European Route E8: Nordkjosbotn – Tromsø
The most important long-distance connection and most popular route in the north of Norway is the European route E6. But in Nordkjosbotn we turn onto the European route E8, which takes us from Nordkjosbotn to Tromsø. And once again amazed us with their undramatic beauty.
We came a bit from the south on the European route E6 and reached the central town of Nordkjosbotn. After such a great distance, the North Cape is within reach for non-Scandinavians. However, we have been on the road for over a month and have planned a detour. Because this time Tromsø, my personal dream city, is firmly on the itinerary.
And so Nordkjosbotn is something like a traffic junction. Here the European route E6 cross to the north and the European route E8. The European route E8 leads north-west to Tromsø and south-east to Turku in southern Finland. In general, the border triangle Norway-Sweden-Finland is only a stone’s throw away.
We take a break at the petrol station below the church, Nordkjosbotn Kirke. We are not the only ones. In Norwegian petrol stations, the kiosk has a completely different status, here people really stop. The large parking area with the benches, right in the turning area at Europastraße E6 / Europastraße E8, invites you to do so.
Here we see the military convoy, which has loaded numerous mini-vehicles for patrols in the border area with Russia on its platforms, stops here just like some truck drivers on the long domestic journey. Because for many people, dream roads like Europastraße E6 or Europastraße E8 are simply a way to work.
We have a weakness for the Norwegian chocolate “Freya” and enjoy it with a coffee before we head towards Tromsø. It is now a few years ago that we have rested here and again and again we meet the well-known places the Nordkjosbotn.
But now we start, driving on the E8 towards Tromsø. It is now about 20 kilometers along the Balsfjorden until we reach Laksvatn. If only we didn’t have to be considerate of the people behind us, we would crawl down the route of the European route E8 before the beauty of this route.
On the right side the mountains rise up steeply, on the left side we drive on this section of the European route E8 exactly parallel to the Balsfjorden. Like a broad river, this fjord runs through the picturesque landscape with its snow-capped mountain peaks. Again and again you may stop and soak up this environment.
We stop at the small Nordkjosbotn rest area on the European route E8 and enjoy the magnificent panorama during another break. So far, the first few kilometers have led continuously upwards, we keep going under wide game bridges, which offer the reindeer and moose safe access to the Balsfjorden.
We discover a small country road close to the banks of the Balsfjorden, which runs parallel to the E8 to Laksvatn. Individual small farms are spread out on their slopes and operate on a modest scale. Despite all the idyll for us tourists, prosperity is not at home here. With this section of the European route E8 between Nordkjosbotn and Tromsø, we are moving around the foothills of the Arctic and the summer months are short here.
Nevertheless, in Laksvatn we turn off the European route E8 and drive back a little bit on the small country road, now at eye level with the Balsfjorden.
Why Balsfjorden and not Balsfjord? In Norwegian, the article is not preceded, but appended. A fjord is called “fjord” in Norwegian, the fjord is called “fjords” in Norwegian.
Due to the southern slope side, the areas get a lot of light and warmth at this point and so the farmers use the small areas below the Europastrasse E8 for pasture or modest agriculture. Of course, the typical boathouses from which you can go fishing should not be missing on the banks of the Balsfjorden.
At some point, after another break and walk, we return to the European route E8 and continue our journey towards Tromsø. Shortly after Laksvatn, the European route E8 leads through a wide gorge. Despite the midnight sun, she was already bathed in shade in the late afternoon. We have a little regret for the people who live here, but maybe they are already so used to the long darkness in winter that the shadow doesn’t bother them anymore.
In between, small rest areas on rushing mountain streams invite you to linger. We like to use that to replenish our water supplies and enjoy the fresh crystal clear water from the mountains. Others sit in this beautiful environment and grill their fish.
When you arrive in Sørbotn, you have the first caravan park. It shows the poor conditions outside the short season. So nothing for spoiled wild campers with golden taps. Anyway, from now on we drive along the Ford again in bright light, the snowy mountains near Tromsø are now within our grasp. We drive almost straight towards it. The European route E8 is now a few meters above the Balsfjorden, followed by the two small towns of Fagernes and Hundbergan.
In Hundbergan on Europastraße E8 you should give your children and yourself a break and visit the Tromsø mini zoo. Regional breeds in particular are at home here and want to be petted. The Tromsø mini zoo is rightly well received and offers a great break before you head straight out of the rather lonely landscape to the arctic city of Tromsø.
Now the European route E8 inevitably leads to Tromsø. The surroundings are so beautiful, just so beautiful that you hardly notice that you are already in Tromsø. The development along the European route E8 is becoming denser from now on and soon a huge, interrupted and not immediately recognizable roof stands out, which does not fit into the landscape. An industrial building? No, a mandatory stop that nobody will miss. Because we quickly get certainty: this is the Ishavskatedralen, the world-famous Arctic Cathedral Tromsø.
Now we are on the last few kilometers of the European route E8, soon it will lead through a tunnel under the fjord to the island of Tromsøya, into the center of Tromsø. Goal achieved. The destination is right in front of you.
For us, the European route E8 between Tromsø and Nordkjosbotn is one of the most beautiful routes in Norway. It should also be attractive if the planned rail link from Fauske to Tromsø is realized. But this is another story.