Trondheim to Bodo Road Trip – Crossing The Polar CIrcle

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

This northern land is certainly a contrast to the majestic fjords of the south. You’re now far enough north in Norway to feel a sense of remoteness; an escape from the well-known touristy spots.

It’s just you and the open road ahead.

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

This Trondheim to Bodo Road Trip includes stops at:

  • Harran church
  • Torghatten – ‘The Hole in the Mountain’
  • Smalåsen – ‘Nord Norway’ road archway
  • Arctic Circle centre
  • Saltstraumen – one of the world’s strongest tidal currents
  • Artscape Nordland – an international collection of art inspired by the surrounding nature.
evening time over a building with 3 flags
Late afternoon at the Arctic Circle Centre: 66°33’N

We drove this road trip in mid-September which promised us the best chance for good weather and to also fall outside the busier Summer tourist season.

This roughly 1100 km drive took us 7 days.

This is the third road trip of a four-part series of Norwegian road trips travelling further north.

The other 3 road trip articles in this series are:

These road trips take you through traditional Norwegian villages like Skudeneshavn, have you hiking world-renowned mountains, driving Norway’s Scenic routes which showcase the best of the Norwegian landscapes, driving past dazzling fjords, stopping at mythical stave churcheschasing the Northern Lights and much more.

We chase the off-beat places and attractions, finally ending our road trip in the magical Lofoten Islands inside the Arctic Circle.

Road Trip Route Overview: TRONDHEIM TO BODO

Map of Trondheim to Bodo road trip
Trondheim to Bodo, roughly 1100kms of driving



Both Trondheim and Bodo have international airports but you will have more options if you fly via Norway’s capital, Oslo.

As already mentioned, our road trip involves a bit of driving between attractions if you keep exactly to this itinerary, but you can choose to adjust the timing depending on your own schedule.


Norway is perfect for motorhoming and many Norwegians travel this way.

>>> READ MORE:  All you need to know about hiring a motorhome.   


If you don’t feel like driving, then you can enjoy the 10-hour train trip between Trondheim and Bodo.

Select either a day or night train journeying Norway’s longest railway at 729 km in length. 

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 magical Northern Lights.

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

Norwegian flags on a wall


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;
  • 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.



  • The Wharf
  • Gamle Bybro
  • Stiftsgardsparken
  • Bakklandet
  • Den Siste Viking
  • Nidaros Cathedral
  • Kongens Gate
  • Var Frue Kirke


Trondheim is definitely a beautiful city. The ‘gamle’ or old part of Trondheim covers an area of about 800m x  800m where you can find all these attractions mentioned here.

We spent two days wandering this old part of town, but really, you could easily do it in one day as reflected in this itinerary.

We’ve written a separate article on Trondheim where we discuss all these attractions in detail.

>>> Read more hereBergen to Trondheim – An Unforgettable Road Trip’.

coloured warehouse buildings lining a river front
Old Wharf area of Trondheim


  • Harran Church
  • Nord Norge archway
  • Artscape Nordland sculpture
  • Torghatten, ‘Hole in the Mountain’


Departing Trondheim, the aim was to reach Torghatten, the ‘hole in the mountain’, before sunset.

This was the longest section of driving on this road trip: 440km following the inland route and also the most direct option.

Apart from the large plots of agricultural land, there wasn’t much to stop and look at until we reached the town of Harran, at about the halfway point.

white church with 1 steeple
Harran Church
white church with gravestones
Harran Church, Norway

The reason to stop here is to stretch the legs and walk around the pretty, white wooden Harran church built back in 1874. A short respite before hitting the road towards the main event, Torghatten.


As the stone marker says, 304 km from Trondheim and 100 km from Mosjøen this roadway sign to Nord Norge (Northern Norway) is pretty much impossible to miss and a good enough excuse to stop, stretch the legs and grab a few photos.   

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


The final 110 kilometres on road 76 to Torghatten is nothing short of spectacular. The road curves and flows around the many lakes or I should say, water features. The mirror-like surfaces catch near-perfect reflections from the sky and pine forests, easily making up for the long hours at the steering wheel.

reflections on a river
Those reflections — seen near Torghatten

Before you can reach Torghatten though, you’ll need to pass through the rather remote, but a super-modern town, Brønnøysund, the administrative and commercial centre of Brønnøy Municipality. It came as a bit of a shock. Passing well-known brands and department stores, popular fast food outlets and many conveniences that really you normally see in bigger cities; and yet here it was.

You can catch glimpses of Torghatten (the ‘hole in the mountain’) on the short 15 km drive from Brønnøysund which is a real teaser. The car park is pretty much located at the base of the mountain and a short 30-minute hike puts you at the entrance to the 160m ‘hole’ entrance.

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

Wooden steps descend to a rock-strewn floor. Exiting the hole to the west gives lovely views over the many neighbouring small islands. Following the path down from the mountain to the ocean is a must.

The reward when looking back towards the mountain gives you perfect views right through the ‘hole in the mountain’. From here an easy walk skirts the mountain base back to the car park.

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


As mentioned before, this town is well serviced. We stayed at the ‘Corner Hotel‘ for 2 nights, which included a fantastic buffet breakfast and, a bonus for us … a washing machine and dryer actually in the hotel. Sometimes it’s the small things that can make your day.

That wasn’t all, we are also partial to the odd Sweet and Sour Pork and successfully filled our boots at the local Chinese restaurant. Two great wins. There are also some interesting statues in the town.

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

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

This piece, named ‘Steinar Breiflabb’,  is an example of land art whereby an island has been used to depict the shape of a fish by using carefully positioned stones. We thought it looked to be a whale.

