Norway is such a bucket checklist vacation spot for lots of vacationers, and inside the nation there are such a lot of totally different bucket list-worthy areas and experiences. From seeing the Northern Lights within the north to sailing the fjords, there’s a lot right here so as to add to your to-do checklist.
After a number of journeys to Norway in numerous seasons, there was one area specifically that was nonetheless on my journey bucket checklist 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! Actually, I deliberate a whole journey to Norway round visiting the Lofoten Islands with my husband, Elliot.
Our time within the Lofoten Islands was equal elements unimaginable and difficult. Unimaginable as a result of it is actually a fantastic a part of the world, however difficult as a result of the wild climate prevented our expectations from totally residing as much as actuality.
You will see lots of pictures on-line from the Lofoten Islands both displaying off snowy landscapes and breathtaking skies stuffed with Northern Lights, or vibrant summer time sunshine turning clear water turquoise. However in actuality, you would possibly expertise neither and each of these issues within the span of a day.
In case you’re planning a bucket checklist journey to the Lofoten Islands your self, listed below are the issues (weather-related and never) that that you must know earlier than you go.
When to go to the Lofoten Islands
First issues first: when do you have to go to the Lofoten Islands?
You may technically go to this a part of Norway year-round, however the expertise may be very totally different relying on whenever you go. Winter within the Lofotens may be magical with snowy landscapes and dancing Northern Lights, whereas summer time is characterised by turquoise waters and the Midnight Solar.
Visiting in winter is difficult, nevertheless. 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 when it comes to tourism.
I due to this fact advocate visiting in late spring into summer time, when you’ve gotten a a lot better probability of nicer climate and issues being open. Most of my ideas beneath assume that you will be visiting from Could-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 Evening within the winter and the Midnight Solar in the summertime.
Since I like to recommend visiting these islands in summer time, you need to know that roughly from the top of Could by mid-July, the solar is not going to set in any respect within the Lofoten Islands. The Midnight Solar will probably be shining vibrant 24 hours a day – so I positively advocate packing a watch masks for lodge rooms or cottages which may not have full black-out curtains. (I like this eye mask 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 standard 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 1 one other by a sequence of bridges and tunnels, and the archipelago is linked to the mainland of Norway by way of bridges – so you may really drive there!
There are a number of totally different choices for attending to the Lofoten Islands. Most embody 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 prepare after which drive from there.
In case you’re flying to the Lofotens, a few of the hottest methods to get there embody:
- Flying into Bodø, choosing up a automobile, and taking the automobile ferry to Moskenes. Draw back? The ferry takes about 3.5 hours and the crossing may be tough.
- Flying into the Harstad/Narvik Airport in Evenes, choosing up a automobile, and driving to the Lofotens. Draw back? It’s kind of of a drive – 2.5 hours to Svolvær, which is form 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 through the summer time, and never every single day of the week.
Elliot and I did possibility quantity 2, getting direct flights between the Harstad/Narvik Airport in Evenes and Oslo on SAS. The flights have been quick (just a bit over an hour), and there are a number of rental automobile 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 automobile
Talking of getting a automobile and driving from wherever you fly into… you actually do want a automobile within the Lofoten Islands. Are there technically public buses that run between the primary cities within the islands? Sure. However the bus schedules aren’t nice, and I really by no means noticed a public bus on the roads the entire time we have been there.
In order for you full freedom to go to seashores, go on hikes, and go to all of the small fishing villages, you actually need to hire a automobile.
The excellent news for my fellow American drivers is that Norway drives on the precise and maintains fairly good roads. And whereas there are a number of locations the place you will encounter slim, one-lane roads with lay-by areas to facilitate 2-way site visitors, the vast majority of roads you will journey on within the Lofoten Islands are two lanes and paved (together with all of the roads that cross by tunnels).
We rented a automobile by Hertz in Evenes, and paid $335 to hire a compact 4WD automobile (with fundamental collision protection) for five days. (I like to recommend looking for automobile rental choices in Norway via AutoEurope.)
Simply be ready to drive in principally any climate, and take note of whether or not you are renting a guide or computerized automobile (particularly if you happen to’re like me and may solely confidently drive an computerized).
4. You are going to be open air quite a bit
Norway total is a really outdoorsy form of vacation spot, and that positively extends to the Lofoten Islands, too. The highest issues to do within the Lofoten Islands embody issues like mountain climbing within the mountains, taking boat journeys, visiting seashores, strolling by fishing villages, and usually simply being open air soaking in all of the epic surroundings.
In addition to a handful of very small museums, there’s not really quite a bit to do indoors within the Lofoten Islands. So packing applicable clothes for spending outing within the parts is important to having fun with a visit right here.
5. Prep for actually any form of climate
Even if you happen to go to the Lofoten Islands through the summer time months when the climate is mostly extra settled, that does not imply that you just should not pack for actually any climate eventuality.
