Norway is such a bucket record vacation spot for lots of vacationers, and inside the nation there are such a lot of completely different bucket list-worthy areas and experiences. From seeing the Northern Lights within the north to crusing the fjords, there’s a lot right here so as to add to your to-do record.
After a number of journeys to Norway in several seasons, there was one area particularly that was nonetheless on my journey bucket record for years: the Lofoten Islands.
This area of Norway above the Arctic Circle is understood for its colourful fishing villages and dramatic mountains-meet-the-sea surroundings. And I lastly made it there! In truth, I deliberate a complete journey to Norway round visiting the Lofoten Islands with my husband, Elliot.
Our time within the Lofoten Islands was equal elements unbelievable and difficult. Unimaginable as a result of it is actually a lovely a part of the world, however difficult as a result of the wild climate prevented our expectations from totally dwelling as much as actuality.
You will see a number of images on-line from the Lofoten Islands both exhibiting off snowy landscapes and breathtaking skies stuffed with Northern Lights, or brilliant summer season sunshine turning clear water turquoise. However in actuality, you may expertise neither and each of these issues within the span of a day.
In case you’re planning a bucket record journey to the Lofoten Islands your self, listed here are the issues (weather-related and never) that you could know earlier than you go.
When to go to the Lofoten Islands
First issues first: when must you go to the Lofoten Islands?
You possibly can technically go to this a part of Norway year-round, however the expertise may be very completely different relying on whenever you go. Winter within the Lofotens could be magical with snowy landscapes and dancing Northern Lights, whereas summer season is characterised by turquoise waters and the Midnight Solar.
Visiting in winter is difficult, nonetheless. Roads get snowy and icy, and you will not discover as many points of interest and eating places open, as this is part of Norway that is fairly seasonal by way of tourism.
I due to this fact suggest visiting in late spring into summer season, when you have got a significantly better likelihood of nicer climate and issues being open. Most of my ideas under assume that you’re going to be visiting from Might-September!
Lofoten Islands fast information
Lofoten Islands: Issues to know earlier than you go
1. The Lofoten Islands are above the Arctic Circle
The Lofoten Islands are waaaay up north in Norway – above the Arctic Circle, in truth, within the Norwegian area of Nordland. As a result of they’re above the Arctic Circle, which means that the islands expertise Polar Night time within the winter and the Midnight Solar in the summertime.
Since I like to recommend visiting these islands in summer season, you need to know that roughly from the top of Might by means of mid-July, the solar is not going to set in any respect within the Lofoten Islands. The Midnight Solar shall be shining brilliant 24 hours a day – so I positively suggest packing a watch masks for lodge rooms or cottages which may not have full black-out curtains. (I like this eye masks personally.)
2. They’re distant – however not that distant
The Lofoten Islands are an archipelago made up of seven most important islands characterised by towering, wall-like mountains and small fishing villages. And whereas probably the most well-liked methods to succeed in the islands in the summertime months is by ferry (from Bodø to Moskenes), you do not *have* to reach by water.
The Lofoten Islands themselves are linked to at least one one other by a sequence of bridges and tunnels, and the archipelago is linked to the mainland of Norway through bridges – so you may truly drive there!
There are a number of completely different choices for attending to the Lofoten Islands. Most embrace flying from Oslo to a smaller northern airport, although if you happen to’re spending an prolonged period of time in Norway you may drive or get to a northern metropolis like Bodø or Narvik by practice after which drive from there.
In case you’re flying to the Lofotens, among the hottest methods to get there embrace:
- Flying into Bodø, choosing up a automotive, and taking the automotive ferry to Moskenes. Draw back? The ferry takes about 3.5 hours and the crossing could be tough.
- Flying into the Harstad/Narvik Airport in Evenes, choosing up a automotive, and driving to the Lofotens. Draw back? It’s kind of of a drive – 2.5 hours to Svolvær, which is type of the “begin” of the islands.
- Flying into Svolvær or Leknes, that are proper within the Lofoten Islands. Draw back? Direct flights to those small airports from Oslo solely function in the course of the summer season, and never day by day of the week.
Elliot and I did choice quantity 2, getting direct flights between the Harstad/Narvik Airport in Evenes and Oslo on SAS. The flights had been brief (just a bit over an hour), and there are a number of rental automotive corporations proper within the Evenes airport close to the singular baggage belt.
And the drive from Evenes to Svolvær? Gorgeous!
3. Plan to hire a automotive
Talking of getting a automotive and driving from wherever you fly into… you actually do want a automotive within the Lofoten Islands. Are there technically public buses that run between the principle cities within the islands? Sure. However the bus schedules usually are not nice, and I truly by no means noticed a public bus on the roads the entire time we had been there.
If you would like full freedom to go to seashores, go on hikes, and go to all of the small fishing villages, you really want to hire a automotive.
The excellent news for my fellow American drivers is that Norway drives on the suitable and maintains fairly good roads. And whereas there are a number of locations the place you will encounter slender, one-lane roads with lay-by areas to facilitate 2-way site visitors, nearly all of roads you will journey on within the Lofoten Islands are two lanes and paved (together with all of the roads that cross by means of tunnels).
