Nestled within the Arctic Circle, Senja is nothing short of a nature lover’s paradise – home to breathtaking mountains, spellbinding fjords and pristine beaches. Every type of Norwegian landscape can be found in Senja, which is why the island is called: “Norway in Miniature”. On top of that, the Northern Lights and Midnight Sun give each season a unique backdrop – providing adventurers with even more reasons to go exploring.
Senja’s relatively unknown status also adds to the allure, allowing travelers to escape the crowds and discover a range of hidden gems. Its natural wonders rival that of Lofoten and Vesteralen but with half the visitors, guaranteeing an immersion into nature free of distractions. Whether you’re coming in the winter or summer, there are so many incredible places to see and things to do in Senja – the best of which we highlight below.
9 Best Things To Do in Senja
1. Take On Senja’s Jaw-Dropping Hikes
Senja offers a plethora of hiking trails that cater to all levels. For example, the Segla Hike is a rite of passage – offering an invigorating challenge and rewarding those who reach the summit with awe-inspiring panoramic views. While it’s possible to complete the hike on your own, consider booking the Private Guided Hike of Segla with Wandering Owl – especially in winter when a little support and local expertise goes a long way. The guide will take you up the picturesque Hesten Trail, informing you about the area’s rich flora and fauna, and providing you with a home-made meal.
2. Go Kayaking in Tranquil Summer Waters
Paddling amidst Senja’s serene fjords and bays is a meditative experience that allows you to truly connect with the island’s nature. The stillness of the water contrasts with the grandeur of the surrounding mountains, creating a harmonious atmosphere that will leave you rejuvenated. From Night Kayaking under the Midnight Sun to Overnight Camping by Kayak, Wandering Owl offers a variety of fun kayaking adventures around Senja.
3. Chase the Northern Lights in Senja
The location of Senja within the Aurora Zone makes it one of the premier destinations on earth to witness the captivating dance of the Northern Lights. From September to March in particular, the night skies come alive with an otherworldly symphony of colors – leaving you enchanted under nature’s greatest spectacle. The clear, unpolluted skies enhance the chances of a light show, and knowledgeable local guides – like the ones at Wandering Owl – are adept at leading expeditions to prime viewing spots.
4. Embark on a Fishing Adventure
With a rich maritime heritage, and countless fishing villages spread out around the island, fishing is more than just an activity in Senja – it’s a way of life. Join a fishing excursion and try your hand at reeling in cod, halibut and other species from the Arctic waters. Being out on a boat also gives you the opportunity to spot interesting wildlife such as eagles, porpoises and seals, and view the nature of Senja from a different perspective. Whatever your abilities, whether you’re a seasoned angler or novice, the joy of a successful catch is something you will remember for the rest of your life.
5. Enjoy Relaxing Beach Strolls in Senja
Wandering along the chalk-white beaches of Senja, no matter the time of year, is always a nice way to spend an afternoon. Not only can you soak up the views but also collect seashells, listen to the gentle lapping of waves and partake in a picnic under the Midnight Sun. Time your visit with sunset and cherish the moment. There are many beaches in Senja to choose from including the popular Ersfjord Beach and the secluded Bovaer Beach.
6. Road Trip on the Senja National Tourist Route
If you’re seeking a road trip like no other, the Senja National Tourist Route is a must-do. Norway has 18 of these routes dotted throughout the country, which consist of scenic and notable highways/roadways. The one in Senja is arguably the best as it traverses the island’s splendid outer coastline. When cruising the 102 kilometer-long route, watch out for magnificent viewpoints and stunning beaches. By hiring a car, you have the freedom to stop whenever you please and take whimsical little detours to hidden gems.
7. Book a Guided Whale Watching Tour
Joining a whale watching tour in Senja is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that brings you up close with these gentle giants of the sea. Witness humpback and killer whales breaching the surface, their majestic tails creating a symphony of splashes against the Arctic backdrop. The thrill of seeing these creatures in their natural habitat is a memory that will never be forgotten. Keep in mind that whale watching season starts in November and lasts until March, when the whales depart the coast of Senja.
