Vesterålen consists of the municipalities Andøy, Bø, Hadsel, Sortland and Øksnes. Vesterålen is made up of several islands: Langøya, Andøya, Hadseløya, the western part of Hinnøya, the northern part of Austvågøya and several smaller islands. The landscape is mountainous, but the mountains have a more rounded shape compared to the mountains in Lofoten. The towns and villages are situated on the coastal brim (Strandflaten) between the mountains and the fjords. There are also several lakes, such as Alsvågvatnet. Møysalen National Park is partly located in Vesterålen (). The climate in Vesterålen is maritime, with mild winters considering this archipelago is well north of the arctic circle. In Stokmarknes (Hadsel), January average is -1.8°C, July 24-hr average is 12.3°C, year average is 4.3°C and precipitation is 1220 mm with autumn as the wettest season (1961-1990 average).
Vesterålen is connected to the mainland by bridges. It is connected to Lofoten by ferry, although since the opening of the Lofast road in December 2007, Lofoten can also be reached by road.
The coastal steamer Hurtigruten calls at the ports of Stokmarknes, Sortland and Risøyhamn in Vesterålen. There are two regional airports: Stokmarknes Airport, Skagen for small aircraft, and Andenes Airport on Andøya.
The population in Vesterålen as of January 1 2004 was 30,648 (Statistisk Sentralbyrå). The largest town is Sortland, but the regional hospital is in nearby Stokmarknes in Hadsel municipality. The Royal Norwegian Air Force has based all its P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft at Andøya Air Station, and Andøya Rocket Range is also located at Andøya. The Norwegian Coast Guard has its northern base at Sortland (Kystvaktskvadron Nord).
There is also some agriculture in Vesterålen.