Trondheim to Bodo Road Trip – Crossing Norway’s Polar Circle

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The journey north from Trondheim to Bodo (or Bodø) is dotted with rolling hills, green forests, still-water mirrored lakes and barren lands that mark the start of the Arctic Circle.

This northern land has a softer beauty contrasting with the rugged, panoramic scenery of the south.

Here, your sense of adventure has the chance to come into its own. There are no hordes of tourists, and you can discover this remote land on your own terms.

Bodo is one of three cities that has won the European Capitals of Culture award for 2024, so expect musical and cultural events galore. Nordland has also been added to National Geographic’s coveted “Cool List” for 2024, so more travellers might be making their way north to explore this area of powerful landscapes.

Nord sign in northern norway over a road
The starting line into Northern Norway ©Lifejourney4two

Overview of This 7-Day Trondheim to Bodo Road Trip

Trondheim to Bodo 7 day itinerary

A few of the attractions in the above itinerary are repeated over consecutive days. This indicates that we considered the attraction worthwhile spending additional time at.

Late afternoon at the Arctic Circle Centre: 66°33’N ©Lifejourney4two

We took our Trondheim to Bodo trip in mid-September, which still meant good weather but it was after the busy Summer tourist season.

As we travelled on a budget and we didn’t always plan our accommodation ahead of time, we sometimes slept in our car.

This road trip spanned 1100 km and took us 7 days.

Route Overview – Trondheim to Bodo

Map of Trondheim to Bodo road trip
Trondheim to Bodo, about 1100kms of driving ©Lifejourney4two

Trondheim to Bodo Map: Scenic Route and Attractions

To use this map, expand it using the square symbol on the top right-hand side and then look to the key on the left-hand side. By clicking each location you will find the corresponding position on the map. 

  • The Red line denotes the Helgelandskysten Norway Scenic Route;
  • The Blue line is the actual driving route;
  • Blue circles with a star denote an attraction;
  • Green circles denote where we stayed overnight;
  • Black circles denote churches;
  • Purple circles denote the main towns.
Norwegian flags on a wall
Proudly Norwegian ©Lifejourney4two

This article is No.3 of 4, of our series of Norwegian road trips starting in Stavanger and concluding in Lofoten islands. We drove these road trips from south to north, however, they can be driven in either direction.

All these road trip articles include the best and iconic attractions, and off-the-beaten-path locations whilst driving the panoramic Norway’s Scenic Routes.

Come with us as we journey through old traditional Norwegian villages like Skudeneshavnhike world-renowned mountains such as Kjerag and Preikestolen, discover Torghatten mountain with its hole and be mesmerized by Lofoten’s Northern Lights.

Here are the additional Norway road trip articles:

viewing-Saltstraumen,-Trondheim-to-Bodo road trip
Viewing Saltstraumen’s swirling waters ©Lifejourney4two

Planning a Trip to Norway?

Day 1: Trondheim


Trondheim, founded in 977 AD by King Olaf I, is a city rich in both history and culture. A fitting place for the start of this road trip north.

Traditionally, Trondheim has been the coronation place of Norway’s kings, although the last two have declined to follow this tradition. The ‘gamle’ or old part of Trondheim is called Bakklandet and covers an area of about 800 square metres.

Trondheim street sign ©Lifejourney4two

Tip: download this useful phone app, GPSmyCity, which works offline and allows you to take a self-guided walking tour of Trondheim.

The Late King Olav V statue in Bakklandet ©Lifejourney4two


Bakklandet is where you’ll find all the attractions mentioned below with an easy walk between any of them. We spent two days slowly wandering and enjoying this really pretty city.

However, you could easily do it in one day as reflected in this itinerary.

Bakklandet ©Lifejourney4two

Trondheim Wharves

These 18th-century multi-coloured warehouses front each other over the Nidelva River. The best views of these structures are from the old town bridge or Gamle Bybro.

Trondheim wharves and defences ©Lifejourney4two

In the early days, the waterfront was not only a place for trade buildings but also a place from which to thwart attacks on the city. The defenders could place themselves behind barriers at the water’s edge and launch stones at attacking ships.

Gamle Bybro and Trondheim wharves ©Lifejourney4two

Gamle Bybro

Gamle Bybro, built in 1681, is known as the Old Town Bridge. This bridge had manned sentry posts and an excise (tax) building at each end of which only the western end buildings remain. In the middle of the bridge was a guarded city gate.

