Senja is also called Norway in miniature. The island located in the north of the country has a varied landscape that reflects almost the entire Norwegian natural geology. For example, Senja is known on the one hand for the rugged landscape with steep mountains, cliffs and sea views, and on the other hand for the milder landscape with forests, rivers and small fishing villages. All this together makes Senja one of the most beautiful places in Norway and is therefore definitely worth a visit! In this blog we share our best tips about the best things to see and do in Senja!
Best Things to do in Senja
Senja is Norway’s third largest island and is located at the coast in the north above the Lofoten Islands. The island was closed off from the outside world for a long time and could only be reached by boat. Since 1972, Senja can also be reached by car via the Gisund Bridge that connects the island to the mainland. Due to its location by the sea, fishing is still the most important industry here, although tourism has slowly but surely started to pick up in recent years. The rugged landscape with steep mountains, the peaceful forests and the small fishing villages where sometimes only a few hundred people live, are perfect for those who love nature, culture and challenging outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain climbing and kayaking. Below you will find a top 10 of the best things to do in Senja, Norway.
#1 National Tourist Scenic Route
Anyone who has been to Norway before knows that just driving through it is an attraction in itself. The landscapes are so beautiful that you can keep driving and looking. This certainly also applies to Senja. The National Tourist Scenic Route is 102 km long and crosses the island, including many of the beautiful places mentioned below.
#2 Ånderdalen National Park
Ånderdalen National Park covers 134 square kilometers and is definitely worth a visit for those who love nature, wildlife and hiking. The great thing about this national park is that there are no major height elevation, making the walks suitable for almost everyone. And actually that is a bit unique, because many hikes in Norway require you to climb quite a bit due to the mountainous landscape. But fortunately that is not the case in Ånderdalen national park, despite the fact that there are several walking routes through the park and there is a suitable walk for every level. The park is full of birch forests, floodplain forests and pine forests, with in some parts even primeval forest with trees more than 600 years old. You may also encounter elk, reindeer and foxes along the way, and you will find several viewpoints and campfire spots to rest as well.
#3 Hike Segla and Hesten (+ other hikes)
The hike to Segla and Hesten with a view at Segla are the two most popular hikes in Senja. The hikes are not necessarily very long (about 5 kilometers with a total duration of about 3 to 4 hours), but as usual in Norway, it does require quite a bit of climbing. Especially the last part to the top is very steep and rocky. This includes both hikes. However, the view is more than worth it! Whichever hike you choose, both are very beautiful and worth it. If you have to or want to choose, the hike to Hesten might be the best option. This is the hike with a view of the impressive peak of Segla! Senja is certainly a paradise for those who enjoy mountain walks. The island of Senja is full of impressive and rugged mountain landscapes and in addition to Segla and Hesten there are many more beautiful hike to make. Consider, for example, Husfjellet, Barden, Sukkertoppen and Grytetippen.
This small fishing village is located in the middle of Øyfjord in the north of Senja and is home to just a few hundred people. The small island of Husøy is best known for its active fishing community. There is not much to do on Husøy itself, but the route there and especially the view from the top of the island is absolutely worth a visit! If you would also like to take a look at the fishing village itself, you can do so. Husøy used to only be accessible by boat, but nowadays there is a fixed connection so you can also go there by car or on foot.
There is not much to do in the small village where just like Husøy only a few hundred people live, but the typical red wooden cabins and the beautiful surroundings with the mountains and the fjord make a detour to Gryllefjord worthwhile if you have the time. You can also take Gryllefjord as the starting point of your road trip across Senja. A ferry departs from Andenes in Vesterålen to Senja, arriving in Gryllefjord.
#6 Ersfjord Beach
When you think of the north of Norway, you may not immediately think of the beach, but the fact that it is usually not tropical weather doesn’t mean that Senja does not have beautiful beaches. Often located between the mountains, Senja actually has a number of very beautiful beaches. And with a bit of luck the weather will be pleasantly nice in the summer, but otherwise it’s also the ideal place for a nice walk on the beach, a lunch break or a refreshing quick dip. One of those beautiful beaches in Senja is the famous Ersfjord Beach Here you will find a fine white sandy beach with additional facilities such as picnic tables, campfire/grill areas, a public toilet and even a place where you can camp.
#7 Viewpoint Tungeneset
Tungeneset is a viewpoint with a wooden walkway leading to a rocky plateau overlooking the peaks of Mount Okshornan. The steep almost black mountain peaks with greenery and the raging sea crashing on the rocks make this a magical place to stop and enjoy the view.
#8 Viewpoit Bergsbotn
Another view worth a stop is the one at Bergsbotn. This 44 meter long wooden platform provides a view of Bergsfjord and the beautiful surroundings.
#9 Stay at Hamn i Senja
Are you still looking for accommodation for your trip to Senja? Then you definitely have to consider staying one or more nights in Hamn i Senja. This old fishing village has been transformed into a holiday resort and is a good base to explore the rest of the island of Senja. The resort also offers nice accommodations and a communal sauna and hot tub, you can eat local dishes in the associated restaurant and you have the option to book various activities as well.
#10 Northern Lights / Midsummer Night
Senja is located above the Arctic Circle, which means that in winter there’s almost no daylight and in summer it hardly gets dark anymore at night. So Senja is one of those ideal places to spot the northern lights and enjoy the midsummer.
When is the best time to go to Senja?
As mentioned, Senja is located above the Arctic Circle in the north of Norway. Due to this northern location there is a big difference in the seasons, especially between summer and winter. The best time to visit Senja therefore depends very much on what you want to see and do there. For example, if you want to spot the Northern Lights, a visit in winter is the best option. In the summer it hardly gets dark at night due to midsummer night. But do you want to hike a lot and are you looking for slightly more pleasant temperatures? Then a visit in late spring, summer or early fall is the best option. The snow will then be largely gone, making walking paths more accessible and during midsummer night it will be light outside for a long time and you can do a lot more in one day.
In that respect, you can actually visit the island all year round, depending on what you want to see and do in Senja. In any case, keep in mind that it’s never really warm and that the weather can be very changeable all year round with lots of snow, rain and wind. It’s also good to take into account that the road network, parking lots and the small fishing villages are not really made for large vehicles such as large campers and caravans. Especially during the high season in June, July and August, it can be very busy. As far as we are concerned, the best time to visit Senja is mid-February to mid-June and the end of August and September. During this period you will avoid most tourists, while you can enjoy Senja to the max. Because from mid-February it’s getting less cold and you’re having more daylight, so you can do more outside while Senja is still full of snow and there is still a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights as well. In late spring and early fall you can enjoy more pleasant temperatures and more greenery which is really nice if you want to do a lot of hiking for example.
How to get around in Senja?
It’s best to explore Senja with your own vehicle, such as your own car, a rental car or camper. Public transport is not very well organized here and that makes it difficult to travel without having your own vehicle. Another disadvantage is that all options require quite a bit of budget. Rental cars are not cheap here, but from a lot of places in Europe you quickly have to drive thousands of km to get there and travel back home. This not only costs a lot of fuel, but also a lot of time. Especially because you usually can’t drive that fast in Norway. It’s therefore best to visit Senja if you were already planning to travel to the north of Norway. For example, Senja can also be easily combined with the Lofoten and the city of Tromsø.
*Are you traveling to Senja by camper, overland truck or car with roof tent? Then read the rules about wild camping with a vehicle in Scandinavia here.