Norway // North Norway //

The road to Finnmark

Beyond Tromsø, the vast sweep of the northern landscape slowly unfolds, with silent fjords cutting deep into the coastline beneath ice-tipped peaks which themselves fade into the high plateau of the interior. This forbidding, elemental terrain is interrupted by the occasional valley, where those few souls hardy enough to make a living in these parts struggle on – often subsisting by dairy farming. Curiously enough, one particular problem for the farmers here has been the abundance of Siberian garlic (Allium sibiricum): the cows love the stuff – it tastes much more like a chive than garlic – but if they eat a lot of it, the milk they produce tastes of onions.

Slipping along the valleys and traversing the mountains in between, the E8 and then the E6 follow the coast pretty much all the way from Tromsø to Alta, some 410km – and about a seven-hour drive – to the north. Drivers can save around 100km (although not necessarily time and certainly not money) by turning off the E8 25km south of Tromsø onto Highway 91 – a quieter, even more scenic route, offering extravagant fjord and mountain views. Highway 91 begins by cutting across the rocky peninsula that backs onto Tromsø to reach the Breivikeidet–Svensby car ferry, a magnificent twenty-minute journey over to the glaciated Lyngen peninsula. From the Svendsby ferry dock, it’s just 24km over the Lyngen to the Lyngseidet–Olderdalen car ferry, by means of which you can rejoin the E6 at Olderdalen, some 220km south of Alta. This route is at its most spectacular between Svendsby and Lyngseidet, with the road nudging along a narrow channel flanked by the imposing peaks of the Lyngsalpene, or Lyngen Alps. Beyond Olderdalen, the E6 eventually enters the province of Finnmark as it approaches the hamlet of Langfjordboten, at the head of the long and slender Langfjord. Thereafter, the road sticks tight against the coast en route to Kåfjord.

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