The urban bike magazine

Unending expanses of untouched nature – a Norwegian cycling trip

Again, the main takeaway is “Less is more”! We took as little luggage with us as we could for our trip from Tromsø to Å, keeping it in two small panniers on the handlebar and saddle. Our aim was to be “Team light and fast” and to see as much as possible on our two road bikes in a short space of time, so there was no space for more luggage. I hadn’t worried about that before, but this time I was a bit more nervous, especially because regularly checking the webcams and weather forecasts showed that the weather in northern Norway seems to be unpredictable – so everything from a summer outfit to clothes for skiing trips had to come with us.

Die ehemalige Triathletin ist mittlerweile passionierte Radsportlerin und hat in den vergangenen Monaten eine wahre Leidenschaft für Rennradreisen entwickelt. Getreu dem Motto „der Weg ist das Ziel“ verbringt sie ihre Urlaube am liebsten auf dem Rennrad und erkundet die Welt.

This time we put more effort into planning the trip, and the length of each leg was determined by accommodation booked in advance. It’s a sparsely populated area, but by choosing a combination of Airbnbs, holiday apartments and hotels I managed to split the roughly 500km journey neatly into 5 days.
Then it was finally time to set off! We arrived at our starting point in Tromsø, without bikes for the time being as we were going to hire them from “Tromsø outdoor” the next day. Even on that first day, I was struck by how incredibly friendly and willing to help the Norwegian locals were. During our afternoon sightseeing, we were allowed to leave our panniers in a restaurant on the harbour. And the waiter told us his life story, including cycling from France all the way to Tromsø and settling there after two years’ bikepacking – I’m not sure if I was more impressed by that or by the price of our beer in the evening. And in the holiday apartment we met Tobi and Basti, two young German bikepackers who were hoping to cycle from Hamburg to the North Cape. I excitedly listened to the stories they had to tell, and I could hardly wait to start our trip.

The luggage

Day 1: Tromsø – Sommarøy: 75km – 600hm, Troms

8 o’clock in the morning. A first look out of the window – it’s pouring with rain. What now? Tobi and Basti show us the Yr weather app and recommend that we ride in the afternoons and evenings, as that tends to be when there’s more chance of sunshine.
We wander down to get our road bikes, have a second breakfast, chat a bit more and slowly get ready to set off, as they’re right: the weather is improving.

It’s still a bit grey and murky for the first few kilometres, but that doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm at all as we’re travelling on smooth tarmac roads with little traffic, and have endless sea and mountain views to enjoy in pleasant Nordic temperatures of 12-15 degrees.
Then after a while the sun comes out, so I’m floating on cloud nine – well, not floating exactly, as we’re battling a strong headwind!
There’s lots more of the beautiful landscape to see before we reach Sommarøy and the end of the first leg of the trip. We leave our bikes at the hotel and go for a short hike. I have tears of joy in my eyes when we see the breathtaking view of the small village, the clear blue sea and the evening sun.

I could have spent hours sitting here, but at some point I have to get some sleep (which is pretty easy to forget when it never gets dark) as we’re cycling again the next day.

Our rental bikes from Tromsø outdoor

Day 2: Botnhamn – Gryllefjord: 97km – 1100hm, Senja

After a lovely breakfast and a short ferry ride, we begin the second leg of our trip in Botnhamn on the island of Senja. The ferries are free for cyclists, by the way, and always run on time – we found the timetable on the rome2rio website, and it has worked out perfectly.
The weather is very much on our side today, and Norway’s second largest island offers never-ending roads winding their way through the mountains and by the sea with all the untouched natural landscape you could hope for. “Idyllic” doesn’t even begin to describe it. We have to do without the obligatory coffee break today as there are no cafés or supermarkets anywhere on our route, but luckily I’m prepared and get a cinnamon bun out of my shirt pocket, to my companion’s delight. The few cars that pass by are extremely considerate of cyclists, and when we go through the day’s only tunnel there’s even a “Cyclists in tunnel” sign. Norway, I really like you!

Once we arrive in Gryllefjord, our destination today, the first clouds appear and we decide to take the earlier ferry rather than do the hike we’ve planned. Two hours later we’re in Andenes, the starting point for the third leg, and we enjoy our evening in another idyllic setting. It’s time to wash our clothes, cook some food and prepare for day 3.

Tunnel with "cyclist in tunnel" signal
Andenes, finish of the third stage

Day 3: Andenes – Stokmarknes: 135km – 700hm, Vesterålen

The weather forecast is miserable, but with my boundless optimism I didn’t believe we’d have bad weather until the morning. It actually stops raining at 10am, and we set off immediately because this is the second longest leg of our trip, covering 135km. But our hope that the thick fog will lift and we get to see the beautiful landscape of the island of Andøya remains in vain: instead, the rain stubbornly refuses to stop from about 5 minutes into our journey. We try to see the funny side of it.

Constant headwinds and rain put me in a kind of trance, and it’s just a shame that I can’t really see what’s around me, which I imagine is very beautiful. We’re soaking wet and starving (in our excitement that the rain had actually stopped, we forgot our food when we set off, and it’s Sunday, so even the only petrol station is closed), when we arrive at our hosts’ place in the evening. Aleksandra and Paul give us a warm welcome and some cake, which helps us forget what a tough day it’s been. It’s one of the times when I’m very happy we decided not to camp, as the chance to dry my shoes ahead of the next day feels like one of the biggest luxuries of the entire holiday.

As the Yr weather app says tomorrow’s weather will be similar to today’s, and because we aren’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of another rainy day (with an even longer journey this time – 145km), I decide there and then to rebook our accommodation and reduce the distance for us to travel. Safety first.

