Lofoten Islands travel guide

Lofoten Islands travel guide


2 MINUTE SUMMARY

This diverse archipelago combines the epic and the intimate in a relatively compact footprint of 1,200 sq km. Mighty mountains and sheer-sided fjords drop down to sheltered harbours and pretty fishing hamlets, their red clapboard cabins perched on stilts above crystal clear waters. Bridges link the larger islands, with a single road wiggling down to the village of Å near the tip. Gleaming white sand beaches pepper the coast, while spiky Moskenesøya is an island out of Tolkien. The silky Arctic light has long drawn artists here and galleries showcase their work, while a handful of museums celebrate the area’s fishing and Viking history. With wildlife as abundant as the days are long in summer, cyclists, hikers and photographers are in their element and, if you brave the Arctic winter, you may see the Northern Lights, rippling across pitch black skies.

Find out more in our Lofoten Islands travel guide.
The Lofoten Islands are...

a unique wilderness landscape blessed with fertile waters and very fresh air, admired by humans but belonging to nature.
The Lofoten Islands aren't...

A place to rush. You can get a flavor in a day or two, but hiking, biking and wildlife in the clear Arctic light are worth lingering over.

Lofoten Islands map & highlights


MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME

The Lofoten Islands’ remoteness means reaching them entails a smorgasbord of flights and crossings. Most visitors fly from Oslo to Bodø, then it’s a 25-minute flight to Svolvær on the island of Austvågøya, although flying into Leknes on Vestvågøy is another option. Travelers with more time can use the scenic express boat, which stops off at islands and takes around four hours. Once here, the E10 road stretches to the tip of the archipelago. Cycling is safe but can be strenuous, while hiking allows you to access peaks and untouched beaches. With the sea and glaciers the architects of this landscape, it’s worth hopping in a boat or kayak to appreciate the corrugated cliffs and dramatic fjords.
Beaches Hamnoy Henningsvaer Moskenstraumen Reine Trollfjord

Beaches

No one comes to the Arctic Circle for a beach vacation, but don’t ignore Lofoten’s sandy shores. White sand and turquoise waters give Haukland a Caribbean feel (if you ignore the hefty mountains bracketing it), while Skagsanden is ideal for a summer driftwood fire in the glow of the midnight sun. Some of the best beaches aren’t accessible by car, including Bunes, reached by a ferry from Reine and a one-hour hike.

Hamnøy

The oldest fishing village in the Lofoten archipelago is tiny, pretty and colourful. Think traditional red fishing huts (rorbuer), grey rocks, turquoise waters laced with green seaweed in summer, or whipped into white peaks in winter. A deep gash in the cliffs nearby is home to hundreds of kittiwakes, whose calls echo from inside. Come in May for the Elijazzen Festival, too.

Henningsvær

Rather than perched on the craggy shore, Henningsvær spreads across a group of tiny islands off the southern coast of Austvågøya. Houses painted red, yellow and green sit above the waters of Vestfjord on wooden piers, earning it the nickname ‘Lofoten’s Venice’, with Mount Vågakaillen looming above. Hike for an hour up Glomtinden for great views down over the village and beyond.

Moskenstraumen

The tip of Lofoten is home to a huge variety of wildlife, best viewed from a boat. Cormorants and gannets colonise the rocks, and the seas are churned by the moskenstraumen, or maelstrom, one of the strongest systems of tidal eddies and whirlpools in the world. Its heaving currents attract whales, seals and white tailed eagles.

Reine

At the tip of the archipelago on Moskenesøya and with just over 300 residents, Reine proves small is beautiful. A precipitous road down gives a bird’s eye view of its red fisherman’s huts and glassy waters. From here, travel 10km to the end of the road at Å or take a ferry around Reinefjord, to appreciate the glaciated peaks from the water and in spring, spot orca.

Trollfjord

No trip to Norway is complete without experiencing at least one fjord from the water. Trollfjord is an exciting example, its narrow mouth just 100m wide with mountains either side that soar to 1,100m. Hurtigruten ships squeeze in here during summer, but a RIB ride is the best way to explore, watching out for sea eagles that soar above; with wings like barn doors, you can’t miss them!
Photo credits: [Topbox: Frode Ramone] [Map topbox: Svein-Magne Tunli - tunliweb.no] [Beaches: Frode Ramone] [Hamnoy: Svein-Magne Tunli - tunliweb.no] [Henningsvær: Martin de Lusenet] [Moskenstraumen: Hopfenpflücker] [Reine: Rene] [Trollfjord: Bruno Jargot] [Helpdesk: Richard Meurk]

Written by Joanna Simmons
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