Road trip along the northern part of the Coastal Route: Bodø, Gildeskål, Meløy and Rødøy

Take a road trip along parts of Kystriksveien (The Coastal Route) to or from Bodø. This scenic route will take most people’s breath away. It’s often claimed that Nordland has the world’s most beautiful coast – and this is not without reason.

Duration: 3 – 7 days

Season: Summer and autumn

Transport: By car (or a combination of bus, bike and express boat)

Distance: approx. 220 km one way


This stretch is also part of the National Scenic Route Helgelandskysten. Highlights include natural phenomena such as the world’s strongest tidal current – Saltstraumen – and Northern Scandinavia’s largest glacier, Svartisen. You can admire the contrasts between impressive architecture and historic coastal culture, explore the diverse archipelago and discover exciting rock formations. You will have sea views the whole way north and the Midnight Sun as a travelling companion.

You can also drive this route in the opposite direction, starting in the north of Helgeland.

(You will find a route map at the bottom of the page.)


Hvor reiser jeg, og hvor stopper jeg?


Downtown Bodø is a natural starting point for various experiences and excursions in Salten and other parts of Nordland. The city is a transport hub for aircraft, trains, express boats, ferries, Hurtigruten, buses and cars. Bodø is characterised by a vibrant cultural life, restaurants, cafés, shopping, pubs, bars and sky bars, combined with magnificent nature-based experiences in the immediate vicinity.

Click here to find things to do in Bodø

Bodø in the late summer light. Photo: Ernst Furuhatt



Your first stop is at Saltstraumen, just 33 km from downtown Bodø. This spectacular natural phenomenon thrills visitors from near and far. Every sixth hour, 400 million m³ of water forces its way through a narrow strait at speeds of up to 20 knots, forming enormous whirlpools in the water. However – or consequently – Saltstraumen has a wonderful marine life with abundant stocks of various fish species, shellfish, crustaceans, sea anemones, coral reefs and much more.

Saltstraumen is like a natural fun park. You can go diving, snorkelling, fishing or rafting by RIB in the powerful masses of water. 

> View all the activities at Saltstraumen

RIB rafting at Saltstraumen. Photo: Tommy Andreassen

Visit when the current is at its strongest

Saltstraumen is at its strongest twice a day but, as these times vary from day to day, we recommend checking the Saltstraumen tide table and planning you trip accordingly.

Fishing at Saltstrumen. Photo: Ernst Furuhatt

If you want to spend longer at Saltstraumen, you will find a café, camping ground and hotel here. You can also visit the Magic Saltstraumen experience centre to learn more about this natural phenomenon, go on an historic guided walk with Saltstraumen Stories or visit Tuvsjyen, the site of some of Norway’s first Stone Age settlements.

Dykking i saltstraumen
Diving at Saltstraumen. Photo: Vebjørn Karlsen



Add a stop at the fjordcamp at Kjellingstraumen, where you can stay overnight and rent boats and fishing gear.



Continue driving about half an hour and then make a side trip to the island of Sandhornøya, where you will find the beautiful beach Langsanden (translated literally as “the long sand”). This 2 km long sandy beach is perhaps one of Norway’s finest. If you a looking for a nice place to camp, then this is it. Facilities here include a car park and a modern service building with running water, a toilet and shower.

Langsanden beach. Photo: Gildeskål municipality

If you want more comfortable accommodation but still want to be close to nature, you can stay in a glass dome at Følvika Northern Retreat. It’s just a short drive from here to the ferry landing at Horsdal, where you can catch a ferry out to the Arnøy islands.

Følvika Northern Retreat, Photo: Hege Leding

On the way to Horsdal, culture enthusiasts can stop at the Blix farmyard (the childhood home of poet, politician and theologian Elias Blix) and walk on the Blix path to the Blix monument.

Photo: Gildeskål kommune

Before boarding the ferry to the Arnøy islands, we recommend hiking up Sandhornet. The hiking route starts at the ferry landing. This is a challenging hike but the view from the summit make it worthwhile – turquoise sea and small islands as far as the eye can see!

The view at Sandhornet towards Arnøyene, Photo: Frank R. Dahl

> Description of the hiking route up Sandhornet

> Check the ferry timetable Horsdal - Sund - Sørarnøy


Arnøyene / Fleinvær / Støtt / Bolga

Arnøyene: Sørarnøy & Nordarnøy

Go ashore on Sørarnøy and experience the island community before driving to Nordarnøy (these two islands are connected by a small bridge). You can stop at Arnøy Brygge, which has nice seaside apartments, a restaurant and fishing adventures. You can also rent a boat here and explore the archipelago in Salten on your own – island hopping to Fleinvær, Støtt and Bolga. Allow plenty of time and plan for some overnight stays during your boat trip.

