The Lofoten islands are an archipelago off mainland Norway that sit above the Arctic Circle. Idyllic views draw thousands of visitors each year, mainly in summer, for outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking and fishing. In winter, the area is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for Northern Lights hunters, thanks to its northerly location. Read Mundana’s guide to find out where to go and what to see.
What to include on your Lofoten Island itinerary
The strung out nature of the Lofoten archipelago makes for a little backtracking if you’re keen to stay in one base. Nevertheless, the scenery is so spectacular that you won’t mind passing it more than once.
This charming village is located towards the south of the archipelago, around ten minutes drive from the Moskenes ferry terminal. A cluster of historic buildings around a sheltered harbour have been turned into museums. Inside, you can see traditional fishing boats and learn about how the equipment needed has evolved over the years. There’s a fisherman’s house that’s been left as it would have looked in the past and an old bakery that’s still turning out delicious bread after more than a century in the business. If you’re visiting Norway’s Lofoten Islands, plan to spend at least half a day here if you want to see everything.
Hamnøy and Sakrisøy
These two islands are always full of life thanks to a collection of waterfront eateries against a backdrop of Lilandstinden mountain. The photographer’s favourite view of Hamnøy is easy to replicate if you walk up onto the bridge connecting it with Sakrisøy. Back towards the village, position yourself so that the fish drying racks and kittiwakes add foreground interest to your shots. In front of Sakrisøy’s egg yolk yellow cabins you‘ll see plenty of kayaks; guided trips leave daily so long as the water is calm enough. A must while here is to browse in Anita’s Seafood, a delightful restaurant with delicatessen which will delight any committed foodie. Be sure to order the fish soup and take away a packet of dried stockfish to munch whenever you feel peckish.
This is one of Lofoten’s most famous villages and not to be missed. This pretty place sprawls around the water’s edge and is postcard perfect, no matter what the season – it’s equally stunning under a carpet of snow as it is on a summer’s day. If you have a head for heights, follow the moderately challenging Reinebringen trail. Climb up more than a thousand steps cut into the mountainside for a unique view of the mountain lake and the village below. At 448 metres high, it’s by no means the tallest peak in the area though the view is one of the most remarkable in Arctic Norway.
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Known locally as Flakstadsanden, this gorgeous beach is one of the best in the archipelago. On a clear, sunny day the water turns a vivid turquoise which pops against the white sand. It’s a beautiful place to sit in the dunes and admire the scenery. When the wind gets up, this is also a great spot for surfing. Rent equipment from Lofoten Beach Camp – look out for the distinctive pyramid clubhouse which you will see from the road. If you’ve chosen to rent a motorhome to tour the archipelago, there are few spots more relaxing than this to park up for a few days.
Lofotr Viking Museum
If you’ve any interest in history, this compelling museum is a shoe-in for your itinerary. The main attraction is a recreation of a Viking longhouse, situated a few metres from the archaeological site where the original was found. Inside, you can try various crafts and dress up in period clothing. Yet, the museum’s activities aren’t confined to the longhouse. Afterwards, walk downhill passing pens containing wild boar and meadows where horses graze. At the fjord, there are plenty more interactive experiences to entertain as well as educate. You can row a replica Viking longship, throw an axe at a bale of hay and try to hit a target with a bow and arrow.
One of the most relaxing ways to reach the Lofoten Islands is by sea. Approaching from the water (as opposed to arriving by air) gives you the opportunity to appreciate the Lofotveggen, a wall of mountain peaks that is a hint of the dramatic scenery to come. Norwegian company Hurtigruten includes the archipelago on its expedition cruises. Ferries also make the crossing from Bodø on the mainland, which is one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2024. Typically, it takes a little under four hours to reach Moskenes. Once on the archipelago getting around is simple, as bridges connect the main islands. Rent a car, use a hop on, hop off tour service or concentrate on one smaller area such as Nusfjord.
Where to stay
When visiting Norway’s Lofoten Islands, the most luxurious options capitalise on the area’s heritage. Traditionally, the area’s fishermen used cabins called rorbuer. They’re easy to spot, thanks to their red exteriors – the paint would once have been made from fish oil. Men stayed in them while working in the seasonal stockfish industry and slept in crowded conditions in bunks. Today’s guests have considerably more space and the best cabins have been fitted out with luxury in mind. Try Nusfjord Arctic Resort, where a collection of cabins surrounds a pretty harbour. Another popular option is Eliassen Rorbuer in Hamnøy, similarly a hotel-style complex with accommodation in individual rorbuer.
We think visiting Norway’s Lofoten Islands should be on every bucket list. Why not let Mundana design a bespoke Lofoten itinerary for you? We can also combine it with mainland destinations such as Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø. Get in touch to outline your requirements – we’ll do the rest.