8. Practice Your Wildlife Photography Skills
Senja’s landscape provides a perfect canvas for wildlife photography enthusiasts. Capture reindeer as they roam gracefully against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Focus your lens on the sky and seize the moment as majestic sea eagles soar overhead, their wings spreading wide in a display of defiant freedom. The island’s diverse ecosystem offers a wealth of opportunities to capture nature’s raw beauty through your camera lens.
9. Spend a Couple of Nights at Mefjord Brygge
Surrounded by mountains in the charming fishing village of Mefjordvaer, the accommodation at Mefjord Brygge offers guests a truly relaxing stay. In addition to their comfortable rooms, you can soak in outdoor hot tubs under the Northern Lights or Midnight Sun and sweat all your stress away in the sauna. For those brave enough, jumping into the icy cold Arctic waters in between the hot tub/sauna sessions will provide the ultimate in recovery. These amenities are welcome after hiking in Senja’s wilderness.
Key Tips for Visiting Senja
- Embrace the Journey to Senja: Reaching Senja is an adventure in itself, marked by a sense of anticipation as you head toward a land of unspoiled beauty. Your expedition begins with a flight to Tromso Airport, the gateway to this Arctic wonderland. From Tromso, you will embark on a scenic drive along the 862 Road to Brensholmen and from there you take a quick ferry ride over to Senja. Throughout this route, an ever-shifting parade of views comes into frame – from snow-draped mountains to mirror-like fjords.
- Pack Appropriately: When packing for Senja, prioritize warm clothing and layers due to the chilly Arctic climate. Include waterproof outerwear and sturdy hiking boots for outdoor activities. Pack a camera to capture the stunning landscapes and Northern Lights. Remember essential items like travel adapters, medications and a first aid kit. Don’t forget swimwear for potential dips in the fjords and a reusable water bottle for eco-friendly exploration. Plan according to the season and prepare for unpredictable weather conditions to make the most of your Senja adventure.
- Respect Nature: While visiting Senja, respect nature by sticking to marked trails and refraining from littering. Admire the wildlife from a distance and avoid disturbing their habitats. Camp only in designated areas, using a leave-no-trace approach. Avoid picking plants, disturbing marine life, and follow local guidelines for responsible fishing and recreational activities. Embrace eco-friendly transport, and conserve energy and water. By practicing these important principles, travelers can cherish Senja’s natural beauty while preserving its ecosystems for generations to come.
- Experience the Village Life: Stay in villages like Gryllefjord, Hamn and Mefjordvaer. These areas offer proximity to natural wonders like fjords and mountains, allowing for easy exploration. Tranquil spots such as Skaland and Husoy are also serene retreats, while the larger town of Finnsnes offers amenities. Each village boasts a unique local culture, making them ideal bases for an authentic Senja experience. Plan your stay according to your interests and desired activities to make the most of your trip, and don’t forget to book all of your accommodations well in advance.
- Indulge in Local Foods: The local cuisine offers a delicious cultural experience. Wrap your lips around freshly caught seafood, including Arctic cod and king crab, prepared using traditional methods from the island. Farm-to-table ingredients like cloudberries and Arctic herbs provide unique flavors to each dish. Eating the local food supports the local community, and allows travelers to connect with Senja’s history and culture. From cozy eateries to authentic markets, the culinary journey unveils the island’s traditions – enhancing the overall travel adventure.
- Capture the Moment: Senja’s beauty is boundless, and the memories you create here will be treasured for a long time. Bring a quality camera or purchase the latest smartphone to capture the moments that take your breath away. Whether it’s a majestic sunrise peeking over the fjords, a playful humpback whale breaching the surface or the kaleidoscopic hues of the Northern Lights dancing in the sky above – having a visual record of your experiences will allow you to relive the magic whenever you wish.