Start planning your island vacation in Norway
The land of the midnight sun, Norway has many beautiful islands worth exploring. And in summer, the long days offer an opportune time to make the most of an island vacation here. They are equally beautiful in winter, too, though, with prolonged sunrise and sunsets that color the skies all manner of yellows, pinks and reds. Expect to see and hear hundreds of seabirds, squawking throughout the day, and enjoy the salty scent of the ocean as you travel around the gorgeous island landscapes.
What makes Norway islands unique?
Hundreds of small islands and islets dot the coastline of Norway, creating perfect little vacation spots. On Norway’s islands, hectic everyday challenges become distant memories—picture smooth bare rocks in the deep-blue ocean, boats bobbing on the water, and small wooden white-washed houses on the horizon.
The best islands to visit in Norway
Norway’s islands are good enough for royalty—the Norwegian Crown Prince and Princess often spend their vacations island-hopping, enjoying the breathtaking rawness of this northern European landscape. Movement between the islands is easy, and visitors are free to travel at their own leisure between them using kayaks or small boats. Here are some of the best islands to visit in Norway.
Get away from it all on Sandøya
The small island of Sandøya has just 200 residents and has no road connection to the mainland, relying entirely on boats for getting around. Surrounded by rocky outcrops, smooth-faced and perfect for sunbathing, it’s a remote and beautiful place for a relaxing island vacation in Norway. Local artisans create souvenirs and gifts for bringing home, and clever island cooks whip up great fish soup and cinnamon buns at the island’s restaurants.
Go camping on Merdø
Long beaches, endless ocean views, and typically Norwegian painted wooden houses form enchanting backdrops at Merdø. A popular summer day out for locals and visitors alike, bring your picnic and towel for a day of sunbathing here. Visit the Merdøhus Museum to learn about the island’s history, and if you want to stay overnight under the stars, bring a tent to camp out by the ocean.
Explore the Old Harbor at Ny-Hellesund
Ny-Hellesund isn’t an island, but a village that’s spread across a cluster of three islands. Sitting on the shores of Kapelløya, Monsøya and Helgøya, this quaint little settlement is a fascinating insight into Norwegian island life. There’s also an old, historic WWII coastal fort, well worth a visit.
Explore Tromsøya’s “Paris of the north”
Sitting on a strait between the mainland and a larger island, Tromsøya has one of Norway’s most captivating cities. Tromsø, nicknamed the “Paris of the north” in the 19th century, is the gateway to the Arctic and a fascinating place to spend a few days. Enjoy the slick city vibes, then get out into the countryside on the rest of the island where you can hike, cycle or try fishing. In winter time, the aurora borealis are often seen here.
Tips for planning an island-hopping trip in Norway
Getting around Norway's islands is easy, with ferries and bridges connecting many of them. Cash is no longer king here, either, with most establishments accepting plastic. Note that in summer, the north of Norway experiences almost 24-hour sunlight, and in winter it can be plunged into darkness for days on end.