A few years ago, as part of my vacation to the Lofoten Islands, I made my first visit to Bodo. I arrived in Bodo via plane in the morning, ate lunch, and then boarded a ferry for Lofoten. My ferry arrived late at night on the way back, and I flew back to Oslo early the next morning. In other words, on my first visit to Bodo, I didn’t really see much of the city. I suppose I just didn’t think Bodo had that much to offer?
But this time, as I had a two-week road trip around Northern Norway planned, I thought, why not begin with a few days in Bodo? Though I didn’t know much about the city, a few of my friends had told me how awesome it is, so it sounded like it would be worth seeing.
I admired Bodo. Like, I could have happily stayed there for a lot longer, and I hope to go back there frequently in the future. Additionally, if you’re considering passing through the city, consider staying a bit. It will, I guarantee, be time well spent.
In reality, I’ve visited Bodo eight times since I first wrote this essay and have plans to return at least once more this winter. More information on visiting Bodo in the winter can be found here. Continue reading if you’re unsure about what to do in Bodo.
I’ve also compiled all my best advice in two 95-page ebooks if you’re planning a longer trip through Norway. They include my top picks for places to visit (both on and off the beaten path), the best seasons to visit, how long to stay, the best lodging options, transportation, what to eat, what to pack, and advice for creating a Norway itinerary that you’ll love. Here is where you can get my travel books on Norway.
Bodo is the northern end of the train line
Bodo is the ideal location if you want to see the Northern Lights or Midnight Sun but want to travel by rail because the train line in Norway doesn’t go all the way up north!
I traveled to Bodo for the first time on an overnight train from Oslo to Trondheim, which marked my first experience sleeping on a Norwegian train. The sleeper costs 930 kroner in addition to the cost of the ticket and accommodates two people (uncomfortably, even if you’re traveling alone, you must reserve the full compartment). As a result, if you’re traveling with a friend, I’d say it’s totally worthwhile! I’ve taken a number of sleepers over the years, but this was perhaps the greatest sleeping compartment I’ve ever encountered.
After that, I traveled from Trondheim to Bodo by train in the morning.
As I’ve traveled the train many times, I appreciated being able to sleep through the Oslo–Trondheim portion. However, I thought the Trondheim–Bodo leg of the trip was much more lovely. The route from Mosjoen to Bodo is, in my opinion, the most breathtaking section of the trip. Despite the lengthy trip—just over 23 hours from the time I boarded my bus in Rjukan to the time I arrived in Bodo—going by land allowed me to get a much greater sense of the nation. Furthermore, it is better for the environment!
The train station and airport are walking distance to the city
It may sound insignificant, but I appreciate that both Bodo’s train station and airport are easily accessible by foot from the city center, eliminating the need for taxis or buses (if you don’t want to). So practical!
Bodo’s street art
Bodo has a nice atmosphere, and I believe it’s in part because of the incredible street art that is strewn across the city’s core. The majority of the artwork is from UpNorth, a mobile art festival that specializes on urban art. International painters from the festival in 2016 decorated the downtown Bodo buildings on their sides.
A map of the UpNorth paintings can be found here, and following it will lead you on a pleasant stroll through the heart of Bodo.
I’ll just show you a couple of my favorites because I don’t want to give away the surprise:
The northern lights
The greatest place to observe the northern lights is someplace above the Arctic Circle, and I usually advise visitors to Norway who are looking to see the northern lights to go to Bodo or higher.
The fact that Bodo is surrounded by wilderness makes it easy to escape the city lights, and the town is small enough that there isn’t much light pollution in any case, makes it a fantastic place to view the northern lights.
The best places in Norway (and the Nordic countries) to see the northern lights, the best time to see them, my recommended northern lights accommodations, tour options, how to chase the northern lights (including which apps I use), how to photograph and film the northern lights, what to pack for your trip, and other thrilling Arctic activities to try on your trip are all covered in my in-depth ebook, which I’ve also written.
You may buy the ebook here if you want to guarantee that your journey to see the northern lights is as successful as it can be.
Bodo has a beautiful harbor
The harbor in the middle of Bod, which is one of Norway’s many lovely harbors, is probably one of my favorites. With its stunning mountain backdrop, the harbor is particularly gorgeous and bustling throughout the day.
You can travel back in time on Kjerringoy
Kjerringoy, which has an alpine landscape and white sand beaches, is located 30 minutes outside of Bodo and is definitely worth a visit. In addition, Kjerringoy is the location of the Kjerringoy Trading Station, the best-preserved trading post from the 1800s in Norway.
As I looked about, I had the impression that I had gone back in time.
Bodo is surrounded by some of Norway’s most beautiful beaches
The lackluster nature around the city of Trondheim was one of my primary grievances with living there (I mean, only by Norwegian standards). Definitely not an issue with Bodo. In comparison to the mountains I’m used to seeing in southern Norway, the mountains around Bodo are far more spectacular, and even on overcast days, the beaches appear positively tropical.
I stopped at Mjelle beach, which is renowned for its reddish sand, on my way back from Kjerringoy. Even though the beach is very accessible and only a short walk from the Mjelle parking lot, it still feels far away. In fact, it’s difficult to realize that Bodo’s city center is only a 30-minute drive away.
Saltstraumen, the greatest maelstrom in the world, is located around thirty kilometers outside of Bodo. Huge whirlpools up to 10 meters in diameter and 4-5 meters deep are produced by water flowing through the 150 meter wide and 3 kilometer long sound that connects Saltfjord and Skjerstadfjord. Here, you may find out when the whirlpools will be the most powerful.
Although I had been quite eager to witness the whirlpools, I was taken aback by how lovely Saltstraumen’s surroundings are as well. You’ll see a lot of fishing boats because it’s a large fishing location, and the bridge from where you can view Saltstraumen is also very picturesque due to the spectacular mountain backdrop.
After a two-week holiday, I actually came back to Saltstraumen to spend the night before my flight back to Oslo at the Saltstraumen Hotel. And the view over the bridge and the whirlpools below was breathtaking from the hotel’s parking lot! If you can, definitely check it out.
Cool bars and restaurants
Even if the weather is not optimal when you visit Bodo, you can still have a great day indoors because the city has so many fantastic bars and eateries.
The Hundholmen brewery and gastropub, which has a tremendously lively ambiance, is where I had dinner. I got the burger, which was fantastic and so popular that it felt like everyone else had done the same.
I also peeked inside Dama di, which has a pretty hip vibe. Like, I would definitely want to hang out there if I lived in Bodo.
Where to stay in Bodo
One of my favorite hotel stays over the entire trip was at the Thon Hotel Nordlys, which is located right in the heart of the city. The breakfast buffet was amazing, and my suite had a view of the bay. Even a chocolate fountain was available! Try your absolute hardest to stay here if you can. In fact, I’ve returned numerous more times and remained here. View pricing and availability right now.
The Saltstraumen Hotel is a great wonderful alternative if you want to be somewhere calmer but still with easy access to Bodo. I stayed there the night before my flight out of Bodo. The hotel’s outstanding waterfront setting with a view of the Saltstraumen Bridge was unquestionably its best feature. View pricing and availability right now.
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