This autumn it was my second time back in Lofoten, Norway and it won’t be my last time up North for sure. It’s no wonder that the Lofoten Islands is often described as one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. It truly is spectacular! Lofoten is a nature lover’s dream destination with tall peaky mountains going straight down into the fjords lined with white-sandy beaches and the shoreline dotted with picturesque red fishermen’s cabins.
But one thing is sure in Northern Norway – The weather is going to be crazy! Within minutes it can change from heavy rainstorm to beautiful sunshine and in between you get surprised with mesmerizing rainbows!, Lofoten’s weather is notoriously unpredictable, so regardless of what the weather forecast is saying, bring some rain gear and warm layers that you can remove if the sun comes out. And if you’re planning on doing lots of walking or hiking, definitely bring some really good waterproof pants with you. But don’t let the weather dictate your plans. Just take it as it comes, be prepared and get out adventuring!
The best time to visit Lofoten depends on what you are aiming at experiencing. From September to April you have the chance to see the Northern Lights but might bear cold temperatures and little sunlight. The Midnight Sun (from May to July) is another special phenomena that also offers you the best hiking conditions. While in off season it’s rather quiet (e.g. September/October; March/April) you’ll have to share the beautiful views with more people during summer season… We went end September and it was the best time to catch all the autumn colors (however, lots of hikes where closed and the ferries to Vaeroy, Senja didn’t operate anymore) and beginning of the Northern light season.
Why Lofoten are particularly interesting from a geographical & geological point of view is that the archipelago consists of seven islands connected by bridges and tunnels within the arctic circle and is the perfect place for a road trip. Lofoten is all about outdoor adventures, and it is an eldorado for hiking, kayaking, fishing, climbing, skiing, biking, surfing, and kitesurfing.
HOW TO GET TO LOFOTEN
There are various ways to go to Lofoten and it mostly depends on where your accommodation is located and what your overall route looks like.
- Harstad-Narvik airport actually not Lofoten islands anymore since it is north on the mainland. The airport is the cheaper option, but requires a longer drive to get to central Lofoten (4hrs).
- Fly into Bodøand then take the ferry to This is a common route in the summer season, but not so common in the winter as the ferry schedule is quite limited.
- Fly into Svolvær Airport orLeknes Airport. They are both in a more central area of Lofoten. Flying into these airports will cut down on driving but flights and rental cars may be more expensive or not available at all during low season.
We had a mess with the flights to Lofoten and they got last minute cancelled to Svolvaer so we ended up booking everything to Narvik. In retrospective I think it was the best option, very reasonable price and since we spontaneously adapted our route (more on that later) it was a short drive on the last day.
WHERE TO STAY IN LOFOTEN
Our homebase for this trip was Hattvika Lodge. Let me tell you right off the bat that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced better hospitality than I did at the Hattvika Lodge. Kristian, the lovely owner, has rebuilt fisherman cottages to host guests from around the world.The authentic fisherman’s are is located at best place in Ballstad – central and therefore all adventure destinations are reachable within 1 hour.
The fisherman cottages are newly rebuilt and origin from the 1870’s with modern high standard in all facilities where you can take the pulse of Lofoten’s charm and tradition, while enjoying modern comfort.
Newly built during the last year are the ten Hattvika Hillside: Exclusive, free standing hotel rooms raised on the top of Hattvika with an extraordinary view. While the Hillside rooms have a delicious breakfast included and leave you the freedom to eat out wherever you are, the fisherman cottages/rorbu units have a full equipped kitchen to be your own Chef.
Hattvika Lodges provides its guests with the ultimate adventure, from sea kayaking, guided hiking or trail running, stand-up paddling, year round photo tours as well as ski touring in the winter. It’s pretty cool and I’m sure you won’t be bored with the many options you have up North!
Big plus and actually it’s a reason to go back soon is the newly opened Restaurant FANGST at the property. Looks like an authentic and delicious food experience to be made.
The Adventure starts at your Home Abroad – Check out the Hattvika Lodge when you’re planning a trip here—you won’t be disappointed.
MUST PLACE TO VISIT IN LOFOTEN
The Lofoten Islands are located across the turbulent waters of the Norwegian Sea, within the Arctic Circle. This rare wilderness offers an untrammeled landscape of majestic mountains, winding fjords, squawking seabirds, long and wild beaches and charming fishing villages. The places in Lofoten are one of a kind. You might have seen already many photos of my adventures on Instagram but now I’d like to give you more practical information if you consider or plan YOUR trip to Lofoten.
We started our trip with a short sleepover at Svolvaer but knew that we’ll come back for a more extensive adventure. In fact, it is the biggest city on the archipelago and has some nice museums and shops to offer. And you’ll find that it is definitely busy compared to the rest of Lofoten. Right from the parking lot in Svolvaer the beautiful but also demanding hike to Svolværgeita starts. If you’re daring enough and want to capture the photo of a lifetime then you should climb Svolværgeita.
Svolværgeita is a famous vertical climb which is made up two rock formations that resemble goat’s horns. Its double peak sits 590 metres above sea level and can only be climbed with an experienced guide. But also just watching it from afar is stunning. You’ll overview Svolvaer and the little Islands around. When we were there, the Sherpas where building the stair climb to the summit and it’s truly impressive how they make hiking easier for the tourists.
Getting around Lofoten would be incredibly cumbersome without tunnels and bridges like the Fredvang Bridges. It might sound weird to list visiting a couple of bridges as a top thing to do in Lofoten, but you’ll cross so many unique one that it’s worth stopping by too.
