Situated directly above the Lofoten islands, Vesterålen offers you vast wildlife, landscapes and accessible mountains to explore, incredible places to hike, whale watching tours, hiking and kayaking under the Midnight Sun.
Vesterålen is certified as a sustainable destination. Best of all, this magical destination is not so well known among tourists yet, so it’s a gem waiting to be discovered!
We have gathered useful information about Vesterålen in this article: the best things to do, the best places to explore and some exclusive tips and suggestions for you to use during your trip here this summer.
How to get to Vesterålen
Getting to the Vesterålen archipelago in Northern Norway is easy. You can travel here by air, train, car or via The Arctic Route. The latter is highly recommended if you would prefer not to drive and simply enjoy your time and the landscapes.
If you are coming from outside Norway, you can fly to Oslo and then take a connecting flight to Harstad/Narvik airport.
From there, you can take The Arctic Route (summer route Narvik – Lofoten – Narvik) to the stop in the centre of Svolvær. From there, take The Arctic Route again the following day (summer route Tromsø – Lofoten – Tromsø) and get off at Melbu, Stokmarknes or the Vesterålen Kysthotel.
The route also stops including Sortland Hotel, Marmelkroken, Bleik Beach and Andenes. You can hop-on and hop-off at any of the stops. We recommend purchasing a 4, 7 or 10-day travel pass, so you can enjoy unlimited travel on these routes during your chosen period.
The bus journey to Vesterålen is extremely scenic as you will travel on one of the 18 Norwegian Scenic Routes. You can stop at several places along the way to enjoy the views. Once you reach Vesterålen, you can explore the region by bike or on foot as Vesterålen is relatively small and easy to get around.
You can also rent a car or drive to Vesterålen: take the E6 highway from Oslo to Narvik and then drive along the coast to Vesterålen.
Go on a boat tour to watch whales and other marine life
Vesterålen is famous for whale watching as it’s the only place in Norway where you can whale watch year-round. During the summertime, you can go whale watching in the famous Bleik Canyon. This area is home to many species such as sperm whales, fin whales, orcas and dolphins. They migrate to this zone during the summer months to feed, making it the perfect time to observe these majestic animals in their natural habitat.
If you are lucky, you will also see other species such as white-tailed eagles and puffins.
We recommend booking our adventurous whale watching by Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB). This tour departs from Svolvær or from Tromsø and lasts 2 to 3 hours (time spent on the RIB). You will be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who can tell you all about the whales you are watching.
This tour is available from 15 June and 14 August. If you are coming from Tromsø to join this tour, an overnight stay in Svolvær is needed.
You can book this tour with accommodation included here.
2 in 1 tour: Visit the Hurtigruten Museum in Stokmarknes and the famous Trollfjord
If you are looking for a unique and educational experience during your trip to Norway, visiting the Hurtigruten Museum in Stokmarknes followed by the spectacular Trollfjord is a must. This museum is dedicated to the history of the famous Norwegian coastal shipping service, Hurtigruten, which has been operating for more than 120 years.
Depart from Svinøya or Svolvær on The Arctic Route buses to Stokmarknes on a comfortable and scenic journey. Once there, you will find the brand-new museum dedicated to Hurtigruten’s history and heritage. The museum is built in a modern and innovative design, showcasing the evolution of Hurtigruten’s operations from its early beginnings to its current fleet of modern vessels.
The museum in the birthplace of the Hurtigruten coastal service is designed to be interactive, with hands-on exhibits, audio-visual displays and a wide range of artefacts and memorabilia.
After visiting the Hurtigruten Museum, take some time to explore the small town of Stokmarknes on foot or by bike. Stokmarknes is a charming place with traditional wooden houses and narrow streets and is surrounded by beautiful scenery including mountains, fjords and the open sea. There are several walking and cycling trails in the area, ranging from easy to moderate level, offering stunning views of the landscape and surroundings.
Return to Svolvær on the famous Hurtigruten coastal voyage and visit Trollfjord. This is an experience not to be missed, as the Hurtigruten ship takes you deep into the heart of the fjord, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and wildlife. The fjord is home to a wide range of wildlife, including eagles, seals and whales, making it a popular destination for nature lovers.
Hike under the Midnight Sun
One of the unique things about Vesterålen during summertime is the Midnight Sun. As the region is situated above the Arctic Circle, Vesterålen experiences daylight around the clock from late May until late July. This means you can hike in the middle of the night and still enjoy the daylight.
There are many hiking trails in Vesterålen, ranging from easy strolls to challenging mountain hikes. One popular trail in the Møysalen National Park leads to the top of Møysalen, the highest mountain in Vesterålen. The views from the summit are breathtaking, and the golden rays of the Midnight Sun add an extra dimension.
From Melbu Hotel, you can go on a guided tour of the island of Hadseløya with a local guide.
Visit Andøya Space Center to learn more about space exploration and the Northern Lights
One of the most unique things to do in Vesterålen during the summertime is to visit the Andøya Space Center. This is Norway’s only operational space centre and an educational, interactive and fun experience for visitors of all ages. Dedicated to space exploration and research, this fascinating centre offers a unique opportunity to learn about the Northern Lights and other natural phenomena that occur above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway.
Andøya Space is home to a variety of exhibits and displays that showcase the history and science of space exploration. Visitors can explore the interactive exhibits, watch films about the Northern Lights and even participate in educational workshops and lectures. You can even go on a guided tour of the facility and gain a behind-the-scenes look at how space research is conducted.
Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the observatory, which offers a panoramic view of the night sky. Other exciting options for visitors include the Space Escape Room and a simulated “Journey to Mars”, which can be booked separately on arrival at the centre.
Vesterålen is a hidden gem in Northern Norway offering you a wide range of unforgettable activities off the beaten path. Get ready to explore the Vesterålen archipelago this summer.
Book your summer holiday and pack your bags!