This ultimate guide to Lofoten will teach you everything you need to know to make your trip even more magical
This post contain affiliate links
In the cold and arctic northern part of Norway you’ll find the Lofoten Islands. With millions of photos of it’s majestic fjords and mountains all over social media these days it’s almost impossible for people not to add Lofoten to their bucket list. And with good reason – Lofoten totally lives up to its hype. Located only a few hours from my hometown and our cabin, I can’t even count how many times I’ve visited Lofoten growing up and it has earned a special place in my heart.
The last few years I’ve been lucky enough to do three full Lofoten road trips with friends, in addition to multiple day trips and weekend trips to Svolvær. This ultimate guide to Lofoten is based on my recent experiences and is filled with helpful tips to make planning your Lofoten trip a little easier. Keep reading for my best tips on when to go, what to do and how to plan your Lofoten trip.
Table Of Contents
- The Best Time To Visit Lofoten
- The Best Way To Get Around The Lofoten Islands
- The Best Ways To Get To Lofoten
- How Much Time To Spend On A Lofoten Trip
- Tips For Driving In The Lofoten Islands
- Helpful Things To Know Before Your Trip To Lofoten
- How To Visit Lofoten On A Budget
- What To Pack For A Lofoten Trip
- Places You Cannot Miss In Lofoten (with map)
The Best Time To Visit Lofoten
The first thing you should know when deciding on the best time to visit Lofoten is that the weather in northern Norway is extremely unpredictable in any season. Similar to Scotland and Ireland, there simply aren’t any guarantees up here. The good news is that Lofoten is an incredible experience in any weather. That being said, the best time to visit Lofoten depends on what kind of experience you want for yourself and what qualities you value the most. Every season has its pros and cons and I’ll help you sort them out:
Summer (June – August)
PROS: The most popular time to visit Lofoten is undoubtedly during the summer months. This is the time of the year when the weather conditions are usually on their best behavior, which is great for camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. The best thing about visiting in summer is the magical and bucket list worthy midnight sun! Between May 26 and July 17 you get 24 hours of daylight in Lofoten, which gives you extra ‘time’ to experience the wonderful nature. After July 17 it gets gradually darker until fall, so late July and August are still great times to visit.
CONS: The greatest con of visiting Lofoten in summer are the huge crowds. Lofoten in summer is still worth it though, just be prepared for longer lines and schedule in more time for activities you want to do. High season also means higher prices for accommodation and car rentals so make sure you book early. Not only will it be easier on your wallet, you might also risk ending up with no bed to sleep in and no car to drive if you snooze. Also beware that you won’t be able to see northern lights during summer in Lofoten.
Fall (August – October)
PROS: Fall in northern Norway is a pretty short affair that last from late August to the beginning of October. In fall you’ll get to experience Lofoten with less crowds than in summer, which is a relief compared to mid-July. It is generally colder than in summer, but if you’re in luck you’ll have amazing clear weather conditions, which will allow you to enjoy Lofoten in beautiful fall colors. If you’re extra lucky you may even get to experience the northern lights! The chances are pretty good in late September and October since it gets darker.
CONS: If its important for you to experience the midnight sun you should visit Lofoten prior to fall. The period with midnight sun technically ends July 17th. However, the nights are still pretty long in the weeks following, which creates the most incredible sunsets in fall. You should also know that your chances of getting bad weather during your Lofoten trip are higher in fall. If you’re unlucky it can rain a lot, especially in late September and October.
Winter (November – March)
PROS: Winter in Lofoten is beautiful. Enjoy the magical sight of snow covered trees and mountain tops while exploring the adorable fisherman villages. Spend your nights hunting for northern lights and your days skiing or ice fishing. Although it looks super cold, Lofoten has a coastal climate which means it doesn’t get that cold (thank you Mexico Gulf). The best part about winter in Lofoten? The lack of crowds!
CONS: I’m not gonna lie. Winter gets pretty dark up here, especially between December and February. But as long as you take advantage of the few hours of daylight you get each day, it’s not necessarily a problem. Heck, I even hear some visitors find it exotic! Those dark afternoons are perfect for bonfires by the shore or curling up in front of the fireplace in a rorbu. Beware that some restaurants and activities might be closed during winter so don’t forget to research your itinerary favorites before booking.
Spring (March – May)
PROS: Visiting Lofoten in spring is a lovely opportunity to experience Lofoten with more daylight than in winter, but without the huge influx of tourists one can expect in summer. In March and April you can see northern lights if you’re lucky, before the beautiful midnight sun season begins in May. Hiking (without snowshoes or skis) is possible if the weather and/or snow conditions allow it. Avalanches are not uncommon, so ask around before heading out on a hike!
