Poulsbo WA is a small charming Nordic city on Liberty Bay in Kistap County. Poulsbo has earned the nickname, “Little Norway” because in the 21st century they maintain their Scandinavian heritage. The snow peaked Olympic mountains that can be seen to the west of the city drew the Scandinavians to settle in Poulsbo because the place is reminiscent of the fjords of Norway. A man from Fordefjord, Norway founded Poulsbo, and it still has the most picturesque downtown with rosemaled storefronts (a traditional decorative folk art that came from the rural valleys of Norway). There is a beautiful harbor, parks, downtown walking area, delicious bakeries, and cute boutique stores to be explored.
I grew up coming to this city from the time I was a young child with my family for vacations. We had a family Paha on Squamish land nearby Poulsbo and would come to Sluy’s Bakery before walking to the bookstore. This town holds such deep memories for me and connected me to Norway before I even traveled there, getting to see the beauty of the fjordlands myself. As soon as I returned to Poulsbo for the first time after traveling to several cities and fjords in Norway, I was taken back to the Scandinavian cities. This little place is magic.
How to get to Poulsbo Washington
In order to get to Poulsbo, you need to take the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island and then drive to Poulsbo or take the ferry from Whidbey Island (Coupeville) to Port Townsend, a 30-minute ride, and then drive an hour to Poulsbo. The ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge is only about a 30-minute ride and then only about a 30 minutes drive to Poulsbo from there, making it an hour journey total. The fares can be bought roundtrip and so you pay up front and don’t pay on the way back.
Taking the Ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend
Coupeville–> Port Townsend is about $18 for a car and $13 for walk on
Taking the Ferry from Seattle to BainBridge Island
Seattle–>Bainbridge is about $12 for a car and $8 for walk on.
Things to do in Poulsbo WA
Sluys Bakery is the most delicious Scandinavian bakery. I have been coming to this bakery since I was a kid and they have endless delicious things to try. They have fast customer service and a huge glass showcase filled with goodies. They offer home-baked bread, doughnuts, and pastries as well as coffee and is a small family run business in town. You cannot miss this place in your time in Poulsbo, it is a staple of the town. Definitely try the Viking Cup, you won’t regret.
Open 4:30am-6:30pm Monday-Thursday and open until 7:30 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Poulsbo Village downtown Shopping
The main street of Poulsbo is called Front St NE and is filled with lots of cute boutiques, book stores, coffee shops, bars, and eclectic gift shops as well as Nordic souvenir shops. There are some great quality boutiques in here that I love. It is fun to peruse the shops after a Sluys Bakery stop for coffee & a treat. Some of my favorite shops are, Lilly & Talbot Coastal Lifestyle, Bad Blanche, Flicka, Nordiska, Sugar Flower Market, Liberty Bay Books, Paper Quirks, Away with words, Abigails and my absolute favorite a PNW themed store by Norse City Board room, a nordic skateboard shop called, Northwest Land & Sea.
Liberty Bay Waterfront Park & Marina
Liberty Bay is the name of the marina in Poulsbo City. There is a small park, walkway and you can walk among the boats in the marina. Outdoor picnic tables are available, and they have a gazebo where live music and events are held during the summer. There are public restrooms here, and it is a great spot to go for a walk with beautiful views of the water in town. This marina is right behind the large free downtown parking lot that sits behind Front NE street.
Viking Brew Coffee
Viking Brew Coffee is at the cross streets of Front St. NE and Jensen Way NE. The coffee shop is right next to Thor’s Hammer Tattoo and is on an active street corner. This is a cool viking themed coffee shop with great espresso. There is no seating because it is just a window but has quality coffee and cool apparel that is a fun Viking souvenir. Yes, that is a wolf dog and his cloaked master you see ordering a coffee, crazy what you observe in Viking town.
Open 7am-5:30pm Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm Sundays
Downtown Murals & rosemaled art
There is so much Nordic art painted on every storefront window, along with several beautiful murals. One mural is of a huge Viking ship behind the historic red clock downtown and another is a large” Velkommen Til Poulsbo” painting on the intersection of Front St and Jensen. The window art is always changing and in every storefront for the different holidays and seasons, be on the lookout for the gorgeous Nordic art around town.
Liberty Bay Books
This is the best bookstore in downtown Poulsbo WA and has a coffee shop inside as well. There is cozy seating to read and big windows with good lighting. They also have a cute selection of cards, coffee table books, journals, and beautiful stationery. This is a bookstore I have been coming to read in since I was little, and it is still fun to visit this spot on the corner.
Open daily 8:30am-6pm , Sundays 10am-5pm
The two main Nordic shops I love downtown are Nordiska and Flicka which are two cute boutiques on the main street across from Sluy’s Bakery. Nordiska sells all kinds of Nordic homeware, cooking, clothing, books, jewelry, stationery, and cards. They sell the Little Book of Hygge of course and other Scandinavian souvenirs. This is a bright, artistic, and creative store run by a local artist. Flicka is a trendy women’s clothing store that has Nordic fashion including interesting and unique boots and tennis shoes. The Nordic Maid is another downtown souvenir shop that sells things like Viking hats, helmets with horns, and Viking paraphernalia.
Places to Eat in Poulsbo WA
JJ’s Fish House for lunch
This is one of the best restaurants to eat at in downtown Poulsbo WA and my family has been coming here for years. It overlooks the water with big open windows facing the harbor and a beautiful outdoor patio. They sell mostly seafood, craft beer, and are best known for their amazing fish and chips. But, if seafood isn’t your thing, their Rib Steak sandwich is to die for with shoestring fried onions on garlic bread.
Green Light Diner
Green Light Diner has been a fun new addition to Poulsbo WA downtown that is a retro diner style serving chicken-fried steak, patty melts, & soda-fountain floats. The restaurant decor and aesthetic is a fun environment. They are known for their breakfast, burgers, grilled cheese, clam chowder, and much more.
Check out a local brewery
Valholl, Slippery Pig, and Western Red Brewing are all local breweries downtown within walking distance of one another in the main street area. There is happy hour 2-4pm for $3 pints at Valholl Brewing which is a Viking themed brewery. Slippery Pig Brewing has a big selection of IPAs, pale ale, stouts, blondes and more. Western Red Brewing is in collaboration with Slippery Pig Brewery, so try one of those and Valholl for a variety.
Poulsbo Farmer’s Market
Poulsbo market is filled with fresh produce, delicious home baked goods, fresh food vendors, artisan craft booths and all kinds of local goods. This is one of my favorite markets in WA because of the local artists in the area and the quality stuff sold here. The market is open Saturdays from 9-2pm starting April 6th, 2019 rain or shine. See the vendors and schedule here.