Bodo is at the end of the train line in northern Norway, the railway literally ends at this little metropolis that sits amongst the fjords of Norway’s northwest coast just inside the Arctic Circle.
The city of Bodo is often overlooked as a place to visit and is used more as a pit stops en route to other parts of Norway. It is, after all, one of the two gateways to the Lofoten Islands and the islands of Rost and Vaeroya, which are all worth a visit, but you should consider spending a few days in Bodo too.
There are so many things to do in Bodo Norway that, no matter the season, that you could have no minutes to spare if you wanted to. The city is covered in amazing street art, there are great restaurants, fantastic places to stay, it’s full of great shops, and it hosts many an awesome festival.
We have even covered the stunning coastline, landscapes, and nature surrounding Bodo yet, and they’re all just as jaw-dropping as the rest of Norway, so what’s not to love? Here are the best things to do in Bodo, Norway.
If you’re wondering what a maelstrom is, it’s pretty much a giant whirlpool of current in the ocean and the largest one in the world, called Saltstraumen, is just a rib safari away from Bodo.
The Saltstraumen is so powerful, sometimes the currents inside it can reach 20 knots. If you don’t know what 20 knots is, if you have ever been what felt quite fast on a boat, that’s 20 knots and this current can pump at that speed – quite incredible to witness!
A rib safari to Saltstraumen lasts just 2 hours. You’re driven to the maelstrom by professional English-speaking guides who can answer all your questions and you get to see the amazing views of the dramatic landscapes from the sea, which is one of the best ways to relate to the sheer size and ruggedness of the wilderness.
Sometimes the Saltstraumen can be in vortexes around 8 meters wide and the sheer power is something that has to be seen to be believed. The rib will take you within a few meters of Saltstraumen, but still at a safe distance, of course. It’s quite something to behold and a ‘must’ thing to do in Bodo.
The Norway Aviation Museum in Bodo is a great thing to do in Bodo if you’re traveling with kids or are into planes and their history. It’s actually Norway’s national aviation museum and it spans a whopping 10km squared, so be careful as you can get lost in there for the day quite easily.
There are impressive exhibitions of the history of aviation, you can walk around some of the most iconic military planes such as a CF-104 Starfighter, Spitfire, Ju 88, and even the famous U-2 spy plane. They also showcase commercial planes that worked in air freight or as passenger planes such as the Twin Otter, Ju 52, and Fokker F.28 Fellowship.
For the kids, and the adults, there is a How Do You Fly workshop where you can actually learn the basics of flying. If that hasn’t kept you entertained, you can stroll over to the Red Arrow Simulator and experience just how it feels to fly around in an RAF Red Arrow during one of their acrobatic displays. It really is off the charts and it feels pretty real, so don’t eat too much beforehand.
The museum is open every day, all year round, and is pretty affordable. Entry costs just 120 NOK per adult, 60 NOK per child, or it’s 330 NOK for the whole family.
Just north of Bodo, a little way up the road, you’ll start to stumble on white-sand beaches that look like they should be in the Caribbean instead of so far north in Norway. They are absolutely stunning and a great place to spend the day when the weather is warm.
You can take a refreshing dip in the sea, have a picnic, build a fire, and even camp out for the night on the beaches. Some of the best ones to head to are the beaches of Lopsvika, Storausa, and Mjelle.
Both Lopsvika and Storausa are accessible by car but to get to Mjelle beach you’re going to have to hike in and when you do, it’s worth camping for the night. The beach creates a kind of enclosed pool of azure blue sea which is wonderful to see and to swim around.
Bodo is home to the largest population of sea eagles in the world and if you like birds, there is no other way to see them than by going on a rib safari to find them. These majestic birds have a wingspan of up to over 2.5 meters which makes them incredibly easy to spot.
Sea eagles aren’t the only birds to see either. You’ll also probably see some puffins (my favorite) and eider ducks. Outside of birds, there is, of course, a chance of seeing some sea life too. Whales and dolphins are common in the winter while white dolphins are common in the summer. Seals are also a likely spot.
You’ll hop on a rib similar to the one that would take you to see the maelstrom and the tour lasts around 2-3 hours. The crew is fully licensed, excellent at their job, and incredibly knowledgeable about the area. Plus there is no better way to gaze upon the mountains falling into the sea than from a boat. Going on Sea Eagle Safari is one of the best things to do in Bodo plus you can combine it with a trip to see the Saltstraumen too.