CONS: The weather in Lofoten is very unpredictable in Spring, and the temperatures vary each year. Check the forecast before you go and pack accordingly. Also keep in mind that the forecast change rapidly and arent always correct, so don’t get too disappointed if it predicts a lot of rain or snow.
My Opinion: The Best Time To Visit Lofoten
Early June: If you visit Lofoten in early June you’ll get the upsides of summer season without the huge crowds. Decent chance of good weather, but it might still be cold, especially at night, so bring thermals and warm layers if you’re planning on spending some time outdoors.
Fall: In late August or September your chances of clear weather are decent without the crowds being enormous. The nights are still lighter despite the midnight sun being gone, which is perfect for hiking.
March/April: Winter in Lofoten can be a beautiful experience. Visit in March or April for the best odds of enjoying the snow covered region with clear skies. You also get more daylight than between December and February.
The Best Way To Get Around The Lofoten Islands
I’m going to be completely honest here: The best way to get around the Lofoten Islands is by driving. Frankly, it’s the only way. You will not be able to experience everything you want to in Lofoten unless you have a car to get around in. Public transportation is available, sure, but it is very limited compared to other places in Europe and even in Norway. Taking a bus in Lofoten is more of an option if you’re going from A to B, or if you’re only staying in one particular area.
Where you should rent your car from depends on how you’re getting to Lofoten and where you want to begin your journey. Note that the majority of cars in Norway are with a stick shift. If you don’t want the extra stress of learning as you go, I recommend you rent a car with automatic gear shift if that’s what you’re used to driving.
WITHOUT A CAR: Want to see the highlights of Lofoten without driving yourself? Check out this private sightseeing tour from Svolvær or Leknes. You’ll get to experience Haukland and Uttakleiv Beach, Eggum, Lofotr Viking Museum, Unstad, Flakstad and Reine – in one day!
The Best Ways To Get To Lofoten
You have plenty of options of how to get to Lofoten, depending on where you’re traveling from, season, budget and your preferred travel style:
Fly Directly To Lofoten
The easiest option is to fly directly to one of Lofoten’s two airports in and pick up a rental car once you land. Flights to this part of Norway are often expensive, but if you book early it might be cheaper than the other options below (via Bodø, Evenes or Tromsø). I’ll admit I hate flying to Lofoten due to the tiny planes and awful turbulence, but I’m the biggest wuss so don’t mind me. Remember to book a rental car in advance at Svolvær Airport or Leknes Airport.
Another option is to fly into Evenes Airport, which lies between the cities of Harstad and Narvik. From there you can rent a car and drive to Svolvær, or take the bus, for 2.5-3 hours. The road might be a bit tough in the winter if you’re not used those conditions, but this way you’ll avoid ferries and other boats which is perfect for those who get easily seasick.
A popular route to Lofoten is via my hometown Bodø. Many flights connect Bodø to the rest of Norway and tickets are often not too expensive if booked early. Taking the train to Bodø is also an option if you’re coming from the south. Trondheim – Bodø takes approximately 10 hours and it has some truly breathtaking views. Oh, and did I mention train tickets start at 199 NOK? That’s basically free! From Bodø you can get to Lofoten in many ways:
- Take the ferry to Moskenes: Perfect if you want to start in the west of Lofoten, or if you’re renting a car from Bodø. Check route here. (3.5hr/234 NOK)
- Take Hurtigruten to Stamsund or Svolvær: A comfortable ride on a large ship where you get to enjoy some of the best views in the world. (4hr to Stamsund, 6hr to Svolvær / From 448 NOK).
- Drive To Lofoten via E6: Discover beautiful and more off the beaten path destinations in Sørfold, Steigen, Hamarøy and Vesterålen (GUIDE COMING SOON)
- Take a speedboat to Svolvær: Perfect if you want to start your Lofoten trip in the east (3.5 hr / 708 NOK). I highly recommend booking in advance.
- Fly to Svolvær or Leknes: Perfect if you want to spend some time exploring Bodø or if you get sea sick easily. Check availability & prices.
It is also possible to combine a Lofoten adventure with a Tromsø trip. From Tromsø you can get to Lofoten by:
- Airplane: Fly to Svolvær (via Bodø, 2-4 hrs) or Leknes (50 min non-stop). Check availability & prices.
- Drive: Rent a car in Tromsø and drive to Lofoten for an incredible road trip experience (6 hrs to Svolvær)
- Bus: Take the bus to Svolvær via Bjerkvik (7.5 hrs / 457 NOK). Check out route & prices.
- Boat + bus: Take the local speedboat to Harstad (3 hrs / 650 NOK) and the bus from Harstad to Svolvær (3+ hrs / 328 NOK).
- Hurtigruten: A comfy trip by ship that takes like 17 hours (!), but you’ll get to see a lot of beautiful towns and nature on your way. Check timetable and prices.
