Globe installation showing the Polar Circle

September 18th, 2022

The Arctic Circle in Norway: Basking in the fairytale Glow

September 18th, 2022

Written by

Torunn Tronsvang - Morten Holt - HORECA

Torunn Tronsvang


Norway’s Arctic Circle Region

The Arctic Circle is one of the two polar circles (the other one being the Antarctic circle) and is located at 66°33' North. It cuts straight through Norway and the area North of the circle is where the sun doesn’t set for midsummer and doesn’t rise midwinter. The phenomenon is fascinating enough in itself, and those who travel here might catch themselves wonder; why on earth is Norway’s Arctic Circle Region not more known?

Rorbu in the midnightsun on Støtt Island
Train journey across the Saltfjellet Mountain

Crossing the Line – by Rail

Whatever the season, the three-hour train journey from the city of Bodø to Mo i Rana village offers perfectly good reasoning for why the Norwegian State Railways (NSB) in 2019 decided to rebrand their operations to Vy; a Scandinavian word meaning outlook or vision, metaphorically expressing that travellers are given the opportunity to experience new views and gain a new outlook. Seated on a right-side window seat, I am introduced to a world of contrasts on how to get around in Norway as the train makes its way south.

Saltfjellet - Svartisen National Park

Saltfjellet - Svartisen National Park (translates to ‘Salt Mountain - Black Ice’) extends from steep mountains which plunge into fjords to lush valleys and flowing rivers and clad with mountain birch. The Svartisen ice cap covers about a fifth of the park, and the area’s chalky bedrock has led to a rich flora and rare species which in turn supports a wealth of animal life. The Australian couple next to me have bought a bottle of Aquavit from duty free and happily pour me a drink while the three of us are enjoying our Norwegian meatballs dinner onboard. It is just by chance that we happen to look out as the train passes the symbolic monument which marks our crossing of the Arctic Circle; the border from the Arctic.

Women at the glacier Svartisen

The Helgeland Coast

Locally this part of Norway is referred to as Helgeland - a newer version of the norse word of viking kingdom ‘Hålogaland’ - and is home to some 85 000 Northerners and 5000 reindeer. The Helgeland Coast to the West is considered one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines, and Norwegian Lappland to the North East offers a diversity of Sámi cultural heritage relics. The magical natural phenomenons found here have birthed several Norwegian myths, including “The Helgeland Myth”. So do the Northerners - called ‘Nordlendinger’ - keep this part of Norway so low-key so that they can keep this Kingdom of natural beauty and cultural richness to themselves?

View of Bolga Mountain in Helgeland Norway

The Obvious Logistical Barrier

Unlike its big brother Lofoten, the Helgeland coast and islands are not significantly commercialised for an international audience. Without going into the dirty details, I will introduce you to the most likely reason why this jaw-droppingly beautiful part of the world, has not yet succeeded in attracting a myriad of international travellers; you see, travel logistics are so complex it even scares Norwegians away!

Due to a lack of political direction, travelling in The Arctic Circle Region in Norway - with its coastline, islands, fjords, glacier, mountains and plains demands a Doctor’s degree in the interpretation of a myriad of local timetables seemingly written in code language. In addition, you need a magical feel for potential weather obstacles and yearly updated knowledge about who is operating which route, as these decisions are only set for one year at a time.

Midnight sun at Støtt Island

Fortunate for Up Norway travellers, our team has insider knowledge and can guide our travellers smoothly from place to place, without having to worry about logistics. Svea at Manshausen calls us when road transport replaces the passenger ferry due to weather. Håvard at The Arctic Hideaway knows the names of each ferry terminal which does not correspond with the name of the island in question. Eva at Støtt Brygge functions as island chief and will call the boat captain of the day if someone needs to get off her island.

Kristin at Visit Helgeland helps us interpret ferry routes and the distinguished set of rules that vary on ferry routes vs. passenger boat routes (‘Ferge vs. Hurtigbåt’). Last but not least, our friends Stig on land and Kristian at sea arrange private transportation where there is no public transportation on offer.

So, to all of you travellers who want to experience Norway’s Arctic Circle Region after checking out our Arctic journeys; Just get Up here, and we’ve got you covered.

The sustainable SVART resort at Norway’s Svartisen glacier.

SVART Glacier Hotel - A Futuristic Showcase for Sustainability

No other potential upcoming hotel projects in Norway excite us more than ‘Svart’ (meaning Black - a direct tribute to the deep blue ice of Svartisen) due to open in 2024 at the foot of Svartisen glacier as the World’s first Powerhouse hotel. Designed by renowned architecture and design firm Snøhetta, Svart aims to consume 85% less energy compared to a modern hotel as well as produce its own energy - an absolute must in this pristine arctic environment. But that is not all. Chosen to manage the hotel is no one other than Six Senses. If Svart opens, it will without doubt set a new standard for modern luxury experiences in Norway, Scandinavia and The Nordics.

Explore two of our itineraries in Norway's Arctic Circle Region

The Arctic Circle Region is a place of magical light, breathtaking peace and isolation, miracles of human ingenuity and survival, and gloriously unspoilt nature and wildlife. These two itineraries will introduce you to the magic of this region.

View all journeys
View of Bolga Mountain in Helgeland Norway

Norway's Arctic Circle Region: Myths and Marvels in Helgeland




12 days

Flåmsbanen travelling with train

Hop on the Arctic Circle Express Train


May - September


12 days

Recommended by our curators

See our team's recommendations

Find 'Kos' by Travelling Slow

Since moving to Norway from the UK in 2016, Danny has truly learned to appreciate Norway as the land of 'kos' - a truly special, yet intangible concept.

We all strive to find new meaning in the new normal and for Danny travelling slow is the perfect way to take stock, embrace 'kos' and appreciate what is around him.

Danny Dodd working at Up Norway

Danny Dodd

Travel Curator

Find 'kos'
Ingebua Holmen Lofoten