Next beautiful village on your roadtrip should be Henningsvær. It is one of of the prettiest seaports in Lofoten. So pretty in fact that it’s been called ‘the Venice of Lofoten’. Located on a byroad of the European route E10 highway, Henningsvær is made up by a string of islets populated by brightly coloured wooden houses.
A village built on several tiny islands seemingly dropped into the water from the mighty Vågakallen mountain, Henningsvær is one of Lofoten’s best-known places. Maybe also because of the uniquely located football field. That is really crazy and I can imagine that it’s pretty nice to watch teams playing a game on here. I can highly recommend to have a little walk around the town and if you fancy a hike then Vågakallen is worth the effort.
Ballstad & Nusfjord
Lofoten is best known for it’s beautiful fisher villages and evidence suggests that even Stone Age people were fishing around these waters from at least 6 000 years ago. Ballstad and Nusfjord are two quite popular villages for their unique cottages (red & yellow). While Ballstad is a great starting point for your hikes & kayaking adventures, Nusfjord is a bit more hidden but nonetheless worth the drive 🙂 In Ballstad we had some incredibly delicious meals and I highly recommend Solsiden when you want to try some traditional dishes.
Hamnøy & Sakrisøya
You might have seen a lot of photos from these two places but seeing them with your own eyes is something totally different. Hamnøy is a popular spot thanks to its ultra scenic landscape. It’s here you’ll find red cabins hugging the shoreline and maintains its original character and genuine décor. Sakrisøya is largely occupied by fish racks along with rorbu rentals including the excellent Sakrisøya Rorbuer.
I recommend you to come here on different times of the day or stop on the way south and when you head back in the evening you’ll find a completely different mood.
Next on the E10 South is the island village Reine, which has arguably the most spectacular setting in all of Lofoten. The approach by car is nothing short of breathtaking. The E10 winds its way across islands and skerries for a couple of miles, with open ocean, mirror-like lakes, and granite peaks visible in every direction. Considered to be “the most beautiful place in the world”, all around Reine are red and white fishermen’s cabins sprinkled around the shoreline
The village itself is well equipped for visitors, especially during the summer season when cafés and restaurants compete for your attention. We had a great dinner experience at Gammelbua and would have stayed to watch the Northern lights too.
Reine is also the starting point for the most famous and popular Lofoten hike. Hiking the Reinebringen trail has been on my bucket list for so long and the last time in Winter we couldn’t go up because it was simply too dangerous. This time, in fact it was also partially closed (off season end October) since also here the Sherpas where doing maintenance work on the trail. The ascent is very steep and will take you between 1.5-2 hours to climb the 1 km distance.
Å i Lofoten
If you want to make it to the very end (“of the world”) drive to Å i Lofoten. It’s very historic and the museum tells you a lot about life on the coast. Interesting to know is that the Lofoten Fishery starts in January, when the cod is coming from the High Arctic down to the tepid waters of Lofoten to spawn. The cod reaches the outermost islands first, so at Røst, Værøy and around Å, one can fish already in January. At this time, the cod is still round and fat. Later, the cod migrates further northeast towards eastern Lofoten, it doesn’t eat. The fat cod from around Å is thus different from the lean one from around Svolvær, and is much preferred in Southern Italy. Northern Italians prefer the lean one from the east.
This means depending when you visit, you’ll see a lot of stockfish drying on the racks and a penetrant smell of rodden fish wherever you go 😉
Lofoten has some of the most beautiful beaches for sure. We visited a few but there are still so many left for next time 😉 Depending on what activity you want to do there are some particularly nice beaches to visit. But let me introduce you to the best ones:
- Kvalvika beach is a secluded beach that can only be reached by hiking an hour up a moderately steep mountain. Kvalvika beach has gained more popularity also due to social Media. You can do an easy hike straight from the parking or also aim for a longer one combined with Ryten, But make sure to check the weather shortly before, as you might face danger (snow, wind, rainstorm)…
- Unstad beach is in fact the heart of the Norwegian surfing scene. Despite being well within the Arctic Circle this beach attracts surfers from around the world. Admittedly many come out of curiosity, but there can be good waves here and the scenery is absolutely stunning. And also as photographer you can get pretty nice shots 🙂
- Haukland beach & Uttakleiv beach are rated as the most beautiful ones and very popular amongst campers. They are divided by Mannen which is a nice mountain head to hike to and enjoy the view. Definitely recommend it when the weather is nice. Furthermore, at Uttakleiv you can get some pretty amazing Northern lights compositions 🙂
- Ramberg stranda Ramberg occupies an idyllic spot on Jusnesvika bay.Worth to stop by when you are on the way south. With its green grass, azure sea and the majestic peaks around it, Rambergstranda beach is an experience not to be missed. A narrow walkway made of wooden sleepers leads to the beach.
A Norway trip more than Lofoten
Of course, Lofoten will offer you more than enough but if you have time, then making a short trip to Andoya or Senja is 1000% worth it. Since the ferries to Vaeroy were cancelled we changed our plans spontaneously and stayed for 4 days on Vesterålen and 3 in Senja. Of course also on these beautiful places you could spend much more time than we did 🙂 Lots of hikes, museums and historical locations to explore.
In summer there is also a ferry service which makes travel a lot more easier. If you make the trip do not miss out to hike to Segla (from Fjordgard) and Matinden.
Hope you liked this guide to Lofoten and you feel inspired to explore the Northern Norway for unique adventures! If you want to find out more about visiting in Winter, read my last Lofoten guide!