How Much Time You Need For A Lofoten Trip
I mean, how much time do you have? There is so much to see an do in Lofoten, and since everything is spread out across a huge area you’ll never be able to see absolutely everything in one trip. I suggest you do some research on what you want to see and do, plot everything into Google Maps and play around with the driving instruction option. This will give you an idea on how much time you’ll need driving between sights, which is helpful when it comes to your next step: Prioritizing what to see and do in Lofoten.
If you want to check out everything I recommend later in this guide you should spend at least 3-4 days on your Lofoten road trip. If you have more time on your hands I suggest spending 7-10 days or even more. There are so many wonderful places to see in Lofoten, you have no idea! Don’t forget to schedule in extra time for inconveniences, breaks and even taking pictures – which you’ll want to do every other minute.
7 Tips For Driving In The Lofoten Islands
Since I’m basically ordering you to rent a car when visiting Lofoten, I thought I’d share some helpful tips for driving in the Lofoten Islands as well. The main road you’ll be driving in Lofoten is named the E10, in addition to several smaller roads whenever you take a ‘detour’. The E10 can sometimes be pretty narrow and its quite bumpy (and crappy) by international standards, and the other roads are usually worse. But if you just pay attention and drive carefully you’ll be fine!
1. Don’t Underestimate The Distances
People are often surprised by the distances in Norway, which in turn make them underestimate the driving times. Let me tell you once and for all: Norway is a long country and the distances are big – plan accordingly. In fact, it’s the longest country in Europe and driving from south to north takes at least 30 hours. Crazy, right? It looks so small on the world map.
2. Be Attentive Of Your Surroundings
Always be attentive of your surroundings when driving in the Lofoten Islands. Dipped headlights are mandatory at all times while driving in Norway and its like that for a reason. Keep in mind that the roads up here are narrow and curvy, that the weather may change suddenly, and always look out for wildlife in the road (those moose can be a pain in the ass). If you’re uncomfortable keeping up with the speed limit, thats okay, just make sure to let other cars pass whenever you can. And whatever you do, do NOT hit the breaks and stop for photos in the middle of the road. I’ve seen this so many times and it is so dangerous!
3. Get To Know The Road Signs
Pay close attention to the road traffic signs to avoid potential accidents. Norwegian signs are similar to ones you’ll find in other European countries. If you’re unsure about this you part of driving in Lofoten you can have a look at this quick guide before hitting the roads. Pay extra close attention to warning signs, and make sure you always know if you’re driving on a priority road or not (when in doubt, always yield to those coming from your right). Getting a ticket in Norway is very expensive, so do your best to avoid it by not speeding, and so on.
4. Drinking & Driving
If you come from a country where it’s okay to drive after one beer or a glass of wine, you should know this is NOT the case in Norway. We have a zero tolerance (0.2 ‰) legal limit, and if you’re caught driving under the influence you’re risking a huge fine and even jail. Don’t do it.
5. Stock Up On Fuel (& Snacks)
Gas stations don’t grow on trees in this part of Norway, so keep an extra eye on that gas tank indicator of your car and fill up that tank when you can. I also suggest you stock up on snacks, drinks and basic foods for the trip. Google Maps is very helpful and I suggest you save the locations of gas stations and grocery stores in case you lose service while driving.
6. Driving In The Winter
Although Lofoten is extremely beautiful during winter, I know that some of you are worried about driving in Lofoten during this season. I’ll admit it can be challenging at times, even more so if you’re not used to winter driving in general. But if you’re careful you should be perfectly fine! Read more about winter driving in Lofoten here.
7. Ferry Tips
Check the ferry schedule in advance if you’re planning on going somewhere where you need to take one. In some very remote places the ferries only go once or twice a day, and I often hear about tourists getting stuck on a tiny island in the north for the night. Especially pay close attention if you’re traveling off season.
Helpful Things To Know Before Your Trip To Lofoten
.. or Norway in general
Important Phone Numbers
Fire department: 110
Non-urgent medical attention: 116117
Who To Contact If You Need Medical Attention
In case you need non-urgent medical attention while in Norway you should know that you can’t just show up at the closest hospital like in some countries. In Norway you have to go to a pre-check at «legevakten» where medical professionals will examine you, treat you or refer you to the closes hospital for further examinations and/or treatment. Phone number: 116117
Take Safety Precautions When Hiking
Respect the forces of nature and be careful while hiking and climbing. Do proper research on routes prior to hiking and bring necessary equipment like the right clothes, food and water (even on short hikes). Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back, so that someone will contact the authorities in case of emergencies. Listen to locals and the authorities, and please follow instructions if you see a warning sign at the beginning of a hike..
