driving the helgeland coast

Since I’m still waiting on a Covid vaccine (at 33, I’m essentially at the very back of the queue in Trondheim), this year’s summer vacation has been another domestic holiday by necessity. We kept it relatively short – I’m saving more of my holiday time for December, when I should be fully vaccinated and we can hopefully plan an extended US trip to coincide with Christmas so I can see friends and family I haven’t seen since 2019. (I’ll also admit that after nearly a year and a half of travel restrictions, I’m not so used to being far from home for long!) Nonetheless, we recently went on a road trip up the coast, and I thought I’d share a little bit of it!

We drove north last summer as well, but last year we mostly stuck to the E6, the inland main highway between Trondheim and northern Norway. This year we wanted to cover some new ground, so we decided to try the coastal route. This means slower driving and lots of ferries, so we set a leisurely pace and covered 3-4 hours of driving per day with overnight stops in different coastal towns. This stretch of coast between Steinkjer and Bodø is known as Helgeland, and the coastal highway (fylkesvei 17) is called Kystriksveien, literally “the coastal road.” With 650 km of road and six ferries along the way, it’s a scenic route, and it’s also dotted with islands of all sizes along the way.

Looking toward (from left to right) Litlhornet shrouded in clouds, Kula, and Heilhornet from Fv802
Golden hour just north of Brønnøysund

Rather than starting off with Steinkjer, we opted to take the ferry from Trondheim to Fosen first, adding an additional ferry to the route. We spent the first night in Namsos, and then picked up Fv17 the next day on the way to Brønnøysund. We had excellent weather for the first few days of the trip, and then it took a turn. By the time we crossed the Arctic Circle, grey clouds had taken up near-permanent residence in the sky. The midnight sun is distinctly less impressive when you can’t ever see it. But I think it’s par for the course for some stretch of the northern summer – I remember going crazy when we lived in Tromsø, because when the weather is grey/rainy and the sun never sets, the sky just…never changes. At least we had some fine weather for the first few days.

There are all sorts of interesting places to stop along the Coastal Road, and while we didn’t venture out to any of the islands this time, they definitely seem worth visiting in the future. Mostly, we enjoyed the scenic drives and the many ferries. I love the coast.

Waiting for the ferry at Kilboghamn.
The Seven Sisters range on the horizon on the ferry from Forvik to Tjøtta.

I never take as many photos as I’d like, but on some level I suppose that’s a good thing! Travel really helps me feel present in the moment. But I did grab snaps on my phone here and there, and I hope you enjoy the little glimpse of the Coastal Road in Helgeland.

Silavatnet, or Sila Lake, in Lurøy municipality
Svartisen glacier seen from the north, across Holandsfjord

We ended the Coastal Road with a few nights in Bodø before coming home the more direct way on the E6. I’d been to Bodø before, but only for an overnight stop, so it was nice to have a little bit more time in the city. We stopped in at the city museum, part of Nordlandsmuseet, and I really enjoyed the temporary exhibition they’re currently running, called Helt Konge – it’s a photo exhibition of imagery of the Norwegian royal family in people home’s and public spaces. I’m not very fussed about royals myself, but the exhibition concept is fascinating to me and it’s always interesting to get a glimpse of other people’s lives through their everyday spaces. I also enjoyed learning a bit more about Bodø’s history from the permanent collection. The museum isn’t too big so it was a nice way to spend an hour or two.

The city museum in Bodø

If you’re curious about Helgeland and want to learn a bit more, I’ll point you to this post from the travel blog Heart my Backpack, which is full of tips and links to more info. I feel so privileged to live somewhere where this kind of scenery is so close by, but I will admit I miss traveling further afield and I’m really looking forward to doing more of that in the future, post-vaccine. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the rest of my summer holiday at home: reading, cooking, gardening. There might even be a bit of sewing before I head back to work!

7 thoughts on “driving the helgeland coast

  1. Lovely photos of Norway in the summer and the museum looks really interesting. It will be good when more people are vaccinated. My daughter in Tromso hasn’t had one yet and there is no chance of her travelling to see us yet. I miss her so much and your family will be delighted when you can travel too! Here in the UK we struggle on with it all, things change every day and that’s hard to deal with. I so enjoy seeing your knitting too. Thanks for sharing 💐🧶🙂

    • Vaccination has seemed frustratingly slow in most of Norway… it’s a bit faster in Oslo, many of my friends in their early thirties have gotten their first shots now! But infection has generally been so (relatively) low in Norway that we’re not the highest priority, and I can’t really complain about that. I hope your daughter’s turn is soon!

  2. Dear Paper Tiger, I don’t know if this is a ‘dead end’ email but it you are reading this I want to thank you for sending these great posts of Norway. I’ve been to Oslo a couple of times, on business so never got outside the city limits. I plan on visiting in 2022 & trekking around the country. Would love to travel to Longyearbyen!

    Best, Nor….phile (sorry, didn’t want to write the wrong word. Couldn’t find a proper term for those in love with Norway).

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. What a beautiful Trip! I can’t wait to come back next summer to visit with you both. Meanwhile, I count the days until the holidays when we see you again. Love you!!

  4. Dianna – thanks for the post with the lovely photos!!! I always enjoy reading your blog. Regarding the vaccine – a friend of mine here in Bend, her daughter and son in law live in Oslo – the daughter just recently returned to Oslo after having been here 8 weeks – her mother is terminal so the daughter was able to get the vaccine here through hospice, but, unfortunately, she still had to do the quarantine hotel when she re-entered the country – I think she was quarantined at the hotel for less than a week. Her mother is terminal so I would except that she will come back when her mother passes (i’m guessing 4-6 weeks, if that), but supposedly when she returns to Norway after the next visit, it is supposed to be easier for her to get back into the country.,

    • My partner was in the US this spring and was able to get both shots while he was there. Unfortunately, he came back before the government had a system in place to register vaccines from outside Norway so he had to do the quarantine hotel dog and pony show, which was infuriating enough that it turned me off the idea of going to the US for my summer break. It *is* possible to register your US vaccines now, but the re-entry rules in Norway have been SO strict and they’re constantly changing. So while we considered going to the US this summer and getting my vaccine there, I decided to stay put and wait for my shot here in the end. It’s less stressful and complicated on one level. On the other hand, Norway is waiting something like 12 weeks between shots, so I probably won’t be fully vaccinated until November… so we shall see.

      • Fortunately the numbers are very low in Norway so that is one positive thing – waiting for the first vaccine and then another 12 weeks is frustrating, I am sure. Thankfully you should be fully vaccinated by November, and your extended visit home in December will be fabulous.

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