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Visiting Senja Island In Summer: Is One Day Enough?

Visiting Senja Island In Summer: Is One Day Enough?

Are you planning a Northern Norway road trip and unsure if Senja Island should be part of your travel itinerary? Well, I have you covered!

In this post, you will discover what places to see in Senja and the best things to do in Senja in the summer.

Senja is Norway’s second-largest island and the perfect place for travellers seeking amazing scenery and plentiful outdoor activities.

Traditional villages engulfed by mighty mountains are waiting to be explored, and fabulous Senja hikes and quiet golden beaches offer the chance to discover Senja Island at your own pace.

In this post, I have highlighted a selection of activities in Senja you can do in 24 hours, including hiking in Anderdalen National Park, relaxing on Ersfjord Beach and seeing the natural beauty of Senja from the Bergsbotn viewing platform.

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Is Senja Worth Visiting for 24 Hours in Summer?

The answer is a unanimous yes! Senja is a beautiful island that forcibly packs a punch. Summer is the perfect season to experience Senja’s great outdoors with incredible landscapes, beautiful beaches, great camping spots, and numerous hiking trails.

When you visit Senja in summer, the Midnight Sun awaits you, a phenomenon not to be missed, and in 24 hours, you can sample some of the best things to do in Senja, just as I did on my visit to the island.

Senja is a perfect add-on to a Lofoten Islands road trip and is undoubtedly home to one of the most beautiful Norwegian scenic driving routes, running along the island’s west coast.

Getting to Senja by Road or Sea

I recommend hiring a car to get to Senja and around Northern Norway, as it is remote and distances between towns can be long. If you are starting a road trip from Tromso, you can hire a car from the port or city centre.

From Tromso, you can drive to Senja on the E8, changing to the E6 at Nordkjosbotn and then the 86 at Bardufoss. The drive will be around two and a half hours.

The bonus of road-tripping from Tromso to Senja is that the scenery you’ll see on the way is magical.

During the summer, you can also drive from Tromso to Brensholmen and then take the car ferry from Brensholmen to Botnhamn in Senja.

I decided this wasn’t the best idea for us as I had read that there can be long waits to board the ferry during the peak summer season, and I didn’t want to risk not getting on the ferry, as we were on a tight schedule.

Departures are as detailed below:

Tromsø – Finnsnes – Harstad: 2-4 daily departures.

Tromsø-Skjervøy: One daily departure, except Saturdays.

Tromsø – Lysnes (Senja): 1-2 departures Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Getting to Senja by Air

The nearest airport is Bardufoss. The flight from Oslo takes just under 2 hours, followed by an hour’s drive to reach the Senja region.

Bonnet of a burgundy car driving towards snow-capped mountains

Immerse Yourself in the Incredible Senja Scenery

Driving on Senja Island is the first glimpse of the extraordinary landscapes awaiting discovery on a road trip in Northern Norway and the Lofoten islands.

We loved seeing traditional farm holdings painted in red and white that wouldn’t look out of place in a painting.

And were open-mouthed, marvelling at the steep mountains plunging straight out of the earth and towering above deep fjords and mirror-like glacial lakes.

Senja reminded us of places we had visited in Iceland. The beauty and power of nature are almost too hard to comprehend. Senja is definitely a unique Norwegian destination to visit.

a red traditional wooden farm building with a tractor in front in Senja
Two large green mountains reflecting into the still water in Senja
A green mountain beside a still lake in Senja

See the Stunning Bergsfjord from the Bergsbotn Viewing Platform

One of the top tourist attractions in Senja is the Bergsbotn viewing platform. It sits on the island’s northwestern edge and was a Senja landmark I had to see

It is a 44m wooden walkway with outstanding views of the sea, the Bergsbotn mountain range and the tiny village of Bergsbotn, inhabited by only 60 residents. You can see why the Norwegians built the viewing platform here; the scenery is incredible.

We arrived at the viewpoint at 7 pm and took some shots, with the sun high in the sky, before continuing along the coastal highway to explore more of Senja.

We returned past the Bergsbotn viewpoint at 10.30 pm to take more images and were delighted to see it swathed in the golden rays of the midnight sun.

The Bergsbotn viewing platform is a must-see when visiting Senja.

