An adventure tour through the northernmost climes of Norway
For a non-Scandinavian, there are few occurrences more bewildering than being bathed in sunlight the duration of a night. While perplexing, this unique phenomenon of the endless summer day is also serenely beautiful and an event one must experience firsthand to understand the sensation.
There are numerous charming cities and villages that dot the northernmost coast of Norway to the experience the Midnight Sun for yourself, one is Tromsø.
Tromsø is many things. Foremost, it is the capitol of Artic, and the “Gateway to the Arctic” since the 1800s when the first North Pole exploration began in earnest. It is also the ideal starting point to experience the culture and history of northern Norway, to meet native people and learn about the unique lives they live. Lastly, Tromsø is one of ten best spots in Northern Norway to see the Midnight sun; a unique phenomenon when sun is above the horizon at Midnight, when summer days become endless for months without clear boundaries between day and night.
The magnificent view on Tromsø with mountains on the horizon opened up when I arrived to the mountain ledge Storsteinen in the Seal gondola, taking the Cable Car. The dramatic view on the city lying bellow, and the islands surrounded Tromsø was stunning.
For being such a remote-seeming place, there are numerous activities to take part here. Among the top attractions is the Polaria Museum. Dedicated to introducing visitors to Arctic wildlife the Polaria is easy to spot. The distinctively shaped structure resembles giant, fallen dominos that represent ice floes that have been pressed up onto the land by Arctic seas. Polaria is just a five-minute walk from Tromsø center and features an aquarium that is home to the bearded seals, also known the square flipper seal.
The best way to see Tromsø is on foot, and the best way to plot your route is to join the tour organized by the team at Visit Tromsø. The former historic Customs warehouse located on the waterfront was converted to the Polar Museum in 1978, with many artifacts on display representing the life of men, women, equipment so essential for life on the sea and in the Arctic. Among the sites you’ll visit is the Ølhallen Pub, established in 1928, making it the oldest business in Tromsø and is the northernmost brewery in the world.
For your evening meal, be sure to try the local grilled stockfish, a specialty from Scarven, along with the reindeer carpaccio at the Arctandria Restaurant near the Scandic Grand Hotel.
An hour west of Tromsø is Sommaroy Island, a community of fishing villages, some of which are involved in producing the globally famous herring; a product that is vital to the Norwegian economy.
Sommaroy Island is home to Oliver Pitras, the first French skipper to carry out an Arctic Ocean crossing under sail (North West Passage 1999). Pitras operates Nord Sommaroy Outdoor Center. The center conducts tours of the wild Tromsø coast with its granite cliffs and waters warmed by the Gulf Stream.
Just a short ferry ride from Botnhan traveling south from Sommaroy Island is Senja the fairytale island of Senja the second largest Norwegian island and home to the world’s largest troll.
The spectacular National Tourist Road narrow and winding at some places. A highlights includes a viewing platform at Bergsbotn looking out over stunningly beautiful Bergsfjorden to the ocean in the background.
The waters around Senja, and all up and down Norway’s Atlantic coast, are teeming with cod. This fish is a staple of the native cuisine and vital to the national economy. You can find cod today on a most any menu in Northern Norway. If you prefer fishing it yourself, then visit the Mefjord Brygge. With its comfortable resort, it is the ideal place to stay, and be introduced to the best fishing spots in the region. Even if you don’t catch anything you can still get tasty cod dish prepared with local in season vegetables from the local farms at Storbrygga Spiseri the restaurant in Hamn in Senja.
Other outdoor activities to explore throughout the year include taking in the picturesque scenery of the mountains still covered with the snow against the turquoise water, as viewed on a morning ride in a high- speed boat through the Bergsfjorden.
If the weather is cooperating, there are great indoor activities in Senja, namely a visit to the Whale Museum . The mission of the museum is to teach visitors about whale biology and how they are essential to the ecosystem, and an important part of modern tourism. On view in the museum is the enormous skeleton of a sperm whale
Still further south and at the tip of a dramatic peninsula is Lofoten; one of the Norway’s prime destinations where history comes alive. Surrounded by green mountains, white sand beaches, the coastal culture and history make the Lofoten Islands unforgettable.
For a lunch-stop in the Scrovabrigga cafe where you can try whale Carpaccio, be sure to take the RIB safari from Svolvær Harbor to Trollfjord. Another stop is at the Kaviar Factory Gallery in Henningsvær Lofoten, presenting the Above the ARTic Circle Exhibition. The exhibition showcases 38 female artists from 21 countries. A stay at the Nyvågar Rorbu Hotel in Kabelvåg, idyllically located at the Lofoten Sea, is another must.
The Lofoten Islands are the ideal place to have the authentic Viking experience. For openers you can explore the surrounding mountains and white sand beaches on the back of an Icelandic horse from the Hov Hestegård Riding Center on the island of Gimsøy.
To learn about Viking Age visit the Lofotr Viking Museum, where you can even feast like a Viking on a traditional lunch of lamb soup, lamb from Lofoten, root vegetables and local herbs – all cooked together in the grand feasting hall, served in the same manner it would have in the time of the great Viking king, Olaf Tryggvason.
For other thrills, go surfing in Arctic with the team from Unstad Arctic Surf Located 68*9 ́North in the Atlantic Ocean. Or take a nordic safari through Polar Park Sanctuary where you’ll often see bears, lynxes, arctic foxes, wolverines, reindeer and moose, and soon, Siberian tigers. Polar Park is integral in conserving the native wildlife and operates a wolf breeding facility. Stig Sletten the Head Animal Keeper, offers a short safety course on how to interact with the park’s captive wolves for those who would like to be kissed by wolves.
There’s a reason Northern Norway is referred to as the Land of the Midnight Sun and that is, there are so many amazing experiences to be had here that you’ll be glad there are 24 continuous hours of daylight, so you’re able to do more and see more.
If a trip to Northern Norway is in your future we recommend you contact Northern Norway http:// www.nordnorge.com/en and Innovation Norway: www. VisitNorway.com. Both companies will make your experience, unforgettable.