Bike holiday to villages, Alps and a myriad of islands
Where: Northern Norway, The northernmost region of Europe.
Why visit: Landscape of coast, fjords, mountains. Meet the local people. Follow Arctic Race of Norway.
How far: A three-hour flight from London, one and half hour flight from Oslo.
TROMSØ: You don´t need to be World Champion to enjoy a cycling holiday in Northern Norway, but following the Arctic Race is a great possibility to experience this part of the country. The race takes place through wild and peaceful seaside landscape, passing by villages, mountains and forest.
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Luckily I followed the race by car, visited the fjords of Ofoten, made breaks in interesting cities, gazed at the 1,800 meters high peak at Lyngen Alps, watched the green fields of Central Troms, looked at myriad of islands before finished my visit at a great finale in Tromsø.
I arrived late to see the Midnight Sun and far too early to observe the Northern Lights, but I know this area offers plenty of festivals, culture and local food, including seafood, salmon and the World´s Best Cake. As the best climber in Arctic Race, the rider Bernhard Eisel from Team BMC won the Salmon jersey, which means he secured 500 kilo salmon, a prize that will be delivered at his home in Klagenfurt, Austria. Fish is not a prize you win every day and I´m sure he will share it with team mates.
Bike holiday. Experiencing Northern Norway from a bike seat happens every summer for Svein Lamo living in near Oslo. I met athletic Svein (66) in Sjøvegan, a town he visits regularly with wife Hanne.
“Holiday on bike is a great possibility to get close to the wild nature, to see places you don´t visit by car and to catch some fish in rivers and lakes. Arctic tour is the idea for a peaceful holiday”, Svein says.
Arctic Race of Norway is part of a World Tour of cyclists this year visiting Andørja, the city of Narvik, Sjøvegan, Bardufoss and the lively city of Tromsø. The route for next year’s event may include other villages and along further roads of Northern Norway.
“Organising the race and exploring the land of the Far North represent a real challenge driven by very high ambitions. This race above the Arctic Circle counts as one of our finer examples”, Christian Prudhomme says. The French is Director of Cycling and organising Tour de France.
Madness of the North. Welcome to the Arctic Race, Norway´s annual gathering of a great, wild and just healthy madness created by riders and the remarkable locals of the North, in Norwegian mention as Nordlendinger. It´s well known that locals of the North are more open-minded and a bit different from people of the South and the spectators always create great enthusiasm along the route. Such as the fifty locals at the small town of Engenes where children met their cycling stars and ladies put up a café, selling home-made food and own hand-made products. Every person living here was involved in the event.
Narvik. Troms County is part of Northern Norway and Narvik a city to visit, close to mountains and the sea and perfect for hiking. Narvik has train connection with Sweden. Harstad is the gate to Lofoten islands in a region with mighty mountain landscape. Close to Harstad lies Kvæfjord famous for their strawberries and “The World´s Best Cake” and Nupen, voted the most romantic place in Norway. We also visited Sjøvegan, Målselv and Lyngen. The area of Lyngen with dramatic peaks, glaciers and narrow valleys.
The people. Talking about tourist attractions, Norway has plenty of mountains and fjords. However, the land above the Arctic Circle holds both beauty and variation and can add the local people as the unique charming attraction. Here, on top of the planet, the summer is short but intense. The locals filled us with joy and a bit of madness. Next year´s Arctic Race of Norway may move further north and create more exciting stories. More fun.
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: Northern Norway is a 90-minute flight from Oslo to Bodø, and London-Tromsø takes three and a half hours. Three times a day Målselv has direct flights from Oslo Gardermoen to Bardufoss.
Stay: Visiting the city of Harstad, Thon Hotel next to the seaside is an alternative. Ask for a guest room with sea view. Thonhotels.no Scandic Hotels is the largest hotel company in the Nordic region.
Eat: Harstad is a culinary Mecca for food lovers offering a combination of fresh local product matching international ingredients. Such as Hoelstuen in central part of the city known as a gourmet restaurant. Restaurant Umami has introduced a new taste to Harstad´s food landscape.
Play: Most of the production of farmed salmon occurs in Arctic region in an environment with fresh, cold sea water.
Mini Guide: Harstad is the city of culture in Northern Norway with a population of 25,000 and offering hiking and mountain trips. Ibestad municipality has 1,400 inhabitants spread on the islands of Andørja and Rolla. Andørja has 14 peaks over 1,000m, while Rolla has plenty of fishing lakes. During the summer Salangen buzzing with events and activities. Målselv is perfect for fishing in Målselvfossen, and has stabile winter climate, a choice for Northern Lights safaris. Tromsø is a lively city near unspoiled nature.