Bodø, Norway’s gateway to the Arctic

Bodo, Norway - Boats
Bodo, Norway - Boats
Flying into Bodø, the plane descends over a seascape covering thousands of isles, while the final approach offers a close-up view of the majestic glaciers and peaks guarding this small capital of Norway’s Nordland Province. Arriving by sea (often and deservedly called “the world’s most beautiful sea voyage”), the famous Hurtigruten coastal ships give passengers a glimpse to the northwest of the imposing 62-mile chain of spiky mountains that forms the mythic-seeming Lofoten archipelago.

Bodo, Norway - Coast Storm
Bodo, Norway - Coast Storm
 Bodø is less than one degree north of the Arctic Circle. Without the warming effect of the Gulf Stream, the landscape would be a frozen, inhospitable waste at this latitude. In fact, Bodø offers cycling, skiing, hiking, caving, climbing, and fishing. Many visitors come here for the unique Arctic light, whether the soft pastels of winter that crescendo in a display of aurora borealis or the orange glow of summer’s midnight sun (the best viewpoint for both is from the Landegode lighthouse).

Bodo, Norway - Arctic View
Bodo, Norway - Arctic View

Don’t leave without seeing the Saltstraumen sound, where deep, swirling eddies form every six hours with the change in tides as the equivalent of 160,000 Olympic-size pools of water surge through a narrow passage. Above all, northern Norway has this to offer: the absence of distractions and the chance of an intimate encounter with awe-inspiring nature. 

Travel Tips

When to Go: Early June-early July for the midnight sun; September-April for northern lights.

Where to Stay: The waterfront Rica Hotel Bodø and newly renovated Clarion Collection Hotel Grand Bodø (breakfast and a light evening buffet included) are conveniently located near shops, restaurants, and museums.

How to Get Around: In town, walk (airport is less than a mile from the city center) or take the local bus. Hop a fast ferry for island and coastal day trips. Take the Nordland Railway south to Trondheim, or a bus for destinations north.

Where to Eat or Drink: Try harborside Bryggerikaia for grilled tørrfisk (cod), fish soup, and fresh prawns. For drinks, panoramic mountain and sea views are included at the Radisson Blu Hotel’s Top 13 Rooftop Bar.

What to Read Before You Go: Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson (2007). The award-winning novel by the acclaimed Norwegian novelist is a hauntingly mesmerizing introduction to the quiet, stark beauty of remote, northern Norway.

Fun Fact: Norway is home to Europe’s largest breeding population of white-tailed eagles, an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 pairs. The massive raptor (Europe’s biggest) has eight talons, a wingspan of over eight feet, and can live 20 to 25 years.

Helpful Links: Visit Bodø, Bodø Tourist Information
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