Gamle Bybro portals ©Lifejourney4two

The townspeople have nicknamed Gamle Bybro, “Portal of Happiness” which translates in Norwegian to “Lykkens Portal”.

Gamle Bybro and Trondheim wharves ©Lifejourney4two


Stiftsgardsparken, was originally built as a private residence around 1775 and later sold in 1800 to the diocese. It is the largest wooden palace in Scandinavia.

Coronations were held here up until 1906 and it became the king’s summer royal residence. The grounds of Stiftsgardsparken are open to the public.

Stiftsgardsparken ©Lifejourney4two

Den Siste Viking

Den Siste Viking, is a statue inspired by the bravery and courage of Norwegian fishermen. It is known as the Last Viking sculpture and stands in the old Trondheim port area.

Den Siste Viking ©Lifejourney4two

Nidaros Cathedral

Nidaros Cathedral has a long history of suffering having been damaged and re-built many times since its inauguration in the 11th century.

It is said a saint, Norwegian King Olav Haraldsson, is buried under the altar. Interestingly, the western facade has many sculptures including biblical figures, kings and saints.

Nidaros Cathedral ©Lifejourney4two

Kongens Gate

Kongen’s Gate is a street in Trondheim with many old-styled and interesting buildings. It now is reborn as a popular cafe and business area within the city.

Kongens Gate Cafes ©Lifejourney4two

Var Frue Kirke

Located in downtown Trondheim is Var Frue Kirke, known as Our Lady Church. Built in the 12th century, this stone church has undergone many re-constructions but retains all its charm.

It is one of Trondheim’s oldest structures and a famous landmark in the city. The church not only holds services and importantly, functions as a shelter for those needing assistance.

Var Frue Kirke ©Lifejourney4two

Day 2: Harran, Smalåsen, Torghatten


Prepare yourself for some driving. The route from Trondheim to Torghatten, the ‘hole in the mountain’, is roughly 450 kilometres. Following the inland route as shown, is the most direct means.

This drive passes rather uninteresting plots of agricultural land until you reach the halfway point. Here you can find the pretty Harran Church.

white church with 1 steeple
Harran Church ©Lifejourney4two

This white, wooden church is a parish church and was built in 1874 to seat around 200 people. This stop is a good enough excuse to get out of the car and stretch the legs.

white church with gravestones
Harran Church, Norway ©Lifejourney4two


Smalåsen is a very small village lying in the uppermost of Namdalen Valley. It was at one time a popular place where families based themselves during the building of the railway and road systems.

The reason to briefly stop here is only to take a couple of photos of the Nord Norge overhead sign and why not?

2 people pointing to a roadway sign
You can’t miss the Nord Norge sign ©Lifejourney4two

The bulk of the driving is behind you now. A nearby stone distance marker confirms the 304 km already completed from Trondheim.

Stone distance marker at Smalåsen ©Lifejourney4two


Torghatten is a huge granite dome with a hole that passes all the way through the mountain and of course how it earned its nickname. To call it a hole is an understatement. It’s actually a 160 m-long tunnel.

After the turn-off onto Route 76, the scenery over this final 110 kilometres is nothing short of spectacular. Route 76 meanders in and around, up and down, following the contours of the hills and reflection-filled lakes.

reflections on a river
Perfect reflections — Route 76 ©Lifejourney4two

To reach Torghatten, you’ll need to pass through the town of Brønnøysund, the administrative and commercial centre of Brønnøy Municipality. It’s a very well-serviced town, with department stores, popular fast food outlets and many conveniences that you would only expect in the cities.

From Brønnøysund, it’s possible to catch a first glimpse of Torghatten. The carpark at the base of this mountain is easy to find.

Sunset over a mountain with a hole in it
Looking west towards a distant Torghatten – the ‘hole in the mountain’ ©Lifejourney4two

Wooden steps descend to a rock-strewn floor to start the traverse of the 160m length of the hole. Exiting the hole at the western end, and as we arrived late afternoon, we were able to watch the sun’s setting rays over the many nearby islands.

For more information, head over to our article on how to hike Torghatten.

