About Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Islands are simply stunning in their dramatic beauty. Widely known for cod fishing the early spring season can see hundreds of fishing boats from across the country descend on the islands for its bounty of large fish. Much of the fish that is landed on the island can be seen drying on racks all over from March to May to produce the famous dried cod or “Bacalao”.
Steep mountains and a crystal-clear sea. long, light summer nights and fishing villages with rorbu cabins from another age. In winter the mystical northern lights may be seen dancing over the glittering snow.
Getting to Lofoten Islands: Daily connections all year between Oslo and Narvik/Evenes or Bodø. Flight time about 1.5 hours. You can travel by train between Oslo, Trondheim and Bodø or between Stockholm/Gøteborg and Narvik. There are daily bus routes between Narvik (via Evenes) and Lofoten. If you are driving, take the E10 to Lofoten. Driving time between Svolvær and Evenes Airport is now less than 2.5 hours.
If travelling overland up to Bodø there are daily flights all year; flight time is 20-30 minutes. Also, a helicopter between Bodø and Værøy. There are daily express buses all year between Bodø and Lofoten via Fauske, with onward connections around Lofoten. Motorists can catch the car ferry from Bodø across to Moskenes, Værøy or Røst, or drive to Skutvik, north of Bodø, and catch the car ferry across to Skrova or Svolvær. There are daily express passenger boats between Bodø and Skrova/Svolvær all year round.
Travelling around Lofoten Islands: - When in Lofoten you can easily travel around by using public transport, a rental car or a bicycle. At the southern end of the Raftsundet strait you will find the beautiful island of Store Molla, which is perfect for cycling and hiking. Take the car ferry between Digermulen and Finnvik. At the northern end of the Raftsundet strait you can take the car ferry from Hanøy to Kaljord, or from Fiskebøl to Melbu. You can visit the islands of VÆRØY and RØST by catching the car ferry from Moskenes or Bodø. The National Tourist Route in Lofoten runs from Fiskebøl to Å and is 166 kilometres long. Along the way you will find some unusual rest areas, viewpoints with special facilities and exciting architecture. Lofoten has no mountain passes that close in the winter, and no road tolls either.
Lofoten is known for the richness of its fish stocks and the fishing history that has left its mark on the islands. The sea has always played a major role, as it still does today. The traditional dwelling of fishermen is the rorbu which has its historic roots in Lofoten. This was originally simple accommodation for an entire crew and their fishing gear during the Lofoten fishery. Today, many rorbu have been refurbished to offer comfortable tourist accommodation, either individually or as part of a rorbu-style motel. Rediscover the World can also offer a selection of small hotels to suit most budgets in the main locations across the Lofoten Islands and on nearby towns on the mainland.
Walking: - Hiking trails in Lofoten promote all kinds of activities and wonderful experiences in varied and exciting country. Some trails are marked with cairns, others are unmarked. The midnight sun is visible in the areas on the western and northern side of Lofoten from the end of May to mid-July. Seabirds, including the sea eagle, can be seen along Lofoten’s entire coastline all year round.
Cycling: - Lofoten is, in general, an easy cycling area, with the highest point approximately 130 metres above sea level and the lowest approximately 130 metres below sea level. There are fantastic little side roads that are unmade or gravelled but the main route is asphalted the whole way. The inhabitants of Lofoten are a friendly people and will happily assist if you get lost!
Lofoten’s landscape, and the very special light conditions that arise in the meeting of sky, clouds, mountains and sea, have been attracting painters and photographers for more than a hundred years. For this reason there is a wonderful selection of art galleries in Lofoten.
In its museums visitors can experience local history, coastal culture and how people lived in Lofoten. These include the Lofoten War Museum, the Lofoten Museum (a history of fishing in Lofoten), Lofotr Vikingmuseum (a full-scale reconstruction of the largest house so far found from Viking times plus a Viking ship) & the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum.
When in Lofoten, the taste of the region will never be far away. The smell of stockfish, seaweed and the seashore itself will stimulate your senses. The sea is a pantry that has sustained people all along the coast and created distinctive culinary traditions all over the world. On land the windswept climate has left its mark on the vegetation, but Lofoten too has its oases of fertile soil between the high mountains, sheltered from the cold north wind. The bright summer and constant humidity compensate for short seasons of growth, creating unexpected opportunities like big, juicy carrots that have gathered sustenance from the sun 24 hours a day.
From mid September, Lofoten enters the “colourful time”, the moment when the trees put on their autumn costumes and heather and moorland are dressed in gold. This time is like a magical journey, when the mountains are lit up with colours that change hourly.
You may be fortunate to witness the most amazing phenomenon nature has to offer: the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, which can be seen on clear, cold nights from September to April in the northern hemisphere. They often start low in the northern sky and move higher in the sky as the evening goes on.
Svolvær: Svolvær is the administrative centre of Vågan and offers several galleries, shops and cultural attractions. Svolværgeita - the Svolvær goat - is the town’s landmark and a real challenge for climbers. The town is one of the most important harbours in North Norway.
