I recently returned from a trip to Northern Norway, an area I’d not previously visited, and would thoroughly recommend it. Whether for a short break of a tailor-made itinerary, this region of Norway has much to offer. Some of my highlights were:
Trondheim: This former capital of Norway is the country’s third largest city, after Oslo and Bergen, with a population of 170,000. The city is almost completely surrounded by water thanks to the meandering River Nidelva which runs through it, and presents a charming seafront location with lots of character. Low colourful wooden buildings; a buzzing nightlife with restaurants, bars and cafes aplenty; Rockheim (an innovative rock and pop musuem) and a rich historical background. Nidaros cathedral is a must. This impressive medieval building is sculpted with scary gargoyles, majestic statues and carvings. There is even said to be an angel, standing on top of the left tower of the cathedral, carved with the face of Bob Dillon – the restoration team obviously had a sense of humour! The cathedral also houses Norway’s Crown Jewels. Trondheim is also one of Europe’s first wireless cities so you can access free WiFi from anywhere in the city centre!
Crossing the Arctic Circle: A direct train connects Trondheim to the coastal town of Bodo in 10-hours, crossing the Arctic Circle on its journey north. The Nordland Railway takes you through rich agricultural districts, tiny villages and market towns to river valleys, lakes, farmsteads and thickly wooded forests. But the real highlight is when you reach between 66 and 67 degrees north and pass the imaginary line of the Arctic Circle – the same latitude as the River Yukon in Alaska. I’m not sure what I expected to see, maybe a man-made line drawn across the earth signalling the separation of the south with the Arctic North. But no, the only sign that you have arrived, apart from the announcement that you’re approaching the Arctic Circle, is two stone pyramids placed on both sides of the tracks, built by the Sami people and signifying a place of sacrifice. It would make the perfect photo stop but alas the train continues on its way so we have to make do with a few rapid snaps taken through the windows.
The Lofoton Islands: Made up of hundreds of tiny islands, right in the middle of the Gulf Stream, the Lofoten Islands offer an ancient coastal culture with stunning fishing villages and a landscape of high mountains and sharp peaks. The four larger main
islands are connected by road bridges and are easily accessible by car. We took the flight from Bodo to Leknes via Rost with Wideroe. It had snowed heavily the evening before but the flight to the island of Rost was in clear blue skies. The same cannot be said for Leknes where the thick visibility delayed our landing by 30-minutes. The weather in the north is very changeable and it is not unusual to experience four seasons in one day. We were getting an insight in to exactly what that meant.
At Borg we visited the Lofotr Viking museum and the largest house uncovered from the Viking world at 83m long. We learnt about how the Vikings lived over 1000 years ago through role play, short stories, song and dance. We even tried on some of their armour – the helmets weighed a ton! Another highlight was horse-riding on a white sand beach on Icelandic horses. That evening we stayed in traditional Rorbuer cottages (fishermen’s houses) in Henningsvaer. As this is the perfect location for the Northern Lights we were very lucky to witness this amazing phenomenon on our first evening. After dinner we headed out to an area with no artificial lighting and our experienced guide led us straight to them. The green flicker of light was faint but quite distinctive as it danced across the sky. The photos we took were much more vivid in colour and a great keepsake.
The following day we took a rib boat safari from Henningsvaer to Svolvaer which was great fun, although freezing cold. You’re equipped with all the right gear and even goggles which helped with the hail stones. We saw some magnificent eagles circling for food and then swooping down to catch fish with their claws – they’re truly incredible creatures and amazing to see up close.
I look forward to my next visit!!