Being just inside the Arctic Circle, Bodo is a great place to see the northern lights from and it’s far more convenient to get to compared to the other famous viewing spots that are much further north. Of course, you do have to be in Bodo during the winter to search for them, and brave the almost 24-hour darkness – it’s fun and worth it.
You might get lucky and be able to see them yourself by driving outside of town, away from the light pollution, on a clear night and hoping they show up. But, the best way to guarantee seeing the northern lights is by booking a tour.
The guides who run the northern lights tours are trained Aurora Borealis hunters and they can predict where and when the lights are going to show up based on the weather conditions. You’ll hop on board a minibus at around 8 pm, and search for the Northern lights and be back in Bodo at around 11 pm/12 am.
On the way, you can ask your guides any questions you have and they’ll explain just how the lights form and dance across the night sky. During the journey, you’ll be served tea, coffee, and snacks to keep you warm. Be sure to dress for the occasion – warm clothes with hats, scars, gloves – anything you have to block the cold out is a must.
During the summer, the region of Bodo experiences 24-hour daylight and this is when you’ll have a chance to see the Midnight Sun. Luckily, it’s not like the northern lights in such a way that you don’t need to hunt for it, it’s very predictable and you can see it every day if you want to.
The Midnight Sun describes the time of day in Arctic Circle when the sun attempts to set but instead of fully setting, simply rises again. This gives you sunrise and sunset all in one sitting and all the amazing colors in the sky that go with it. If you love sunset and/or sunrise, then the Midnight Sun will be a thing to do in Bodo during the summer on a daily basis.
To see the Midnight Sun you just need to be looking out west over the sea at the right time which is usually around midnight, depending on the day. Hiking up a hill or sitting on a beach are my favorite places to watch it from.
This is no more of an intimate way to spend time on the ocean than under your own steam while paddling a kayak, and Bodo is a spectacular place to do it. The area is well protected from wind and high seas, so you’re usually paddling around in calm waters that are so clear so you can see 20 meters down quite easily.
Just a short paddle from Bodo harbor you’ll find the islands of Store Hjartoya, Litle Hjartoya, and Eholmen, and the best way to see them is from a kayak. You can find hidden coves, pull up on beaches that you can only get to by kayak or boat, and try your luck at spotting some of the famous sealife and birdlife yourself.
The best place to paddle to is the southern side of Store Hjartoya and luckily it’s one of the shortest paddles too. The area is stunning, full of coves, peninsulas, and white-sand beaches for you to explore in your Kayak.
You might be surprised to hear that Bodo has got come Michelin level cuisine and visiting some of the incredible restaurants on offer is a thing you must do in Bodo.
If you don’t mind spending a few kroner then head on over to LystPå. This restaurant has a laidback atmosphere without much pretentiousness that usually comes with pricey restaurants and amazing food. Their traditional dishes are off the charts such as the Stockfish, but to be honest, everything will probably blow your mind.
They also have an amazing cheese collection on offer, some of the best in the world, and their wine list is nothing to be wary of, with over 150 different labels, they will be able to cater to your tastes.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little more down-to-earth to eat in Bodo then head to Hundholmen. Hundholmen is a pub, a microbrewery, and a great restaurant all in one but what is going to really keep you there is the location and the vibe.
This is where all the locals hang out and it has such friendly energy to it you’ll never want to leave. If you’re a beer fan, you’re in luck, there are loads to try plus they have more grapa than anywhere in Norway. The food is also excellent and is homey pub food such as burgers, steaks, and deliciously local options like fish soup.
If this wasn’t enough, it’s also right on the harbor in Bodo overlooking the sea. If you’re there in the summer, it’s a great place to watch the Midnight Sun from.
If you’re into hiking then you will love Bodo. The town is surrounded by mountains and so many of them are accessible from hikes staring in the city. If you’re only going to do one hike while you’re in Bodo then make sure you climb up Mount Rønvikfjellet at the northern end of the city.
The hike up Mount Rønvikfjellet isn’t very strenuous, you can do it in just a few hours and the rewards are very much worth it. The view from the top looks straight out over the city of Bodo and into the ocean. You can see all the islands off the coast, and behind you are views of the stunning mountains of the area.
You can do this hike in both winter and summer and it’s a fantastic spot to see the Midnight Sun from and to try your luck at seeing the Northern Light without a guide.
As you can see, Bodo has pretty much everything that Norway has to offer, and some. Plus there are so many things to do in Bodo that we have only really just scratched the surface with the above. If you’re thinking of a trip to Norway, then make sure you stop off in Bodo for a few days.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!