7 Reasons You Should Stay in Bodø When Visiting Northern Norway
SO MUCH TO SEE AND DO AROUND BODØ
Above the Arctic Circle in the summer, Northern Norway is amazing. And the town of Bodø is a perfect base to explore all the area has to offer. Bodø is easy to get to and has lots to offer both the active traveler and the slower soak in all the scenery type.
First, let’s get oriented. Bodø sits in the Salten region of Nordland County. It’s way up north. Look at a map. As the capital of Nordland, Bodø is one of the largest towns in the area, with a population of nearly 51,000 people. You won’t find many historic buildings in Bodø, as much of the town was destroyed during WW2 and rebuilt in the 50’s. What it might lack in architecture and charm, it more than makes up with the landscape. Surrounded by mountains, this harbor town is a beautiful base for your Arctic explorations.
1. STAY UP FOR THE MIDNIGHT SUN OR SWOON OVER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
We landed in Bodø late July, a month past summer solstice when the sun up above the Arctic Circle does not actually set. Did you hear me? It does not set. Not at summer solstice on June 21st. So at the end of July, while the official sunset was around midnight, it was rising again around 02:30 so the sky remained a pinkish twilight and never actually turned dark. It is surreal to experience and definitely something to get used to. I didn’t want to use the blackout shades at the hotel as I wanted to see what it looked like all night! After a few nights of little sleep and general excitement, you may have give in to the sleep demons and pull the shades shut.
With 21+ hours of daylight, you have PLENTY of time to discover all the Bodø has to offer!
2. FEEL THE VIBE AND ENERGY OF THIS HARBOR TOWN
This is a port town, taking passengers and cargo up and down the Norwegian coast. The famous Hurtigruten mail route cruises in here and you could hop aboard and explore with them further north. Or hop a ferry to the Lofoten Islands, several sailings daily. But before you go, spend a few days in Bodø as base. We jumped on bikes borrowed from our hotel and rode around the charming harbor. On a sunny day, cafés and restaurants open to tables outside and everyone is out. You might even be able to get drinks on a boat!
READ MORE: 8 REASONS TO LOVE THE LOFOTEN ISLANDS IN SUMMER
3. STROLL THROUGH THE OLD FORT FOR GREAT VIEWS
Drive or bike your way around the small Bodø harbor to the old fort for great views of the town from the opposite side. A beautiful place for a picnic, pack one in and plunk down at one of the many tables that surround the park. Don’t miss the little lighthouse on the point. Wildflowers blooming and clear blue water made this a perfect afternoon out.
4. FIND SOME SWEET Street Art
Bodø hosts the UpNorth festival that brings street art to the city. I loved the sea eagle right outside the Visit Bodø information center. Keep your eyes peeled for other amazing murals around the city.
BEYOND BODØ | EXPLORE THE AREA KNOWN AS NORDLAND
5. SEE THE WORLD’S WILDEST WHIRLPOOLS | SALTSTRAUMEN MAELSTROM
Just 30 kilometers west and then south from the town of Bodø you will find one of the most amazing places in Northern Norway. In anywhere really. Every 6 hours when the tide changes you can play witness to an astonishing display of Mother Nature’s brute forces here at Saltstraumen. This is the world’s strongest maelstrom with 400 million cubic meters of water pushing through a narrow strait that separates the islands of Knaplundsøya and Straumsøya. The strait spans 3 kilometers but is only 150 meters wide at the smallest point. When the tide changes, you can witness impressive surges as the water rushes to move between the massive Skjerstadfjord to the outer Saltfjord.
READ MORE: SALTSRAUMEN MAELSTROM | WORLD’S WILDEST WHILRPOOLS
6. TAKE THE FERRY FROM FESTVÅG TO KJERRINGØY PENINSULA
Like to take in a little local history with your nature? Don’t miss the Kjerringøy Gamle Handelssted, an adorable museum that replicates what was life like in the heyday of a Norwegian cod fishing town. Easily doable in a day trip from Bodø.
READ MORE: Norwegian Nature and History come alive in Kjerringøy
7. MAGICAL MJELLE BEACH SHIMMERS REDDISH PURPLE
Arctic beaches are some of the best in the world. Not necessarily known for wonderful water temperatures, the stunning swaths of sand offer something different up here. And Mjelle beach less than 30 minutes north of Bodø is magical. Here the sand sports tiny particles of gemstones and minerals that give it a unique reddish-purple cast. And the rocks? They shimmer and shine. It is divine.
READ MORE: MAGICAL MJELLE BEACH | DAY OUT FROM BODØ
GOOD TO KNOW:
HOW TO GET TO BODØ:
Direct flights from Oslo via Norwegian, SAS and Wideroe Airlines. Easy to get to town via public transportation or taxi, only 5-10 minute drive.
WHERE TO STAY:
Tollbugata 5, 8006 Bodø, Norway
Upon the recommendation of fellow blogger, Vanessa from Snow in Tromsø, we stayed at the Scandic Havet right on the Bodø waterfront. It was the perfect spot in the middle of all the action. Head upstairs to the roof bar for brilliant views of the harbor and islands beyond. Scandic Hotels have amazing breakfast spreads included in your room price where you can try all the Norwegian treats before embarking on your day. Borrow a bike (for free!) and toodle about town.
Note: Our stay at the Scandic was not sponsored and my recommendation is my own.
READ MORE: WHAT TO EAT IN NORTHERN NORWAY
Are you ready to beeline for Bodø? Have you been?
Save it for later!
32 thoughts on “Why Bodø, Norway is a Perfect Base to Explore Above the Arctic Circle”
Love those red buildings against the landscape, so beautiful. I definitely want to explore up past the arctic circle soon, so this is a really useful post.
