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      our holidays > Walking Holidays > Norway > Senja - An Arctic Island

Senja - An Arctic Island

A fusion of mountain, moorland & sea

A note about distances and timings: our timings and grades are based on our own experiences of walking on the island. Unlike the local grading system, which is based purely on the amount of ascent involved, our timings and grades take the type of terrain into account, and assume a much slower pace over rocky ground. In our experience, walks of just a couple of kilometres can take several hours, but the incredible views are more than ample reward for your efforts.


Starting point

On arrival in Tromsø, an hour’s drive across beautiful Kvaløya brings you to the small neighbouring island of Sommarøy, where your first two nights are spent at the Sommarøy Arctic Hotel.

Day 1

We suggest three walking options for your day on Sommarøy – all of them offering views of the ‘Arctic Caribbean’, so-called for the azure waters and coral-sand beaches which surround the local islands. None are long, though the climbs to both Hillesøya and Lakstind are significant.

Out-and-back route up Hillesøya (grade 2-3): 6km, 2.5hrs; 300m ascent/descent

This steep hill provides spellbinding views over the archipelago and out to sea. We suggest you follow the locals’ route to the summit: straight up, using a handy rope running alongside you from bottom to top in uniquely Norwegian style. It’s not nearly as hard as it sounds!

Out-and-back route to Lakstinden (grade 2): 6km, 3hrs; 515m ascent/descent

The nearest proper peak on the mainland is an excellent objective, with a pretty forest traverse before the rocky summit and lakes of Lakstinden itself. Afterwards, take a stroll to nearby Sandvik beach – the perfect spot to relax.

Out-and-back route up Ørnfløya (grade 1-2): 2km, 1hr; 145m ascent/descent

This modest peak gives exceptional panoramas for minimal effort and is the ideal spot for an after-dinner viewing of the Midnight Sun.

Day 2
Drive from Sommarøy to Mefjordvær, via Husøy

A scenic ferry journey (pay locally) takes you over to Senja itself for a memorable drive close to the island’s dramatic north coast. En route, we suggest a visit to Husøy, a community of 300 souls occupying a spectacular island that is now connected to the mainland by causeway, and which offers tremendous views south-west to Senja’s most dramatic concentration of peaks. Your onward drive takes you past high lakes, cols and coast to reach Mefjordvær, one of the region’s oldest fishing villages, where your next two nights are spent at Mefjord Brygge.

Day 3

Today, you can choose between three short walks from the door (or combine them to make one full-day walk); while Senja’s most iconic peak, Segla (‘sail’), faces you across the fjord and can be reached via a short drive to Fjordgård, from where we suggest a wonderful route beneath the mountain to the neighbouring peak of Barden.

Out-and-back route up Knuten (grade 1-2): 2km, 1hr; 115m ascent/descent

This is an easy walk (gentle enough to do as an evening stroll) up the nearby hill of Knuten, whose lighthouse makes a fine viewpoint just north of the village.

Out-and-back route to Skøyteneset (grade 2-3): 5km, 3.5hrs; 170m ascent/descent

This is a challenging coastal hike which can easily be truncated – still allowing you to see the best of this beautiful rocky headland.

Out-and-back route to Stordalen (grade 1-2): 5.5km, 2hrs; 130m ascent/descent

Through lake and marsh country, ringed by craggy mountains, this walk follows extensive boardwalks, looping through forest and passing remote summer cabins.

Drive then out-and-back route to Barden (grade 2-3): 5km, 4.5hrs; 640m ascent/descent

The peninsula across the water from Mefjordvær is Senja’s most spiky and dramatic spit of land. The climb from Fjordgård – where the walk begins – to the summit of Barden gives you arguably the best view of Segla’s sail-shaped peak.

Day 4
Drive from Mefjord to Hamn i Senja, via Husfjellet

The direct route from Mefjord to Hamn i Senja takes only an hour, but we suggest stopping off at several locations en route: beautiful Ersfjord beach; Tungeneset headland, for the walkway to a viewpoint where you can admire the Devil’s Jaw’s incisor-like peaks; Bovær, with its pretty beach and extraordinary Kråkeslottet (‘crow’s castle’); and Husfjellet, where there is an excellent walk to the summit (see below). You continue to Hamn i Senja, where your last three nights are spent by the harbour, from where the Midnight Sun, or – in late season – the Northern Lights, may be seen.

Out-and-back route up Husfjellet (grade 2): 8km, 4.5hrs; 700m ascent/descent

The 600-metre peak of Husfjellet is a well-graded, steady climb from Skaland on the coast. If the weather is kind, take in views over the ‘Hundred Island’ Bergsoyan archipelago towards Hamn, followed by an unbeatable panorama from the top.

Days 5 & 6

During your time in Hamn, we suggest several local walks as well as inland routes and a driving tour to the south-west of Senja.

Circular route via Sukkertoppen (grade 1-2): 6km, 2hrs; 200m ascent/descent
Circular route via Sukkertoppen (grade 3): 9.5km, 5hrs; 600m ascent/descent

This must-do local walk takes you to the peak of nearby Sukkertoppen (‘Sugarloaf’) mountain. Though the final few metres to the summit are tricky, and should be avoided unless you enjoy scrambling, the majority of this climb is mellow, through lake-studded woodland, and offers exceptional views. It can be walked as a flexible-length circuit, incorporating an exploration of an old nickel mine on a pretty peninsula.

Out-and-back route to Ballesvika beach (grade 2): 3km, 1hr; 15m ascent/descent

Just 5km from Hamn, this pretty sandy beach is the starting point for a walk along a shoreline which is notable for its gorgeous large round pebbles – as good to look at as they are hard underfoot! Your destination is a cove which is popular with locals as a picnic spot, and as a viewing point for the Midnight Sun.

*Out-and-back route via Leirdalen waterfall (grade 2-3): 10km, 3.5hrs; 200m ascent/descent

The high moorland, lakes, rivers and waterfalls of Langdalsvatnet offer you a completely different perspective on Senja. Our route follows a section of Senja's ‘island traverse’ – a classic, multi-day hike popular with Norwegian walkers.

*Out-and-back route via Langdalsryggen (grade 2): 5km, 2hrs; 230m ascent/descent

A walk to this easy peak provides distant views over the coast to the north and west, and the more close-up spectacle of the glinting multitude of tarns that cover a rocky plateau near the summit.

*These two walks share a starting point, which is reached via a spectacular drive through the Kaperdalen valley, and can easily be combined.

Explore south-west Senja by car

This drive across the island reveals the less spectacular – but equally beguiling – face of Senja: gentler, pine-clad and with a softer coastline. Visit the halibut museum at Skrolsvik; World War II coastal defenses at Senjehestneset; the Hofsøya village/museum with its nearby beach walk; and, in beautiful Kaperdalen on the edge of the Anderdalen National Park, an ancient, turf-roofed Sami settlement that was inhabited as recently as 50 years ago.

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