If you can’t drive a boat yourself, don’t despair. Aasgardr Services on Sørarnøy offers boat safaris to the beautiful island of Fugløya and island-hopping trips on request.

Jonbrygga på Sørarnøy, Foto: Aasgardr services

The Arctic Hideaway at the island of Fleinvær.
This is the place to relax and enjoy the peace and tranquillity in combination with world famous architecture.

The Arctic Hideaway, Photo: Kathrine Sørgård

Støtt brygge, has rooms and a restaurant in an historic building which is a former trading post. The kayaking and hiking trips at Støtt are good for the soul.

Støtt brygge, Photo: Hans Petter Soer

Bolga brygge, offers accommodation in seaside holiday houses, deep-sea fishing and climbing on the mountain Bolgfjellet, which rises straight up from the sea. This resort has a restaurant as well as accommodation.

Bolga, Photo: Meløy municipality

The islands in Gildeskål and Meløy are also easily accessible by express boat from other places on the mainland. Simply catch the ferry back and continue your road trip south.



When you return to the mainland by ferry from the Arnøy islands, you can get off at Sund instead of Horsdal (on Sandhornøy), and drive to Inndyr (You can also drive here from the main road if you chose not to go to Sandhornøy and the Arnøy islands). When you get to Inndyr, you can visit the charming Heimsjyen Café and go to the grocery store to stock up on snacks for the road trip. While you are in the area, you should visit the Gildeskål Church Site dating from the 12th century. You can go on a guided tour of this historic gem or check out the locally produced art at the vicarage gallery.

Gildeskål church site, Photo: Gøril Pedersen

When you return to route no. 17 and continue southwards, there is a little gem hidden not far from the road. Den glømda staden (The Hidden Town) is well worth visiting. You can check out the art project and stay overnight in the unique Thai House. Please note that this small building is open to all visitors, but you need to bring your own gear (sleeping bag and pillow, etc.).

Thaihuset, Photo: Frida Bringslimark



Do you enjoy combining your holiday with physical activity and nice photos for your Instagram feed? If so, we recommend hiking up the mountain Finnesfjellet and taking a photo at the iconic Finnesjuran rock formations on the way up. The view from the top is impeccable. When you have hiked down from the mountain, you can take a refreshing dip at the beautiful beach, Storvikstranda. Facilities here include a beach volleyball court, public toilet and grocery store.

> Description of the hiking route up Finnesfjellet

Finnesjuran, Photo: Frida Bringslimark
Finnesfjellet, Photo: Frida Bringslimark
Finnesjuran, Photo: Frank R. Dahl


Local design

On the way to Meløy, we recommend a stop to visit the design sisters Gøril and Frøydis, the founders of Fogg Gildeskål – a local clothing brand specialising in high-end woollen hats, scarves and sweaters. The garments, which are inspired by the way discoverers and seafarers dressed, are designed for modern adventurers who don’t compromise when it comes to style and ethics. Clothes you buy here will also come in handy on the rest of your holiday.

Fogg Gildeskål Shop, Photo: Kontrafei Media

Photo: Fogg Gildeskål


The world's most beautiful outdoor toilet?

If you need a toilet break along the way, you can stop at Ureddplassen, which has several times been referred to as the world’s most beautiful public toilet. It’s also a wonderful photo stop with views of the fjord and out towards the open sea, the island of Fugløya, Lofotveggen (The Lofoten Wall) and the horizon. Ureddplassen is also a memorial. A monument has been erected here in memory of those who lost their lives when the submarine HNoMS Uredd was sunk after hitting a German minefield in the Fugløyfjord during the Second World War.

Ureddplassen, Photo: Kaare Eggesvik/


Click here for more tips of things to do in Gildeskål



Ørnes is the municipal administrative centre in Meløy and a hub for boat traffic along the coast including Hurtigruten, express boats og ferries. It is often claimed that the approach to Ørnes is the most beautiful of all Hurtigruten’s ports of call along the coast. From Ørnes, you can take the ferry or express boat straight across to Støtt and Bolga. The express boat also calls at Rødøy and Sørarnøy.

If you travel by express boat, remember to book your place in advance (Owing to COVID-19, there is reduced capacity on the boats and only those who book in advance are guaranteed space).

In Ørnes, you will also find a small range of shops, places to eat, places to stay, a pharmacy and a branch of the Norwegian Wine Monopoly.


Industrial village

If you continue driving inland in Meløy, you will come to the historic industrial village of Glomfjord – the site of one of Norway’s first hydroelectric power stations.

Plan to stay a night at Svartisen Apartments, so you can spend a whole day doing incredible nature-based experiences in the vicinity.

North Scandinavia's largest glacier

One of the obvious experiences on this route is the Svartisen glacier. Take the small shuttle boat from the main road across the Holandsfjord to Svartisen.

