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Helgeland region is a Norwegian paradise and so worth visiting! Its coast is a beautiful maze of small islands, peninsulas and fjords framed by rough mountains. All these elements create breathtaking, wild scenery; a true feast for the eyes!
No wonder that the 650 km stretch of road along Helgeland coast (between Holm and Bodø), deserved its own name and became known as Helgelandskysten. The Helgeland National Scenic Route is amongst the most beautiful tourist roads in Norway!
On your visit to Helgeland you can enjoy spectacular coastal and mountain walks, discover stunning beaches and waterfalls and explore lesser known, remote national parks. Along the way you will also cross the Arctic Circle!
Helgeland’s peaceful atmosphere is second to none! Hence, if you’re looking for amazing scenery and nature but without crowds of tourists, Helgeland is perfect for you.
If you’re longing for ‘cafe-life’ or want a break from hiking, you can enjoy ‘civilised’ life of charming towns spread along the scenic road.
Continue reading to find practical information on Helgelandskysten Tourist Route! Learn about our experience, as well as interesting locations, hikes and short walks along the road.
Helgelandskysten Norway – your guide to road trip along Helgeland coast
1. Ferry crossings along Helgelandskysten (Helgeland National Tourist Route)
2. What to see and do along Helgeland scenic route (best Helgeland destinations), including best hikes, islands, landmarks, and much more!
3. Camping in Helgeland
4. What we loved about Helgeland Norway
1. Ferry crossings along Helgelandskysten (Helgeland National Tourist Route)
Helgeland scenic route runs from Holm (in the south) to Bodø (in the north) and involves 6 ferry crossings, which considerably add to driving time. Most services run every 20 – 40 minutes, crossing time vary from 15 minutes to 1 hour.
These ferry crossings are natural continuation of the road; you simply follow the road which naturally ends at the fjord. All you have to do is wait in line for the vessel to come and transport you across the water. Having landed on the other side of fjord, you drive off the ferry and are again on Helgelandskysten Norway.
It’s worth to remember that some ferries’ frequency drops outside of high season, especially at the north end of the scenic road. We visited Helgeland in early autumn and sometimes had to wait for about 2 hours for the next ferry (we often used this time for cooking or planning further journey).
Another thing to remember when planning your Helgelandskysten trip is actually budgeting for the ferry crossings. The 6 journeys along Helgelandskysten will considerably bite into your budget, as average crossing cost is 220 NOK each.
2. What to see along Helgeland scenic route (best destinations)
In total we spent 9 days driving along Helgeland coast. During that time we visited small towns and villages, explored Lovund – an Arctic Circle Island, and walked miles along the rough coastal paths. We also paid visits to nearby national parks, nature reserves and natural wonders.
Below we’re sharing best Helgeland destinations, all these are located along or nearby Helgelandskysten Norway. Enjoy!
2.1 Kvaloya island
The drive along Helgelandskysten begins with crossing from Holm to Olavika – a crossway between Sømna and Kvaloya islands.
First impressions of Olavika – it greatly reminded us of home, Scotland. Immediately we noticed rough shores (very similar to Scottish west coast) bordered by yellowish & green grassy meadows. Along the rugged shores were built red cabins and boat houses, dozens of tiny harbours. We both fell in love with Helgeland at first sight!
2.2 Bjørnvika beach and campsite near Somna
As we arrived to Olavika late in the afternoon, we didn’t manage to drive far that day and very soon faced the challenge of finding a suitable overnight stay spot. Unfortunately, finding one near Somna was impossible – the area was much more densely populated than we anticipated, and despite checking out numerous road ends near coast, we didn’t find any suitable wild camping spots! Therefore we returned couple of kilometres south of Somna, to Bjørnvika campsite (directions).
The campsite is very small and beautifully located between small hills and the sea. Having arrived to Bjornvika I felt that a short coastal walk would be nice before going to sleep. Bea was busy planning our further journey, hence I took the camera and set to explore nearby coast, with small beaches and tiny tidal islands.
Luckily, the tide was out and I could easily walk across the sand to small grassy islands, pick up corals and small shells on my way back. I also discovered a small track along the shore, which was perfect for a relaxing evening walk.
