Replace the vast barrenness of snow and cold you usually associate with the arctic, instead envision with the most gorgeous, awe inspiring, rugged mountain tops, smooth cliffs, and deep blue fjords you could ever imagine. Something straight out of the Lord of the Rings set, arguably the most beautiful setting in the world, it is very possible you’ve made it to Lofoten. For of those of you who are familiar with the islands, reminisce the thought of returning, and for those of you who don’t know, how lucky you will be to discover this place for yourself.

Lofoten is the name given to a chain of granite mountain-islands, off the coast of Northern Norway, well inside the Arctic Circle, formed during the last ice age into a group of jagged ridges and wild coastlines. Here you will find sunny beaches, a wide variety of sea and land animals, some of the top walks of the world, and the cutest idyllic fishing towns you could ever hope for.

Looming in the distance or up close, these 1,150m cliffs are a sight to be seen, pretty difficult to miss I suppose, opening to reveal some of the most atmospheric fishing villages waiting to be explored set on small inlets at the basin of these mountains. The combination of olden fishing villages and  colorfully painted cabins, intertwining with the harsh beauty of nature, make Lofoten a place unlike any other and definitely worth a visit.

Spotlight on- Fishing town life

Within the majestic scenery lies the little fishing villages where man had found a way to interact with their harsh surrounding nature. As the fishing capital of Norway, where cod is king, once you get past the lingering fishy smell in the air, you’ll be delighted at the sights around you.

For a closer look into the fishing life the town of Å, holds a living museum, a preserved fishing village, full of red rorbuers, cod drying racks, and picture perfect surroundings while you take it all in. Another notable village to explore is Nusfjord, considered the essence of Lofoten. It is truly a place to slow down, enjoy nature, and the way of olden times, simpler times, outside the large cities.

An appealing addition to your visit is a chance to stay in a rorbuer. Rorbuers are the small red cabins you will see everywhere amongst the islands. Originally built as 4m by 4m accommodation for the visiting fisherman working in Lofoten, luckily a number of these have been restored and are open to the public for lodging during their holidays. Sizes of the rorbuers vary, some are rather small while others can hold large families with modern facilities and even a hot tub to relax in outside. Most are rented by cabin price, not per person. It is advised to book well in advance if visiting during summer months.  More information about different options can be found here.

Hightlights in and around Lofoten

The Lofoten archipelago consist of many islands, this section will tell you the 4 main islands and a little about each of them to help get you started.

  • Austvågøy – The northern most island
    • Svolvær– Where most people first come to the islands. The Hurtigruten docks here daily for those traveling on it, and is a great point to start your travels southward to the other islands
    • Kabelvåg- 5 km south of Svolvær. It is a bit more cozy, holding a square in the center of town, a small harbor, and a few museums and galleries to peek into
    • Henningsvær- 8 km further south brings you to this still active fishing village who holds the nickname “Venice of Lofoten”. It is the regions most active fishing port, bringing more of a lively buzz to the village than the other towns on the islands
    • For adventures out of the islands during the summer there is no better place to be. For sea-eagle safaris midnight sun safaris, snorkeling, whale watching and much more, the leading tour operator is Lofoten Adventure
  • Vestvågøy – The second island down.
    • Highlights are: a wonderful Viking museum, great hiking opportunities, and beautiful mountain scenery
  • Flakstadøy- The third island connected by the E10
    • Contains one of the most popular towns Nusfjord, considered the essence of Lofoten by artist. Cute houses, vintage stores, silver shops, and a group of rorbuers are some of the sights you can see here. www.nusfjord.no
    • The best beaches of the island group can also be found here in Ramberg and Flakstad. Step onto the tropical white sands while the snowcapped arctic mountains serve as your backdrop
  • Moskenesøya- The last of the 4 main islands
    • The most dramatic scenery of the island group beckons mountaineers to explore it’s peaks, the highest being Hermansdalstind (1029m). There are 14 suggested hikes through the region, ranging from 1 -10 hours.
    • Besides hiking, deep sea fishing, bird watching, whale watching are also very popular.
    • Noteable towns on this island are – Å and Reine.

The main islands in Lofoten, as written about above, are linked by bridge or tunnel. The main road the E10 connects the island groups from the very north to the very southern tip. Drive, bus, bike, as you please. There are many other small islands you can also access if you have more time to see this beautiful place. Most involve flight or ferry transport and is easy to arrange from any of the places in Lofoten.

Where it is located

Perfect for

  • Nature lovers
  • Island exploration
  • Hiking- Norangsdalen ( The Queen’s route)- Along the Vesteralen islands is one of the narrowest valleys in Norway, is a 15 km long hike along the shoreline over the mountains taking in the wild scenery and maybe even a dolphin, whale or elk sighting
  • Mountain treks and climbing- The granite mountains beckon you to explore their high ridges and thrilling viewpoints
  • Whale safaris
  • Cycling- You can cycle from the top of the islands all the way to the tip enjoying the scenery on the way
  • Bird watching- Bird lovers will be able to see a combination of arctic and coastal birds
  • Fishing- They wouldn’t call it the fishing capital of Norway for no reason
  • Driving- The most beautiful drive in Norway is the Kystriksveien coastal route, taking in 14,000 islands and unsurpassed scenery. For more information check out www.rv17.no

Combine the visit with

  • Cruising on the Hurtigruten– Boats stops at Stamsund and Svolvær every day on both the north and southbound route
  • Glacier viewing at Saltfhellet – Svartisen National Park.  The 2102 square meters is home to the Svartisen glacier, the 2nd largest glacier in Norway, as well as caves to be explored, rare plants, fish, and mountains to hike
  • Midnight sun– You’ll find 24 hours of daylight from May to early August giving you more time to enjoy the islands. Best viewed from the western beaches, Utakleiv, Eggum, and on Vestvågøy island
  • Polar night- Set inside the arctic circle, the sun ddoesn’t peak across the horizon from December 9th till January 4th
  • Nothern Lights– From October to March, there are chances to view the northern lights
  • Arctic adventures- Lying inside the arctic circle, you’ll enjoy the sight of enormous jagged mountains hiding beautiful inlets and fishing villages trapped in time. Imagine laying on the beach, watching the midnight sun, all while being in the arctic. It’s almost unreal
The islands are waiting for you. Photo: Siegfried-Rabanser, Flickr.com

 

(Opening Photo: Ghislain Mary)

Does Lofoten sound like your kind of place? Let us know what you think below!