Visiting Senja Island in Norway: A complete travel guide

If you’re looking for a beautiful off-the-beaten-path destination in Norway, then you should consider visiting Senja Island. 

Located far above the Arctic Circle, this lesser-known island in Northern Norway is home to astonishing unspoiled nature. With its picturesque fjords, lush valleys, sandy beaches and steep mountains rising vertically from the sea, Senja and its landscapes look like something out of a fantasy movie.

During our 2-day road trip in Senja, we did the island’s most famous hike, swam in the ice-cold sea, drove along stunning coastal roads, marveled at windswept mountain ranges and gazed at the Midnight Sun. I can confidently say that this place is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts! It quickly became one of my favorite places in Norway.

In this travel guide, I’ve compiled all of my tips on how to visit Senja, including how to get there, the best things to do in Senja, where to stay and more. At the end of the blog post, you’ll also find a map with the island’s main attractions and points of interest.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links from which I may make a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase.

mountains with jagged granite peaks and green slopes next to a fjord at Bergsbotn, a must-see spot when visiting Senja, Norway
View from Bergsbotn viewpoint on Senja

General info about Senja, Norway

Senja is situated in the county of Troms in Northern Norway. Even though it’s the second-largest island in Norway, it only has a population of less than 8000 people. Because of that, Senja has a really nice rural and peaceful feel to it. Its villages are authentic and its nature is unspoiled.

In the summer, Senja experiences the Midnight Sun phenomenon (also known as the Polar Day) and in the winter, the Polar Night.

The southeastern half of the island, which faces the mainland, is relatively flat and in my opinion uninteresting. However, on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island, you’ll find a spectacular coastline with fierce mountains and clear blue fjords. Because of its diverse landscapes, Senja is sometimes referred to as ‘Norway in miniature’.

Despite its stunning nature, Senja has remained under the radar of most travelers and is often overshadowed by the more famous destinations in the region, such as Tromsø and the Lofoten Islands. Even during our visit in July, which is the high season, there weren’t many tourists on Senja.

This makes it an ideal place for those who want to experience the fantastic nature of Norway without the crowds.

orange sky and the Midnight Sun next to steep pointy mountains on the coast of Senja Island, Norway
Midnight Sun on Senja Island

How to get to Senja

To get to Senja Island, you’ll first have to fly to one of the airports in the area. We flew to Tromsø Airport, which is the largest in the region and has the most connections. In Tromsø, we rented a campervan and drove to Senja. If you’re interested in doing the same, read my post on traveling by campervan in Norway

You could also fly to Bardufoss Airport or Harstad Airport instead of Tromsø but these airports are much smaller and have fewer connections. Also, car rental prices there tend to be higher than in Tromsø.

The drive from Tromsø to Senja takes a bit less than 3 hours and is very scenic as you’ll be driving along fjords and through mountains. Senja is connected to the mainland by a bridge at Finnsnes so you don’t have to take any ferries.

However, if you want to cut down on some of the driving time, you could take the car ferry from Brensholmen (a one-hour drive from Tromsø) to Botnhamn (on Senja). Be aware though that in the summer, this ferry often reaches full capacity and you might have to spend hours waiting in long queues. Driving the entire way is a more reliable option.

It’s essential to have a car for visiting Senja. As it’s a very rural and sparsely populated island, public buses are infrequent. With a car, it is much easier and quicker to get around and you’ll have the flexibility to stop wherever you want. Plus, Senja is the perfect destination for a road trip and offers some incredibly scenic coastal drives.

A man sitting on a camping chair in front of a black campervan parked next to a mountain
Our campervan on Senja

Best things to do in Senja

1) Hesten hike

me sitting on a rock on the summit of Hesten mountain with a view of the jagged peak of Segla mountain, one of the best hikes in Senja
View of Segla from Hesten

The hike to Hesten is the most famous hike on the island and it was the main reason we came to visit Senja Island.

This moderate-level hike starts at the fishing village of Fjordgård and takes you to the summit of a mountain called Hesten. At the top, you can see breathtaking 360-degree views of the dramatic landscapes of Senja and the sharp peak of Segla right in front of you. The hike takes about 3 hours to complete and is worth every bit of the effort if you ask me!

