best places in northern Norway

12 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Northern Norway + Travel Tips

Northern Norway is like a different world where nature’s grandeur unfolds in every direction. Not that southern Norway isn’t impressive (it is!) but in the north it just feels infinitely more untamed and raw.

Here, the landscapes are more dramatic, the wilderness more expansive, and the sense of adventure more palpable. It’s a region where you can truly lose yourself in the vastness of the Arctic, where every vista leaves you breathless and every moment feels like a journey into the unknown.

I visited northern Norway only once. But that trip left an indelible mark on my soul creating unforgettable memories of its untouched wilderness, lingering in my mind and making me want to return.

All these beautiful places to visit in northern Norway that I mention in this post are a great reminder of where to go back to experience the Arctic region one more time.

If you also plan to go, get some inspiration below together with the idea of the best northern Norway attractions and must-visit natural sights!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase or booking by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

Things to Remember Before You Go to Northern Norway

Northern Norway

1.) There is a midnight sun from mid-May to late July, with the sun remaining visible for 24 hours a day. This means not only that you’ll have more time for outdoor activities but also that you need to book accommodation with blackout curtains (or take with you an eye mask) to sleep well. 

Bring with you sun protection with high SPF, sunglasses with UV protection, and a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face from the sun (a practical one that blocks the sun’s rays and easily fits in the suitcase).

2.) Polar Nights occur from late November to mid-January, with extended periods of darkness and the sun remaining below the horizon for most of the day.

3.) Pack appropriate clothing – even though it’s summer, temperatures in Northern Norway are usually very cool, particularly in the evenings and early mornings. Pack layers and bring warm clothing, including a waterproof jacket, to stay comfortable if the weather changes.

4.) Be mindful of local customs and traditions when visiting indigenous Samí communities in Troms of Finnmark region. Ask permission before taking photographs if people are present.

5.) Rent a car to save money on tours and public transportation but do it in advance! In Northern Norway, we like to rent cars through this company but I talk more about it and about alternatives in my Norway car hire and driving post.

8.) If you’re visiting in the winter and want to see Northern Lights, plan to spend multiple nights in the region to increase your chances of witnessing this natural phenomenon as it is not a daily occurrence due to solar activity and weather conditions.

Beautiful Places to Visit in Norway This Year

Beautiful Northern Norway Islands Not to Miss

Sommarøy – Northern Island of White Sandy Beaches & Turquoise Waters

most beautiful island in Norway

If you were to ask me what is the most beautiful northern Norway island, I’d pick Sommarøy without thinking for too long. Because for me it combines the best of two worlds – white sand beaches with crystal clear blue water that look like a paradise-like setting that’s hard to resist and almost perfect climate, particularly during the summer months, when temperatures are typically pleasant and not excessively hot.

The dramatic contrast between the Arctic environment and the idyllic beaches creates this unique scene that makes you feel like you are somewhere in the Caribbean, yet with a Nordic twist.

In summer, Sommaroy experiences the phenomenon of the midnight sun (just like many areas in Northern Norway) which means that for several weeks around the summer solstice, you can enjoy outdoor activities at any hour and go on midnight hikes or kayaking under the never-ending sun. It is a surreal adventure!

blue water in Norway north

Also, if you are like me and don’t like heat, Sommaroy is a perfect summer destination to escape high temperatures as you can lounge on the beach without the discomfort of extreme heat. 

In winter, you can’t see white sand beaches and blue water, but the island is still beautiful with snow-covered landscapes and icy fjords.

Best Way to Visit Sommaroy: the island is situated in Troms County, approximately 36 kilometers west of the city of Tromso, so the best way to go there is by car, having a scenic road trip from Tromso when you can also visit a few fishing villages along the way that dot the area.
There are also public buses connecting Tromso and Sommaroy if you prefer that. Going by bus is two times longer but no less scenic.

Senja – Norway in Miniature

walking in Senja

Senja is the second-largest island in Norway (after Hinnøya) where all landscapes seem to be picture-perfect, including fjords, mountains, beaches, and fishing villages. It is often referred to as “Norway in miniature” because it encapsulates many of the diverse natural features and landscapes that are characteristic of the entire country.

So within a relatively small area, you can explore tall mountains, deep fjords, dense forests, sandy beaches, and vast green spaces reminiscent of different parts of Norway. And all of that within a very short distance.

This is why if you are short on time and can’t see much of northern Norway (not to mention the south), choose Senja to see a bit of everything in one place.

