Tromso-Senja Ferry: Info, Timetables & Prices | Guide to Lofoten

TROMSO - SENJA FERRY: All YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tromsø is the largest city in northern Norway and a perfect starting point for exploring the surrounding areas, like the Lyngen Alps, the Finnmark plateau (including Nordkapp) in the east, and Senja Island, Vesterålen, and Lofoten in the southwest. Today, we want to discuss how to travel from Tromsø to Senja using the Brensholmen-Botnhamn ferry.

Tromso – Senja Ferry 
(Brensholmen – Botnhamn)

In our Facebook groups, we frequently receive questions about the possibility of taking a day trip from Tromsø to Senja using this ferry. Simply put, it is possible, even in winter, as the ferry operates year-round.

However, you should be aware of a few things and catches.

✅ The ferry operates all year round.

✅ The Tromso-Senja ferry operates on summer and winter schedules.

✅ Google Maps does not show you the option to take the ferry during the winter.

✅ The ferry capacity is small, and there are often long queues in the summer, especially when traveling from Tromso to Senja. 

✅ You can not pre-book the Brensholmen-Botnhamn ferry.

Let’s look at the ferry schedules, prices, and some issues you may encounter when taking the ferry between Tromso and Senja. 

Are you planning to rent a car in Tromso?

Tromso - Senja Routes: Map

Senja Island is accessible via multiple transportation options. One popular choice is driving from Tromsø, the nearest major city. The journey typically takes 2 to 4 hours, depending on the desired destination on Senja and the chosen route. 

1️⃣ The mainland route involves driving via Fv862 and E8 and crossing to Senja via Gisundbrua bridge. 

2️⃣ Alternatively, you can combine the road trip with a ferry ride. From Tromsø, head west toward the Kvaløya Island and use the ferry between Brensholmen and Botnhamn. The crossing typically lasts about 45 minutes.

Tromso Senja ferry Brensholmen Botnhamn vs mainland map
The highlighted route shows the road from Tromsø to Senja via the Brensholmen-Botnhamn ferry. The alternative "mainland route" does not involve any ferry crossings.

All year-round ferry

Since 2021, the Brensholmen-Botnhamn ferry has been operating year-round. However, Google Maps and some tourist businesses still need to update their information and mistakenly think it’s a summer-only ferry.

Tromso - Senja Ferry: Timetable 2024

Like many other ferries in Norway, the Brensholmen-Botnshamn ferry also has fewer departures during the winter and more in the summer. 

 

Winter Schedule: January 1, 2024 – April 20, 2024 & September 11, 2024 – December 31, 2024

Summer Schedule: April 21, 2024 – September 10, 2024

Tromso Senja ferry Brensholmen Botnhamn timetable 2024
Unlike the infamous Bodø-Moskenes ferry schedule, the Brensholmen-Botnhamn timetable is pretty straightforward. The journey takes about 45 minutes, so the timetable shows the departure times from Botnhamn, the arrival/departure times to/from Brensholmen, and the arrival time back to Botnhamn.
Tromso Senja Ferry Schedule National Holidays
Be aware of national holidays in Norway. On some holidays, the ferry follows the Sunday schedule, while on others (specifically December 24, 25, and 31), the ferry does not operate at all.

Brensholmen-Botnhamn: Capacity Issues

Even though the ferry’s capacity increased when it started operating year-round, it’s still a small ferry with space for about 30 cars. 

 

The demand on this route skyrockets in the summer, with many tourists and motorhomes trying to travel between Tromsø and Lofoten via Senja and Vesterålen. However, the ferry is becoming increasingly popular among tourists during the winter. 

 

During every summer ferry departure, some cars are inevitably left behind at the terminal. Motorhome owners often park overnight at the terminal to secure a spot. So, arrive as early as possible and be prepared for a potentially long wait. 

