In early 2019 I made the 10-hour journey north from my temporary base in Reine, Lofoten,to the lesser-known yet magical island of Senja. At 612.5 square miles, it’s the second-largest island in Norway and home to almost 8,000 people. Characterised by dramatic mountains, white-sand beaches, and a luscious green interior during summertime, it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful locations in Norway. However, the popularity of nearby Lofoten means this comparable paradise is often overlooked by tourists, which makes it all the more attractive.
I made the journey during the first week of April, which meant the roads were almost empty, and I met just a handful of fellow travellers. Senja is far north of the Arctic Circle, so be prepared for freezing temperatures, strong winds, and heavy snowfall if travelling during wintertime. I recommend visiting during shoulder season (May to early June or late September to October) to avoid the worst of the winter weather and the summertime crowds.
The most popular hike in the area is to Segla, the island’s most famous mountain. This breathtaking 639-metre peak towers above the quaint village of Fjordgard and is best viewed and photographed from the neighbouring Mount Hesten (not pictured as conditions were unsuitable for the hike during my stay). While the total distance to Segla’s summit is only 5 kilometres, it takes approximately four hours due to a number of steep climbs (the hike is rated “Red,” i.e., very demanding). Parking for the trailhead is located close to Fjordgard school. It’s important to note that many hikes, including Segla, can be dangerous during wintertime and should not be attempted without the relevant experience and suitable equipment (more information can be found at visitsenja.noand visitnorway.com).
With an abundance of campsites (check winter availability), free overnight park-ups, traditional fishing villages, stunning white-sand beaches, and rugged mountain scenery, Senja is a welcome escape for the overlander. Once you’ve explored the island, take the ferry from Senja to Andenes (a popular location for whale watching), which serves as the perfect access point to road-trip the world-famous Lofoten Islands.
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