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Norway - Cycling Senja Island

Updated: Sep 25, 2023


A pre-pandemic journey exploring the beautiful Norwegian Island of Senja. This was my second time in Norway, my first adventure was back when I was in my twenties. The endless days (almost literally) of summer here are very special. It truly is a wonderful place to experience sea and mountains.


We did this adventure with our two teenagers then 13 & 15 years old. The planning phase, when travelling with children (of any age), is the magic key to a great holiday. But really, to any holiday and, I always say, the beginning of the journey! This is part one of our travels in Norway - our wonderful cycling trip. Part two, southern Norway, coming soon including Oslo, Bergen, Flam and Farsend please follow the link!


Below is the detailed cycle ride day by day and many photos and tips etc. Enjoy it any way that you prefer. Definitely worth seeing the views.

Senja Island, view from 44-metre long platform - Photo CRiney

Cycling Senja


Here is the itinerary and detailed information about the 6 day cycle trip around the beautiful island of Senja in Northern Norway. This was an organised tour so, full disclosure, our bags were brought between hotels by the organisers.


We have done a 5 day cycle trip along the French canals where we organsied the whole journey. That time we left our bags in a small hotel at the beginning of the cycle ride and only took what we needed for the 5 days. I think this could be easily done here as well, perhaps leaving bags in Tromso.


Norway Senja Island Tromso
Senja Island - starting point Tromso

This trip is graded as : MODERATE:


The terrain is not very demanding, but it can be hard to sit on the bike for so many days and hours, if you are not use to it. The tour requires that you are in normally good shape. The weather can make the tour more demanding. Be prepared for approximately 4 hours a day cycling.


You could also rent e-bikes but we chose to use ordinary bikes. We (well 2 of us) did find it necessary to get off a couple of times and walk the hill or part of it. No shame in that and we had time to take in the view! ;)


The Full Itinerary (approx. 200km)


This was a 6 day cycle tour with 4 days of cycling, 1 day off in between with a couple of ferry rides and tunnels along the way. We started from Tromsø staying the night before we set off.


Day 1, Saturday (62km)

  • Pick up the rental bikes

  • Bike Tromsø to Sommarøy, 62 km

Day 2, Sunday (41km)

  • Bike to Brensholmen, 8.5 km,

  • Ferry to Botnhamn,

  • Bike to Mefjordvær, 32.5 km

Day 3, Monday (46km)

  • Bike to Hamn in Senja, 46 km

Day 4, Tuesday

  • Day off in Hamn

Day 5, Wednesday (51km)

  • Bike to Finnsnes, 51 km.

Day 6, Thursday

  • Boat from Finnsnes to Tromsø

Departure from Tromsø


What you will find below is the detailed cycle ride instructions and some of my photos and tips along the way.



The airport express coach stops at Scandic Grand Hotel, just 5 min. walk from the Quality Saga hotel. Departures approx. every 30 min. The travel time 10-15 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the vending machine in the arrival hall or by the driver on the bus.


Tromsø is the capital of Northern-Norway, located at almost 70 degrees north.

You can experience the Midnight Sun in Tromsø from 19. May to 27. July.


Most of Tromsø, including the city centre, is located on the island of Tromsøya.

Storgata is the main shopping street.


Things to do in Tromsø:


We recommend visiting the:

  1. Tromsø Polar Museum,

  2. the Arctic Cathedral

  3. the Polaria Aquarium

  4. You can also experience Tromsø’s best view with the cable car from Tromsdalen to the mountain Storsteinen (421 m above sea level).

We stayed at: (still getting good overall reviews)

Richard Withs Plass 2, +47 77 60 70 00

Incl. breakfast and self-packet lunch/refill thermos



Day 1, Saturday: Tromsø - Sommarøy, 62 km


We picked up our bike rental from the following organization:

Tromsø Outdoor, Sjøgata 14, www.tromsooutdoor.no


And Begin..... This was in 2019, I can't vouch for all the landmarks being where they were but I have checked it as much as I could!


Route:

Start biking in direction Kvaløya. The best way is to follow the water front around the south tip of Tromsøya Island. Just before you get to the airport, you enter Road 862 and a bike lane. Follow the signs to Kvaløya.


After you have passed the airport you get to Sandnessund bridge, connecting the islands, Tromsøya and Kvaløya. This is the longest bridge in Northern Norway (1.2 km long and approx. 45 m high). Turn left after the bridge and follow the signs for Road 862 to Sommarøy.


At the intersection in Eidkjosen, you find Eide Handel, a grocery store, known for its local specialities. Turn right and continue Road 862 towards Sommarøy.


After passing Kvaløy church to the left, you get a great view of the fjord and the mountains ahead of you. Continue along the south side of the fjord for approx. 3.5 km, then turns left, still marked 862 to Sommarøy. The road takes you up the relatively steep and long Henrikvik Valley, leading up to Kattfjordeidet, 150 m.a.s.l.