The shuttle boat "Isprins", Photo: Karoline O.A. Pettersen

The most adventurous visitors can join a guided glacier walk or a Midnight Sun walk on the glacier. It’s also possible to view Svartisen from the Brestua café while enjoying a good lunch.

Lunch at Brestua, Photo: Karoline O.A. Pettersen

Spending time alone at the glacier is good for body and soul. Bring tour tent or hammock and enjoy the day and/or night at Svartisen. We promise the most incredible view to accompany your morning coffee! Perhaps you will dare to take a refreshing dip in the icy glacier water!

Photo: Visit Bodø

Svartisen, Photo: Emil Sollie/Brixton Frames/Visit Helgeland

Rødøya / Gjerøy / Selsøyvik / Myken

From the Svartisen glacier, this road trip continues to Rødøy municipality. Catch the ferry from Halsa to Ågskardet, and then drive from there out to Vågaholmen. From here, you can go island hopping by express boat in the incredibly beautiful coastal landscape. The express boat has daily services between the islands and the mainland, calling at Vågaholmen, Rødøya, Gjerøy and Selsøyvik (as well as other beautiful places). You can reach Myken either by the local boat MS Gjerøy or the regional express boat from Rødøya at 10.45 a.m. (it travels directly from Bodø at 8.00 a.m.).

hurtigbåt i rødøy
Photo: Rødøy kommune

Check the timetables for the express boats and plan accordingly

> Click here for express boat travel planner

If you are travelling by express boat, it may be necessary to include an overnight stay or two, so it’s a good idea to plan well.


Car ferry
You can also reach the island of Rødøya by car ferry from Jektvik. This is the easiest option for those wishing to hike up the mountain Rødøyløva on the way without stopping at several places (return trip on weekdays only).


You will find grocery stores, fuel pumps and cafés with outdoor tables at Vågaholmen and in Jektvik.

Along the road between route no. 17 and Vågaholmen, you will find Falch Trading Post and Rødøy Museum with exhibitions about the recent fishing history. If you have enough time before the express boat/ferry, it’s worth stopping here.

Photo: Rødøy kommune

Rødøya has beautiful beaches, a fairytale forest and Norway’s only teddy bear museum. The view of the Midnight Sun from the top of the mountain Rødøyløva is something you won’t forget in a hurry. There is a shop here and a couple of places to eat.

Rødøyløva, Photo: Rødøy kommune

> Turbeskrivelse til Rødøyløva

You can go ashore here for some refreshments at the idyllic café, not far from the quayside. Enjoy the peace, quiet and beautiful views!

Gjerøy, Photo: Rødøy kommune

Visit Selsøyvik Trading Post – one of the few trading posts along the coast that is still in operation. This historic gem was selected as the municipality’s millennium site. Facilities here include accommodation, a general store, café and a nice guest marina.

Selsøyvik, Photo: Røøy kommune

We highly recommend visiting the historic fishing village of Myken, where you can stay in an indoor caravan and visit Myken whisky distillery.

Myken, Foto: Rødøy kommune


The boundary of the arctic

There are several places in Rødøy where you can cross the Arctic Circle. If you drive along the Coastal Route (route no. 17), you will cross the Arctic Circle at Telnes on the ferry trip between Jektvik and Kilboghamn. An announcement is made as you cross the Arctic Circle and you will have a good view of the Arctic Circle global statue from the ferry.

The island ferry in the municipality crosses the Arctic Circle several times on the Selsøyvik-Storselsøy-Nordnesøy route, as does the express boat around the islands. Make sure you have your camera ready during the trip!

The Arctic Circle mark, Photo: Rødøy kommune


If you travel by express boat, remember to book your place in advance (Owing to COVID-19, there is reduced capacity on the boats and only those who book in advance are guaranteed space).

When you return to your car at Vågaholmen, you can either continue on Kystriksveien (The Coastal Route) to experience more in Helgeland or return to Bodø to explore the northern part of Salten.

Road map and places to stop

Northern Norwegian music for your road trip

Rent a car in Bodø & Salten?

Rent a car in Bodø & Salten?


AVIS rents out all types of vehicles: standard cars, vans and minibuses. You will find a suitable vehicle, regardless of who and how many you are travelling with.
Locations: Bodø Lufthavn and Påls vei 9
Phone.: (+47) 755 41 000



Budget Bilutleie has a range of vehicles that are safe to drive on North Norwegian roads, whether you are driving with your family, friends or partner.
Locations: Bodø Lufthavn and Påls vei 9
Phone.: (+47) 948 04 333

Video of what to expect along this route

Road trip along the northern part of Kystriksveien (The Coastal Route): Bodø, Gildeskål, Meløy and Rødøy.

2020-04-2313:11 Julie Abelsen