Beware Of Weird Opening Hours
For some reason I’ve never understood, Norway takes its Sundays and holidays very seriously. This isn’t reflected at all in our personalities (at least not here in the north), but it is reflected in our opening hours. Most stores and malls are closed on Sundays and holidays, with the exception of grocery stores smaller than 100 square meters and gas stations and kiosks like Narvesen and 7Eleven. Some stores even close early the day before a major holiday. You should definitely be aware of this if you’re traveling to Norway around Christmas, Easter or in the month of May.
How To Find A Pharmacy
Pharmacies in Norway are called apotek. They close early compared to other countries in Europe, around 6 pm on weekdays, but some of them may close earlier in rural areas or on Saturdays. You can get regular pain meds and band-aids in grocery stores and gas stations.
Be Respectful Of Locals & The Environment
I know its easy to get carried a way when traveling, but please keep in mind that people actually live in Lofoten. It is fragile nature and real communities, not a theme park. The last few summers the locals have been tired of people parking or camping in their backyards without asking, and of people pooping in the middle of popular hiking trails. Some visitors even camped in the local cemeteries (!). Use common sense, be respectful and behave like you’d want visitors in your country to behave.
Beware Of Norway’s Alcohol Laws
Us Norwegians love our liquor, but you wouldn’t necessarily believe that when learning about our weird and strict alcohol laws. Sure, our legal drinking age is pretty low compared to countries like the US. Legal drinking age is 18 years for any alcoholic beverages up to 22% alcohol volume (think beer, cider, wine) and 20 years for anything above 22%. But it all goes downhill from here you guys:
- You can buy beer and cider in regular grocery stores, but only before 8 pm on weekdays and before 6 pm on Saturdays.
- If you want anything stronger than 4,75 % alc. vol. you have to buy it in Vinmonopolet. It’s a state owned and regulated store that literally translates into The Wine Monopoly in English. Weird, right? Weell at least they have a great selection and their employees have some serious skills. Vinmonopolet is usually only available in larger towns, though, so in Lofoten you’ll only find it in Svolvær and Leknes. Check out their store finder here.
- Drinking in public places is illegal (yes, even parks), but if you show discretion it’s usually not an issue.
- Alcohol is very expensive in Norway due to high taxes, so it might be a good idea to buy some on the tax free in the airport on your way up north.
How To Visit Lofoten On A Budget
This goes for Norway in general, really: It’s expensive over here. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible on a budget, you just have to plan accordingly. It’s all about prioritizing and planning ahead. Besides, the last few years our currency, the Norwegian Krone (NOK), has been pretty weak. Which sucks for me when traveling, but its a good thing for you! Here are my best tips on how to visit Lofoten on a budget:
Save By Choosing The Right Season
Accommodation, flights and car rentals are usually cheaper during low season, so you can save a lot of money by choosing the cheaper season to visit. Late June, July and August are the busiest months in Lofoten, so try to avoid these months if you can. Read my secrets on how to book cheap flights here.
Save On Accommodation
The trick to saving on accommodation is booking early, especially if you’re traveling during high season. Compare prices on sites like booking.com or airbnb.com ASAP and look for a place with a kitchen – it will help you save money on food. Camping is also a great way to save money and it’s an amazing experience in itself. In Lofoten you can camp for free in the wilderness, or you can pay a small fee for a spot on a developed campground and get access to toilets, showers and sometimes a kitchen.
Save On Food
Eating out is expensive in Norway, so I suggest you make most of your food yourself and rather splurge on something really tasty a few times on your trip. My best advice is to shop at cheap grocery chains like Coop Extra, Rema 1000 and Kiwi. The cheaper and bigger chains are usually located in the larger towns like Svolvær and Leknes. Beware of more expensive franchises like Joker, Matkroken and Coop Prix in the more remote places.
Save On Drinks
If you think eating out in Norway is expensive, you haven’t tried drinking out. Anything alcoholic is very expensive, and even getting a cold soda in a restaurant can cost you a tiny fortune. All beverages are significantly cheaper in supermarkets, so why not try that delicious local beer on a mountain top instead? Tap water is great in this part of the country, so bring a reusable bottle or a Camelbak and you’ll save a ton. You can also ask for tap water to save when eating out.
Save On Car Expenses
If you’re planning on renting a car on your trip to Lofoten (which you totally should), you should book as early as possible to save money. Also check if its cheaper to rent a car once you get to Lofoten, or to rent one in Bodø and taking the ferry to Moskenes (or driving the E6 through Hamarøy). Also make sure you budget enough for gas, as fuel is very expensive in Norway. There is just no way around that fact, even on the cheapest days it is still extremely expensive compared to other countries.
Save On Activities
Museum entries, guided tours and activities quickly add up to a fortune in Norway, especially if you’re a big family traveling Lofoten. If you’re on a budget I suggest you decide on one or two tours, museums or activities you really want to do and skip the rest. Why? Because the good news is that the best things to do in Lofoten are 100% free! Spend your time hiking and going on adventures instead – you’ll have free memories for life.