Image captured at 10.30 pm

Enjoy Wine and a View at The Fat Cod in Steinsfjord

Colourful fishing villages are dotted around the coast and reached by scenic roads with incredible panoramic views.

We accidentally stumbled upon this tiny hamlet and found the delightful, strangely named Fat Cod restaurant at its hub, serving fresh fish dishes, wine and spectacular fjord views.

We loved watching the fishing boats bob about on Steinsfjord’s indigo waters, framed by the traditional red and white houses lining the waterfront.

If you are after an idyllic evening spot in summer, you’ve found it, and if you happen to be looking for a place to stay, then Camp Steisfjord is the perfect place to see the midnight sun.

Walk or Swim on Senja Beach in the Warmer Months

The beaches in Senja are great, even though they often get overlooked because of the even better beaches in Lofoten. Nevertheless, the golden swathes of sand, dramatic mountains and crystal clear waters are a delight to experience.

Ersfjordstranda, known as Senja Beach, is the largest and one of the best beaches in Senja. The peaks of both the Okshornan and Tungeneset mountains eclipse it, and it has designated camping and campfire areas. And the all-important public conveniences!

To say the least, the sea is exhilarating, but plunging into the Norwegian waters is a must. And as summer in Senja means 24 hours of daylight, going for a midnight swim is not uncommon!

Wild camping is allowed on public land throughout Norway, and plenty of campers set up at beach areas with their BBQs and camping paraphernalia ready to enjoy the great outdoors.

We stopped at Ersfjord Beach to stretch our legs and saw many camper vans lined up for the evening. What a great place to wake up in!!

beach with camper vans lining it and a large green mountain above it
A sandy beach in Senja

Hike Anderdalen National Park in the Twilight

As the temperatures during the night in Senja were in the high 20s, we, unfortunately, found it too hot to sleep in our Norwegian Wild Lighthouse. Hence, we decided to go for a hike in nearby Anderdalen National Park.

We set off at 12.30 am (yes, 24 hours of summer daylight is good for many things!) and headed on the trail into the Anderdalen.

The national park has several trails of differing lengths. We took the 12km trail to Åndervatnet Lake. This medium-level hike takes you into the heart of Senja’s only national park with its untouched birch and pine forests. 

Sadly we had to cut our hike short due to the number of flies attacking us. Yes, summer in Norway can see an annoyingly large amount of horseflies, and even during the night, they were relentless!

Nevertheless, it was nice to experience a Senja activity in the middle of the night, in what felt like the middle of the day!

wooden notice board with the carved wording Anderdalen Nasjonalpark.
A wooden bench positioned to have views across a forest and towards a mountain.

Experience the Phenomenon of the Midnight Sun

The midnight sun appears from mid-May to the end of July, providing 24 hours of light. I had experienced White Nights in Russia years before, so to experience it again in Norway was a magical experience.

Because of this phenomenon, you can enjoy Senja’s beautiful outdoor spaces from early morning to late evening, whenever suits you best.

Like Norway’s northern lights, visible in the winter, the midnight sun in summer is caused by the earth’s tilt. Both are only visible in the northern regions of Norway.

We watched the sky change from blue to yellow and finally pink throughout the night. It is a surreal sight, like something from a fantasy film. Seeing the midnight sun is definitely one of the best reasons to visit Senja in the summer.

Sunset over the water turning the sky blue and pink.
Midnight sun leaving the sky pink and blue.

Where to Stay in Senja

Accommodation for my one night in Senja was at Norwegian Wild.

I chose to stay in the lighthouse, right on the water. It has the most incredible views, especially of the midnight sun with its pastel hues.

A deck runs around the lighthouse with two chairs to sit and enjoy the view. Sadly, we were inundated with flies, so bring a can of insect repellant with you; otherwise, you will be continually pestered!

As you may expect, the lighthouse has a nautical theme. Fishing nets hang on the wall, oars are used as towel rails, and boat blades are re-utilised as candle holders.

The ground floor has a fully fitted kitchen, table, chairs, and a huge bathroom.

Upstairs is a canopied master bed. It is surrounded by black-out curtains to allow you to sleep during the summer when the midnight sun streams through the windows. My tip is to wear an eye mask as the light is bright!

