The island of Senja sits northeast of Vesterålen, flanked by the Norwegian Sea, the Malangen fjord, the Gisundet strait and the Solbergfjorden.
The isle´s beautiful and amazingly varied landscape has led to it earning the nickname of “Norway in miniature”, because so many of the nation´s highlights can be seen in this single unique area. High mountains, like 1,237-metre-high Løksetind, fjords, valleys, colourful villages and bays make the island an unforgettable destination. The outer side of Senja is characterized by dramatic mountains, an idyllic archipelago and sandy beaches, while the inner side has a gentle landscape of rolling hills and birch forests.
Visitors enjoy exploring the natural beauty here on activities like cross-country skiing, sledding, fishing, kayaking and hiking. The area is rich in wildlife, and it is not uncommon to spot moose, eagles, seals and reindeer.
In addition, the Senja region features several museums; the Sami Museum in Kaperdalen, the Hofsøy Rural Museum and Kveitmuseet (the Halibut Museum), as well as the historic Senja Nickel Works at Hamn, where the world’s first hydroelectric power plant was built in 1882. Some of the most picturesque villages on Senja are found on the western coast. Husøy (House island) is surrounded by dramatic mountains. Mefjordvær hosts a handsome lighthouse and old structures in stunning landscape. Gryllefjord is the largest village on the west side and Torsken is an ancient centre with an 18th century church.
The History of Senja
The Old Norse form of Senja has an unknown provenance. It might be related to sundra which means to "tear" or "split apart". This may be a reference to the west coast, which is “torn” and split by small fjords. It might also be derived from a form of the word Sandijōn meaning "(area) of sand" or "sandy island".
There are early references to Vikings from the Senja area in some literature. In 890, the Anglo-Saxon king Alfred welcomed Ohthere (Ottar) from Halgoland (Hálogaland), calling himself “The Northernmost Norwegian”. He probably lived near Senja/Kvaløya. He apparently went to Britain to trade valuable Walrus tusks. He also describes his journeys in Finnmark and Bjarmaland where he traded with the locals and hunted whales. This provides a good picture of activity around Senja in Viking-Age Arctic Norway.