Helgeland is a coastal paradise located in the warmest and most southern part of Northern Norway. Spread across 18,832 square kilometers, the region is home to Norway’s second largest lake, Røssvatnet, a multitude of charming islands and isles, and idyllic mountains.
There are four main towns in the area, Brønnøysund, Sandnessjøen, Mosjøen, and Mo i Rana. The region is home to three national parks Saltfjellet-Svartisen, Lomsdal-Visten, and Børgefjell.
What to do
There’s so much to do in Helgeland, whether you visit during the summer or winter.
Highlights during summertime include hiking, biking, and kayaking. The summer is also the time that The Vega Islands are full of nesting eider ducks.
A highlight of hiking in Helgeland is traversing across the demanding Seven Sisters, a 12-15 hour hike that crosses over seven mountains. The mountains are a result of glaciers from about 20,000 years ago. From the highest mountain, Botnkrona (1,072 meters above sea level), you can see Mount Torghatten as well as the Vega Archipelago.
During July through October, climb up Mount Glomfjellet on the 1.7 km staircase called, Fykantrappa, which was initially used by workers building the hydropower station in Glomfjord in 1919. You’ll not only hike up 1,129 stairs and gain 300 meters in about 60 minutes, but you’ll also get great views of the fjord below.
Another hiking must, is to the lion-shaped mountain, Rødøyløva located at 443 meters above sea level. The entire trip only takes 3-4 hours, can be climbed in virtually any direction. From the top, view the pristine turquoise waters and archipelago below.
Mount Torghatten is a 258-meter high mountain which is best known for its distinctive 35-meter high and 160-meter long tunnel through its center. The unique natural landmark is accessible by an easy 30-minute hike.
Mount Dønnamannen is located on the island of Dønna, and is a rather steep 4-6 hour hike. There are three well-marked trails to choose from, all going from sea level to 858 meters above sea level. Be aware that the Teigstad trail is often closed due to landslides.
Don’t miss out on Laksforsen Falls, the trail to this 17-meter high waterfall is short, only a few hundred meters, but it is extremely steep. Enjoy the view while having lunch at the Laksforsen Restaurant, overlooking the falls.
Island Hopping on Bike or Kayak
The Islands in Helgeland have fantastic beaches, good campsites, and of course, great views. It’s one of Norway’s best areas for kayaking. For an easily accessed route, start at the end of highway FV17, on Tjøtta island and head towards Rødøya. The Nesna Islands are comprised of three islands and are a great starting point for a 2-3 day trip for beginners and more advanced kayakers.
The Vega Islands, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, are the most well-known islands in the area and are made up of more than 6,500 islands and isles. It’s popular to explore the islands by island hopping via bike (of course with the help of ferries) and by kayak. It’s a haven for what seems to be endless coves, sandy beaches, charming fishing villages, and plenty of eider ducks. Most bike trips are 70-120 km in an average of 3 days and with the use of ferries. Bike rentals are available from Brønnøysund, Sandnessjøen, Nesna, and Ørnes.
Choose between sea and fresh-water fishing. The best time to fish in the sea is at night when the water is calmest. This can be quite relaxing due to the 24 hours of sunlight in the summer. The most popular fish off the shores of Helgeland include cod, saithe, redfish, haddock, pollack, wolffish, and halibut. Fresh-water fishing options are abundant in Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park, which has 4 rivers rich with salmon and in Børgefjell National Park, you will find Arctic char and trout.
A highlight of summertime is glacier climbing on the Svartisen Glacier, Norway’s second largest glacier. Another noteworthy glacier climb is on the Oksskolten Glacier, which takes about 10 – 12 hours up and down. On the edge of the Oksskolten Glacier is the very modern, yet rustic DNT cabin called Rabothytta, located at 1,200 meters above sea level, and about 5 km from the nearest parking lot.
Don’t forget to go caving while in the area. Grønligrotta is one of the most popular caves to explore in Scandinavia and is one of the largest in the area. It’s the only cave in Scandinavia that has indoor lights!
Like almost all places in Norway, the winter time in Helgeland means ski season. The island of Rødøy has a 4,000-year-old cave drawing that is considered the world’s oldest depiction of a skier. For alpine skiing, adventure on Mount Jørntind or the Okstindbreen Glacier. Visiting Kjemsasen Alpine Center is also an option. Cross-country ski trails are abundant in Børgefjell National Park, and there are lots of options in the remote Lomsdal-Visten National Park.
The area also offers ice fishing, snowmobiling, and of course the glistening Northern Lights which can be seen from mid-September until mid-March.
During winter or summer, travel along the Norwegian Scenic Route, Helgelandskysten, which is the longest of the 18 Norwegian Scenic Routes found throughout Norway. While exploring the scenic route, you’ll travel along 433 km of road and take six ferry trips, all while enjoying incredible views of the fjords, mountains, and the rich archipelago.
How to get there
There are four airports to choose from depending on where you are exploring. If you are flying from Oslo, there are two nonstop flight options to Mo i Rana Airport in Røssvoll (MQN) and Sandnessjøen Airport in Stokka (SSJ). If you are flying to Brønnøysund Airport (BNN) or Mosjøen Airport (MJF) you will encounter at least one layover, most likely in Northern Norway.
The drive from Oslo takes about 12 to 14 hours. Taking E6 is the most popular route, but additional northern routes, which are more scenic, include Rv73/Fv806 as well as Fv17.
The Nordland Railway stretches from Trondheim to possible Bodø, noteworthy stops include Mosjøen and Mo i Rana (Mo Stasjon). For train schedules visit NSB.
The Nordland regional bus provides bus service along the coast and inland in Helgeland. Use the travel planner to determine your bus transportation.
Best time to visit
Overall, Helgeland has a mild climate compared to the rest of Norway. Temperatures, however, vary significantly depending on the season.
Spring (March through May)
During the springtime, the Northern Lights begin to disappear, with anticipation of the Midnight Sun’s arrival at the end of April. The well-known ducks begin to arrive in May when the islands become truly full of life. It’s still slightly cold during this time, with a high of about 16°C with chances of rain.
Summer (June through August)
The Midnight Sun dominates the sky, with 24 hours of sunlight during the summertime. This season is the warmest with a high of about 20.3°C and is the most popular among visitors. It’s an ideal time to hike, kayak, and bike. Keep in mind accommodation and tours will be more expensive than other times of the year.
Autumn (September through November)
During the autumn, the sky begins to darken and you will start to experience the true beauty of the Northern Lights. Cooler months and more affordable prices are characteristics of Helgeland in the autumn. Keep in mind that it is the most humid and windy during the month of November.
Winter (December through February)
Welcome to the coldest, and darkest season during the year. Visit Helgeland in the winter if you enjoy skiing and snow. It snows about 12 times per month, providing ample opportunities for skiing.
There’s truly an abundance of accommodation options, especially in the four towns in the area. Another fun option is to hike or ski to the DNT cabin, Rabothytta. Other suggestions include Torghatten Camping, a campground with cabins located at the base of Mount Torghatten. Elfis Sjøstuer has cottages in various locations on the Helgeland coast. If camping is your thing, pitch a tent in any of the national parks or nearly anywhere you would like, in accordance with Norway’s Right to Roam law.
Do you have any questions about planning an adventure in Helgeland? Let us know in the comments below or chat with us on outtt.com.