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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
- 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.