round trip takes you along the shoreline and over the mountain between Stø and the old fishing village of Nyksund, in the far north of Langøya, Norway's third largest island.

Named after Queen Sonja, who first visited the island in 1994, the route itself is much older and has been used by many people, including (according to legend) the midwife of Stø on her way to births in Nyksund. The route is now a combination of two well-marked hiking trails (a low and high route) running along the ocean's edge. Together, they form an incredibly beautiful walk.

When you're done hiking, take time in the late afternoon for a drive on the National Tourist Route along the west coast of Andøya— one of the best ways to experience the region's coastline and its characteristic fishing villages with colorful wooden houses.

Day 5: Drive to the Lofoten Islands - Hiking in Reine

View from a hike above Reine
View from a hike above Reine

After breakfast in Nyksund, it is time to drive further south to the Lofoten Islands where you'll make your way towards the beautiful village of Reine. The drive will take about five hours—176 miles (286 km)—but give yourself ample time, as you'll likely want to stop often along the way to explore the charming fishing villages and beautiful nature!

Reine's red and white fishermen’s huts from the late 1800s—called rorbuer—dotting the shoreline are quite a contrast to the surrounding peaks of granite shooting out of the Reinefjorden, which is why it attracts photographers from around the world. A recommended hike is Reinebringen, leading to one of the biggest viewpoints in the area with a panorama of Reinefjorden and the Lofoten Wall. Make sure to leave enough time to enjoy the views at the top! 

Visitors can opt to stay in the original fishermen cabins (the oldest one is from the 1890s), which have been modernized with indoor facilities and Wi-Fi, providing a cozy place to stay. Local museums and galleries provide history and culture of the region, and there's even an annual jazzfest held in April!

Day 6: Kayaking Tour of the Lofoten Islands

Kayaking near Reine
Kayaking near Reine

You'll want to have a hearty breakfast this morning to prepare for your private sea kayaking tour with a local guide! Lofoten's calm waters, deep fjords, and rugged mountains provide stunning surroundings for paddling in these peaceful environs. Make sure to look for sea eagles overhead and abundant marine life below. 

After the tour, you'll have free time to drive around the islands to explore other small fishing villages surrounded by Lofoten's spectacular landscape. Enjoy every moment—this is your last night of the trip!

Day 7: Ferry to Bodø - Depart Norway

Ferry to Bodø where you'll catch a flight to Oslo
Ferry to Bodø where you'll catch a flight to Oslo

It's time to say farewell to Norway! Today's journey starts with a car ferry from Moskenes to Bodø. From there, you'll return the rental car and fly back to either Tromsø or Oslo in order to connect to your departing flight home. Although it's time to say goodbye to Norway, the memories from your trip will surely stay with you forever!

Map

Map of Summer Road Trip:  Norway's West Coast - 7 Days
Map of Summer Road Trip: Norway's West Coast - 7 Days