Road trip in Arctic Norway: Spectacular Helgeland – and Mosjøen

Arctic road trip

This summer, I’ve been roaming about in Norway, with both kids, with one kid, with friends – and on my own.

Last week, Cat decided all she wanted for her 12th birthday was to go to yet another horse riding camp. And so I found myself with an unexpected four days of complete freedom, which just couldn’t be wasted.

Well, there I was, wondering where to go. Somewhere I hadn’t been before, preferably. The Czech Republic, perhaps? I’d like to see Olomouc – and Cesky Krumlov. Or maybe Switzerland? I still haven’t been in Interlaken. Then I thought about it some more: Summer in Norway is gorgeous, with just the right temperatures. Really, it’s the only place to be this time of year. The challenge was to find somewhere new. And that’s how I ended up at the Helgeland Coast, on the Arctic Circle.

So, an Arctic road trip then? Yes, but not all the way. Norway is a country of very long distances; from Oslo to Northern Norway is about as far as Oslo to Rome. Public transport and then a hire car seemed a good idea. Now, flights to this slightly out-of-the-way place cost a king’s ransom at a day’s notice in high season. But luckily for me, the railways had very good prices. It’s a long rail journey, but I like taking the train – it’s a great place to get work done. Or not.

Arctic road trip

I like sleeping on a train, it’s something so very relaxing about the rhythmic sounds in the night. After much too short a night in my very own sleeping compartment, I hopped off the train in Mosjøen at 4:30 in the morning. It was a bit early to pick up the hire car (driving is the only way to get around up here, unless you have days and days and days and…), but not too early to get an unbooked bed at the fabulous family-run historic Fru Haugans Hotell, bless their heart. So they get a mention.

My hire Skoda took me to Brønnøysund and across to the spectacular UNESCO-listed Vega Archipelago. I drove to the city of Mo i Rana and saw a huge naked man staring out to sea. I set off to drive across the Arctic Circle, but was derailed by a sign for Svartisen, and hiked there instead. (Svartisen is Norway’s second largest glacier and straddles the Arctic Circle.) I ended up with one sprained and one twisted ankle, but that’s a story for another day.


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Articles will be coming up on Vega, Svartisen and my clumsiness. Today, however, is about Mosjøen, a quirky little town in its own right, with a towering mountain, a roaring river, waterfalls, rambling old houses and piers, and a sense of humour.

The photo below shows the town’s le-vegg, laughing wall. I can’t begin to explain the little nuggets – too much would be lost in translation. Suffice it to say, I remained reading and laughing for ages. Although, I imagine the special exercise machine for yo-yo dieters – to go up and down in weight – is comprehensible to all.

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Mosjøen is not a very old town, people have only lived her for 400 years or so. The first resident whose name is known, was a man called Svein Strandsitter, meaning Svein Who Sits on the Beach, born here in 1587.

Apart from its pretty setting, Mosjøen’s main claim to fame is Sjøgata (Sea Street), a street consisting of 19th century houses, once crumbling and threatened with demolition, but saved by local activists. It’s very atmospheric among the old houses in the early morning mist, a bit like walking through history.




Just a short drive from Mosjøen is the idyllic Laksforsen, meaning Salmon Fall. You can sit on the rocks at the bottom and watch the power of nature, getting a little sprayed now and again, and see the salmon jump. Lovely!


I love Norway in summer. Have you ever been?



23 Responses to “Road trip in Arctic Norway: Spectacular Helgeland – and Mosjøen”

  1. Turkey's For Life 2 August 2013 0820 #

    Wow, Sophie. Bet you’re glad you stayed on your own doorstep – so to speak. 🙂 These photos are lovely. Think Norway in summer would be our type of place. The scenery’s amazing. Thnaks for the little tour.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1503 #

      You’re welcome, Julia. Gorgeous up here now.

  2. Mary {The World Is A Book} 2 August 2013 0825 #

    These are absolutely stunning photos, Sophie. I love the serenity of that first picture. I haven’t been to Norway yet but desperately want to go after seeing these scenic shots. I’ve always wanted to go for the fjords but this part of Norway looks very inviting too. I hope your ankle feels better.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1504 #

      Norway and Canada have lots of similarities in nature. 🙂

  3. sarah jacob 2 August 2013 1143 #

    Hey Sophie wanna tell you one thing this is really nice article and great collection of photos .
    Have read many article on travel but yours is really up to the mark ..I have visited Norway few time and i loved that country .

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1505 #

      Good to hear you liked it 🙂

  4. Lesley Peterson 2 August 2013 1814 #

    Gorgeous photos, Sophie, especially of the water. As a Canadian, I love the north. Your description of distances is really useful information. It’s hard to believe that Norway extends as far north as Oslo to Rome! Norway certainly seems to be the place to be this year.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1506 #

      Yes, Norway is a very long, but quite thin country.

  5. Andrea 2 August 2013 2354 #

    Yes! I could never understand why Norwegians would give up the most beautiful time in their own country to head to southern Europe in the heat with all the other tourist hordes. A friend did it and had the nerve to complain – I just shook my head at her. Gorgeous scenery!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1507 #

      I think people book holidays in southern Europe just to be om the safe side, some summers can be rainy. Luckily not this year.

  6. Phoebe (Short Road To Happy) 4 August 2013 1913 #

    No, never been but that’s the first stop on our RTW motorcycle trip in 2 weeks! Your pictures are fabulous and have gotten us so excited!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1508 #

      Ooh, motorcycling up north should be fabulous this time of year. Just remember distances are great.

  7. Cathy Sweeney 6 August 2013 2237 #

    No, I’ve never been to Norway during any season, but when I get there I’d love to visit the places you saw on your road trip, especially quirky little Mosjøen. 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1510 #

      Such an unexpectedly fun little place Mosjøen.

  8. Mary @ Green Global Travel 7 August 2013 0422 #

    The whole of the trip sounds incredible, though the laughing wall is absolutely hilarious! Thank you for the fabulous descriptions and beautiful images!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1511 #

      Great spur of the moment road trip that was 🙂

  9. Salika Jay 7 August 2013 0741 #

    It looks so calm, quiet and very beautiful! Love the scenery. Looks so relaxing.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2013 1513 #

      Very calm and beautiful up here, indeed.

  10. Marcia 8 August 2013 0618 #

    That machine for yo-yo dieters is ingenious.
    Beautiful scenery, Sophie. I didn’t realize Norway was so beautiful in summer. Good choice to stay home!
    You’re now the second person I know who’s had an accident with their ankle since I had mine in April. Hope you’re healing nicely.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 11 November 2013 1328 #

      Ingenious. And humourous 🙂

  11. Magne 6 September 2013 1908 #

    Wow, What a nice story about my town. Glad you liked it 🙂 Despite the high cost in my country, the nature is fantastic, and specially around the northern part. You got some very good pictures 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 September 2013 1047 #

      Thanks. And Mosjøen is adorable 🙂

  12. Drew | The Hungry Partier 28 May 2014 1204 #

    Great post, and amazing photos!! I went to Bergen and I toured the fjords last summer, and it was one of the most memorable travel experiences of my life!

    Let me know if you make it out here to Korea anytime soon 🙂

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