• Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH / Shutterstock

Brønnøysund

Often called the heart of Norway, Brønnøysund is a microcosm of the entire country with a sampling of all its natural wonders: ocean and fjords, islands and mountains, lakes and waterfalls. Small as it is—its population has not quite reached 5,000—Brønnøysund is an important administrative and transport hub for South Helgeland, easily reached by air, land, and water, and a major stop on the Hurtigruten boat route. A vibrant town, Brønnøysund boasts a picturesque marina, a neo-Gothic church, convivial restaurants, and shopping, but it's especially known for the Torghatten, a natural wonder that juts up from wildly beautiful Torget Island (9 miles from town) and is dramatically pierced through its center.

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