Norway // Trondheim to the Lofoten islands //

The Kystriksveien Coastal Route on Highway 17

Branching off the E6 just beyond Steinkjer, the tortuous Kystriksveien (
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rv17.no) – the coastal route along Highway 17 – threads its way up the west coast, linking many villages that could formerly only be reached by sea. This is an obscure and remote corner of the country, but apart from the lovely scenery there’s little of special appeal, and the seven ferry trips that interrupt the 688-kilometre drive north to Bodø (there are no through buses) make it expensive and time-consuming in equal measure. A free booklet describing the route can be obtained at tourist offices throughout the region – including Mo – and it contains all Highway 17’s car-ferry timetables.

Conveniently, the stretch of Highway 17 between Mo-i-Rana and Bodø takes in most of the scenic highlights, can be negotiated in a day, and cuts out five of the ferry trips. To sample this part of the route, drive 35km west from Mo along Highway 12 to the Highway 17 crossroads, from where it’s some 60km north to the Kilboghamn–Jektvik ferry (June–Aug every 1–2hr, Sept–May 3–5 daily Mon–Fri & Sun; 1hr; driver and car 158kr;
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hurtigruten.no) and a further 30km to the ferry linking Ågskardet with Forøy (roughly every hour; 10min; driver and car 63kr). On the first ferry you cross the Arctic Circle with great views down and along the beautiful Melfjord, and on the second, after arriving at Forøy, you get a chance to see a westerly arm of the Svartisen glacier, viewed across the slender Holandsfjord.

For an even closer look at the glacier, stop at the information centre in Holand, 12km beyond Forøy, and catch the passenger boat (late May to early Sept Mon–Fri 8am–9pm, Sat & Sun 11am–5.30pm, every 1hr–1hr 30min; 10min; 60kr return;
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99 40 30 00), which zips across the fjord to meet a connecting bus; this travels the kilometre or so up to the Svartisen Turistsenter (
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75 75 11 00,
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svartisen.no), from where it’s another 2km to the glacier. The Turistsenter has a café, rents cabins from 990kr a night, and is the base for four-hour guided glacier walks (mid-June to mid-Aug only; prior booking is essential; 600kr).

From Holand, it’s 140km to the Saltstraumen and 30km more to Bodø.

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