An elevated fishing boat sits mid-fish adding context to the work of art.

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

The high, curving Brønnøysund Bridge that connects the southern part of Brønnøysund to the island of Torget is in itself an attractive feature on the landscape.

We thought it a worthy rival to the bridges of the Atlantic Road scenic route further south near Kristiansund.

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


hotel on a street

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. 


  • Artscape Nordland sculptures
  • Arctic Circle Centre and landmarks


This town is the oldest in the Helgeland municipality and is where another of the Artscape Nordland sculptures can be found. This one depicts 3 tongues of flame and is named ‘Tre Eldar’. There are 3 of these sculptures grouped together and can be found in Vesnaparken which butts up to the Vefsna River.

three golden flower park sculptures
‘Tre Eldar’

Another attraction that may be interesting to visit, are the 3000 steps (rough estimate to date in 2022) of Helgeland Stairs which will have you climbing the mountain of Øyfjellet.

They are one of the longest stone stairs in Norway and were built by Sherpas from Nepal. A nice challenge if you’re up for it.


We continued the search for yet another of the Nordland Artscape works of art.

This one is called ‘Havmannen‘. An imposing, solitary figure that sits in the tidal waters facing the open sea and represents a reflective moment of being lost in thought. You can take it all in from the overly large and colourful waterfront chairs.

‘Havmannen’ Sculpture


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

It was early September and we expected the Centre to be open, but to our surprise, it was not.

We weren’t the only visitors caught unawares and it turned out we had missed out by a mere six days.

The opening times are now from 01 May to 01 September and you can double-check this on their Facebook Page

To say that we were disappointed would be an absolute understatement. Not only did we want to wander the exhibition hall, but the possibility of sinking the teeth into a warm Reindeer burger (only one of us was keen), was now dashed.

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

However, the immediate area is great to wander and admire the different monuments.

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.

rock mounds on a plain
Polar Circle rock art

With the closing of the day, we also saw our first reindeer grazing the surrounding hills. Certainly, a timely reminder that we were now inside the Arctic Circle.


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  • Artscape Nordland sculptures
  • One of the world’s strongest tidal currents


Close to the small village of Misvær, another of Artscape Nordland’s sculptures can be found. ‘Protractus‘, a 3m high granite sculpture which is shaped like a protractor and representative of a future and distant time. It is situated on a bridge over Støvset Misvær Fjord and faces the distant mountains.

lady sitting in a protractor style sculpture.jpg


Driving into the town of Saltstraumen from the south means you’ll cross the Saltstraumen Bridge. This bridge towers over Saltstraumen itself. Parking on the south side of the bridge and walking to the top of the bridge gives birds-eye views of the maelstroms or whirlpools.

The island in the centre of the river forces the water to split around it resulting in two sections of the river where the maelstroms occur.

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

However, it’s not until you walk down to the rocky bank on the north side of the river that you can fully appreciate the sheer volume and speed of this body of water.

I mean, it is really moving! The 1-minute video below gives you a good idea of the strength of this incoming tide.


The north bank of the river has a car park and you are able to walk quite a distance on each side of the bridge. Saltstraumen is also known to be a great fishing spot at around the turn of the tide.

Here’s a funny story. At our BnB, we were offered fishing rods to plumb the depths of Saltstraumen. I was told to tackle this on an incoming tide and about 1.5 hours before slack water.

man fishing at a river
I was full of hope

With the timing right and after 2 hours of fruitless attempts, a couple of nearby Iraqi fishermen gestured me over. Obviously, I was a source of amusement.

The frequency of their catch was averaging about 1 fish a minute. Taking pity on me, they gave me two of their ‘Saithe‘ which they expertly cleaned and gutted in front of me.

I wasn’t too proud, I readily accepted, thanked them and called it a day retreating to the BnB kitchen to cook up a storm.

With the late setting of the sun, we were able to eat dinner and still have plenty of time to sit outside and watch the semi-darkness of early Autumn descend.

fishing boat on Saltstraumen at sunset
Saltstraumen sunset


So you can time your tides just right for the day of your visit including the speed of the incoming and outgoing tides, here’s a link to a Norwegian site, Barents.No.


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Just 28 km from Saltstraummen lies Bodo and the final stop on this Trondheim to Bodo road trip. The ferry plying the Lofoten Islands route to Å used Bodo as the main terminal.

If you have a little time, you can discover one more of the Artscape Nordland sculptures at the pier of the marina right in the centre of Bodo.

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

Although we didn’t have the time, you may choose to drive the 433 km Helgelandskysten Scenic Route, Norway’s longest scenic route, which crosses the Atlantic Ocean six times from mainland to mainland, beginning in Holm and ending in Godøystraumen, just south of Bodo.

>>> Next Road Trip – Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands


NoteWhen booking accommodation, some of the cheaper establishments do not include sheets and pillowcases as part of the standard booking and needs 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.


This part of Norway offers you the unique opportunities to visit both Torghatten and Saltstraumen, one of the world’s fastest tidal currents. With plenty of scenic driving, thought-provoking art and the crossing of the Arctic Circle, this journey is different in so many good ways.

If we did the trip again, we’d like to drive the Helgelandakysaten Scenic Route island hopping up the western Norway coast.

Have you completed this Trondheim to Bodo road trip or is it on your bucket list? 

Do you have any must-see attractions?

We’d really like to hear what you thought so feel free to drop a few words into the comment section below. 

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These are some of the travel resources we use when planning our trip and can recommend:

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

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