Day 1: Kirkenes
Kirkenes is located in the extreme northeastern part of Norway on the Bøkfjord, a branch of the Varangerfjord, near the Russian border. We're about 400 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle and actually as far east as St. Petersburg. Most of the approximately 7,000 inhabitants are of Norwegian background, while a minority is Sami. Others originate from Finland and some 500 immigrants have recently arrived from Russia.
In Kirkenes you will notice strong bonds and cultural influences from Russia. A prominent example is the Russian Monument – a memorial for the liberation of Sør-Varanger by the Red Army in the autumn of 1944. There is a Russian market in Kirkenes once a month. Road signs are written in both Norwegian and Russian. The Russian border can be visited either by bus riverboat, or ATV/Quad. The Grenselandmuseet exhibits permanent and temporary exhibitions from the border area. The Art Museum Savio is built up around the well-known Sami artist John Andreas Savio (1902-1938), with art depicting the Sami reindeer herders, culture and nature in the north.
The nature in and around Kirkenes is different from the rest of Norway. Many eastern plant species grow here that are rare or non-existent in other parts of Norway. The forest in Pasvik originates from the Siberian taiga; the world's largest continuous forest area. Even the wildlife has many eastern elements, especially among the bird species. You will find all the major predators in the municipality. Best known is the brown bear, and the Pasvik Valley is the home of around 20 of them. Kirkenes is also the home of wolverine and lynx. Wolves are observed on rare occasions, but these are only stray animals coming from Russia. Your chances are much higher of seeing reindeer and elk. The Barents Sea is home to the huge King Crab.
In winter and spring Kirkenes is the home of a fantastic snow hotel, and activities like snowmobiling and dogsledging are popular. Activities in summer include boat trips, hiking, fishing, canoeing, climbing and diving.
Day 2: Mehamn - Tromsø
This intimate community is located on the small Vedvik peninsula, a part of the greater Nordkyn Peninsula. While small, Mehamn is active and growing and has a long heritage. Every year, several festivals and cultural events are hosted here. The settlement also has a vibrant nightlife, including a nightclub, with frequent live music performances. It offers several accommodation establishments; a hotel, a guesthouse and a hostel as well as a campsite for RVs/coaches.
The primary industry in Mehamn has always been fishing, and the area was originally settled because of its natural harbour and proximity to the fishing grounds. The town is a traditional fishing settlement with about 800 inhabitants, and is the transport hub of the Nordkyn Peninsula. It is also the northernmost port of Hurtigruten. In addition to boats and ships, the preferred means of transport is the snowmobile.
Tromsø, often called the "Paris of the North," offers a vibrant city experience with remarkable attractions. Enjoy a lively nightlife, dine on fresh regional cuisine, and explore a diverse shopping scene in the city center. Notable landmarks include the Arctic Cathedral and the Fløyfjellet Mountain, accessible via the Fjellheisen Cable Car for breathtaking panoramic views.
Discover the Polar Museum, where Tromsø's polar history comes to life, and visit the world's northernmost brewery, Mack, in a traditional wharf house. The city's unique position, just 400km north of the Arctic Circle, provides diverse activities year-round. Experience the magic of the Northern Lights and winter activities like dogsledding in the snowy darkness, or savor the endless summer days for hiking and kayaking under the midnight sun. Tromsø has it all.
Day 3: Tromsø - Stamsund
This charming fishing village is located on the south side of the island of Vestvågøy in the Lofoten archipelago, along the Vestfjord. With a population of 1,000, Stamsund is an important fishing port and the largest base for Lofoten trawl fishing. Gradually, more and more tourists discover Lofoten, with its marvellous scenery, enhanced by the midnight sun in the summer and the northern lights in the winter. Lofoten’s legendary seasonal fishery takes place from January to April, with bustling activity on land and sea. The waters off Stamsund offer excellent opportunities for fishing, especially in March. The surrounding mountains offer ample opportunities for hiking.
Lofotr Viking Museum is situated close to Stamsund. It is built around an archaeological site that was a sensation when it was discovered in 1983. The excavation slowly but surely uncovered the largest house found anywhere in the Viking world. The farm is now rebuilt to its former glory. Meet the Vikings and marvel at the intriguing finds from the excavation.
Day 4: Bodø - Rørvik
Surrounded by sea and fjord, the light in Bodø constantly shifts with the wind and weather. And then there’s the exotic fact that both the midnight sun and northern lights can be seen from here. Bodø is the capital of Nordland county and lies just north of the Arctic Circle where the midnight sun is visible from 2 June to 10 July. Due to atmospheric refraction, there is no true polar night in Bodø, but because of the mountains south of Bodø, the sun is not visible from the city from early December to early January. Monthly average number of sun hours in Bodø peaks in June with 221 hours.
Rørvik is a port town in the Vikna archipelago, that consist of approximately 6,000 islands, islets and reef. The climate is maritime, and plum and apple trees are found in many private gardens, even here at 65°N. Most of the buildings are made of wood, giving Rørvik a typical small-town feeling. The Vikna archipelago is an attraction in itself, and Hurtigruten offers a prime view. This is a paradise for small boat cruises, kayaking, canoeing and diving. Winter fishing for cod has always been an important industry, and every year there is a Cod Festival in March. Enjoy this vibrant fishing village, a good meal made of cod, liver and roe, or engage in many other maritime activities.
Day 5: Trondheim - Ålesund
A large city by Norwegian standards, Trondheim has still managed to preserve the charm and intimacy of a small town. After a catastrophic fire destroyed most of the city houses in 1681, the new streets were made wide to prevent fires from spreading. Some of the narrow alleys and streets, many originating in the Middle Ages, still exist, contrasting the wide boulevards from the 1600s. Even today Trondheim is known as one of the typical wooden cities of Europe, and the city centre has many special wooden buildings, some built as far back as the 1700s.
Ålesund is best known for its unique Art Nouveau architecture, which was constructed as the result of a devastating fire in 1904. During the 16-hour long disaster, over 850 houses burned to the ground and 10,000 people lost their homes. In an act of excellent foresight, however, it was decided to rebuild the town entirely in Art Nouveau, the fashionable style of the time.
Most of this beauty has been preserved. If you look up as you explore the town, you will be enchanted by the rounded towers, sinuous lines and foliate forms typical of Art Nouveau.
Day 6: Ålesund – Bergen
The old Hanseatic city of Bergen proudly wears the nickname “gateway to the fjords” for its supreme location close to the fjords of Western Norway. But the city is so much more than just a gateway – it boasts a proud history, a rich cultural life and an intimate urban city centre, beautifully surrounded by seven mountains and several islands.
Bergen exudes a unique charm that can only be truly appreciated in person. Enjoy strolling around the old streets and alleyways where people have lived for centuries.