I bet that over 90% of the people who want to visit Norway, don’t know anything about Senja. I was one of them as well, until I read a few blogs about Lofoten, mostly from local people. All of them had one thing in common: Senja is just as beautiful as Lofoten but far less crowded. If you want to have a perfect trip to Northern Norway, Senja island is not to be missed. On one hand it might not take too much of your time (you can always just pass by and make a few stopovers). But on the other hand you just might fall in love with it and want to come back. Like we did. In this post you will find best 5 things to do in Senja, along with some travel tips and tricks to make the most of your vacation.
A few words about Senja island. It is located between the island of Kvaloya (which can be accessed from Tromso by bridge) and Lofoten islands. Despite the fact that Senja is less-travelled among tourists, it is the second largest island in Norway. It is as beautiful as Lofoten, just wilder, with less cities and accommodations. There are some rooms and lodgings in small towns but in general Senja is an ideal place for wild camping.
How to get there? The best way to travel around Senja is by car (camper is even a better idea), because you can actually stop almost anywhere and spend the night under the stars. If you are traveling from Tromso to Lofoten islands, you will most probably pass the island anyway. Once you arrive to Kvaloya island, head towards Brensholmen and take the car ferry to Bothnamn.
Accommodation tips. We only spent one night in Senja, at Mefjord Brygge (we wanted to stay close to Hesten to do the early morning hike), it was a lovely house in a very scenic location. There were some nice Airbnb options in Husoy as well but the rooms run out fast. Hence, don’t hesitate too much with booking, especially in high season from June to August. If I ever get back to Senja again, I will definitely spend the night in a camper on Ersfjord beach.
Saving tips. Remember to download the Troms Billet app, which is valid on busses, ferries and express boats and can save you some money for the ride. The ferry ride takes less than 40 minutes and costs around 28€ per car and 2 passengers with the app. If you don’t have Airbnb account, regster via this link to get a 30 € discount for your first booking (the total cost of your booking has to be over 300€).
There are many things to do in Senja, especially for outdoor and adrenaline types who like hiking, paddling, diving or downhill freeriding. I will mostly remember it for one of the best hikes in my life, and the beautiful Ersfjord beach where we had a funny little incident. Here are my top 5 things to do in Senja island.
Enjoy the Scenic Route with beautiful stopovers
Senja hosts one of the 18 Norwegian scenic routes. Senja scenic route is 102 km long and it runs from Gryllefjord to Botnhamn (or vice versa if you are coming from the north), with short detours to Mefjordvaer and Husoy. Even if you don’t have time to spend the night in Senja, I suggest you to take this route on your way to or from Lofoten. There are a lot of scenic stops where you can take short walks, take some fantastic photos and make your Northern Norway road trip even more memorable. Many of the places, described in this post are more or less on the way, and they deserve to be seen at least from the road.
Hike Hesten hill for the iconic view of Segla mountain
While Segla is the most famous mountain on Senja island, a hike to Hesten, its’ neighboring hill, is much more popular for two reasons. It is shorter and less steep, and it offers a spectacular view of Senja’s highest mountain. Even in times of covid-19 pandemics (we were there in the beginning of August 2020) there were at least 50 people on the top, so if you want to avoid the crowds, be there early. However, the best view of Segla mountain is just before the sunset, when the sun behind you does its’ magic.
The hike to Hesten summit (556 meters above the sea) takes about 1 hour, give or take, depending on your fitness level. You can leave your car on a designated parking lot behind the Fjordgard school (pay per hour with EasyPark app). If you don’t mind walking the extra mile to save some money, you can park on the campground by the sea in the very end of Fjordgard (nice option to spend the night there as well!). The trailhead starts at the bottom of the ski slope.
The hike is relatively easy until you reach the ridge, about 100 meters below Hesten’s peak. While the view is already beautiful from there, it is really worth to make that extra effort reach the summit where the view also opens over Mefjorden to the west. We went up twice, so that must count for something!
By the way, I am wearing Alpine Princess leggings in most of my photos, if you fancy them, you can get them with 15% discount by using this link. You are welcome. 😉
This gorgeous white sandy beach is located on the western part of Senja island, between Skaland and Senjahopen. Unfortunately, the Norwegian sea is a little bit too cold to swim (even in Summer months the temperature is way below 15 Celsius), still the soft sand and spectacular scenery make Ersjford beach a perfect spot to relax. Whether you want to camp overnight next to the beach, eat lunch at one of the many picnic tables, enjoy an evening under the midnight sun (in Summer), or watch the northern lights, this is the place to go.
We arrived to Ersfjord beach on a sunny afternoon, on our way to Lofoten islands. We had less than 2 hours left to reach the last ferry in Gryllefjord, so we parked our camper van near the beach and went for a short stroll. The fun part was that the sand was so soft that our camper got stuck in it. Oh, the things we tried to dig it out… and none of them worked. Luckily, there were plenty of tourists there and one of them helped to drag us out. We missed the ferry though, so we decided to drive all the way to Lofoten by mainland. At least we got to stop in the other two “must see places”, which is not bat at all. 😉
Not far from Ersfjord beach lies Tungeneset viewpoint, which might not seem worth the stop from the road, but do yourself a favor and take that stroll. The walkway is constructed with Siberian larch wood, offering the views of the Norwegian Sea in the west, and the beautiful Okshornan mountain range (also known as Devil’s Jaw) in the north. The wooden walkway ends with large boulders, making the scenery even more appealing for photography. This is actually one of the nicest places to watch the sunset or northern lights. It is also a place to spot the red beaked Atlantic puffins.
Bergsboten viewing platform
Bergsboten viewpoint is the first (or the last, depending on your direction) stops on Senja Scenic road. A 44-meter long wooden platform is surrounded by the Bergsbotten mountain range, Bergsfjord, and some other beautiful mountains. The platform is a perfect spot for photography lovers, making it even more exciting because of its varying levels. If you want the sun behind you, you should do it in the morning, but also late afternoon sunlight (the photo in my blog) has its charms. The parking is right by the platform and it is free, just like in all Senja viewpoints.
You can check the rest of the photos from our Northern Norway road trip in my Facebook album and in my Instagram highlights. Followers welcome. 😉 Have you been in Senja? What would you add to my 5 things to see in Senja island? Scroll down and leave a comment!