This mountain area is known as ‘The Nordic Chamonix’ with nice peaks and a long ski season. Just before the descent towards Kattfjorden, you get to a lake with a nice picnic area with toilets - a great place for a rest, facing majestic peaks up to 1040 meters high.


Wildflowers and mountains - Photo CRiney

Now you’ll have some nice downhill before you arrive in Nordfjordbotn, where you turn left at the intersection, and continue Road 862 towards Sommarøy.


You ride on the south side of the fjord all the way around the narrow Sørfjorden. You pass small farms, boathouses and piers along the fjord.


Continue out the fjord. After biking trough, the Otervik tunnel (Approx. 600 m), you get the first glimpse of Sommarøy straight ahead.

Senja Norway
Senja views - photo: CRiney

Short after passing a bay with a white beach to the right, you’ll find the exit to Sommarøy. Turn right, into Road 55. After crossing the bridge to Sommarøy, you continue another 2.5 km, cross another small bridge, and arrive on the island, Hillesøy. Turn left towards the hotel.


First stop, Sommaroy Artic Hotel - Photo: CRiney

We stayed at:

Sommarøy Arctic Hotel, Skipsholmvegen 22, included: 3-course dinner, breakfast, and self-packed lunch/refill thermos.


Tips:

1. We recommend an evening walk to the top of the island. From here you’ll have great views of the ocean and south, towards Senja.

2. You can also get a great view of the mid-summer night sun, dancing along the horizon!


Day 2, Sunday: Sommarøy - Mefjordvær, 41 km


Bike, Sommarøy – Brensholmen, 8.5 km

Route:

Bike all the way back to Road 862 (5.7 km) and continue straight ahead, marked Senja. Turn right after 1.4 km. You must count approx. 45 minutes.



You have arrived on Senja, Norway's second largest island located at 69 degrees north. The steep mountains plunging deep into the ocean are a breath-taking sight and the most prominent feature of this stretch. The road is narrow here and there as it twists and turns along fjords with crystal clear, icy-cold waters. So cold that no matter how inviting the beaches with their pure white coral sand appear, going for a swim is only for the hardiest among us. We did attempt this along the way, well one of us!


Norleo ferry Norway
Ferry Senja - Photo: C Riney

Ferry, Brensholmen – Botnhamn (Senja) Departure from Brensholmen at 10:15 (The trip takes 45 min). Price: Approx. NOK 100.- p.p., bicycle: approx. NOK 60.-


Bike, Botnhamn – Mefjordvær, 32.5 km

Route:

From the ferry terminal in Botnhamn, you turn left on Road 862, marked Gryllefjord/ Finnsnes. Continue along the fjord for approx. 7,5 km and turn right on Road 862 towards Gryllefjord/Skarland/Senjahopen.


From here you’ll have a long and steady climb of approx. 2 km, to get across a small mountain pass. You pass two lakes in relatively flat terrain and continue another 1 km uphill. The highest point is at about 120 m.a.s.l.


Now it’s 2 km dowhill to Mefjordbotn and easy biking along the fjord to Senjahopen. There are some tunnels along the fjord. The tunnels are narrow, but they have lights inside. As you get further out the fjord, you’ll can see more and more of the dramatic mountain range on the other side of the fjord. When you have passed the bay at Senjahopen, you turn right towards Mefjordvær.


After about 5 km, you arrive at your destination.


hotel on senja
Mefjord Brygge hotel - photo: CRiney

We stayed at:

Mefjord Brygge, Mefjordvær, 9386 Senjahopen, Included: 2 or 3-course dinner, breakfast and self- packet lunch/refill thermos.


Day 3, Monday: Mefjordvær - Hamn, 46 km

Route:

Go back to Senjahopen the same way you came yesterday. At the intersection by the bay, you go straight ahead towards Gryllefjord/Skarland/Andenes.


senja tunnel
Our second tunnel - very well lit and set up with warning light to let motorists know bikes are in the tunnel. - photo: CRiney

Very soon you get to the Geitskard tunnel (2.2 km). The tunnel is relatively new. It’s wider than the previous tunnels and has good lighting and ventilation.


Ersfjordstranda Beach - yes, he did swim - photo MR-L

After the tunnel, you roll down to Ersfjordstranda beach, offering white, fine-grained sand that brings other countries and beaches to mind. Surrounded by tall, craggy peaks, this is Norway at its most spectacular. The triangular, gold-plated service facility on the beach, is an attraction in its own.




Devil's Teeth or Oksen Mountain - Photo CRiney

Route:

From Ersfjorden, you bike towards Tungeneset and a new rest area, worth visiting. A walkway leads out over the rocks to provide a view to the Northern Sea in the west and the mountain Oksen (also called the Devil's Teeth) in the north.