2.3 Peter Dass Museum and coastal trails near Alstahaug
Peter Dass is Helgeland’s most famous writer and poet, who lived in the area in 17th century. During his lifetime he was known for openness and warm personality, and was well respected by the locals. Hence, in many locations in Helgeland you’ll find Peter Dass monuments and trails, you’ll hear his name on many occasions!
The best place to find out more about the poet is a museum in Alstahaug (directions). In consists of an exhibition hall as well as historic dwellings from 17th century. In the vicinity, you’ll also find a couple of walking trails.
Near the museum two coastal trails begin, signposted to Haugsneset and Kongshaugen. They will both take you to a quiet peninsula; where you can pick one of numerous small trails and explore the area without meeting a soul! We recommend having a short coastal walk to get a good feel of Helgeland.
2.4 Seven Sisters mountain range
Seven Sisters is a 10 km mountain ridge in Alsta, a very popular hiking destination in Helgeland. The traverse of all seven peaks (height from 910 masl to 1072 masl) is a long and hard day out, hence many walkers split the hike into two days, or alternatively conquer one or two ‘sisters’ of their choice.
Each of the Seven Sisters peaks is a fantastic viewpoint to surrounding fjords and thousands of small islands off Helgeland coast. Therefore, if you’re in the area and are blessed with decent weather, consider hiking to Seven Sisters!
2.5 Visit Arctic Circle Islands at Helgeland coast – a day trip to Lovund
Helgeland coast is dotted with hundreds of small islands; we decided to pay special attention to one group. Luroy islands are easily accessible by ferry and express boat from Stokkvagen. They’re sometimes referred to as Arctic Circle Islands, due to their proximity to arctic circle. One island especially caught our eye – Lovund.
Lovund island is comfortably reached from Stokkvagen either by ferry or express boat, it makes a perfect destination for a day trip. Being only a small island, it’s easily explored by foot. We also planned to hike to Lovund’s highest point, Lovundfjellet, to have overview of the area and other small islands nearby.
The island is also a home to large Atlantic Puffin colony; these beautiful birds can be spotted on northern slopes of Lovundfjellet, from April to July.
Find out how to visit Lovund island on a day trip; with ferry, hiking trails and camping information!
2.6 Other Arctic Circle Islands along Helgeland coast
Apart from Lovund, there are several other Arctic Circle Islands worth paying a visit! Each is unique and offers spectacular views and fine experience. Let’s have a closer look at these Helgeland gems!
Dønna. Its name originates from Old Norsk language and means ‘roar’. One can only imagine how wild can be the sea, crushing waves at Donna’s shores! Nonetheless, the island is one of the largest in the area and connected by bridge to another hidden gem, Heroy island. We especially recommend hiking to Donna’s highest hill, Donnmannen at 856 masl (4-6 hours, demanding). Alternatively, you can enjoy stunning beaches – the best are located at the southern end of the island (near Staulen, Skagen and Sandstrak) as well as northern end of Donna (near Aker and Donnes). To reach Donna island (via Heroy) take a ferry from Sovika or from Sandnessjoen. You may consider taking your car or bike to visit Donna, as the distances are too great to explore the island on foot.
Rødøy. Despite being only a small island, Rødøy offers stunning hiking trails! Its most famed hike runs to the top of Rodoylova hill, the highest point of the island (443 masl) and a fantastic viewpoint. Standing at the top you will see hundreds of tiny islands and islets dotting the sea west from Rodoy; it makes an incredible view! The hiking trail starts at Klokkergården and is well marked throughout (3-4 hours, medium difficulty).
Traena / Sanna. Traena is an archipelago of tiny islands, the furthest from Helgeland’s mainland. The islands, however, are a very popular tourist destination, due to their picturesque beaches and a unique ‘rock tooth’ (Traenstaven), located on Sanna. The rock is well visible from many miles around and became a symbol of Arctic Islands.
Vega. This charming archipelago is UNESCO listed! On your visit to Vega islands you’ll have a chance to see rorbu (red fishermen houses built on water) and dried cod (stockfish), the elements usually associated with far Lofoten! Apart from the cultural heritage, Vega also offers stunning sights: amazing beaches (Eidem), great hiking trails (Gullsvagfjellet). Consider taking your bike to explore the island, as the distances can be slightly too great to visit on foot. To get to Vega, take ferry from Horn.