What To Pack For A Lofoten Trip
Figuring out what to pack for a Lofoten trip can be tricky. It depends a lot on the duration of your trip, the season, what kind of activities you’ll be doing and your personal style. I’ll leave the detailed packing list up to you, but here are some general tips on what to pack for a Lofoten trip to get you started:
- A varied selection of everyday outfits depending on season. Bring light clothes for summer like dresses, t-shirts, shorts and comfortable jeans. The temperatures can still vary a lot so make sure to bring some warm layers even in summer, like a wool cardigan or knitted sweater you can wear over most outfits. Replace dresses and shorts for pants and more warm sweaters in the colder seasons.
- Clothes for hiking & other activities are vital. Don’t be that person who hikes in jeans and flip flops, its not comfortable or safe. Instead you should bring sportswear like tights and t-shirts. Make sure you bring at least one outfit you’re not afraid of getting dirty for hiking, fishing, etc.
- A waterproof jacket is a must in all seasons. Instead of bringing a raincoat I suggest a jacket that is also windproof, like this hiking jacket. Consider bringing a warm parka for winter as well, like this one which is both wind- and waterproof.
- Comfortable trousers for outdoor activities will also be practical. An elastic pair like these are great for the warmer months, while these and these are good options for the colder months.
- Gloves, a scarf and a warm hat are a must for the colder seasons, but I also recommend you bring for summer too.
- Pack at least one set of wool thermals for the colder seasons, preferably two. I also recommend you bring one for the warmer seasons too. My favorite ones are from the Norwegian brand Kari Traa (sweater / pants).
- Sneakers or other comfortable shoes that go with most of your outfits.
- Pack quality hiking shoes if that’s in your itinerary. There are a ton of great hiking boots with a good grip out there, like these or these. But keep in mind that hiking boots in general are heavy to pack and to wear. Unless you really need the extra ankle support, they are usually unnecessary for most hikes in Lofoten. I suggest a lighter pair with a great grip like these amazing and waterproof ones instead.
- Maybe one fancier pair of shoes for events or going out, but its not necessary. A neutral pair of nice flats might be more practical.
- Winter boots are a great choice if you’re visiting Lofoten in winter. But it can be a real struggle to find winter boots which are both warm, waterproof and stylish. The nicest ones I’ve found so far are these and these.
- A powerful Powerbank like this is a must for charging your devices on the move.
- A power adapter for Norwegian outlets.
- Camera with extra batteries and memory cards. I recommend a light travel camera with interchangeable lenses and the option of shooting in RAW. My favorite is the Sony a6500 camera with the 30mm 1.4 lens for portraits and detail shots, and the 16mm 1.4 lens for landscapes.
- Seasick bands and/or tablets if you’re going on a boat at some point.
- A backpack for day trips. I love my Fjallraven Kanken, but its not the best for hiking. Get one with a chest strap like this one from Osprey, especially if you’re bringing heavy camera equipment.
- A Camelbak is a hydrating godsend I cannot recommend enough. Not only is it my best friend when hiking, it’s also great for camping or just for laying around in the car on a road trip. Purchase the reservoir seperately and put it in any backpack, or get a backpack and reservoir in one, like this or this.
- Waterproof dry bags are great in any season to protect clothes, electronics and other items. A must for camping, hiking or kayaking.
>> Need help avoiding overpacking? Read my packing guide! <<
Places You Cannot Miss In Lofoten
The ultimate Lofoten dream for many is to just drive around and see where your gut takes you. But the truth is that its rarely as magical as it sounds. Similar to doing a road trip in the Scottish Highlands, having some sort of plan is the smart thing to do. Especially if you’re planning a trip to Lofoten during high season. Unless you’re camping and have everything you need with you in the car (tent & food), you should at least book your accommodation before going.
Not only will winging it get expensive real quick, you may also end up wasting a ton of time and potentially miss out on some incredible places. That being said, I recommend you create a flexible itinerary with loads for time to explore in between activities or tours. Here is a brief introduction to my favorite spots to visit in Lofoten, from west to east:
>> Click here to see my complete map of Lofoten <<
1. Å i Lofoten
Å isn’t just the last letter in the Norwegian alphabet. It is also the perfect place to begin your Lofoten trip in the west. Å is a charming village where you can be active outdoors and enjoy local food, all while taking in the breathtaking sights surrounding you. See what everyday life was like at the Lofoten fisheries centuries ago at Norwegian Fishing Village Museum, or visit Lofoten Stockfish Museum to learn about the important part stockfish played in Norwegian history.
STAY: We stayed in a traditional red rorbu at Å Rorbuer and I highly recommend it. The location is impeccable and there is a ton of outdoor activities in the area. The wonderful staff will help you with renting boats kayaks or fishing equipment.
