Norway Bodo Summer HGR 163732 Photo Kent Evan Grundstad

Bodø – the perfect whirlpool of culture, countryside, and sea

The world’s strongest tidal current, the Northern Lights, the Midnight Sun, and an exciting cultural vibe.

The capital of Nordland county, Bodø lies just north of the Arctic Circle. With few mountains to block the sun from the south, Bodø is the lightest city in the world, based on the number of daylight hours it basks in every year.

Visit Bodø with Hurtigruten

MS Nordlys Norway HGR 110576 Photo Competition

NORTHBOUND on The Coastal Express

In port: 2 hours 15 mins

MS Richard With Bodo Norway HGR 65967 Photo Competition

SOUTHBOUND on The Coastal Express

In port: 1 hour

How Bodø came to be

Like many places along Norway’s coast, Bodø owes its existence to the sea, especially the unusually abundant stocks of fish and seabirds in the Saltenfjord.

The town was established in 1816 and for many years it was known for its military air base and war heritage. In 1940, German planes destroyed two-thirds of the town’s buildings. Twenty years later, Bodø played a prominent role in one of the most famous events of the Cold War, when an American spy plane stationed here was shot down by the Soviet Union.

In 2022, Bodø Air Station closed after more than 80 years of service, leaving Bodø to reinvent itself – something this Arctic city has become very good at over the centuries.

Since the closure was announced, Bodø has built itself a reputation around its culture. “Bodø is now a cool city with nice restaurants, nice bars, surrounded by beautiful nature,” says Raymond Limstrand Jakobsen, Sales Manager at Wood Hotel and life-long Bodø resident.

For Craig Alibone, an Englishman who moved to Bodø 10 years ago and owner of Craig Alibone Pâtisserie & Champagneria, culture and a sense of togetherness is part of Bodø’s essence. “There's live music on all the time. It's played at different cafés and restaurants all over town, as part of various festivals and events.”

In 2024, Bodø’s cultural status reaches new heights as it takes its place as European Capital of Culture.

Bodø today

Thanks to its contrasting Arctic seasons, that cultural spirit, and a lively student population, Bodø is a dynamic place. Colorful murals decorate the streets. Its café and restaurant scene is thriving, and there’s a wide array of cultural venues.

The surrounding countryside has its charms, too. “My favorite thing to do, like a lot of people in Bodø, is hiking,” says Raymond. “The surrounding mountains and coastline are good for hiking, whether you want something easier or prefer steeper routes. The mountains are very close to the city, which is compact, so you can quickly and easily get into the mountains and woods and feel like you're all alone.”

Lars Lysfjord, 1st Mechanic on Hurtigruten’s MS Kong Harald and secretary of Amcar Bodø, prefers to spend summer days cruising in his Pontiac. “The scenery of mountains, green woods, and waters is just beautiful. The curvy roads make winters a hassle but summers fun!”

5 things to do in Bodø

Saltstraumen Bodo Norway HGR 135821 Photo Shutterstock

1. Visit Saltstraumen

The world’s strongest tidal current rushes through a strait just across the Saltfjord from Bodø. More than 14 million cubic feet of water pass through this nearly 500-foot-wide, 2-mile-long strait every six hours, at speeds of up to 20 knots.

“I highly recommend doing the Saltstraumen RIB tour,” says Raymond. “It’s a unique experience. You learn a lot about how Norway was made. The icing on the cake is the maelstrom. It's mesmerizing to see and feel its power. You get tons of respect for the water and that's something we learn from an early age here. We are dependent of the ocean and we respect it.”

Opening ceremony of Bodø2024 - European Capital of Culture. Photo by: MarieNystad/Bodø2024

2. Celebrate Bodø’s turn as European Capital of Culture 2024

Join one of 1,000+ events planned for the year. Highlights include the new Sápmi Triennial Sámi contemporary art exhibition, the light installations of Nordland by Light, and ÁRRAN 360°, where original 360-degree films from leading Sámi filmmakers are projected in a giant lávvu.


3. Look out for sea eagles

The seas and skerries around Bodø shelter the largest population of sea eagles in the world. With wing spans of around eight miles, these impressive creatures are the largest bird of prey in northern Europe.

Bodo Summer HGR 163710 Leon Karlsen Johannessen

4. Take a stroll

Raymond recommends walking the harbour promenade from your ship. “One of the most popular things to do in Bodø on Sundays is to take a walk out on the pier and to the end of the quay. You get to a beautiful spot where you can view the skyline of the city.”

Craig suggests strolling around the city and going to the top of the Scandic Havet Hotel: “There are beautiful views of the whole city from Roast Restaurant on the 17th floor.”

landegode Bodo Norway HGR 147659 Andreas Kalvig Anderson

5. Visit the Norwegian Aviation Museum

“I remember going here as a child with my school,” says Lars. “There are many planes to see. You can go up the tower, have a go on simulators, and play games.” It’s a great place to learn all about Norway’s aviation history, from World War II stories to the famous American spy plane shot down over Bodø during the Cold War.

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Visitors to Bodø tell me they feel that we Bodøværings are positive people. It’s true. We walk with our backs straight and our heads up. We have a can-do attitude. We are proud. And we are really happy when people visit us. We like to talk and understand where you come from. We are known for our hospitality.

Raymond Limstrand Jakobsen

Sales Manager at Wood Hotel and life-long Bodø resident

What is the weather like in Bodø?


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“In Bodø, every season has its charms, but I like September, when it’s still warm during the day but getting darker at night,” Raymond tells us. “You can create a cozy atmosphere with candlelight and good wine, it’s warm enough to sit outside at night, and Northern Lights season has started. You get the both the best of both worlds.”

Bodø summers are warm, with the Midnight Sun hanging in the sky from June 2 to July 10. Or, as Lars jokes: “I love the northern Norwegian summer! It’s the best week of the year!”

In winter, the Northern Lights come out to play. Bodø is directly under the Auroral Oval and on clear nights between September and April, you stand a good chance of watching the Lights dance overhead.

In fact, the aurora appear so frequently here that Craig, tells us, “It's one of those things where you have to give yourself a bit of a slap because you almost get so used to it. But when I do take that minute to go outside and have a look it’s incredible and I’m always amazed.”

Bodo Norway HGR 148387 Raymond Engmark

Getting to Bodø from your ship

As you sail into Bodø port, to the west you’ll see the tiny islands of Store Hjartøya and Lille Hjartøya sheltering your approach. To the east is the city.

You might catch a glimpse of Bodø’s distinctive cathedral, in the city center. Completed in 1956, it was one of the first in Norway to have a detached steeple. Behind the harbor, filled with yacht masts clacking in the breeze, you can see the gleaming structure of Stormen Concert Hall.

And as you're never far from the water in Bodø, it’s easy to walk into the city center from the port.

Excursions in Bodø

You can see Bodø and head into the surrounding countryside and coastline on an excursion.

Neighboring ports of call

Ørnes is a small town located by the North sea

Previous port – Ørnes

The Norwegian port town of Stamsund

Next port – Stamsund