The Vega islands and archipelago were UNESCO listed in 2004 and became the first Norwegian cultural landscape achieving this recognition. The listing of Vega is a tribute to generations of farmers and fisherman’s sustainable way of living on the islands through the last 1500 years. It is also a tribute to the women’s contribution. They were tending and collecting eider down and eggs while the men went to sea. Eider down became a unique and valuable export item from Norway to Europe. To make the best down quilts in the world!
Parts of the main island Vega is protected by the world heritage status. This is where the remaining of the presumably oldest settlements in Norway can be found. The oldest is approx. 11,000 years old – drawing the long lines back in history.
Vega World Heritage Center
The World Heritage Center was built in 2019 and is located on the northern side of the main island Vega, at Gardsøya. The exhibition in the center tells the story of the Vega islands – from the Stone Age and up until today. You get to learn about the life of the islanders and about the tradition of eider tending. Once a day there is a guided tour you can join. You can also enjoy the exhibition alone – together with a ‘portable audio guide’.
What to see and do
In addition to the exhibition in the World Heritage Center, you will also find a café, gift shop and the official tourist office in the same building. There is also a nature trail around the building, and spread around the islands you will find 18 marked hiking trails. For the center’s opening hours and café booking, check their website.
In addition to guided tours arround the islands, you can even paddle among them. A quick Google search for “Vega rent kayak” gave me a number of places to rent.
With a canoe or kayak, you can experience the old fishing hamlets, Skjærvær and Bremstein. On the brink of the open ocean, the island of Lånan with all its eider houses, Hysvær with its well-kept cultural landscape. Skogsholmen and its outstanding plant life, or Tåvær where Øverstua, the oldest house in the Vega Archipelago, stands.
Vegatrappa (the Vega stairs) is also a popular tourist attraction. All in all, more than 30.000 tourists visit Vega every summer.
How to get there
From the mainland, you can take a ferry to Igerøy (Vega) from three different ferry piers. If you come from south and Brønnøysund, Horn is the closest. Coming from north and Sandnessjøen, you can leave from Tjøtta, or a bit further south, from Andalsvågen. All ferry connections are operated by ‘Torhatten Midt’. Their website is in Norwegian only, so you need to find your departure based on the location names I listed above.
In the area
If you pay Vega a visit, also be aware of nearby attractions like the mountain ‘Torghatten’ with a hole through it, and the stunning ‘Seven sisters’ – seven mountain peaks in a row. (Both locations on my To-Do-List, coming soon!)