EAT: Attached to Å Rorbuer you’ll find Brygga Restaurant, a good place to enjoy a local meal by the ocean. Grab some coffee and a cinnamon roll from The Bakery at Å and enjoy it outside when you crave something sweet. If you drive east to the next village, Sørvågen, you can try exclusive dishes at Holmen or at Maren Anna.
The most photographed place in Lofoten is popular for a reason. Reine is colorful, easy on the eyes and definitely a spot everyone should see at least once. My favourite thing to do in Reine is to walk around the village, observe the gorgeous nature and stockfish hanging everywhere. Hiking Reinebringen is supposed to be one of the most magical hikes in the world, but since the trail was closed on my last visit I’ll have to wait until next time.
STAY: I recommend renting a rorbu at Reine Rorbuer. They’re simply adorable and you’ll be close to everything. I also recommend staying at Sakrisøy or Hamnøy, two islands east of Reine (next up).
EAT: Enjoy a delicious gourmet meal at Restaurant Gammelbua. Order from their lunch menu, a la carte, or get the ultimate experience with one of their set menus – with a local maritime touch. Tapperiet Bistro – Lanternen is also a good option, especially if you’re looking for something more laid back and budget friendly. Stop by adorable Bringen Kaffebar for some coffee and a treat.
3. Sakrisøy & Hamnesøy
An 8 minute drive east from Reine lies Sakrisøy, a beautiful island you cannot miss out on. Grab a bite to eat at Anitas Sjømat before you go for a walk and check out the lovely sights on this little island. For a fun and quirky experience you should visit Lofoten Toy Museum, which features a variety of toys throughout the years. Hamnøy, another beautiful island worth visiting, is located a short walk east of Sakrisøy. Stop at Hamnøy Bridge for the best view of Hamnøy.
STAY: Sakrisøy Rorbuer is a family owned business with a selection of authentic fishermen cottages available for rent. They feature bicycles and motorboats you can rent, and rowing boats can be borrowed for free in summer. On Hamnøy you can stay at Eliassen Rorbuer or at Reinefjorden Sjøhus.
EAT: Like I mentioned, you should stop by Anitas Sjømat once you get to Sakrisøy. They are known for their great fish burgers and fish soup, and their charming interior which includes a fish rug and stockfish chandelier. You can also shop local products there. Underhuset is another amazing restaurant on Sakrisøy you should check out if you have the chance.
4. Ryten And Kvalvika Beach
Hiking Ryten and Kvalvika Beach in Fredvang is an incredible experience I recommend to everyone going to Lofoten. Unless you’ve lived under a rock the last few years, I can guarantee you’ve seen photos from this hike on social media. It is fairly easy, doesn’t take all day and the view is spectacular from start to finish. What more can you wish for?
STAY: Lydersen Rorbuer in Fredvang is the perfect place to stay if you’re hiking Ryten and Kvalvika Beach. It has an amazing view, is affordable, and is located only a 3-5 minute drive from either trail head. Perfect for groups traveling together as you can choose between several different room sizes. It is also convenient to stay in Ramberg or Flakstad.
EAT: I recommend you eat a solid breakfast before the hike and that you bring some snacks for the hike itself. There aren’t any restaurants in Fredvang, but there are a few options in Ramberg, a short drive east.
>> My full guide to hiking Ryten and Kvalvika beach <<
A village along the E10 with amazing mountain views, a super market, coffee shop and great places to stay and eat. Located less than 10 minutes from the trail head, Ramberg is the perfect hub for those hiking Ryten and Kvalvika Beach. Ramberg is known for its beautiful white sandy beach, Rambergsanda, which is the perfect place to relax or go for a swim.
STAY: Stay at Kafe Friisgarden if you’re looking for an old fashioned and authentic B&B experience. They provide free WiFi, free private parking and their breakfast buffet is included. You can also stay at Ramberg Gjestegård, a cozy guesthouse located close to the beach. They provide cottages with free wifi, kitchenette and a patio. Kayak, boat and bike rentals available.
Possibly the most adorable place in Norway, Nusfjord sometimes feel more like a tourist attraction these days rather than the authentic and historic fisherman’s village it is. However, it truly is worth a visit, just a walk along the harbour is such a wonderful experience. Beware that parts of the village’s old wooden buildings are turned into a museum where you have to pay 50KR to enter.
STAY: Stay in traditional fishing cottages with a fjord view at Nusfjord Arctic Resort. I absolutely love their decor, such a great mix of vintage and modern. The staff can help you arrange activities like fishing, kayaking and hiking. Lofoten Cottages is also a great and a tad more budget friendly option.
