All You Need to Know About Norway’s Senja Island

Senja Island in Norway

blog authorBy Johanna Hansen shield verificationVerified Expert

    Located in Northern Norway, the magical Arctic island of Senja is a natural paradise of lush mountains, wild beaches and picturesque fishing villages. The perfect destination for keen adventurers, Senja Island is home to some of Norway’s most dramatic mountains for hiking, stunning landscapes to explore and incredible wildlife to witness.

    Let’s learn all about this unique place, including how to get to Senja Island and the best things you can do when you’re there. Exciting!

    What Is the Population of Senja Island?

    With around 7,900 inhabitants, Senja Island is Norway’s second-largest island. The eastern coast of Senja is the most populated part of the island, with Silsand being the largest village of almost 1,600 people.

    How Do You Get to Senja Island in Norway?

    To get to Senja Island, you can take a ferry from the Arctic city of Tromso on Norway’s mainland, drive across the bridge connecting the mainland to the island, or take a bus. 

    The ferry service between Tromso and Senja is open all year around, with more frequent boats during the high season of summer. From April to September, you can expect around five ferries a day, whereas the winter season sees this drop to between two and four daily ferries, depending on the day.

    When driving, you’ll need to follow the directions to the town of Finnsnes, which is the last town you’ll pass on mainland Norway until you reach Senja. The route will take you on the E8 and E6 to Bardufoss, then onwards towards Finnsnes.

    From Finnsnes, you can either drive or walk across the bridge to Senja Island. The first town you’ll reach on Senja is Silsand. The total journey takes just under 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tromso Airport.

    If you plan to travel to Senja by bus, the journey will take around 3 to 4 hours from Tromso and require a couple of changes along the way.

    Senja Island

    Is Senja Good For Northern Lights Hunting?

    The short answer to the question ‘is Senja good for seeing the Northern Lights?’ is a resounding yes! Due to its location within the Arctic Circle, Senja Island actually experiences polar nights, which is a full 24 hours of darkness, giving you plenty of time to spot the dancing aurorae for yourself.

    If you’re wondering ‘when can you see the Northern Lights in Senja?’, the answer is that you can experience this awe-inspiring light show between September and April. The peak time to see the Northern Lights in Norway is between November and February when the nights are at their longest and darkest.

    A clear, dark, cloudless night will give you the best opportunity to spot the Northern Lights for yourself. Although Norway’s weather can be cloudy and rainy during winter, you’ll be in one of the best locations on Senja Island to see the Northern Lights, as you’re far enough north and away from major sources of light pollution. The best place to be is somewhere outside the island’s towns, amongst the beautiful nature.

    How Long to Spend in Senja, Norway

    When planning how long to spend in Senja, it’s important to note there’s certainly no shortage of things to do and see on this beautiful island! If you want enough time to explore all that Senja has to offer, we recommend staying here for at least two days.

    A two-day trip to Senja will give you enough time to go hiking, discover the spectacular nature all around the island and even visit some of the towns and villages along the way. While you could see some of Senja’s key sights in a day, it would be more of a rush and you most likely wouldn’t have the time to fit in everything you’d want to do in your day.

    We recommend spending a weekend in Senja, or taking two days out of your vacation to explore the beauty this Norwegian island has to offer.

    5 Things to Do in Senja

    So, what can you actually do in Senja and what are the main sights to see on the island? Let’s take a look through our top five things to do in Senja for some inspiration!

    Drive the Senja National Scenic Route

    Senja Island’s famous National Scenic Route is a gorgeous drive, taking you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Norway. This 100-kilometer-long road winds by the ocean, fjords and mountains on the western coast of the island.

    From Gryllefjord to Botnhamn, the route can be driven or cycled and is fairly hilly. Along the way, you’ll drive through coastal villages and experience the majesty of Norway’s mountain valleys. Make sure to schedule in some time to stop and enjoy the views! 

    Visit Senja’s Picturesque Fishing Villages

    Senja’s traditional fairytale villages are must-sees during your trip to the island. One such village is Gibostad. As a former trading center, the lovely Gibostad village is home to many harborside buildings that are over 200 years old.

    Hop from island to island as you visit the village of Husoy, which occupies an entire tiny island just off the northwest coast of Senja. We also recommend visiting the stunning fishing villages of Senjahopen and Mefjordvaer, next to each other on the island’s northwestern coast.

    Husoy in Senja Island

    Hike in Senja’s Mountains

    Another fantastic way to explore Senja is by hiking the island’s beautiful mountains. The most iconic mountain peak on Senja Island is the mighty Segla. This steep hike is short but challenging, reaching almost 650 meters above sea level.

    Perfect for experienced hikers, this route rewards those who reach its peak with incredible vistas of the sprawling mountains leading to the rough waters of the Atlantic below.

    Other notable hiking routes on Senja include Hesten, which takes around two hours (the same as the Segla hike). The longer Barden route takes three hours and is one of the local favorites, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountain peaks.

    Take a Trip to the Stunning White Sand Beaches

    Senja is home to some of the best beaches in Norway. The idyllic and untouched white sand beaches of Senja Island look like something straight out of a travel commercial. Diving in the clear, turquoise waters is hard to resist!

    Ersfjord Beach is one such paradise location, surrounded by mountains and flowing from a fjord. The stunning and secluded beach of Bovaer is another one not to miss – it’s likely you’ll have the beach to yourself if visiting in the winter months.

    Whether you want to try kayaking, paddle surfing, or simply sit and soak in the amazing panoramic views of Senja’s beaches, these sights are ones you’ll surely remember for years to come. You can even go whale watching while on Senja’s coasts.

    Admire the Views As You Go Skiing

    Head to the slopes and prepare yourself for breathtaking views as you soak in the magical, snowy sights of Senja’s mountains and the spectacular sweeping coasts. You’ll find an alpine skiing center on Senja, with slopes for beginners, novices, intermediate and advanced skiers.

    A brilliant outdoor activity to enjoy the fresh air, spend time in nature and keep moving, skiing is a perfect addition to your trip to Senja. Why not make the most of your time on the island’s towering mountains by embarking on a guided ski tour?

    Top Travel Tips For Senja, Norway

    If you’re looking to take a trip to Senja during your Norway vacation, here are our top travel tips to make sure you have the best time possible!

    • Bring a change of clothes – If you spend time near the water on Senja or plan to hike or participate in any other active pastime, you'll probably be very grateful for a change of clothes. Extra layers are always good in the winter and you never know when spare socks will come in handy!
    • Book in advance – As Norway is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, it’s becoming ever more important to reserve the necessary tickets and services in advance. This includes accommodation, travel and any attractions you’d like to visit.
    • Travel by campervan for freedom and flexibility – Our favorite way to explore Senja is by campervan, as you can take your home with you as you go and easily navigate around the island in your own time. Why not reserve your affordable and reliable motorhome rental in Norway now ready for your adventure?

    Beach in Senja Island

    Visit Senja Island For Yourself!

    Inspired to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the beautiful and unique Senja Island? We definitely are! Let’s start planning the perfect Norway vacation and dream up our ideal itinerary. All that’s left to do is take the time off work and get packing – we’ll see you there!

    Let’s go on an adventure!

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