A common mistake hikers make is that they hike to the top of Segla to see the famous view of the pointy peak of Segla. However, you actually have to hike to the Hesten mountain next to it to see that iconic view of Segla. 

If you’re looking to do more hiking in Senja, you could also hike to Segla but based on what I’ve read, the views are not as good as those from Hesten. Other scenic hikes you might want to consider are Husfjellet near the village of Skaland and Sukkertoppen near the village of Hamn.

2) Relax on Ersfjord Beach

an empty white sand beach with emerald water, surrounded by dramatic mountains at Ersfjord Beach, one of the best places for camping in Senja

Located at the end of a scenic fjord, Ersfjord Beach (or Ersfjordstranda in Norwegian) is one of the most beautiful beaches on Senja and a must-visit spot on the island. It is surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery and has fine white sand and turquoise water. 

If you’re visiting in the summer, you should consider going for a refreshing Arctic dip here. The beach is also known for its quirky golden toilet facility, which has been praised for its architecture.

Ersfjord Beach is the most popular place for wild camping on Senja and can therefore get quite busy in the summer months. Make sure to arrive early if you want to get a parking spot here. From September to April, it is also a good spot for watching the Northern Lights.

3) Enjoy the views at Tungeneset

me standing on the rocky shore at Tungeneset viewpoint with the dramatic Devil's Teeth mountains in the background
Devil’s Teeth mountains in Senja

Another one of the best places to visit in Senja is the Tungeneset headland. Here a wooden walkway leads you to a rocky beach where you get a fabulous view of the Devil’s Teeth (Okshornan) mountains and their sharp granite peaks.

It’s an excellent area for taking photos, not only because of the views but also because of the many ponds of water along the coast that create some wonderful photo opportunities.

A reflection of a mountain on a puddle of water at Tungeneset rest area, one of the best places to visit in Senja

Although Tungeneset is a great spot to visit at any time of the day, it’s especially beautiful for watching the sunset or the Midnight Sun.

It is also one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Senja as it provides an unobstructed view to the north without any light pollution.

4) Visit the Bergsbotn viewpoint

a fjord surrounded by lush forested shores and mountains on a cloudy day, viewed form Bergsbotn viewing platform on Senja Island

Near the Bergsbotn village, there’s an elevated viewing platform overlooking Bergsfjord. It’s located right next to the road so it’s very easy to access. From here you get a panoramic view of jagged mountains, lush green forests and the small villages around the fjord. 

The Bergsbotn viewpoint is also a great place for viewing the Northern Lights. It tends to be very windy up there though so be sure to dress accordingly.

5) Drive the Senja Scenic Route

A small red fisherman cabin on the edge of a fjord with a lush green mountain range in the background near Ersfjordstranda
A cabin near Ersfjord Beach on the Senja Scenic Route

Another one of the best things to do in Senja is to take a road trip along the Senja Scenic Route. Also known as the Senja National Tourist Route, it’s a 102 km (63 mi) long drive along the rugged northwest coast of the island. 

Running from Botnhamn to Gryllefjord, this route meanders along fjords and mountains, taking you through the most beautiful landscapes of Senja.

Most of the places I mentioned above are already a part of the Senja Scenic Route but if you want to explore the whole length of it, see the map in the link above for more details.

6) Go husky sledding

If you’re visiting Senja in winter, you can go husky sledding at Senja Husky Adventure. It’s a small family-run business where the owners take great care of their Siberian huskies. 

The husky sledding tours take you through beautiful snow-covered highlands of Senja and you’ll learn how to mush a dog sled. You can choose between a daytime tour and a nighttime tour (during which you might see the Aurora Borealis if you’re lucky).

Where to go before or after visiting Senja

We visited Senja before heading to the Lofoten Islands and I can definitely recommend doing the same. The Lofoten archipelago is home to some of the most beautiful and otherworldly landscapes I’ve ever seen during my travels. Take a look at my Lofoten Islands itinerary to get an idea of what you can expect there.