We rented a automotive by means of Hertz in Evenes, and paid $335 to hire a compact 4WD car (with primary collision protection) for five days. (I like to recommend trying to find automotive rental choices in Norway through AutoEurope.)
Simply be ready to drive in principally any climate, and take note of whether or not you are renting a handbook or automated automotive (particularly if you happen to’re like me and might solely confidently drive an automated).
4. You are going to be open air quite a bit
Norway general is a really outdoorsy type of vacation spot, and that positively extends to the Lofoten Islands, too. The highest issues to do within the Lofoten Islands embrace issues like mountaineering within the mountains, taking boat journeys, visiting seashores, strolling by means of fishing villages, and usually simply being open air soaking in all of the epic surroundings.
Apart from a handful of very small museums, there’s not truly quite a bit to do indoors within the Lofoten Islands. So packing applicable clothes for spending outing within the components is significant to having fun with a visit right here.
5. Prep for actually any type of climate
Even if you happen to go to the Lofoten Islands in the course of the summer season months when the climate is usually extra settled, that does not imply that you just should not pack for actually any climate eventuality.
In June, it may very well be 75 levels (F) and sunny, or a freak snow squall may blow by means of. You also needs to plan for rain. For the reason that Lofoten Islands type of dangle off Norway into the Norwegian Sea, climate strikes in – and out – rapidly.
When Elliot and I visited in late Might into early June, it was sunny and heat down in Oslo, however truly freezing up within the Lofotens – we had snow on June 1st!
Norwegians love the saying “there isn’t any such factor as unhealthy climate, solely unhealthy clothes,” although, so take this to coronary heart! Pack clothes you may layer, and do not go away behind a great rain coat, rain pants, and waterproof sneakers/boots.
Listed below are some objects I am very glad we packed:
However you will additionally need sun shades and sunscreen, together with lighter layers in case it will get heat! (I do know it positively CAN get heat right here in the summertime, even when we did not expertise that.)
6. The mountaineering right here could be intense
Talking of mountaineering and being open air quite a bit, you could know that a number of the actually well-liked hikes within the Lofoten Islands (those you have in all probability seen Instagram images of) usually are not simply simple little strolls.
The hike to the Reinebringen viewpoint, for instance, appears brief at simply 2 kilometers (1.25 miles), nevertheless it’s all steeply uphill and requires you to climb greater than 1500 stairs. The well-known Ryten viewpoint above Kvalvika Seaside can be fairly steep, strenuous, and uncovered in elements, and the Fløya hike in Svolvaer has a complete elevation achieve of 1900 toes.
Add in unpredictable climate and probably muddy trails, and you have a recipe for some intense mountaineering.
Although hikes aren’t shocking, although, contemplating how mountainous the Lofoten Islands are. Simply do your analysis forward of time so that you could be ready if you happen to’re placing mountaineering in your to-do record. (Climbing poles and good mountaineering sneakers/boots extremely really helpful.)
7. Ebook cozy lodging – upfront
For the reason that climate could be hit and miss within the Lofoten Islands, reserving cozy lodging you will not thoughts spending time in is a should. You positively will not remorse this if you find yourself needing to spend extra time in doorways than you had been planning.
(Ask us how we all know this. Ha!)
And ensure to guide properly forward of time, particularly if you happen to’ll be visiting in the course of the summer season. The very best locations to remain guide up upfront, and if you happen to wait till the final minute you might find yourself paying a premium to remain wherever.
8. Staying in a rorbu is price it
And talking of cozy locations to remain, renovated fishing cottages known as rorbuer (rorbu when it is singular) are very talked-about lodging choices within the Lofoten Islands. And they’re 100% price it.
These brightly coloured cabins are often positioned in scenic, waterfront spots with unbelievable views in small fishing villages. They’re renovated to incorporate every part you want, and often include a bed room, seating space, and sometimes a kitchenette.
A few of the hottest rorbuer you may keep in embrace:
- Lofoten Basecamp in Leknes – A preferred choice between Svolvaer and Reine, with cabins set proper on the sting of a reasonably fjord.
- Nusfjord Arctic Resort in Nusfjord – These restored rorbuer are in a historic village tucked right into a fjord. They’re tremendous excessive finish and delightful.
- Eliassen Rorbuer in Hamnøy – The well-known crimson fishing cabins you have positively seen in images of the Lofoten Islands. There are a bunch of various cabin configurations with completely different views, together with an on-site restaurant known as Gadus that is superb.
- Reinefjorden Sjohus in Hamnøy – One other nice choice with unbelievable views of mountains.
- Reine Rorbuer in Reine – These are tremendous cozy, having been restored to look as conventional as attainable. The cabins are proper within the middle of Reine, and have nice views.
Elliot and I stayed in rorbuer at Eliassen Rorbuer and Nusfjord Arctic Resort, and beloved them each. Our cabin at Eliassen Rorbuer had essentially the most unbelievable view – excellent for watching these snow storms rolling by means of. And our cabin at Nusfjord Arctic Resort was so cozy that we barely minded that it rained the entire time we had been there.
