things to do in andenes lighthouse andoya travel guide

Andenes Travel Guide to Vesteralen’s Northernmost City

Welcome to Andenes, a picturesque coastal town nestled in the Vesterålen archipelago of Norway. Known for its stunning natural beauty and unique wildlife encounters, Andenes offers a blend of pristine landscapes and exciting outdoor adventures. If you love the outdoors, you will be spoilt of choice of things to do in Andenes. So if you are seeking breathtaking vistas, thrilling marine experiences, or a serene escape into nature be ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of this enchanting destination.

Disclosure: is reader-supported. When you make a reservation through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost for you. That will help me keep the blog up and running. Thank you!

Table of Contents

Things to do in Andenes

Take part in Whale Watching Expeditions

Andenes is one of the best places in the world for whale watching. Joining a whale safari to witness these gentle giants is one of the best things to do in Andenes! The different species you may see are sperm whales, orcas, and humpbacks, as they migrate through the Arctic waters.

Whale Safaris are an amazing experience, but before going take note of a few tips that will let you enjoy the tour:

  • Dress warmly and in layers. People traveling in Summer may think the weather will be temperate. Forget about that! Remember that you are out in the open and the winds may be strong and freezing. The tours are long so there may be moments where you will feel warmer, hence dress in layers.
  • Bring your seasick pills. Even if you don’t usually suffer from this, I strongly advise you to bring them. In many cases they will save your trip and let you enjoy the ride. Another option are seasickness bracelets also.
  • Be prepared to spend more time in the sea than you could wish for. Whale tours often have a 100% whale guarantee. That means that if you are unable to admire the cetaceans on your tour, you will either get a refund or the possibility to embark on another tour the following day. If you aren’t lucky and whales aren’t around, the “hunt” for whales could last long, sometimes even 6 hours or more. Just in case prepare a snack in the rare case the summer tour ends beyond restaurants and supermarket opening hours.

Climb on top of Andenes Lighthouse

Andenes Lighthouse is one of Andoya’s most famous landmarks. The 40 meters cast iron structure was completed in 1859 and until today it is one of the highest lighthouses in Norway and also one of the most visited.

To visit the lighthouse and benefit from an incredible view of Andenes and its surroundings, you will have to go to the neighboring Andøy Museum. The Museum features items from everyday life of the fishermen who live in Vesteralen and more generally in Arctic Norway, as well as historical objects. It also has a very nice shop where you can buy typical items, including reindeer, whale, and moose salami.

Note: the visit to the Andenes lighthouse is a must when in town, but if you suffer from vertigo you should consider not going because of the internal steps are quite steep.

Check out schedules and prices on their website.

things to do in andenes lighthouse

Discover the Andøya National Tourist Route

One of the most captivating experiences in Andenes is taking a scenic drive along the Andøya National Tourist Route. This breathtaking route spans approximately 58 kilometers (36 miles) and winds its way through some of the most stunning coastal landscapes in Norway.

One of the highlights of the Andøya National Tourist Route are the dramatic coastal cliffs that rise majestically from the sea, which are so typical in Northern Norway. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the breathtaking views. You may take some awesome photos along the way, just remember to set your camera speed to at least 1/500. Keep an eye on the beautiful red fishermen cabins also known as rorbuers, and the panoramic points along the way.

The Andøya National Tourist Route runs all along the island and if you have the chance you might travel to both sides. Amazing beaches and dramatic cliffs are waiting along the way. Although there is a curios place to visit, one of the most expensive toilets in the world: Bukkekjerka.

This special toilet was very challenging to build as it’s on an irregular ground. The view is amazing and you can even walk around and join the small lighthouse a little further. Talking about a toilet with a view! If you are coming from Andenes it’s just a few minutes after Andøya Space Launchpad.

bukkerkjerka andoya national tourist route things to do in andenes

Go Hiking in Måtind

Lace up your boots and embark on one of the most epic trails of your lifetime on Måtinden. The hike is considered one of the most beautiful in Vesteralen because of the panoramic view of the rugged coastline.

The hike itself isn’t particularly difficult, but wear adapted shoes as the ground is rocky. The distance is 3.6 kilometers and can be covered in a time lapse between 2 and a half and 4 hours.

Also wear warm clothes and bring a waterproof cloak as the weather changes rapidly and even in summer it can be windy on top. During summer the summit becomes a very popular campsite under the midnight sun.

Photo from Credits to Ente 68.

Relax at Bleik Beach

Bleik is a small fishing village in the North West of Andoya, nestled between the dramatic peaks of Bleik. What makes it stand out from the rest of the villages around is its pristine white sand beach.