Sunset view from Torghatten’s western end of the hole ©Lifejourney4two
Sunset views over the nearby islands from Torghatten ©Lifejourney4two

Day 3: Torghatten


We visited Torghatten again, early the next morning, to catch everything with a completely different light. It was a beautiful panorama.

Morning views from Torghatten ©Lifejourney4two

Follow the track down from the mountain to the ocean. Views from here back to the hole, with the typical red-coloured Norwegian buildings and still waters.

You can judge for yourself if Torghatten is worth a visit.

Water views to Torghatten's hole in the mountain
Looking back east towards Torghatten from the shoreline ©Lifejourney4two

From the seashore, continue the easy walk around the base of the mountain back to the car park.

Day 4: Brønnøysund

In Brønnøysund, we stayed at the ‘Corner Hotel‘ for 2 nights, which included a fantastic buffet breakfast. A bonus for us was the washing machine and dryer that you could access in the hotel.

As you wander the streets, keep an eye out for interesting statues in the town.

metal statue of a boy.
Puts a smile on my face just looking at this ©Lifejourney4two

At the harbour entrance to Bronnøysund, and in the middle of the shipping lane, is the first of the Artscape Nordland works of art.

Artscape Nordland is an international art project of 36 works of art placed in the landscape of 34 municipalities in Nordland, with two sculptures also in Troms. These are publically accessible works of art including some 18 international artists.

The artists were assigned a region each and after assimilating with the culture and nature, completed a work of art based on their impressions of the area.

This Bronnøysund piece, named ‘Steinar Breiflabb’,  is an example of land art. The island has been arranged with stones to depict the shape of a fish. If you look closely at the image, an elevated fishing boat sits on top adding to the nautical feel of art.

We actually thought it looked more like a whale. This piece of art is not alone having three brothers located in France, England and Germany.

long stone sculpture in the middle of a river
You can make out the fish shape of this island — it is easily missed ©Lifejourney4two

Breaking the skyline is the high, curving Brønnøysund Bridge that connects the southern part of Brønnøysund to the island of Torget. Its attractive curves fit in nicely with the prettiness of the surrounding landscape.

sweeping bridge over a river
The bridge curves are quite eye-catching ©Lifejourney4two

Where to Stay in Brønnøysund

hotel on a street
Corner Hotell ©Lifejourney4two

Corner Hotell

We stayed here and the stay was brilliant. Clean, economical and great location in Brønnøysund. Free wifi, free parking and great, free breakfast.

Rating: Very Good Reviews 8.4

Search other accommodation in Brønnøysund here. 

Day 5: Mosjøen, Mo I Rana, Arctic Circle Centre


To reach Mosjøen from Torghatten, backtrack east on Route 65 and north for a total of two and a half hours. The town of Mosjøen is the oldest in the Helgeland municipality and where another of the Artscape Nordland sculptures can be found.

This one, named ‘Tre Eldar’, depicts 3 tongues of flame. There are 3 of these sculptures grouped together and can be found in Vesnaparken which is alongside the Vefsna River.

three golden flower park sculptures
Tre Eldar ©Lifejourney4two

If you have time and the energy: climb the 4000 stone steps of Helgeland Stairs to the top of Øyfjellet. This one climb is rated a moderate level of difficulty and is one of the longest stone stairs in the world.

Altitude gain is 818m and estimated 1 to 3 hours duration for the one-way trek.

At the top of the climb, enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree panorama. Interestingly, these stone steps were built by Sherpas from Nepal, much the same as Preikestolen. 

Mo I Rana

Mo I Rana is an easy one-hour drive north of Mosjøen. Here is the next piece of art from Nordland Artscape; this one is called ‘Havmannen‘.

An imposing, solitary figure sits in the tidal waters facing the open sea. It represents a reflective moment of being lost in thought. Large, colourful waterfront chairs at the shoreside make a great viewing point.

Havmannen Sculpture ©Lifejourney4two
Havmannen sculpture and harbour © Lifejourney4two

Arctic Circle Centre

Arriving at the Arctic Circle Centre heralds the crossing of the Arctic Circle into the land of the midnight sun; latitude 66°33’ N.

Note the opening times: May 01 to September. We had arrived too late. Other useful information concerning the centre can be found on their Facebook Page.

