Sortland is one of those places you can’t compare to any other spot on the globe. Well within the Arctic Circle, Norway’s Blue City is exactly what it sounds like: a town full of blue buildings. But the reason why they’re blue is the most interesting part of it all.
We can thank an artist named Bjørn Elvenes who lives in Sortland for the idea. At the end of the 1990s, it became clear that the city needed an overhaul. It was Elvenes who suggested that the town come together to paint the buildings blue. Since then, the colorful structures and city walls have gained poems and verses by both famed Norwegian poet Lars Saabye Christensen and locals.
But it’s more than a pretty city; there’s plenty of industry and outdoor activities in Sortland worthy of a trip in itself. If you’re looking to try the most regional dish possible, order the fish balls. Not only are they a staple in the Norwegian diet, but the arctic waters around Sortland are home to some of the best cod for the dish.
Of course, the nature in this region is not to be left off the must-see list. And it’s quite impossible to miss. The time of year that you visit is something to carefully consider, depending on what you’re looking to do. Like many Arctic destinations, the sun is up for most—if not all—of the day during the summer. In the winter months, the days are short and nighttime Northern Lights shows are abundant. Hiking, cycling, kayaking, rafting, and climbing all are popular activities during the summer. Snowshoeing, skiing, dogsledding, and ice fishing are what you’ll find locals partaking in during the colder months.
With the famous Lofoten Islands to the south, Sortland is easily overlooked, especially when it comes to those hunting the Northern Lights. But you can escape the crowds and experience a town that is more art project than anything else.