The drive between Vesterålen’s two main settlements is one of Northern Norway’s most atmospheric, its wild and isolated coasts evoking both desolation and surpreme awe. Although Andenes lies northwest of Harstad, it’s reached by heading south out of town along the E10, then it’s 50km southwest along the fjord to the turning for the Lødingen ferry and a further 50km to the bridge that spans the sound over to Sortland. On the near side of this Sortland bridge, Highway 82 begins its 100-kilometre trek north, snaking along the craggy edge of Hinnøya island before crossing a second bridge over to humdrum Risøyhamn, the only Hurtigruten stop on Andøya, the most northerly of the Vesterålen islands. Beyond Risøyhamn, the scenery is much less dramatic, as the mountains give way to hills in the west and a vast, peaty moor in the east. Highway 82 strips across this moorland and, despite offering panoramic views of the mountains back on the mainland, it’s an uneventful journey on to Andenes. If you have time to spare, consider taking the more scenic route along the west coast of Andøya, branching off from Highway 82 just past Risøyhamn to pass through a series of tiny villages like Nordmela, Stave and Bleik (see Puffin safaris).

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