Also of interest is that the building of cairns (you can see many behind the Arctic Circle Centre) is no longer allowed.

building and status marking the arctic circle boundary
Arctic Centre ©Lifejourney4two
sculpture at the arctic circle
One of many monuments to be seen at the Arctic Circle ©Lifejourney4two

The monument image above has Saami symbols and the coat of arms of all 44 municipalities along its base. There are many different monuments in the immediate vicinity of the centre.

Saami inscriptions along with the coat of arms ©Lifejourney4two

Just behind the Arctic Circle Centre is a small hill that opens onto the vast, barren plain of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park. Yet another example of Norway’s contrasting scenery.

Over this hill and adding a complementary touch to an otherwise flat landscape, are many, many forms of balancing rock art built by other travellers, and surprisingly, don’t look out of place. As mentioned, building these cairns is no longer allowed.

rock mounds on a plain
Polar Circle rock art ©Lifejourney4two

With the closing of the day, we also saw our first reindeer grazing the surrounding hills. How fitting.

Where to Stay Near the Arctic Circle Centre

Find accommodation deals here using

Day 6:  Arctic Circle Centre, Misvær, Saltstraumen

Arctic Circle Centre

We overnighted close to the Artic Centre Center in our car and with the sky so clear we managed to see and photograph our first Northern Lights.

The camera steadied on the car roof to shoot the northern lights ©Lifejourney4two

Returning to the centre at dawn, we had the opportunity to again walk the surroundings for a final lap before heading north.

Polar Circle selfie ©Lifejourney4two


Our next stop was close by the small village of Misvær chasing yet another of Artscape Nordland’s sculptures. This one, ‘Protractus‘, is a 3m high granite sculpture shaped not surprisingly like a protractor.

It is said to represent a future and distant time. Look for this interesting piece of art on a bridge over Støvset Misvær Fjord where it faces the distant mountains.

lady sitting in a protractor style sculpture.jpg
Protractus ©Lifejourney4two


Arriving late in the evening, we didn’t get to cast our eyes on the maelstroms of Saltstraumen. We would have to wait until the next day to what a current of up to 18 knots could do.

We did however get to witness a magical sunset over Saltstraumen.

If like me you didn’t know what a maelstrom meant, this definition will save the day; it’s a powerful whirlpool in the sea or a river.

fishing boat on Saltstraumen at sunset
Saltstraumen sunset ©Lifejourney4two

Day 7: Saltstraumen, Bodo


To get the best views of Saltstraumen’s maelstroms, walk to the top of Saltstraumen Bridge. This bridge towers over Saltstraumen itself. Ample parking is found on the south side of the bridge.

It’s obvious from the top of the bridge that an island in the centre of the river forces the body water to split around it resulting in these maelstroms. It’s quite interesting to watch some of the small cruise boats struggle with the current when trying to get a closer look at the maelstroms.

Saltstrauman bridge with lady looking at hte water from a lighthouse
Under the Saltstraumen Bridge ©Lifejourney4two
whirlpools in a river
Bridge views of the Saltstraumen maelstroms ©Lifejourney4two

Does miss out on walking down to the rocky bank and then you can fully appreciate the sheer volume and speed of this body of water.

Check out this 1-minute video showing the strength of Saltstraumen’s incoming tide.

Saltstraumen Video: 18-Knot Tidal Current

Saltstraumen, Norway - World's Strongest Tidal Current

Saltstraumen is also known to be a great fishing spot around the turn of the tide. I did try my luck but the fishing gods did not favour me that day.

man fishing at a river
I was full of hope ©Lifejourney4two

Saltstraumen Tide Tables

Hopefully, you can do better than me on the fishing statistics with this link to a Norwegian tide tables site, Barents.No.

Where to Stay Near Saltstraumen

Check for the best accommodation deals on

Bodo (Bodø)

Bodo lies just 28 km from Saltstraummen and is the final stop on this Trondheim to Bodo 7-day road trip. From Bodø, a car fairy crosses the Norwegian Sea to land at Å but that’s covered in our next road article.

However, before departing Bodo, a final discovery lays in wait. Discover one more of the Artscape Nordland sculptures at the marina pier near the centre of Bodo. The sculpture consists of seven pieces of perforated granite rocks.

Unfortunately, our timing was tight with the ferry departure so we missed this one but hope you get to enjoy it.