Panoramic wrap-around windows have voiles against several of them. There is a floor-standing fan, a cosy seating area and the all-important telescope to glimpse Northern Norway’s wildlife.

Summer Heat in The Lighthouse

One thing to know about the lighthouse is that only two tiny top windows open. We arrived in summer on an exceedingly hot day, meaning the lighthouse had turned into a greenhouse/sauna and was unbearable.

We had no way of cooling it down other than to hope that as the sun’s heat passed behind the mountain, the lighthouse would cool down slightly.

It never did cool down, and sleeping was uncomfortable; however, it was a travel experience that we will always remember, and we got to fulfil our wish of staying in a traditional Norwegian lighthouse!

Blue sofas and a telescope inside the lighthouse in Senja
A white kitchen table and chairs inside the lighthouse in Senja.
Seaa views from the decking of the lighthouse.
For other accommodations in Senja, please check Senja hotel availability and pricing on Booking.com.

To round off this post, I would say that Senja is 100% worth visiting in the summer. It can be included as a quick stop on the way to Lofoten or as a stand-alone destination. Senja Island is a place I would love to revisit in the future.

Please Pin for Future Travel to Norway

Are you looking for further Norwegian inspiration? Please check out the following posts:

16 Great Reasons Why Tromso in Summer Is Worth Visiting

14 Great Reasons To Visit the Lofoten Islands in Summer

Things To Do In Å: Lofoten’s Most Remote Preserved Fishing Village

Is Oslo Worth Visiting? Here Are 16 Reasons Why You Should Visit Oslo in Norway

Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo: Norway’s Most Unusual Tourist Attraction

Tjuvholmen: 8 Best Things to See in Oslo’s Modern Art Neighbourhood

Grünerløkka: 10 Best Things to Do in Oslo’s Quirky Neighbourhood

How to Visit the Oslo Fjord Islands in Norway: the Perfect Island Hopping Guide

Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.

Subhashish Roy

Thursday 9th of March 2023

We have been to Oslo & Bergen and spent almost a week there. Next time that side would love to include Senja island for a day going by your recommendation. I feel driving would be the best option considering Norway is so beautiful and a road journey wherever possible a good way to experience. Bergsfjord from the Bergsbotn Viewing Platform would be such a great sight. Norwegian Wild looks like a lovely place to stay.Love to head to Lofoten after that.

WhereAngieWanders

Friday 10th of March 2023

Thanks for the comment Roy, I think you would love Lofoten; it is much more remote and rugged than Bergen or Oslo.

Natascha

Wednesday 8th of March 2023

This is the first time I read something about Senja Island in Norway. I have been to Norway only in winter so far, but I would love to experience the midnight sun. Having a fish dinner and a glas of white wine in Steinfjord looks like a wonderful evening. The lighthouse must have been amazing - despite the uncomfortable heat during the night.

WhereAngieWanders

Wednesday 8th of March 2023

I hope you get the chance to experience Norway in the summer months, quite a different experience to the dark snowy days in winter.

Linda (LD Holland)

Tuesday 7th of March 2023

We visited northern Norway by cruise ship and thought it would be great to go back and explore by car. I had not heard of Senja before so it was good to read more. Good to know we could visit for a day but I might want to stay for a bit longer and enjoy this small town. I love the mountain views. But I might pass on what are probably cold beach waters. I am past an exhilarating swim!

WhereAngieWanders

Tuesday 7th of March 2023

I think whatever part of Norway you visit you are in for a truly amazing experience.

lisa

Tuesday 7th of March 2023

Senja Island looks like a great place to visit in summer. I’d definitely take a trip to the viewing point, it is so spectacular to see! Watching the midnight sun sounds amazing as it's something I only read about but never seen before. Senja is really on my list.

WhereAngieWanders

Tuesday 7th of March 2023

I am glad that I was able to highlight Senja for you in this post. I hope you get to experience the midnight sun one day.

Maria Veloso

Tuesday 7th of March 2023

Senja Island surprises me with its beauty. I would undoubtedly like to spend a full day on the island exploring all of its natural splendor. Such a wonderful location, packed with enjoyable activities and stunning scenery. If I ever travel to Norway, I'll make sure to see this!

WhereAngieWanders

Tuesday 7th of March 2023

Glad to hear you will be adding Senja to your travel itinerary if you get to Norway in the future.