I'll be perfectly honest with you: I had never heard of Grip before seeing it on the itinerary for my trip to Norway.
I couldn't find a ton about it online, and when I asked Norwegians about it, very few had made the trip themselves.
Which of course piqued my interest and made me pretty excited to go.
Grip, in case you've never heard of it either, is a small archipelago in the Norwegian Sea located about 14 kilometers from the city of Kristiansund. Of the dozens of small islands and spits of rock that make up the archipelago, Gripholmen is the only island that's habitable — and it's been inhabited since the 1400s.
Fishing was what brought people to Grip hundreds of years ago. At its height, up to 2,000 fishermen could be found on the tiny island of Gripholmen during the cod fishing season (though the full-time population was usually only a couple hundred people).
Today, nobody lives permanently on the island. After devastating storm surges and centralization following WWII, the population whittled down until 1974, when the last residents left the island for good and headed for the mainland.
But that doesn't mean that Gripholmen is deserted. Today, the old colorful houses of Grip are used as summer homes by former residents and their descendants from Kristiansund. And the island is a popular half-day trip for tourists.
I visited Gripholmen on a blustery May afternoon at the beginning of the tourist season. It was raining when our nearly-empty boat left Kristiansund, but luckily the weather away from the mountains and fjords was much kinder.
It took about 45 minutes to get to Gripholmen from Kristiansund, and then we had about an hour and a half to roam around the island on our own (ideally I think you're supposed to get a guided tour, but that didn't happen on my trip).
Gripholmen is small. Like, really small. You can basically walk from one end to the other in under 15 minutes.
But that's part of what made it so fascinating – I can't imagine actually living somewhere so small and remote full-time! Even though there are many more modern conveniences on the island now than there would have been 200 years ago (like generators to supply electricity for about 16 hours per day), there's still no fresh water on the island – holiday makers have to collect rain water for drinking and flush their toilets with salt water.
Even now, visiting Grip is a little bit like stepping back in time.
There were a few other people on the island when I was there, most of them mowing lawns and getting their summer homes ready for the season. I felt a little bit odd roaming around and taking photos, but the island was too pretty not to.
What is there to see?
Even though Gripholmen is small, there are still quite a few points of interest.
The Stave Church — Dating back to the late 1400s, Grip's wooden stave church survived all the storm surges and is now one of the major things to see on the island.
The Grip Lighthouse — You can't actually visit the lighthouse itself, but you can see it from one end of Gripholmen. The 47-meter (154-foot) tall lighthouse was built between 1885 and 1888 and is one of the tallest lighthouses in Norway.
The colorful houses — My favorite part of wandering around Grip was definitely the houses. Painted in bright shades of yellow, blue, and red, the houses made for some great photos.
This trip is exactly what I love about traveling (and a bonus of working with a tourism board that knows the coolest places to see) – discovering places that's I've never even heard of before and getting to share them with you!
If You Go
I went to Gripholmen with Visit Grip. Prices are 320 NOK (just under $40 roundtrip) per adult for the round-trip boat ride and some time on Gripholmen. You can either book ahead or just pay when you board.
The ride to Grip is about 40-45 minutes, and then you'll have about 1.5 hours on the island. (Total tour time from Kristiansund and back is about 3 hours).
Boats run between May and August, with up to two departures per day (usually 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 pm.) during high season.
Would YOU want to spend some time exploring Grip during a trip to Norway?
*Note: Thanks to Fjord Norway and Visit Grip for hosting me during my trip! As always, opinions are 100% my own.
LET'S PIN IT!