Kabelvåg: A historic area with roots going back to the year 900. In the middle ages, this was the most populous area of North Norway, because of the Lofoten fishery. It was from here that all the fish were shipped southwards, for onward export to the continent. King Øystein had Lofoten’s first church built in Kabelvåg, probably in 1103, as well as rorbu fishermen’s dwellings in 1120. The present Vågan Church, also known as “Lofoten Cathedral”, was built in 1898. The marketplace is the heart of Kabelvåg, forming a pleasant frame around the harbour.
Henningsvær: Henningsvær, the Venice of Lofoten, consists of several islands joined to the mainland by bridges. Henningsvær played a significant role in Lofoten’s fishing history and is an interesting destination today, with its many small craft shops, art gallery and a pleasant atmosphere. The mountains on the way out to Henningsvær are a fine area for climbing and mountain walks of the airier kind.
Gimsøy: Gimsøy on the outer edge of Lofoten has fantastic views of the ocean and midnight sun. Hov is one of Lofoten’s oldest inhabited spots; treasures from the past such as stone age and iron age burial mounds and landing places may be found between the fairways and tees of the golf course.
Leknes, Alstad & Ballstad: Nestled between green fields and mountains lies Leknes, which is Vestvågøy’s administrative centre. Leknes offers a hotel, restaurants, shops, a pharmacy, a bakery and workshops. The area around Leknes is a constant attraction for walkers, surfers and paragliders. Ballstad is one of the biggest active fishing villages in Lofoten. Cod liver oil is still produced here and you can find the world’s biggest mural and many opportunities for a rorbu holiday.
Stamsund, Mortsund and Rolvsfjord: There are many places to visit along the southern side of the island of Vestvågøy. Mortsund and Stamsund are still living fishing villages today. The Hurtigruten stops at Stamsund on its way north and south; there are rorbu rentals and restaurants, a gallery and a ski slope for winter sports. Valbergveien is a recommended cycle route in Lofoten, with many beautiful beaches, walks and places to stay.
Flakstad: Flakstad consists of Flakstad island itself and the northern part of Moskenes island. Most of the people of Flakstad live on the outer side of Lofoten, towards the ocean, in fishing villages such as Ramberg and Fredvang. The municipality is divided in two by the Sundstraumen sound, which is at its narrowest at Strømsnes; here the islands of Flakstad and Moskenes are so close that there is barely room for two fishing vessels to pass each other in the navigable channel. Just outside Ramberg is Flakstad Church, a beautiful wooden church with its characteristic onion-shaped dome, built around 1780. Nusfjord is Flakstad’s best-known fishing village, a living project for the conservation of Norway’s traditional building practice. Flakstad has many beautiful beaches that tempt you to make many stops along the way.
Moskenes: In Moskenes you will find some of the best-known fishing villages, such as Hamnøy, Reine, Sørvågen and Å. The landscape was formed by glaciers and natural forces and is some of the wildest and most interesting that Norway has to offer. Hermannsdalstind, at 1,029 metres above sea level, is the highest peak in West Lofoten. There are many mountain tarns and lakes. The landscape is marked by steep mountains and narrow strips of coast. Europe’s oldest rock types are here, about 3 billion years old. The western side, out towards the ocean, was inhabited until the 1950s. These days, people live on the eastern side of the island, where there are good harbours for the fishing fleet, freighters and leisure craft. There are many walking opportunities, either in the mountains or through one of the small, traditional fishing villages.
VÆRØY: Værøy, the penultimate island in the Lofoten archipelago, has every feature typical of Lofoten all in one place: midnight sun, white sandy beaches, seabird colonies, and an historic but still active fishing village. The Værøy mountains differ from those in the rest of Lofoten. The huge colonies of sea birds on the outer edge of the Måstad peninsula on Værøy were an important and much needed food resource for the island people in former times. A visit to Måstad is often combined with a fishing trip or a boat trip to the bird rocks.
RØST: Outermost in the Lofoten archipelago, about 100 km to the west of Bodø and 115 km to the north of the Arctic Circle, lies Røst with its 365 islands, isles and skerries. The largest of them, its highest point barely 12 m above sea level, is Røstlandet. The steep-sided islands south west of the inhabited island of Røstlandet are home to the greatest number of nesting birds anywhere in Norway.
Where to stay
Thon Hotel is located in a beautiful position at Svolvær harbour. It is in a perfect spot if you are arriving by ship as the Norwegian Coastal Voyage quay is next to the hotel. All of Svolvær's ...
Reine is one of the most famous fishing villages in the Lofoten Islands. Reine Rorbuer are ideally placed to give you a flavour of this village, once voted the most beautiful place in Norway.
"We are home from our memorable trip to Norway and would like to thank you so very much for your brilliant organisational skills. Everything went really smoothly and we appreciate the detailed touches, like accommodation with easy access to train/boat and plane connections, etc. We particularly enjoyed our stay in Tromso and our time in Oslo. We would like to reiterate how much we appreciated the thought and attention to detail which Dawn invested in our holiday bookings. Thank you very much."
S Brown, June 2016