Like the rest of Norway, it is a paradise for those who love hiking, fishing, kayaking, wildlife watching, or just being in beautiful nature. Here you can do it all and see it all mirroring different opportunities available throughout the country.

Best Way to Visit Senja: by car as well. Go on a self-drive around the island and stay in fishermen’s houses during the nights.

Vestvågøya – Lofoten’s Island Retreat

beautiful place in northern Norway

Vestvågøya is the second-largest island in the Lofoten archipelago with many fishing villages and tons of opportunities for recreation in a pristine natural setting. In some ways, it is similar to other islands of the Lofoten archipelago but there are a few aspects that make it different and unique.

Like Uttakleiv Beach, a unique geological formation known for its peculiarly shaped rocks and sea stacks, Offersoykammen mountain peak with panoramic views of Vestvagoya and the surrounding islands, or Gimsøy Nature Reserve on the northern tip of the island with diverse ecosystems, including coastal heathland, wetlands, and sandy beaches.

There are also various birdwatching sanctuaries where to observe a variety of seabird species nesting along the cliffs and shores, including sea puffins, sea eagles, guillemots, and others.

birds in northern Norway

All these places are great for photography and enjoyment of coastal landscapes from out of this world.

Best Way to Visit Vestvågøya: by car rental as it is the most convenient way to explore the island (which is huge) and the rest of the Lofoten Islands. It is not well-served by public transportation and only main villages and towns on the island are connected.

Another option is to join a guided tour if you prefer someone else to handle the logistics and provide insights into the island’s attractions.

Unique Tours of Lofoten Islands to Book This Year


Magerøya – Gateway to the Northernmost Point of Europe

view from the northernmost point of Norway
View from the northernmost point of Europe in Norway’s Magerøya

Magerøya is considered one of the most beautiful islands in Northern Norway because of its impressive landscape of Nordkapp (or North Cape) which is often referred to as the northernmost point of Europe accessible by road.

The coastline here is rugged everywhere you look with dramatic cliffs and Arctic tundra covering the island as a beautiful carpet. In addition to Nordkapp, Magerøya offers other attractions such as fishing villages, bird-watching opportunities, and the unique cultural heritage of the indigenous Sami people. They are all great for education and photography opportunities.

The main point of interest here (which is Nordkapp) has an interactive visitor center Nordkapp Hall that features exhibitions about the region’s geography, climate, and history.

North Cape

Come to Magerøya island for its geographical significance, rare landscapes, and opportunity to visit the edge of the continent. In this way, you’ll have a chance to explore a very remote region (not just in Norway but in the world) and stand at the northernmost point of mainland Europe.

Best Way to Visit Magerøya: definitely by car! Take E69 road from the mainland to Magerøya via the North Cape Tunnel and enjoy scenic views along the way. For a very authentic experience, choose to stay in the North Cape in Rorbu (traditional fishermen’s cottage) or marina hotels.

Beautiful Northern Norway Cities & Towns You’ll Love

Bodø – Gateway to the Arctic & Entry Point to the Lofoten islands

Bodo in Norway north

While Bodo itself is not part of the Lofoten Islands, its accessibility and transportation links make it a common starting point for experiencing the natural beauty and attractions of the Lofoten archipelago.

There is a major transportation hub in Bodo with the main departure point for ferries and express boats that go to various Lofoten islands. Additionally, this city has an airport with flights to Lofoten which is also very convenient if you are short on time.

But the main thing is not that. For me, Bodo became a real discovery where nature is a significant aspect of the city – from the center, you can easily reach the Børvasstindan mountains with very steep slopes and dramatic ridgelines, and its mountain peaks often have snow in the summer.

Northern Norway in winter

Another thing that will make you hold a breath here is Saltstraumen (location here), the most powerful maelstrom in the world. It is possible to see this wonder from Saltstraumen Bridge, which provides a vantage point for observing the powerful tidal flow. Alternatively, take a boat tour to get close to maelstrom and experience the phenomenon firsthand.

When visiting Bodo in winter, enjoy skiing in the Budomarka natural area and Bodo’s charming city center with colorful wooden houses and lovely markets.

Best Way to Visit Bodo: fly here, rent a car from Alamo or National (they have the cheapest rates) and drive along the coastline of Nordland County with a network of fjords, inlets, and coastal landscapes.

