No No, I'm quite certain that the place I'm presenting you today is the most magical place in the world for sure!
Back in October when I published the first picture of Saltstraumen on Instagram though, people said that it looked incredibly dramatic and frightening and although I agree that this maelstrom looks like the abyss from above - especially on a foggy day - it is one of those places in Norway that everyone should have on their bucket list.
What is Saltstraumen?
Saltstraumen is the strongest tidal current in the world where you can experience whirlpools (or maelstroms) bigger than 10 metres. But back to the basics. The so called Saltstraumen is a small strait situated between the island of Straumøya and mainland Norway, about 10 kilometres from Bodø, the city I told you about last week.
There is a little village called Saltstraumen too, right next to the tidal current and some people are even lucky enough to live with a view of the current.
Anyway, at Saltstraumen about 400 million cubic metres of water from the ocean is pressed through and out of the 150 metre wide strait every six hours at low or high tide. The water hereby gets as fast as 40 km/h which leads to whirlpools in the strait.
These whirlpools can reach a diameter of up to 10 metres though most likely only during high tide when the water comes into the strait.
We visited the place during low tide and even though the whirlpools were already quite spectacular, they definitely weren't that big.
You should visit Saltstraumen anyway though, even if you don't make it to high or low tide. The area around the strait is already breath-taking without any whirlpools. We went there on a foggy Sunday in October and it was just so magical there - cold but magical.
There is a bridge connecting the mainland with the island Straumøya and we weren't able to see the other side - the bridge basically seemed to disappear in the mist! Equally, there is a little nameless island in the strait, right under the bridge and when we were standing on it, we couldn't see the mainland nor Straumøya.
It was just such an eerie but wonderful atmosphere...
The Best Spot to See & Capture the Maelstrom at Saltstraumen
We arrived about 45 minutes before low tide was supposed to be at its strongest and first explored the area right below the parking lot where all the tourists ususally are gathered and also where you can find information on the tidal current. To be honest though, after taking a few pictures we decided to head to the island Straumøya because there wasn't much going on where we were standing and we thought we saw some whirlpools closer to the island.
Back to the car and over the bridge we went just to be equally disappointed when we arrived at the viewing spot on the island. We both kinda expected more so in a desperate last attempt, we decided to take a walk over the bridge in the hope to see more.
Now when we were first driving over the bridge, I didn't think it would be possible to see anything. The fog was so thick that we could only see for about 20 metres and we definitely couldn't see the strait from the car. Fortunately for us though, the bridge turned out to be the very best spot to see the whirlpools!
Of course, you're much closer to all the action on the viewing platforms on both, the island and the mainland. But only from the bridge, it's possible to see how big the whirlpools really are!
Plus, we even spotted huge groups of birds in the water who apparently tried to fish. According to the boyfriend, the current brings fish to the surface so the birds were drifting in the stream and diving under every now and then to catch something. It all looked very funny from above - I mean, all we could really see were white and brown dots in the water, occasionally moving...
Low Tide at Saltstraumen
I think it was already 5 minutes before the tide was supposed to be at its strongest when we finally climbed up the bridge and walked about halfway so basically, we didn't even have a choice other than to stay and see the spectacle from there!
As I said though, the full size of the whirlpools could only be seen from above and I'm so glad we stood there!
How to get to Saltstraumen
Saltstraumen is situated about 10 kilometres from Bodø so the easiest way to get there is by car! You can rent a car in the city centre or at the airport for about $100 dollars including gas a day (at least that's what we payed for renting a car on the Lofoten Islands so don't nail me to it).
There is a bus going to Saltstraumen too (No. 4) though only about 6 times a day which means you might have to wait in the cold to head back to the city for quite a while or can't visit the current during its strongest times.
There is a restaurant on the mainland, next to the parking lot too, however it didn't seem to be open during winter. Parking and visiting the tidal current is completely free of charge and you can find information in English, Norwegian and German if I'm not mistaken.
Definitely plan in two hours for your visit if you want to take a stroll along the strait (which I can absolutely recommend). If that's not enough action for you however and you're not on a budget, you can go on a RIB safari to watch sea eagles and the tidal current from a boat.
Shing from The Culture Map did it once if you're interested in more information!
Come on, you did just write Saltstraumen on your bucket list, AM I RIGHT?!!! It is a magical place and even though I've heard so many people say that the current isn't actually that dramatic and wonderful, I definitely perceived the place as such.
Of course, you shouldn't go there expecting 10 metre wide whirlpools just because Wikipedia says they can occur. In fact, better go there without any expectations whatsoever because then this place will really blow your mind, promised!
What's the last natural phenomenon you saw or visited?
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