Alternatively, you could also visit Senja in combination with a trip to Tromsø. I recommend this option if you’re visiting in the winter because Tromsø is especially charming during that time of the year. In my Tromsø itinerary post, you’ll find all the best things to do there in the winter (including an epic whale-watching experience!).

a fjord with bright turquoise water surrounded by green mountains at Flakstadpollen on the Lofoten Islands
Lofoten Islands

How many days you need

I recommend spending at least two nights on the island of Senja. This will give you a full day to explore the island, which is enough to see most of the highlights without feeling rushed.

It is also possible to visit Senja on a day trip from Tromsø and you can even take a guided full-day tour where everything is organized for you. However, I think a day trip is too short to truly get to experience the beauty of Senja, especially if you’re visiting in the summer and also want to go hiking.

Best places to stay in Senja

Senja offers a variety of different accommodation options ranging from simple cabins to modern apartments and holiday homes. As I was traveling by campervan, I didn’t stay in any hotels on Senja but if I didn’t have the van, these are the places I’d choose:

MID-RANGE: Segla Bed & Go
This small hotel has a perfect location right next to the Hesten and Segla hiking trails. Their rooms are stylish and modern and have terraces with a beautiful view of a fjord.

MID-RANGE: Mefjord Brygge
A charming seaside hotel surrounded by mountains. There’s a shared sauna, an outdoor hot tub and a cozy maritime-themed restaurant.

BUDGET TO LUXURY: Norwegian Wild
This eco-conscious resort offers accommodation options for different budget levels – from affordable cabins and more luxurious chalets with hot tubs to a dome tent with a glass roof and even a suite in an old lighthouse.

Wild camping in Senja

Senja is also a fantastic destination for camping and campervanning. I recommend using the Park4Night app to find free parking spots and places to pitch your tent.

Wild camping in Senja is perfectly legal thanks to Norway’s Allemannsretten (the right to roam), which states that everyone has the right to experience (and camp) in nature as long as they stay on unfenced and uncultivated land.

On our first night, we stayed in a very scenic parking spot on the edge of a fjord just north of Fjordgård fishing village.

me sitting on a camping chair next to a fjord and mountain views at Fjordgård village, the perfect spot for camping in Senja
Enjoying my morning coffee at our camping spot in Fjordgård

The second place we stayed at was near Ersfjord Beach, which is considered one of the best places to camp in Senja. It’s an incredibly beautiful beach but it gets very busy in the summer so it can be challenging to find parking unless you arrive early.

During our visit in July, we couldn’t park here because there was no space left. Thankfully we found a nice quiet spot in a small parking lot just a few hundred meters west of Ersfjord Beach. I’ve marked its exact location on the map at the end of this blog post.

two campervans parked next to a fjord with a view of the Midnight Sun in the background

Best time to visit Senja Island in Norway

The best time to visit Senja is from the middle of June to the end of September. This is when the weather is the warmest and sunniest and the Senja hiking trails are free of snow. In the summer months, the days are long which gives you many hours to explore the island.

July and August are the busiest months in terms of tourism. With that said, we visited Senja in July and it was by no means crowded, apart from the popular Ersfjord Beach.

If you want to see the Midnight Sun, come to Senja between May 22 and July 21. It’s a fascinating phenomenon to experience. During this period you can basically go exploring in the middle of the night if you want since there’s 24 hours of daylight.

To see the Northern Lights on Senja, visit between late September and mid-April.

In the winter, the temperatures are cold and there’s much less daylight. From late November to mid-January, Senja experiences the Polar Night, a period when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon. It’s not totally dark during this time though and the sky is often full of beautiful shades of pink and purple during the twilight hours.

Despite the cold and the dark, winter in Senja certainly has its own charm and offers some exciting activities – from dog sledding and snowshoeing to Aurora Borealis viewing.

me sitting on a rock on the summit of Hesten mountain with a view of a deep blue fjord and a rugged mountain range in the background
Hesten mountain

Senja Island Map

On the map below, you can find the main attractions in Senja and the hotels I mentioned in this blog post. Click on the icon in the top left corner of the map for more details.

Do you have any questions about visiting Senja? Leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you.

If you’re looking for more tips for planning your Norway trip, check out my other blog posts about Norway:

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a Pinterest pin with three images showcasing the mountains of Senja and a text overlay stating 'Things to do on Senja Island, Norway'


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