Tromso – Aurora Capital of the World

must-do in northern Norway

Tromso is the most famous city in northern Norway that stands out as a must-visit destination because of its location amidst marvelous Arctic landscapes. Situated on the island of Tromsøya, it has views of snow-capped mountains on all sides juxtaposed against the tranquil waters of the Norwegian Sea. This creates a perfect natural backdrop for beautiful photos and memorable experiences.

It is worth visiting Tromsø, in both summer and winter as it is a very beautiful and authentic city often called the ‘Small Paris of the North’.

Tromsø is also very accessible (well connected by air travel with Norwegian cities and many cities in Europe, including those in Eastern Europe like Budapest and Prague) and offers unique experiences with easy proximity to the Northern Lights and Arctic Circle.

Tromso city landscape

The best season to travel here is winter when you can chase northern lights, go dog sledding, snowshoeing, skiing, and even road-tripping a bit in the area. But summer offers its own charm, with the midnight sun illuminating the landscape and providing endless daylight hours for late-night hiking, fishing, or kayaking. Summer is also a great time to experience Bukta Open Air Festival (music festival) or International Film Festival

Best Way to Visit Tromso: fly directly to Tromso from one of many destinations in Europe (I could even fly from northern Tenerife!) or visit Tromso on a cruise to experience also the fjords and coastline of northern Norway before having a day in the city for attractions.

Narvik – Doorway to the Northern Fjords

beautiful city in Norway

Narvik is on my list of the most beautiful Norwegian cities due to its location between rounded mountains and fjords.

Main reason to travel here in summer is to go on a scenic road trip to the Lofoten archipelago making stops in charming fishing villages along the coast or towards significant fjords in northern Norway such as Ofotfjord and Rombaksfjord.

In winter, Narvik is a cheaper alternative to Tromso for witnessing the Aurora and participating in Norway’s famous winter activities such as dog sledding, skiing, and snowshoeing. If you are adventurous enough, then even go on a scenic road trip through snow-covered landscapes in the region.

Narvik also has a history related to World War II and an interesting Narvik War Museum which commemorates the events of the war, particularly the Battle of Narvik. The town was strategically important due to its ice-free harbor and access to iron ore mines in the region.

Best Way to Visit Narvik: Getting to Narvik is easy as it has convenient access by plane. Once there, either rent a car or utilize public transportation to reach the city.
If not planning to hire a vehicle, consider participating in guided tours to make the most of a visit as it is difficult to see the main natural landmarks without pre-arranged transportation, especially mountains and fjords. 

Alta – City With the Most Prehistoric Heritage in Northern Norway

Alta unique city in northern Norway

Alta is a city and UNESCO World Heritage Site at the same time known for rock carvings (on the map you’ll find it under the Alta Museum name) that depict scenes of daily life and rituals from prehistoric times (to be exact 7,000 years ago).

Among all cities in Norway (not just in the north but in southern Norway too), it stands out for the Sami cultural heritage which includes traditions such as reindeer herding and traditional crafts. It is here where you can learn and experience the culture of Sami people which is part of Norwegian daily life today. 

However, besides UNESCO-listed rock carvings, Alta has a beautiful location in the Aurora Borealis zone, making it an excellent destination for witnessing the northern lights during the winter months.

Northern Norway in winter

It has its own airport well connected with many cities in Norway, but accommodation is somewhat cheaper and town itself is much quieter without too many tourists.

In summer, during white nights, the Alta region is perfect for hiking, fishing, and just exploring natural landscapes.

Best Way to Visit Alta: By flight from one of the cities in Norway (just book tickets ahead of time as they are usually expensive) or on a road trip from Narvik or Tromso.

Hammerfest – the Northernmost Town in the World

Hammerfest city

There are other places north of Hammerfest that are considered to be ‘the northernmost’ spots (like Kamøyvær or Skarsvåg) but they are very tiny settlements with minimum infrastructure and not much to do besides photographing coastal scenery and saying that you have been to the utmost northern point.

Hammerfest is a city (even though small) with cultural experiences and impressive Arctic landscapes. It is in the far north of Norway, one of the northernmost cities in the world.

It is a long way to come here but if you do, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about polar bears at the Polar Bear Society Museum, see the Meridian Column (erected in 1854 to commemorate the first precise measurement of the shape of the Earth), and partake in activities like hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching amidst the breathtaking Arctic landscapes. 

Best Way to Visit Hammerfest: by car on a road trip from Alta.