EAT: Enjoy a quality meal with the most picturesque view ever at Restaurant Karoline. Oriana Tavern is another great place to eat, located in an intimate and cozy location. They also host cooking classes. Before you leave Nusfjord you have to promise me you’ll grab some delicious pastries from the local bakery, Hansines Bakeri. Their ‘solbolle’ is incredibleeee.
7. The Rest of Flakstadøya
There are a ton of beautiful sights on the island Flakstadøya in addition to the mentioned Ramberg and Nusfjord. You’ll experience so much just by driving the E10, as there are breathtaking mountains and beaches everywhere, like the incredible Skagsanden in Flakstad, or the more secluded Myrland beach or Storsandnessanden. If you’re lucky you might stumble upon some adorable highland cows while driving on Flakstadøya like we did!
STAY: Lofoten Beach Camp is a great and very affordable developed campground I truly recommend. For 150 NOK we got a spot for our lavo, wifi and access to toilets and showers. It is also possible to do laundry, and they also have rooms and bungalows for rent if you’re not that into tent life. It is located right next to Skagsanden Beach with an amazing view, a short drive from the trails for hiking Ryten and Kvalvika Beach.
EAT & DO: In addition to the previously mentioned restaurants in Ramberg and Nusfjord, there is also a café in Vikten, a short detour from the E10. Stop by The Glasblower at Vikten to see how local glass art is made, and you can even bring a piece home of you’d like a locally produced souvenir. The café on-site is absolutely adorable.
8. Haukland Beach & Uttakleiv Beach
Lucky for us, two of the nicest beaches in Lofoten are located only 15 minutes apart. Haukland Beach and Uttakleiv Beach are two incredible places you just have to experience yourself when in Lofoten. Have a picnic, go swimming in the freezing turquoise ocean, or simply relax in nature with your favorite travel squad. Or hike to Himmeltinden for the best possible view. A parking fee of 50 NOK applies. Public toilets available in both locations.
STAY: Both Haukland and Uttakleiv are perfect for camping if you’re into the simple life outdoors (only toilets available). 200NOK camping fee per night. There are several places to stay in the town of Leknes (15 min drive away) and charming Ballstad (25 min drive away).
EAT: Bring your own food and heating equipment if you’re camping overnight. A café & gallery at Haukland Beach is open during high season. Drive to Leknes (15 min) or Ballstad (25 min) for restaurants and cafés.
Ballstad is another beautiful village by the fjord you cannot miss in Lofoten. The wonderful surrounding which are perfect for hiking, kayaking, diving and much more. It is also a great place to spend a night or two if you want to stay close to Haukland & Uttakleiv Beach, Himmeltinden or Lofotr Viking Museum.
STAY: Beautiful Hattvika Lodge provides a variety of room types, making it perfect for both couples, families or a group of friends. It is located by the harbor, and Includes a hot tub and sauna. Another great option by the harbor is Solsiden Brygge Rorbuer. Here you can stay in modern apartments, design suites or traditional cottages. Fishing equipment, boats and guided trips can be arranged on request.
EAT: Adjacent to Solsiden Brygge Rorbuer you’ll find the lovely restaurant Himmel & Havn. Enjoy a delicious meal in a cozy environment, while enjoying the incredible view. I loved the fresh fish soup and cinnamon rolls. Check out Lofoten Food Studio if you’re looking for a true culinary experience.
Unstad is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and I forbid you to miss it on your Lofoten trip. Unstad is known for its great surfing conditions, so you can take surfing lessons in the arctic instead of waiting for that Australia trip to happen. You can also enjoy activities like swimming, snorkelling, kite-surfing, fishing, skiing and cycling. Oooor just relax by the beach like we did instead. Hiking from Unstad to Eggum is also a great option.
STAY: Unstad Beach is the most beautiful place I’ve ever camped in a tent before. We paid 100NOK for the entire group for one night (toilet available), and I highly recommend it. I also recommend staying at Unstad Arctic Surf. Their apartments, cabins, bungalows and beach house are all decorated really cool and the staff is fantastic.
EAT: There’s a really cool restaurant available at Unstad Arctic Surf. Their menu changes regularly, but they always have both fish, meat and vegan options available. Bring your own food/groceries and cooking equipment if you’re spending the night camping. The closest supermarket is in Borg (11km away).
11. Lofotr Viking Museum
Travel 1000 years back in time at Lofotr Viking Museum at Borg. The longest longhouse in the world was found here, and later reconstructed and turned into a museum. Definitely stop by if you’re even the slightest interested in viking history. Its open all year, but in summer there is a ton of fun activities you can partake in, like rowing the Viking ship, or trying archery or axe-throwing.
EAT: Eat at The Museum Café or Skjelterskjåen Café outdoors during high season. Pre-book a viking meal in The Chieftain’s House for a special experience all year round (in summer individual guests may enjoy a Viking lunch as well). The Viking Feast is supposedly amazing. Read more: here.