The traffic has been tremendously high, to put it mildly,” says chief officer Mathias Tøllefsen on the ferry “Skutvik”, which runs between Kvaløya in Tromsø and Senja. Cars are left behind at the ferry dock almost every trip,” says captain Eirik Bendiksen.

 

“We can fit 30 cars, but many motorhomes take up a lot of space. And if an eight-meter-long camper arrives, it occupies three car spaces.

New cars are also wider than they used to be, creating challenges.”

– Nordlys newspaper

The queu for the Brensholmen Botnhamn ferry in the summer
The queu for the Brensholmen Botnhamn ferry in August 2023. Photo by Jan K. Bergland.

Tromso Senja Ferry: Reservation & Prices 2024

Unfortunately, there’s no option to pre-book this ferry, even though I’m sure many would be willing to pay an additional reservation fee, like with the Bodø-Moskenes ferry, to ensure they have a secured spot on board.

 

The price of the Brensholmen-Botnhamn ferry depends on the size of your vehicle. If you don’t have any discount cards and own a conventional (non-electric) car, be prepared to pay (as of 2024):

 

💰 64 NOK per motorcycle

💰 197 NOK for a car up to 6 meters

💰 428 NOK for vehicles between 6 and 8 meters

Tromso Senja ferry price for foreign registered vehicles 2024
Prices for the foreign registered cars

Does the Brensholmen-Botnhamn Ferry Go?

Capacity issues aren’t the only problem that can complicate your trip between Tromsø and Senja. It’s also possible that you’ll arrive at the ferry terminal and find that the ferry isn’t running due to weather conditions or technical issues. 

 

Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to get this information in advance. Interestingly, there’s an active Facebook group called ‘Går ferga Botnhamn-Brensholmen i dag?’ (Does the Botnhamn-Brensholmen ferry go today?).

Brensholmen Botnhamn ferry between Tromso and Senja
The ferry terminal at Brensholmen

Tromso - Senja Ferry vs Mainland Route

Don’t worry if you don’t secure a spot on the ferry or if it doesn’t arrive. Luckily, you won’t be stranded on the island. Senja is connected to the mainland via the Gisund Bridge, linking Finnsnes to Silsand on Senja Island.

 

Depending on your destination on Senja, it might be faster to drive via the mainland. For example, if you’re heading to the Senja Observatory (a renowned luxury accommodation in the southern part of the island). 

 

In the summer, most Senja locals prefer the mainland route due to long ferry queues and the uncertainty of securing a spot on board.

 

In the winter it is safer to take the mainland route, too, since the Kvaløya road from Tromso to Senja is narrow and full of potholes. Similarly, the road along Senja’s western coast is narrow, winding, and not as frequently plowed as the main road E6 & 855.

Tromso Senja ferry Brensholmen Botnhamn vs mainland map

The Future of Tromso-Senja Ferry

We think it’s safe to say that both locals and tourists wish for a larger ferry with more frequent departures, ideally for free or at a lower cost. However, it’s challenging to get it all.

 

In Norway, ferry operations are primarily the responsibility of the county governments, which means that local government budgets and priorities significantly influence the funding and management of the ferry services.

 

In 2022, the Norwegian government implemented a policy of providing free ferry service on routes with fewer than 100,000 passengers annually. The decision aimed to increase accessibility and reduce travel costs for residents in more isolated regions of Norway. (However, this new governmental policy did not affect the Senja – Tromso ferry.)

 

From August 2023, the government extended the free ferry service to additional routes that lack direct mainland connections, even though they transport more than 100,000 passengers annually. This expansion has brought the government’s total expenditure on free ferry services to 420 million NOK. 

With a positive decision by the Ministry of Transport, the Brensholmen-Botnhamn ferry service will become permanent by the turn of the year, once the trial period ends in September 2024. This paves the way for a more modern, larger, and environmentally friendly ferry, much anticipated by many. 

 

 

Preparations are underway for a tender round with stricter material requirements and larger ferries, aligning with the government’s mandate for zero emissions. 