2.7 Svartisen glacier
Driving along northern coast of Helgeland you’ll come across Svartisen – the second largest glacier in Norway! You’ll see its blue tongue (Engabreen) from the road. There are a couple of viewpoints to Svartisen with dedicated car parks along road number 17, the best one is Braset.
If, however, you feel like seeing Svartisen up close and exploring the glacier, you’re in luck – Svartisen is one of the easiest accessible glaciers in Norway!
You can take a boat trip on Holandsfjorden; the boat comes as close as 1.5 km from the glacier, so if you’re unable to hike, you can still have a closer look while cruising. You can also join a guided tour to Svartisen, or alternatively take a boat across Holandsfjorden and hike on one of several trails in the vicinity of glacier – come close to Engabreen or Litlbreen tongue, depending on your abilities and how much time you have. Ensure to check the boat timetable – hiking up to Svartisen may take more time than you anticipated, so it’s vital to know the departure times, so you don’t get stuck in the wild!
Another way of standing eye to eye with Svartisen glacier is approaching it from the south and visiting its Austerdalsisen tongue. The trip is as easy as to Engabreen! You will find this approach especially handy if you’re based / coming from Mo i Rana direction.
To visit Austerdalsisen, initially follow road 7370 along Langvatnet, then turn right into road 7366 direction to Rovassdalen and Svartisdalen. The road is signposted to Svartisen, but keep in mind that its final kilometres are unpaved. Once you reach the lake Svartisvatnet, take a boat which will drop you off approximately 2 km from the glacier tongue. Boat tickets for Svartisbåten can be bought on board and in Mo i Rana tourist Information office.
2.8 Marmorslottet (the Marble Castle) in Fisktjorna Nature Reserve
Another location worth you attention near Mo i Rana is Marmorslottet. This unique canyon was shaped by fast currents of Glomaga, the turquoise river. The intense colour of Glomaga comes from high contain of glacial water, as the river originates from Svartisen glacier! Standing at the river bank of sculptured marble, cut by linear and zig-zag patterns and listening to river’s roar was an incredible experience.
How to get to the Marble Castle (directions): from Mo i Rana follow road E6 east, then turn into Rovassdalveien and drive along the river. At the first junction turn left, into Langvassveien – this is a long scenic drive along lake Langvatnet. Keep in mind that the road is only partially paved, however in decent condition. Once at the Glomaga bridge (and a sharp turn towards Mefjorden), continue ahead into a small dirt road (signposted to Marmorslottet). These last 2 kilometres will see you slow down considerably, but are worth going. You will be surprised at the amount of cars & campers at the Marble Castle car park, in the middle of nowhere!
Hike to Marmorslottet: from the car park follow a track running thru abandoned farm and soon you’ll reach boundaries and information board in Fisktjorna Nature Reserve. Follow the path thru beautiful forest; you can even enjoy some of the most delicious berries along the way, as apart from blueberries and bilberries, the area is rich in cloudberries. Keep to the main trail and after about 30 mins you’ll come to a river banks. First you’ll have to descent the steep slope, over rocks and tree roots. Once at the bottom, at the river level, you’ll be amazed by stunning turquoise river and sculptured marble rock along the shores.
2.9 Lahko National Park and Corbels Canyon
If you loved the sight of Marmorslottet and are interested in exploring other, similar hidden gems, we recommend visiting Corbels Canyon in Lahko National Park (near Glomfjord and Fykan). It can be reached on a couple of hours hike, starting at the lake Namnlausvatnet (trailhead directions).
Please note that road to the trailhead is single track only and partially paved. Also, it runs thru 2 unmaintained, unlightened and narrow single track tunnels – we found the drive thru them extremely challenging.
If you manage to make your way thru the tunnels, a world of unspoilt nature opens and, apart from the canyon, you can enjoy countless hikes in Lahko National Park!
2.10 Fykan stairway and Rallarbua cafe near Glomfjord
If you’re already in Fykan / Glomfjord area, you may want to visit Rallarbua cafe over lake Fykanvatnet. This won’t be your regular coffee break, thou, to get your ‘caffeine fix’ you’ll have to climb Fykan stairway (Fykantrappa), exactly 1129 stairs! After such a climb you’ll definitely deserve a double espresso and a large piece of cake! Leave your car here and enjoy the climb!