Booking Your Accommodation at Bodø

NoteWhen booking accommodation, some of the cheaper establishments do not include sheets and pillowcases as part of the standard booking and need to be added at an extra charge. Make sure to check the booking details carefully.

We use as we can find a variety of cheap and budget accommodations such as local guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Saltstraumen maelstroms ©Lifejourney4two

Trondheim to Bodo Travel Options

Travel by Car

Both Trondheim and Bodo have international airports but there are more flight options if you first fly into Norway’s capital, Oslo.

Travel by Campervan or Motorhome

Norway is perfect for motorhoming and many Norwegians travel this way. There’s no need to be concerned about booking accommodation when you have your own house on wheels with you.

Travel by Train

Enjoy a 10-hour train trip between Trondheim and Bodo. Select either a day or night train journeying the 729 km leaving you to just sit and back and absorb all that beauty.

The night trains offer 2-berth sleeper cabins which include high-quality mattresses, quilts, and pillows and if your trip is in winter, then you may even get to see the mesmerising Northern Lights.

The day train passes some of the best scenery in Nordland, Norway. You can book tickets from Scandinavian Rail

Saltstraumen sunset ©Lifejourney4two

Trondheim to Bodo Road Trip … That’s a Wrap

In this article, Norway has shown a different side to her beauty than that of the previous two road trips to the south. This Trondheim to Bodo 7-day adventure has unlocked natural wonders often far off the touristy main trek.

I hope you get to enjoy the experience as much as we did.

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These are some of the travel resources we use when planning our trips.

For a more thorough list visit our Travel Resources page here.

Photo of author


Lars, grew up in the Australian countryside and discovered his love for nature early on. Leaving Australia at 20, he began a life of travel and exploration. As a co-owner of Lifejourney4two with Shelley, Lars captures their journeys through his photography. Join him here and see the world through his lens.

4 thoughts on “Trondheim to Bodo Road Trip – Crossing Norway’s Polar Circle”

  1. Hello Shelly and Lars. I was delighted to read your road trip from Trondheim to Bodo. Wy wife (Liz) and I have experienced a wonderful five weeks holiday in Europe and revisited Scandinavia this summer as the temperatures in Germany where high. It was our first visit to Norway having entered from Finland in the north and made our way south using the E6 road most of the time. We did visit Bodo in our VW campervan and spent the night there. The visit was Bodo had a laundrette which we needed but on arrival it didn’t. We used the laundry facilities near the railway station. Norway does not cater for laundrette like the rest of Europe. We enjoyed Bodo and Norway as a whole having returned to Fauske and the E6 and on to Trondheim which was wonderful and your photos do remember our visit there.
    I too was brought up in Australia being of forth generation. I am origanally from Newcastle N.S.W. but moved to London when I was 19 on my own and have lived in west and southwest London since then. I told my parents I would be away for two years but it was seven years before I returned to Australia for the first time for a visit at Christmas. I adore the British climate in London in comparision to the climate in Australia. My family did a lot of holiday in Australia when I lived there. The country is geared for outdoor living.
    It is stated that Scotland is the ideal country for campervans and motorhomes but we now think Norway is better with more campervans and motorhomes then we have witnessed before with plenty of space to stay the night.

    • Hi Robert,

      Really glad you enjoyed the article and it certainly sounds like you’ve done a fair few kilometres on your road trip through Scandinavia. Norway sure has fantastic wide open spaces and what can I say about the vistas .. just wow. From the services side of things (re: your challenges with laundry), some countries certainly could improve this side of things especially when, as you say, there are many motorhomes and in general, travellers on the road.
      You certainly are well entrenched in British life and good on you for taking that initial leap of faith many years ago. Keep enjoying your travels, the world is an exciting destination.

      Warm Regards,

  2. Hi! Thanks for your detailed blog.
    We were planning abroad trip from Bodo- bergen and have been thinking of breaking it down into 2 legs- Bodo – trondheim and trondheim bergen.
    But we have just 4 days in all… if we have to choose between one road teip and making the other either by train or air , which one should we select for road tripping?

    • Hi Chaitali, glad you enjoy our blog. We’ve sent you a reply via email too but we would say that of you had to choose one for the road trip we’d choose Trondheim to Bergen – only because that one wins out slightly on the scenic drive:)


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