Photo: Roger Ellingsen / Statens vegvesen

Explore Senja with Norwegian Scenic Routes

Senja, Norway’s second largest island, is filled with gorgeous viewpoints, spectacular hikes, and charming fishing villages. Norwegian Scenic Route Senja is 102 km long and travels between Gryllefjord and Botnhamn, with detours to Mefjordvær and Husøya. The route is easily one of Norway’s best road trips, with adventures sprinkled throughout, and can be combined with the Andøya and Lofoten scenic routes to the south.

The narrow roads wind through breathtaking fjord landscapes. Steep mountains with sharp peaks plummet deep into the ocean while white sandy beaches highlight fjords filled with ice-cold water. In between, small fishing villages serve as a reminder that the spirited locals have withstood the harsh climate and landscape for generations.

Some of Senja’s most enticing adventures are easily accessible along the route. From challenging Breidtinden, the island’s highest peak, to the more relaxed Husfjell, or even a visit to Senjatrollet, there is plenty to experience for everyone.

Getting there

Finnsnes
If you’re coming from the mainland, Finnsnes is the last town you’ll meet before crossing the bridge over to Senja. It is possible to rent a car at Bardufoss airport, but it is considerably cheaper to take the bus towards Finnsnes and rent a car there.

Andøya
In the summer months (18th May–2nd September 2018) a ferry runs two to three times per day between Andenes on Andøya island and Gryllefjord. The journey takes an hour and forty minutes and connects Norwegian Scenic Route Senja with the Andøya scenic route.

Arrive at the terminal in Andenes 1–2 hours before departure to secure a place on the ferry. Check the ferry times on en-tur.no (Andenes fergekai, Andøy to Gryllefjord ferjekai, Torsken).

Kvaløya (Tromsø)
If you’ve been exploring Tromsø or Kvaløya, it is a short 35 minute ferry over to Senja. The route operates between the 26th of April and 2nd of September 2018 and runs five to seven times per day.

Check the ferry times on en-tur.no (Brensholmen ferjekai, Tromsø to Botnhamn ferjekai, Lenvik).

Accommodation

Wild camping is a great budget option if you have a tent or a campervan. Popular places to stop for the night, with some very basic facilities, include Ersfjord Beach, Steinfjord, and Laukvik. You can camp for up to 48 hours in one location, at least 150 meters from an inhabited house or cabin.

Private campgrounds are available by taking detours along the route and are suitable for tents, campervans, and motorhomes. They also have simple cabins available for rent. Services typically include toilets, showers, a simple kitchen, café/kiosk, and the all important Wi-Fi. Fjordbotn Camping is just 12 km from Botnhamn. Senja Camping is 27 km from the scenic route, towards Silsand. Norwegian Wild is 33 km from the route, by Ånderdalen National Park.

For those seeking something more luxurious, Hamn i Senja and Mefjord Brygge both offer hotel rooms as well as apartments with self-catering possibilities. Each has a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a bar. They also offer guided tours such as kayaking and boat cruises.

Tips

  • Senja is sparsely populated with only 8,000 inhabitants across the island. Do not expect a lot of choice at the small supermarkets or cafés and restaurants. Still, the local shops appreciate your business and it’s a great way to get a feeling for local life.
  • There are few petrol stations on Senja, so plan accordingly. Fill up in Finnsnes if you are coming from the mainland. Along the route, petrol stations can be found in Gryllefjord, Skaland, Senjahopen, Husøy and Botnhamn. You can also find petrol in other parts of Senja, including Silsand, Gibostad and Stonglandseidet.
  • Mobile connections can be spotty, so don’t count on having 3G everywhere you travel on Senja.

Gryllefjord to Botnhamn

Sukkertoppen

4.2 km · 2 – 3 hr · Easy

Just 12 km from the ferry terminal in Gryllefjord lies the start of the hike to Sukkertoppen. It’s a great first hike with views of Senja and far out to sea.

If you happen to be on Senja during the time of the midnight sun, this is hike is a great place to get some gorgeous photos.

You may be able to find a park by the side of the road, but the best option is to park at Hamn i Senja.

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Senjatrollet

Did you know the world’s largest troll can be found on Senja? Built in 1993, Senjatrollet provides a fun opportunity to learn about local legends and culture.

There is a “Trollshow” everyday at 13:00 and 16:00 between the 30th of June and 5th of August.

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Bergsbotn

Located on a bend in the road the Bergsbotn viewpoint has an iconic 44-meter long platform offering beautiful views of the Bergsfjord and the Bergsbotn village down below.

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Husfjell

7.7 km · 3 – 4 hr · Medium

If you have half a day spare, consider a detour to Skaland. From the Berg church, the trail to Husfjell offers one of Senja’s easier hikes while delivering wonderful views.

At the end of this road lies the tiny village of Bøvær and the fascinating Kråkeslottet cultural house, well worth a visit before or after the hike.

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Tungeneset

At the top of the promontory between Steinfjord and Ersfjord sits this beautifully designed wooden walkway leading out over the rocks. Marvel at the stunning Okshornan mountain range, also known as Devil’s Jaw.

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Ersfjord Beach

The fine white sand of Ersfjord beach seems almost tropical until you step out of the car and feel a chill in the air. Such a beautiful beach begs you to run in and go for a swim but only the bravest souls dare to take a drip in the cold ocean.

Surrounded by tall mountains, Ersfjord beach is the perfect place to relax for a while. It’s one of the island’s most popular wild camping spots and has some basic facilities so arrive early if you want to secure a spot in summer.

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Breidtinden

6.7 km · 4 – 6 hr · Expert

After a detour to - and maybe a night in - the fishing village of Medfjordvær, Senja’s highest mountain awaits. Not for the faint of heart, Breidtinden rises steeply to 1,001 meters above sea level. The reward tackling this challenging peak is an incredible vista featuring Mefjorden, Segla, and Barden.

The steepest and most exposed part of the trail is towards to the top. Do not attempt this hike in wet or windy weather, or if you have a fear of heights. An alternative is to follow the trail as far as Breitindvatnet lake which sits at 480 metres above sea level.

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Barden

6.6 km · 3 – 4 hr · Medium

Barden is a popular hike on Senja, being not too difficult and with a gradual ascent. The big flat peak, at 659 metres above sea level, offers plenty of room to relax and enjoy the fjord views on both sides.

Just east of Medfjordbotn, look for the turnoff to Fjordgård. Turn here and park in the area just before the tunnel starts.

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Segla

3.7 km · 3 – 4 hr · Medium

If you’re interested in taking a little detour you can continue through the tunnel towards Fjordgård and hike up Segla (639 metres above sea level) for unbeatable views of the surrounding mountains and fjords.

The ridge that leads to the top is quite steep and can be a bit challenging if you are not fond of heights. Those that love heights can carefully peer over the edge to witness the almighty drop towards the ocean below.

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Husøy

A 12 km detour from the main road brings you to the gorgeous islet of Husøy. The tiny island sits in Øyfjord and is connected to Senja by a short causeway.

Husøy is home to around 300 people and is Senja’s most active fishing community. Park your car at the entrance to the island and explore on foot.

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