Wow, the views look absolutely incredible! I would love to visit one day (hopefully soon). Taking a bike around seems like a great idea. And the whirlpools would be insane to see in person! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂 #farawayfiles
Everywhere we turned in Northern Norway the views were gasp worthy! And the Saltstraumen was seriously one of the coolest things I have every seen. Highly recommend a visit!
Bodø looks amazing in the summer. I would love to witness the sun never truly going down. And we would all love exploring the coast.
I would absolutely love to see the midnight sun – I’ve never seen it and it blows my mind that it’s daylight at nightime – can’t get my brain around it! How sad that the town was destroyed in WW2 but how wonderful that it has been rebuilt. It looks a fantastic place to visit. Thanks for hosting #FarawayFiles
It is completely surreal and triggered all my FOMO when we first arrived. I didn’t want to go to sleep for fear of missing out on some amazingly beautiful colored sky. Got over that quickly! Ha! I highly recommend the experience – it is quite cool. Cheers from Copenhagen!
Wow what a great place! Love so much about it. The sun never quite going down, the amazing landscape and those red houses really pop! Thanks for this guide. My husband would love to go here so it’s a really useful guide for us xx
Ohhh – the whole area of Nordland Norway is just truly epic. And we loved our time exploring around Bodø – some seriously stunning scenery and natural wonders. Thanks for the comment! Cheers, Erin
So nice to learn more about your trip to Norway! Those whirlpools are still so amazing and I’d love to see them! Definitely pinned for later! #FarawayFiles
Great shots! I didn’t know they had that nice street art in Bodø… Thinking about it, I don’t know if I have ever been to this town 😀 Too close to home I guess 🙂 #farawayfiles
The boats on the still water — so peaceful and lovely! I was not familiar with Bodo. My boss is going to Norway soon and I’m going to alert her to this wonderful place on the water!
Your pictures are stunning. This looks like such a beautiful part of the world. I would love to have the chance to explore it. I have been in Northern Norway in January when it barely gets light, would love to experience it the other way around #farawayfiles
I’d really like to explore more of northern Europe but it’s very expensive. I’ve only been to the big cities Oslo and Stockholm but I’d like to see the fjords and islands and the small towns #farawayfiles
I think you can make it as expensive as you want – especially up north where camping and alternative accommodations can keep costs down as opposed to big cities. Also self-catering helps as well – we balance with a bit of both when traveling. Northern Norway is definitely worth a little splurge though – sooo amazingly beautiful!
Bodø sounds like a remarkable place. I’d love to see Saltstraumen and the rushing tide. I guess it would be a bit too rough for surfing. I have not yet been so far north that the sun doesn’t set but I have been close and love the midnight twilight. Mjelle beach is pretty but probably too cold for my blood.The purple tinge is great. I have Pink beach near me that used to be coloured by a certain variety of sea life shell (but most of that colour has washed away)
Look at those crisp blue skies! I need a dose of that arctic breeze (typing from Singapore currently…)
Erin these photos are truly stunning. I admit that until I started reading your blog I never really considered visiting this part of the world, but now I sincerely hope that I will someday. I would love to visit that sparkly beach! #farawayfiles
What beautiful photos! Due to the location it may not be a place that we will possibly visit, but I love learning about other places in the world, and this was a great read! #FarawayFiles
All of Norway is truly beautiful, so if you every have a chance to make it to Scandinavia, I can highly recommend putting it on your list! Cheers and thanks for reading.
It looks so magical! I would love to experience the sun never setting – how surreal and other worldly feeling I’m sure. Those whirlpools look impressive too. This is an area I really don’t know much about, but your photos have captivated me, they’re gorgeous. Pinning this one for sure. Beautiful post, Erin! #farawayfiles
Absolutely stunning, Erin! Your posts on countries in the Scandinavia region really giving me serious FOMO, lol! The landscape is spectacularly beautiful, almost surreal. You’re really lucky to have the opportunity to travel to these destinations and experience them 🙂 #FarawayFiles
I am intrigued with the super long days – 21 hours of daylight is incredible. Do you find you eat a lot more being awake longer or drink heaps more at dinner or late evening drinks? #FarawayFiles
I totally need to see more of Norway. I’d love to experience the midnight sun especially! Maybe one summer I’ll go here with the kids! #FarawayFiles
Oh what a great place! I like “towns” like this (not sure if to call it town with 50,000 residents but I guess it is considered small). They are not crowded but they still have a lively scene. Plus, I love places surrounded by nature. The purple sand beach is my favorite!
Hi Erin! I am impressed with all the details and the rich descriptions of all the experiences you managed to do on your visit to Bodø and Salten. Hope everything is fine and wish you good luck on your new adventures! Greetings from Gøran @gorankristensen
Hej Gøran! So much good suggestions from you!! Takk for det! Cheers from Copenhagen.
Love your photos, Bodø looks like a really interesting town particularly the harbour and great to see the street art. #farawayfiles
How pretty it all is, and I love those bright night skies and the street art. It’s great to be able to borrow bikes from the hotel, I would love that, and the trips to islands as well. #Farawayfiles
Stunning photos of the midnight sun, that make me ache to go back to Norway and the Lofoten Islands. When we went in a camper van back in 2010, we spent only a couple of hours in Bodo waiting for the ferry to Lofoten.
#FarwayFiles (belatedly, apologies!)
Ooooh, you’re giving us travel envy! We’d love to explore Norway, especially up in the Arctic Circle. It’s a world away (literally!) from our roots, and it’s really intriguing. Gorgeous, too! The scenery is just great. Saving this one for later. 🙂 #FarawayFiles
My son is headed to Bodø this week serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! He is super excited! He will get to experience the darkness during December and a January and probably some amazing Northern lights!
Thx for your travel info! Loved it!
Hope he has a great experience!