2.11 Crossing the Arctic Circle
One of the most exciting things about Helgelandskysten Norway is crossing the Arctic Circle!
Driving along Helgeland scenic route, you will cross Arctic Circle by ferry (!) on you way between Jektvik and Kilboghavn. Keep an eye during your journey, as the globe monument will be visible from the vessel, on the northern side of the fjord. Don’t worry, you won’t miss it – the captain announces the exact moment when ferry crosses Arctic Circle, and you will have enough time to make your way to the open deck, to take a photo.
Arctic Circle is located roughly at latitude 66.5 degrees north, which means that is also crosses the Arctic Islands archipelagos, so if you’re heading to explore some of the islands we listed above, you will be crossing Arctic Circle multiple times!
Ureddsplassen is a large terrace along road number 17, located 3 km past Reipa. It’s best known for the view to Hognakken ridge, and surprisingly, for the ultra-modern toilet facilities with fantastic view!
Ureddsplassen also is a memorial place for sailors from Uredd submarine, which hit a sea mine during WWII. The ‘sword fish’ monument lists names of all heroes fallen during the tragic incident.
The terrace is easily spotted from the road, you can’t miss it. It’s a perfect location for a short break.
2.13 Storvika beach
Located along eastern shores of Storvik bay, only a couple of minuted drive from Ureddsplassen is Storvika beach. Its location is simply fantastic, as the stripe of white fine sand is walled by ever-green Hognakken ridge. Storvika is a great spot for short walk as it’s sheltered from whatever weather open sea brings, however being walled by rugged ridges, it tends to be a rather moody place. The beach is 1 mile long and is signposted from the road, with a dedicated car park, petrol/diesel station and a mini-shop.
Only 30 km from Bodo, you can admire world’s strongest maelstrom, at Saltstraumen bridge. It’s best visited during high tide, then you’ll be able to see force of nature in its full glory – large whirlpools are 10 metres diameter and up to 5 metres deep!
2.15 Enjoy the Midnight Sun
If you’re visiting Helgeland between 12 June and 1 July and are lucky with good weather conditions, you can experience the Midnight Sun! But what exactly is the ‘midnight sun’? It’s a casual name given to the phenomenon when the sun does not go under horizon, but stays visible day and night.
Depending on the altitude, ‘midnight sun’ period lasts a couple of weeks to over 2 months. Sadly, as Helgeland is just at the Arctic Circle, the night-less period is very short. Don’t worry, thou, as summer night in Northern Norway are very light, and even if the sun does dip under the horizon, it will only be for a short period of time; the nights will still be very light!
What’s fantastic about driving along Helgelandskysten, is that the road follows the coast most of the time. Hence, you will enjoy open view over the sea for quite a bit! Observing the midnight sun, or stunning sunsets & sunrises is very easy!
3. Camping in Helgeland
Wild camping is allowed and widely accepted in Norway. By law, everyone is allowed to stay overnight at any spot at least 150 metres from nearby buildings. It’s very easy to find a suitable wild camping spot for a camper van or a tent along Helgeland Tourist Route. Also, a great advantage of wild camping along tourist route is the number of available public toilets, which usually are located at viewpoints (with car parks), very well suitable for overnight stay.
Campsites along Helgeland scenic route are plentiful; you’ll be able to find one in every other village. However, keep in mind that tourist traffic along Helgeland coast in summer is great, hence we recommend booking your place on campsite prior to arrival!
4. What we loved about Helgeland Norway
Helgelandskysten Tourist Route well deserves its fame; Helgeland coast is beautiful with its hidden beaches, rough shoreline and rugged mountains. We also thoroughly enjoyed discovering and exploring the lesser known locations, which, at closer look, are plentiful!
The 650 km drive was spectacular, however some road sections were narrow and required great care! Nonetheless, we loved ever changing landscape, the small islands and relaxed atmosphere of the region. No matter if you’re a keen hiker or water sports enthusiasts, or love fishing – Helgeland won’t disappoint you!