The Issues with Free Ferries in Norway

Making some ferry connections free is part of a broader governmental effort to ensure more equitable access to transportation across the country’s remote areas. However, free ferries have sparked both joy and frustration among locals and commuters who find themselves competing for a place on the ferry with tourists. 

 

Additionally, nothing is entirely free. The “free” ferries are funded by our taxes. As a result, many locals say they’d rather pay for the ferries if it means they would run more frequently or guarantee a spot on board. 

Some locals also question why Norwegians should fund free ferries for tourists and call for a system where tourists would be charged a fee while residents wouldn’t have to pay.

 

We’re curious to see where this debate will lead and what the future holds for ferry transportation in Norway!

Tromso-Senja Ferry FAQ

Senja Island is accessible via multiple transportation options. One popular choice is driving from Tromsø, the nearest major city. The journey typically takes 2 to 4 hours, depending on the desired destination on Senja and the chosen route. 

The mainland route involves driving via Fv862 and E8 and crossing to Senja via Gisundbrua bridge. Alternatively, you can combine the road trip with a ferry ride. From Tromsø, head west toward the Kvaløya Island and use the ferry between Brensholmen and Botnhamn. The crossing typically lasts about 45 minutes.

 

Another option is to take the express boat from Tromsø to Finnsnes, lasting just 1 hour and 20 minutes. With 2-4 departures daily between Tromsø and Finnsnes, Finnsnes serves as an excellent starting point for further exploration of Senja.

 

Additionally, several tour operators offer day trips or longer excursions from Tromsø to Senja, providing transportation, guided tours, and curated activities for a memorable experience.

Yes, an all-year car ferry operates from Brensholmen, located on the island of Kvaløya, about an hour’s drive from Tromsø to Botnhamn on Senja Island. Additionally, there is also a passenger-only speedboat service that runs between Tromsø and Finnsnes on Senja.

Yes, the ferry between Brensholmen and Botnhamn (Tromsø —Senja ferry) operates all year round. However, since the year-round ferry service is relatively new, some web pages and even Google Maps haven’t been updated, and they don’t show this route in winter.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to pre-book the Tromsø-Senja ferry at this point.

No, the Tromsø-Senja ferry is not free. The price of the Brensholmen-Botnhamn ferry depends on the size of your vehicle. If you don’t have any discount cards and own a conventional (non-electric) car, be prepared to pay (as of 2024):

 

💰 64 NOK per motorcycle 

💰 197 NOK for a car up to 6 meters 

💰 428 NOK for vehicles between 6 and 8 meters

Dogs and other small animals are allowed to be brought on buses, express boats, and ferries. On the ferry, dogs should either be in the vehicle or a cage on the car deck or other designated area.

Senja is indeed mind-blowing! Its breathtaking mountains surpass even those of Tromsø, and in terms of natural beauty and hiking opportunities, it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Lofoten. Senja is a paradise for hikers, nature enthusiasts, and photographers alike. However, you might find Senja less appealing if you prefer city life. It’s relatively undeveloped, with few shops, accommodations, restaurants, and gas stations scattered across the island. But for those seeking unspoiled natural beauty and outdoor adventures, Senja is an absolute gem waiting to be explored.

The ideal duration of your stay in Senja depends on your interests and itinerary. I would recommend at least two to four days to fully immerse yourself in Senja’s breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities. 

While visiting Senja on a day trip from Tromsø is technically possible, it’s not ideal. If you plan to do so, I recommend taking a morning ferry from Brensholmen and returning to Tromsø via the mainland. A few companies offer guided day trips to Senja from Tromsø.

In the comments, please let us know what you think about the Norwegian ferry system. If you have any questions about the Senja—Tromso ferry, feel free to ask!

Picture of Ivar & Radka

Ivar & Radka

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten. We met in Trondheim and lived together in western Norway, Narvik and Tromsø. At the moment we call western Lofoten our home. We hope our page will make it easier for you to explore the beautiful places that made us chose Norway for our home.

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