From Tungeneset, the road turns inwards, along Steinsfjorden and through the Steinfjord tunnel to the next fjord, Bergsfjorden. Here you can make a nice detour (turn right) to the community centre at Skaland.



When you continue Road 862, further in the fjord, you get some uphill (this is the longest uphill stretch of the cycle ride) towards the Skaland tunnel. In one of the curves, 130 m.a.s.l., you find the next spectacular rest area.


The tunnel, the view and the uphill ride - Photo: CRiney


From a 44-metre long platform, you can enjoy the grand vista of the fjord and the surrounding peaks.


On the other side of the tunnel, you roll down Krokelvdalen valley to Straumsbotn. Turn right at the intersection by the fjord and onto Road 86 towards Gryllefjord/Andenes/Senjatrollet. You arrive at Hamn (to the right) after approx 11 km.


The Hamn hotel and the view from it. Just beautiful... Photo:CRiney


We stayed at:

Hamn in Senja, Included: 3-course dinner (or sometimes buffet), breakfast and self-packet lunch/refill thermos. Our favorite hotel with lots to do for our R&R break in the cycle ride!


Mountains water in Norway
Hamn, Senja - Photo: CRiney

Day 4, Tuesday: Day off in Hamn


The sceneries and nature of Senja are incredible. At Hamn in Senja, the staff were very helpful making sure everyone got the opportunity to explore the beauty of the area. Bergsfjorden is absolutely amazing with coral beaches, beautiful islands and crystal-clear water - you’ll struggle to find any place like this! We took the sightseeing cruise and saw bird's galore. We even explored a small coral island along the way.


Fjord sightseeing - see the whale bone on the beach. Bird life everywhere. Photos: CRiney


The Hamn Resort has a great diversity of trips on schedule almost daily:

  1. Fjord sightseeing and wildlife safari (recommended) - we did this one

  2. Fishing trip

  3. Body rafting

  4. Kayaking

  5. Spectacular mountain hikes


Bike to Gryllefjord / return

Route:

From Hamn, you turn right on Road 86. After crossing a marshland, you get to the Ballesvikskar tunnel. The tunnel is relatively new, 850 meters long, 8.5 m wide with good lighting and ventilation. The tunnel ends at a bridge across the fjord. Turn right after the bridge and continue straight ahead towards Gryllefjord.


It takes approx. 1 hour to bike from Hamn to Gryllefjord through the tunnel.

If you want to avoid the tunnel or just make it a roundtrip, you can bike the old road, across the pass, Ballesvikskaret (172 m.a.s.l.). From the top, you’ll have great views of the surrounding mountains. The rest of the trip to Gryllefjord, is easy biking, but you won’t get to the bridge, so you must bike all the way around the fjord.


It takes approx. 2 hours to bike from Hamn to Gryllefjord across the pass.



View from the peak, Sukkertoppen, in Bergsfjorden. Photo: www.senjafoto.no


Day 5, Wednesday: Bike Hamn - Finnsnes - 51 km

Route:

The last leg of biking starts by following the same route back to Straumsbotn (11 km). At the intersection, you continue straight ahead on road 86 towards Finnsnes.


The gentle uphill road...! Photo: CRiney

From Straumsbotn, you leave the coast and start on a gentle uphill towards Svanelvdalen, a beautiful valley with birch forest, mountain peaks and lakes on both sides of the road. Easy biking along the river, which runs quietly through the valley, past the small communities Svanelvmo and Slettemoen. At Svanelvmoen the river runs into the lake Sørlivatnet and then through several small lakes before it eventually empties into the fjord, Laksefjorden.


Continue road 86 to Silsanden where you leave the island, Senja and bike across the bridge to Finnsnes on the mainland.


We stayed at:

Finnsnes Hotell - Torggata 17 It is a very functional hotel, 2 minutes from the ferry.


Day 6, Thursday: Boat trip Finnsnes - Tromsø.


Sad to be at the end of the cycle journey but there is always the next adventure!

Hurtingruten - Photo:CRiney


There are two main options for returning to Tromso by boat.

1. Express boat

2.Hurtigruten

Both departure Finnsnes and arrive Tromsø.


We chose the Hurtingruten, it was wonderful! We highly recommend it. This is like a cruise ship but it is a commuter ferry. And it is 130 years old this year 2023! This is what they say:

The Norwegian Coastal Express embodies the very essence of Norway. It’s been the lifeblood of coastal communities for nearly 130 years. Our signature voyage journey's along 2,500 nautical miles of some of the most stunning scenery you’ve ever seen.

Happy cycling and thanks for reading!

Happy Travels - Photo: self-timer






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