Rorbuer within the Lofoten Islands are typically dearer that staying in a lodge, nevertheless it’s price it for a pair nights!
9. Be versatile along with your journey plans
I in all probability do not really want to reiterate this one, however I’ll anyway: the extra versatile you could be along with your journey plans within the Lofoten Islands, the higher. It is a good suggestion to have a Plan B for many days.
The excellent news is that you just needn’t pre-book many actions right here, and every part is pretty shut collectively (the drive from Svolvaer to Reine is simply about 2 hours).
Elliot and I took our plans daily, usually pivoting based mostly on the climate forecast. We weren’t in a position to squeeze in any main mountaineering between rain showers, however we had been in a position to go to villages and fly our drone throughout transient sunny spells, and be indoors when it was snowing.
The one exercise we deliberate and booked forward for was a ship cruise from Svolvaer to Trollfjord – and it did get canceled and rescheduled as soon as due to climate. Fortunately, we managed to shuffle another plans round and squeeze it in on our final afternoon.
10. Make a plan for meals
One factor you do wish to plan forward for although? Meals! This is not essentially since you want reservations in all places, however extra as a result of there simply aren’t that many choices for consuming in a spot that is so small.
There are a handful of eating places in Svolvaer, however considerably fewer the additional south by means of the islands that you just journey. I extremely suggest consulting a Google map and on the lookout for eating places close to the place you intend to be every day. Then double examine their opening days/hours.
Reservations for dinner are really helpful at any eating places that take them, particularly in June, July, and August. And sure, you may plan to pay fairly a bit for meals, as meals is likely one of the dearer issues on this a part of Norway.
(That is one other argument for staying in a rorbu with a kitchen, in case you need/must prepare dinner a meal or two for your self.)
11. Be ready to eat – and scent – plenty of fish
Earlier than tourism was a factor within the Lofoten Islands, the principle trade right here was fishing. In truth, the Norse had been fishing for cod in these waters 1000’s of years in the past. Stockfish (air-dried cod) remains to be the most important export from this a part of Norway, and you will see (and possibly scent) cod drying on picket racks in each city and village you cross by means of.
You will additionally discover plenty of seafood on the menu right here, which should not be shocking. I like to recommend making an attempt stockfish if you happen to get an opportunity – most eating places make cooked dishes with it, and it is price a style!
12. Go away the money at dwelling
Like the remainder of the Nordic nations, Norway is sort of completely cash-less nowadays. And this extends to the Lofoten Islands, too. Contactless bank card or Apple/Google Pay funds are the norm, even in tiny retailers and bakeries. (In truth, many locations will not even settle for money!)
One factor Elliot and I seen is that bank card machines did not at all times like our American bank cards, although; we often wanted to insert the cardboard chip after which signal receipts to ensure that transactions to undergo at most eating places. (This wasn’t true in Oslo, the place we may faucet to pay in all places. It would simply be barely older bank card machines up north.)
Simply ensure you have got a bank card that does not cost you international transaction charges!
13. Know that there is not a lot free parking
Talking of paying for issues, you will must pay for parking at many well-liked websites within the Lofoten Islands like seashores, trailheads, and typically inside cities. That is largely a method to management free tenting (i.e. folks touring round Norway in campervans), however you will possible run into paid parking heaps, too.
That is the one case the place carrying some money may come in useful – simply keep in mind that Norway makes use of the Norwegian Krone (NOK) and never the Euro. In any other case you may pay for parking by means of apps like Simple Park. (You may additionally see Vipps talked about as a fee choice, however this can be a cell fee app solely obtainable to Norwegians.)
14. The islands usually are not a secret – however nonetheless quiet
The Lofoten Islands are positively not a secret in Norway any longer; plenty of folks have this area on their journey bucket record – and rightfully so!
And whereas the tourism trade is booming and you will find full-up lodging within the Lofoten Islands within the excessive season, this does not essentially imply that you’re going to be operating into site visitors jams or large crowds of individuals in all places. The Lofoten Islands are well-liked, sure; however the restricted vacationer services type of naturally controls the variety of folks right here at any given time.
Elliot and I visited on the very starting of the summer season season, and located it extremely quiet. In truth, there have been some cases the place we had viewpoints, parking areas, and seashores all to ourselves.
15. You want extra than simply 2 days
Whilst you *can* technically simply go to the Lofoten Islands for a pair days (once more, driving distances aren’t too loopy right here), I extremely suggest longer if you happen to can handle it.
Elliot and I spent 5 days within the Lofoten Islands, and it was a great period of time to have the ability to see/do every part with out dashing an excessive amount of. (Or, it might have been, had the climate been higher!)
And if you wish to prolong a visit to the Lofoten Islands, you may proceed additional north into the Vesterålen Islands and Senja, and even go all the way in which to Tromsø.
In case you favored this submit, you may additionally wish to examine visiting Northern Norway in winter!
What else do you wish to learn about visiting the Lofoten Islands?