There is no bad weather for cycling, only bad clothing

Day 4: Stokmarknes- Valberg: 105km – 800hm, Lofoten

Today we finally get to the Lofoten islands. We’re buzzing about that, but our joy is dampened again when we look out of the window. Rain. Rain. And more rain.
After a large breakfast with Norwegian pancakes, caramelised goat’s cheese and some excellent company, the weather gods are on our side and we can set off in the dry. But not just yet: first we have to change the inner tube. Apparently it wasn’t just us who needed refreshing after yesterday. The 15km we have to cover to get to the next ferry from Melbu to Fiskebøl quickly becomes a lot more stressful.

But eventually we reach the Lofoten islands, and not only is there an incredibly beautiful landscape to savour – the sun is shining! There’s only one road that runs all the way across the islands, which means there’s suddenly more traffic than we had in days 1 to 3. And the archipelago is a lot more well-known, so it’s a lot more touristy. We haven’t escaped the headwind we’ve been contending with for the last few days either – we’re always heading west, and the wind is blowing from the open sea, so that probably won’t change at any point in our trip. But no matter, we can handle it. Soon we reach Svolvær, the main town on Lofoten, where we get some friendly Intersport staff to oil our bike chains for us. Yesterday really took its toll on our bikes, and with our chains oiled and cinnamon buns in our bellies, cycling becomes much easier. Our spirits are high as we ride along the endless roads, taking in the stunning scenery, white beaches and striking colours.

On the roads of Lofoten
Breathtaking scenery lurks around every bend

After crossing a bridge, we’re able to leave the main road and take a more southerly route which brings us to today’s accommodation, a typical Norwegian rorbu cabin. We’ve learnt to think ahead now, so we stopped at the last supermarket to buy our dinner – there’s nowhere else to buy anything for miles around. That would be unusual where we’re from, but here in Norway it’s normal.

Day 5: Valberg – Å: 85 km – 850hm, Lofoten

After a pleasant evening and a short morning hike, we head for Leknes, a 20km ride away.


Now we’re invigorated and ready for the famous underwater tunnel, which first means a long downhill stretch and then a steep uphill climb. It’s an interesting experience, and then we’re back in the beautiful archipelago landscape before we eventually reach the western part of Lofoten, the bit that’s popular with tourists and featured on so many postcards. I’m absolutely amazed by the beauty of the area.

By late afternoon we reach the small fishing village of Å, which is at the end of the main road. It’s the end of our 5-day trip, and for me it feels a bit like we’ve “cycled to the end of the world”. Of course we have to add our “Bike Citizens” sticker to the town sign.

The next morning we travel 5km back to Moskenes in a storm and the pouring rain to get the ferry to Bodø, where we return our two bikes to Norlines Hurtigruten. The service is great. We loved it!

My personal summary:

The time factor: I already knew this before the trip, but for a country like Norway, one week is definitely nowhere near enough time. But the Lofoten islands were a great choice to see as much as possible in the time we had. By Norwegian standards the distances are short, and there’s plenty of varying scenery to enjoy.
I’ll come back, and I’ll give myself a bit more time.

The equipment:

Booking the accommodation in advance meant we had a bit less flexibility when we were there, but I think there were more pros than cons. For one thing, we had a fixed target destination for each day, which was particularly useful for motivation on those rainy days. For another, it gave us a chance to cook food and to wash or at least dry our clothes. And last but not least, there’s the weight to consider. We didn’t have to take an extra bag with us for a tent, which meant we could use road bikes.
If we’d done a longer trip, I would have chosen to camp for reasons of cost. In Norway everyone has the right to roam, so you can put up your tent almost wherever you like without any worries. And we definitely had everything we needed for this trip.

My packing list:

Cycling shoes, hiking boots, waterproof hardshell jacket, wind jacket, warm sweater, short cycling jersey, cycling shorts, toe warmers, gloves, helmet, cycling glasses, multipurpose cloth, leggings and shirt, sports underwear, sports shorts, short sports shirt, long sports shirt, socks, Primaloft gilet, bicycle lock, passport, toiletries, Carryyygum carrier (, bicycle lights, phone charger cable, and of course our Finn (

The weather:

Unpredictable. Otherwise there’s not much to add. In summer, the weather can vary between a rainy and stormy 8 degrees and a sunny 25 degrees. And weather forecasts – even short-term ones – are unreliable. If you want to find out what the weather is, it’s best to look out of the window 😉
But we were well prepared for all conditions: sometimes I wore a short-sleeve shirt while cycling, other times a hardshell jacket. My top tip: enjoy the sunshine, because it could all be very different just around the corner.

The landscape:

It’s paradise. High, rugged mountains rising above the sea, striking colour combinations, glassy blue sea and green meadows. There are few roads that cross this untouched natural landscape, but they’re very smooth and every now and then you see single, brightly coloured wooden houses by the side of the road.

The locals:

The area is very sparsely populated (14 people per square kilometre – in Austria, for example, it’s 107). There’s not much traffic, and it never gets hectic. Not one car driver tooted their horn, and everyone who overtook us gave us plenty of space. The locals are always friendly, considerate and willing to help. As a place, it gives you a great sense of well-being 🙂

Die ehemalige Triathletin ist mittlerweile passionierte Radsportlerin und hat in den vergangenen Monaten eine wahre Leidenschaft für Rennradreisen entwickelt. Getreu dem Motto „der Weg ist das Ziel“ verbringt sie ihre Urlaube am liebsten auf dem Rennrad und erkundet die Welt.
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