Challenge yourself by taking a dip in the freezing waters (they are chill even in summer!) or simply enjoy a peaceful walk on the shore. Andoya island, and Vesteralen in general, are less touristy than Lofoten so you can enjoy some quiet time.

bleik beach bleiksoya bleikstranda things to do in andenes

Discover the Puffin Colony on Bleiksøya

If you are visiting Bleik in the right season (from mid-April to August) a puffin safari is a must activity! The area is full of sea birds including the magnificent sea eagles, that you can easily observe in Svolvaer, and of course puffins.

Rising about 500 meters from the coast, Bleiksøya Natural Reserve is a small island that welcomes many different species of sea birds. It’s also one of the best places in Norway to observe the puffin colonies and learn more about their habits. These cute little birds come on the coasts after spending the cold months into the open sea, to breed.

puffin colonies bleiksoya thinkgs to do in andenes

Explore the Andøya Space Center

Embark on a journey of space exploration at Andøya Space Center in Andenes. The historic site has already launched several sounding rockets for scientific purposes and soon a new launchpad will welcome its first launch the provisional date is the end of 2023. When coming from Bleik you can see the new launchpad in construction.

If you are interested in learning more about Northern Lights and space exploration you can visit Spaceship Aurora their museum. With the different options for the tickets you can either visit the Northern Lights exhibit or embark on a Mars adventure (ideal especially for kids).

If you have the chance, the real game changer is attending a sounding rocket launch. To know about the upcoming events you can check out Andøya Space Twitter Page or contact them directly.

Personal note: Having worked 8 years at Guiana Space Center, I know a thing or two about Space Centers. So if you have visited other sites around the world you may be disappointed as Andøya is a small size launch base.

andoya spaceport aurora space things to do in andenes

Enjoy Local Cuisine

Norway is very expensive when it comes to food, but there are definitely some must-try when in Vesteralen. You don’t have to go to the restaurant every day but I’d definitely recommend to test the whale steak (it taste similarly to liver) and reindeer stew.

In Andenes there is a very good restaurant Dag Ivar Lund Lysthuset Sørvesten, although be prepared the owner isn’t very friendly! But the food is indeed delicious. If you have some space left after lunch try the S*x on the mountain dessert, it comes with a postcard that you have eaten it. It’s two balls of ice cream with a biscuit, quite explicit presentation also!

Another very good restaurant is Arrensten, the service is a bit slow but their Bacalao (stockfish) is excellent. Their desserts are also very good and there is a large choice.

When eating out, especially at dinner don’t forget to make a reservation before arriving. Restaurants gets packed pretty quickly and you may wait even several minutes before getting a table.

whale steak things to eat in norway
The excellent whale steak.

When is the best time to visit?

The Andenes is a year-round destination, with each season offering its own unique charm. In the summer months, the route is bathed in the soft glow of the midnight sun, providing extended daylight hours to enjoy the scenic drive. In autumn, the landscape slightly change into red, orange, and gold nuances as the trees foliage changes.

Winter snow brings a magical atmosphere, with the possibility of witnessing the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky. This is honestly my favorite season to visit.

While late spring awakens the countryside after the snow is melted and returning migratory birds (like the adorable puffins!), adding a touch of vibrancy to the journey. Although if you want to admire the mighty see eagles the best season is winter as they are more active.

best time to visit vesteralen things to do in andenes

How to Get to Andenes

On Andoya there is only one small airport which is in Andenes. Getting there from Oslo is very easy, you will have to change plane in Tromso but normally when booking flights on Wideroe or SAS the itinerary is automatically prepared for you.

Where to Stay

There a few hotels to choose from in Andenes, all quite simple and clean. We stayed in Marena. The rooms are correct size and the service is efficient. And it’s close to the lighthouse and the whale safari tours. Another great option is Grønnbuene Rorbu Hotel that is situated in the harbor.

where to stay in andenes Grønnbuene Rorbu Hotel
Grønnbuene Rorbu Hotel

How to move around

Vesteralen and Lofoten are perfect for a road trip. Renting a car is quite essential to enjoy the adventure at your pace. We rented with Discovercars, prices aren’t cheap but unfortunately due to the remoteness of the place there isn’t much of a choice, unless you go with you own car.

When renting a car to select Andenes airport look for Andoya Airport (ANX). Remember to be precise about the timing of your arrival, the airport is very small and there are a few cars, if you don’t reserve in advance you may remain stranded.

Adventure is awaiting you in Vesterålen!

Andenes is a hidden gem in the Norwegian wilderness, offering a wealth of unforgettable experiences for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Are you looking into planning a trip to Lofoten and Vesterålen? We have planned the perfect road trip to Lofoten. The best part? You can easily add a few more days on Andoya’s island, just like we did!

Have you liked this post? Sharing is caring!

Scroll to Top