I honestly had never heard much about Gimsøy before my friends and I drove there randomly once. Gimsøy turned out to be a pleasant surprise (what a shocker, right? another beautiful place in Lofoten. Who knew!). There are fun things to do in Gimsøy like hiking to Hoven, playing golf with the best view ever, or go horseback riding.
EAT: Enjoy a delicious local meal in a traditional barn at Låven Restaurant.
Henningsvær is my favorite fishing village in Lofoten. It is simply charming and it never disappoints. I recommend strolling the tiny streets and the harbor and visiting some of the wonderful galleries in the area like Galleri Lofoten or KaviarFactory. You should also pop by the independent shops in town, like Mors Hus and MIN. Hiking to Festvågtinden is also a popular activity, as well as eagle safari and fishing.
STAY: Definitely stay at Trevarefabrikken if you have the chance! Located in an old factory from 1948, a group of friends turned it into the coolest accommodation in Lofoten a few years ago. Its been growing ever since and has received both national and international attention for their unique take on life in the north. Their interior design alone is reason enough to stay here. I also hear great things about Henningvær Bryggehotell, which is another great choice right by the harbor.
EAT: There’s plenty of options when choosing places to eat in Henningsvær. My favorite place for coffee & cinnamon buns or lunch is Henningsvær Lysstøperi & Cafe, which CANNOT be missed. Another cozy café is Klatrekafeen, which is also the perfect place for a pint at night. Their atmosphere is the best and they have the cutest little alley outside that you’ll just have to see yourself. For dinner I recommend Fiskekrogen, Restaurant Lofotmat and The Blue Fish. Don’t miss out on trying seafood, we’re talking world class here people.
The main town of Lofoten is Svolvær. I’ve experienced this town in all sorts of weather and let me tell you: it’s just as beautiful in any season. One of the best things about Svolvær is that there is a lot to do. Not only is it a must in your itinerary if you’re going on a Lofoten road trip, but it is also the perfect hub if you only have time to visit one area in Lofoten.
I always stay at Svinøya Rorbuer when I’m in Svolvær, I absolutely love the atmosphere there. They have a mix of older and newer fishermen cottages available for rent. I’ve stayed in both and they’re all charming, although I should mention the newest and largest cottages have a sauna and a view towards Svolvær city centre. From Svinøya to the city centre its approximately a 15 minute walk. Other great options:
- Anker Brygge: Rent a traditional rorbu on Lamholmen, just 150 meters from the town square.
- Scandic: Great option if you want to stay in a modern 3-star hotel instead. Also located on Lamholmen.
- Lofoten SuiteHotel: Modern suites super close to the town square. Amazing view of the harbor.
- Thon: A lovely and modern 4-star hotel located right above the tourist information by the town square.
Du Verden: Du Verden is a bright and modern restaurant located in the town square, right below Lofoten SuiteHotel. I love their fish soup, tapas and sushi. Like most restaurants in Svolvær it can get quite busy in high season.
Bacalao: Located next door to Du Verden is Bacalao. This place has cozy and laid back atmosphere, a harbor view and outdoor seating. I recommend their delicious burgers or my favourite dish bacalao, accompanied with a local beer. YUM.
8 THINGS TO DO IN SVOLVÆR
Chase the northern lights: If you’re visiting Lofoten during the darker months you have to keep an eye out for the northern lights. It’s a magical experience that you’ll remember forever. Make the process easier by booking a tour.
Learn about WWII: Visit Lofoten Krigsminne Museum and learn how World War II affected the lives in the north.
Climb Svolværgeita: Let the dare devil within you have some fun by climbing the impressive Svolværgeita, “the Svolvær goat” in Norwegian. Unless you are extremely experienced you’ll need a professional guide for this experience. It is not for the faint of heart!
Enjoy a cold drink and experience Lofoten’s ice bar, Magic Ice Svolvær.
Go fishing: A trip to northern Norway isn’t complete until you’ve tried fishing. There’s just nothing like catching your own fish out at sea. Learn from the real experts and join a real fishing boat and have the time of your life.
Taste the local beer: Are you or someone in your travel squad a beer lover like me? Definitely consider attending a beer tasting by the local beer, Lofotpils, while in Svolvær.
See the majestic Trollfjord: A short boat trip from Svolvær lies Trollfjord, a narrow fjord surrounded by very steep mountains. A must-see when in Lofoten! I suggest you combine a visit to Trollfjord with a sea eagle safari or a guided kayaking trip to make the most of the experience.
Pin This Guide For Later
Aaaand that was it! I hope you found this ultimate guide to Lofoten helpful. Pin this guide for later if you enjoyed it, and don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions about traveling Lofoten or the Nordland region. Happy travels!
Enjoyed reading this ultimate guide to Lofoten, Norway? You might like these posts as well.