Other Places to Visit in Northern Norway

Reine – Most Beautiful Village in Norway

beauty of northern Norway

Reine is often described as one of the most picturesque villages in Norway, and for good reason – because of its traditional red Rorbu cabins (once used by fishermen) in front of the dramatic mountains that rise steeply from the sea and create a breathtaking backdrop.

You can probably easily recognize this village by looking at my photo or many other photos of this type on the Internet. The thing is that Reine often comes up first on image searches for ‘Lofoten Islands’ so it may look familiar.

It is famous for the views that simply take a breath away and serve as a wonderful backdrop for the photos.

By the way, the best point for capturing the iconic red cabins is from the bridge that crosses over the inner part of the village. From its vantage point, you can see the charming cluster of cabins set against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains and the picturesque waterfront.

most beautiful village in northern norway

Additionally, climbing up to Reinebringen provides another gorgeous perspective of the village and its surroundings which is the right place to go to if you look to take photos of the Lofoten Islands from above.

Reine also offers a few scenic hiking trails, kayaking opportunities, and areas designated for fishing. You can easily make a base here for a day or two and explore the area at a slower pace!

Best Way to Visit Reine: by rental car when visiting the Lofoten Islands. Fly to Narvik, spend a day or so there, rent a car from Alamo or Thrifty (they offer the cheapest car hire), and go on a drive at your own pace to Lofoten Islands via the E10 highway, making a stop in Reine. But before you get there, get ready to be distracted by all the incredible beauty of the area!

Kirkenes – Where Arctic Russian & Norwegian Cultures Meet

spotting wildlife in Kirkenes

This is another beautiful and quirky place to visit in the very north of Norway. It is right near the Russian border and people come here for a fascinating blend of Norwegian and Russian cultures.

Due to its location, the town has a diverse population with influences from both Norwegian and Russian cultures. And such diversity is reflected in Kirkenes’s architecture, cuisine, and traditions.

People come here for the same reasons as they go to other cities and towns in North Norway – to view the Northern Lights in winter and experience the midnight sun in summer, see the region’s pristine wilderness, and have a chance to spend time in the very far corner of the Arctic. 

But another reason (which is also very unique to this destination) is to have a king crab safari on the fjord and experience cultural crossroads through the Borderland Museum (that gives insight into cross-border interactions between Norway, Russia, and Finland), Andersgrotta (underground bomb shelter, built during World War II that shows the impact of the German occupation on the local community), ad Kirkenes Snow Hotel (with ice and snow sculptures that introduce a bit Arctic craftsmanship).

Kirkenes snow hotel
Kirkenes snow hotel

You may think that it is possible to visit Kirkenes together on the same trip with the North Cape (in Magerøya mentioned above) but do not underestimate the distance. Reaching Kirkenes takes a lot of time.

Best Way to Visit Kirkenes: Kirkenes has its own airport well connected with Oslo, so there is a chance to fly. By road, the best way to go is not from Norway but from Finland, specifically from Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland. In summer, car rentals in Rovaniemi are cheaper and you can go on a road trip to Kirkenes through vast expanses of tundra, Sami villages, and Finnmark Plateau, one of Europe’s last wilderness areas with endless vistas and a sense of remoteness.

If you do plan this trip in winter, stop for the night in Aurora Village in Ivalo for the best experience of northern lights.

Trollfjord – Best Fjord to Visit in Northern Norway

entering Trollfjord

I am ending my list with a place to visit in Northern Norway that should be on everyone’s list as it is one of the most beautiful fjords in the country. 

It is located in the Lofoten archipelago (with a couple of other scenic places in this article) and is known for the very narrow entrance surrounded by steep cliffs rising vertically from the water on all sides and deep blue waters.

Trollfjord is a unique fjord as it stretches for about 2 kilometers inland, creating a very dramatic landscape. It is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including seabirds, seals, and occasionally whales, so visiting it can create a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

You should come here for the fjord itself with its incredible views that show the natural beauty of northern Norway’s coastal wilderness up close.

Best Way to Visit Trollfjord: by boat. No road connects Norwegian cities or villages with this fjord as it is hidden between mountains in a distant area. However, there are numerous boat tours from Svolvær offering guided excursions through the fjord’s narrow entrance.

More Beautiful Places to Visit in Norway 

Have you been to northern Norway yet? If yes, share where you went and what your favorite places were! If not and you planning a trip to this country, check my other posts about other beautiful destinations in Norway that are also worth a trip:

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