In June, it could possibly be 75 levels (F) and sunny, or a freak snow squall might blow by. You must also plan for rain. Because the Lofoten Islands form of dangle off Norway into the Norwegian Sea, climate strikes in – and out – shortly.
When Elliot and I visited in late Could into early June, it was sunny and heat down in Oslo, however really freezing up within the Lofotens – we had snow on June 1st!
Norwegians love the saying “there is not 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 very good rain coat, rain pants, and waterproof sneakers/boots.
Listed below are some gadgets 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 mountain climbing right here may be intense
Talking of mountain climbing and being open air quite a bit, that you must know that lots of the actually standard hikes within the Lofoten Islands (those you’ve got most likely seen Instagram pictures of) aren’t simply straightforward little strolls.
The hike to the Reinebringen viewpoint, for instance, appears quick 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 got a recipe for some intense mountain climbing.
Although hikes aren’t stunning, although, contemplating how mountainous the Lofoten Islands are. Simply do your analysis forward of time so that you may be ready if you happen to’re placing mountain climbing in your to-do checklist. (Hiking poles and good mountain climbing sneakers/boots extremely beneficial.)
7. Ebook cozy lodging – prematurely
Because the climate may 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 have been planning.
(Ask us how we all know this. Ha!)
And ensure to guide effectively forward of time, particularly if you happen to’ll be visiting through the summer time. The very best locations to remain guide up prematurely, and if you happen to wait till the final minute chances are you’ll find yourself paying a premium to remain anyplace.
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 fashionable 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 all the pieces you want, and often include a bed room, seating space, and sometimes a kitchenette.
A number of the hottest rorbuer you may keep in embody:
- Lofoten Basecamp in Leknes – A well-liked possibility 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’ve got positively seen in pictures of the Lofoten Islands. There are a bunch of various cabin configurations with totally different views, together with an on-site restaurant known as Gadus that is superb.
- Reinefjorden Sjohus in Hamnøy – One other nice possibility with unimaginable views of mountains.
- Reine Rorbuer in Reine – These are tremendous cozy, having been restored to look as conventional as doable. 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 liked them each. Our cabin at Eliassen Rorbuer had essentially the most unimaginable view – good for watching these snow storms rolling by. And our cabin at Nusfjord Arctic Resort was so cozy that we barely minded that it rained the entire time we have been there.
Rorbuer within the Lofoten Islands are typically costlier that staying in a lodge, nevertheless it’s price it for a pair nights!
9. Be versatile along with your journey plans
I most likely do not really want to reiterate this one, however I’ll anyway: the extra versatile you may 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 need not pre-book many actions right here, and all the pieces is pretty shut collectively (the drive from Svolvaer to Reine is just 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 mountain climbing between rain showers, however we have been in a position to go to villages and fly our drone throughout temporary 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 every single place, 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 the islands that you just journey. I extremely advocate 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 beneficial 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 costlier 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 cook dinner a meal or two for your self.)
11. Be ready to eat – and odor – a number of fish
Earlier than tourism was a factor within the Lofoten Islands, the primary trade right here was fishing. Actually, the Norse have been fishing for cod in these waters hundreds of years in the past. Stockfish (air-dried cod) remains to be the foremost export from this a part of Norway, and you may see (and possibly odor) cod drying on wood racks in each city and village you cross by.
You will additionally discover a number of seafood on the menu right here, which should not be stunning. 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 residence
Like the remainder of the Nordic international locations, Norway is nearly totally cash-less today. And this extends to the Lofoten Islands, too. Contactless bank card or Apple/Google Pay funds are the norm, even in tiny outlets and bakeries. (Actually, 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 might faucet to pay in every single place. It’d simply be barely older bank card machines up north.)
Simply make sure you’ve gotten a bank card that does not cost you overseas 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 standard websites within the Lofoten Islands like seashores, trailheads, and generally inside cities. That is largely a approach to management free tenting (i.e. folks touring round Norway in campervans), however you will possible run into paid parking tons, too.
That is the one case the place carrying some money would possibly turn out to be 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 apps like Straightforward Park. (You might also see Vipps talked about as a cost possibility, however this can be a cellular cost app solely out there to Norwegians.)
14. The islands aren’t a secret – however nonetheless quiet
The Lofoten Islands are positively not a secret in Norway any longer; a number of folks have this area on their journey bucket checklist – 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 will be operating into site visitors jams or huge crowds of individuals in every single place. The Lofoten Islands are standard, sure; however the restricted vacationer services form of naturally controls the variety of folks right here at any given time.
Elliot and I visited on the very starting of the summer time season, and located it extremely quiet. Actually, 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 advocate longer if you happen to can handle it.
Elliot and I spent 5 days within the Lofoten Islands, and it was a very good period of time to have the ability to see/do all the pieces with out speeding an excessive amount of. (Or, it could have been, had the climate been higher!)
In case you appreciated this put up, you may additionally prefer to examine visiting Northern Norway in winter!
What else do you wish to find out about visiting the Lofoten Islands?