5 must-see places above the Arctic Circle

By STEFFEN FOSSBAKK - July 30, 2018

Take a hike around the clock at Senja, dive into Blåisvatnet lake, or simply kick back and enjoy the majestic scenery at Andøya. Here are some of Northern Norway’s hot spots.

In recent years, The Lofoten Islands have attracted great attention on social media. Pictures of steep mountains, deep fjords and the midnight sun have made people want to drop everything and book a ticket to the archipelago located far above the Arctic Circle.

In addition to the world-famous Lofoten, Northern Norway is home to several other photogenic destinations – only with fewer visitors and more space.

The Norwegian nature photographer Steffen Fossbakk has traveled all over Northern Norway and captured many of these scenic destinations on his camera. Today, Fossbakk has more than a hundred thousand followers on Instagram, and every week he shares new shots of the region’s wild and untouched nature.

But where to go? Luckily, Fossbakk is happy to share some of his favorite destinations, where you can seek your inner explorer and enjoy photogenic nature and a feeling of exclusivity.

1. Senja island

Northern Norway is the largest region of mainland Norway, however, Fossbakk does not need to travel far from his home in Finnses to find stunning locations for his photography. Some of his favorite spots are located just a stone’s throw away, at Senja island – midway between Lofoten and Tromsø.

“Nicknamed the fairy tale island, this paradise has become a new favorite among people all around the globe. Steep mountains, beautiful fjords, wildlife and a fascinated history makes Senja one of Norway’s hottest spots to visit”, he says.

Even though Senja is an up-and-coming destination among travelers, you are guaranteed more space for yourself here than many other popular destinations in Norway. Senja is actually Norway’s second largest island (after Hinnøya) and covers more than 580 square miles.

2. Andøya island

This might surprise you – the picture below is actually not captured at Hawaii. This tropical beach is located far above the Arctic Circle, at the island of Andøya in Vesterålen.

“The island is an incredible destination for those who like easy hikes with amazing views”, Fossbakk says.

During summer, you are welcome to choose from a wealth of trails for hiking and biking, or you can spend the day sunbathing at one of the white beaches along the coast.

3. Blåisvatnet lake in the Lyngenfjord region

The intense color makes Blåisvatnet perhaps Norway’s most picturesque lake, but some might say it doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves.

“The lake is one of the hidden gems of Northern Norway. A combination of clay and fresh glazier water creates a blue color you’ve never seen before”, says Fossbakk.

Blåisvatnet is located in the Lyngenfjord region, close to the Finnish border. The region’s epicenter is the 55-mile-long Arctic mountain range, Lyngsalpene. Here, you will stumble upon striking contrasts and attractions at both high and low altitudes.

4. Vesterålen

The area is often referred to as “Lofoten’s little brother”, but that doesn’t mean Vesterålen is a pushover. Let us introduce you to the kingdom of whales.

The archipelago of Vesterålen is the only place where you are almost certain to see whales on even short trips. During summer, you can also get a glimpse of the mighty sperm whales in the middle of the night because of the midnight sun.

Vesterålen offers everything from white beaches and idyllic farmlands to craggy mountain peaks rising from the sea. In other words, the landscape gives you an ideal opportunity for an active holiday.

Some attentive readers may have noticed that Fossbakk previously in this article recommended Andøya island, which is actually located in Vesterålen. However, Vesterålen is made up by several islands which are all worth visiting.

5. Sommarøy island

If you are looking for summer vibes, you should plan a trip to the small island of Sommarøy (which literally means “summer island”). Here, you are surrounded by beaches, crystal clear water and untouched nature.

Enjoy your day in a kayak exploring the fjord and picturesque surroundings, or take an easy hike to the viewpoint overlooking Sommarøy.

The island is only an hour drive from Tromsø, and you can either stay in a Rorbu – an old fishermen’s cabin – or book a room at the comfy Sommarøy Arctic Hotel.