Poulsbo: Channelling Norway on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula

Photo by Elizabeth Rose

A day in Little Norway and Liberty Bay, with shopping and amazing bakeries

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Poulsbo Washington on the Kitsap Peninsula is a scenic little Norwegian fishing village. Poulsbo has become a popular getaway spot for people living in more urban settings such as Portland and Seattle. A major draw is beautiful Liberty Bay and the quaint downtown area surrounding the harbor.

Poulsbo History

The port of Poulsbo was founded in the late 1880s when Jorgen Eliason and Ivar Moe loaded their crops and rowed them across the Sound to Seattle. As the port developed it was a stop for “mosquito fleet” steam boats and a fishing fleet. While fishing boats, fishing as far afield as the Straits of Juan de Fuca and, even, Alaska, still dock in Poulsbo, it is the quaint cafes and shops in Scandinavian themed buildings that draw visitors.

Poulsbo is still a Norwegian town. Climb the hill to the beautiful 1908 First Lutheran Church and walk through the hilltop cemetery. You’ll see gravestones with the names of the founding Eliason and Moe families there as well as many families with the last name of “sen” or “son.” There are great views of Liberty Bay and the Cascade Range from the church property. This beautiful church has served as a beacon to mariners heading in to Liberty Bay for a century.

Poulsbo Dining

While you are visiting Poulsbo, be sure in stop in to Sluys’ Bakery on the main street (Front Street). Not only can you partake of some delightful pastries, it is the home of famous “Poulsbo Bread.” There are some good restaurants in Poulsbo, all casual, that you’ll want to try. If you like fish, check out JJ’s Fish House facing the harbor (good parking there too).

Things to Do in Poulsbo

Spend a little time on Front Street and the surrounding area. You’ll find “northwest couture” clothing, traditional Norwegian knitwear, art galleries filled with the work of local artists, some antique shops, a local bookseller, coffee shops and even a small Marine Science Center to visit.

If you yearn to spend a little time on the water, boats and kayaks can be rented at the harbor. Time your visit right and you’ll enjoy one of Poulsbo’s Scandinavian themed festivals or go shopping at their annual art festival.

Poulsbo is the kind of place that is great for a getaway. Your pace will be slowed and you will appreciate the natural beauty and quaint village during your stay. You can enjoy “downtown” Poulsbo in a day but if you linger, there are many little places to explore during day trips such as historic Port Gamble, and the Victorian seaport town of Port Townsend just across the Hood Canal Bridge on the Olympic Peninsula.

Getting to Poulsbo

While you can access the Kitsap Peninsula via ferry, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is often the way that people drive to the peninsula towns such as Poulsbo.

Explore a Kitsap Peninsula Itinerary

Gig Harbor: Playing on the Kitsap Peninsula … Explore the maritime town and enjoy fine Northwest cuisine
Poulsbo: Channelling Norway on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula … A day in Little Norway and Liberty Bay, with shopping and amazing bakeries

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