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Lofoten Islands travel guide: 7 days trip on the road

12 september, 2022 / Lofoten Islands, Norway

The Lofoten Islands are an archipelago in Norway far above the Arctic Circle, divided into municipalities: Moskenesoy, Flakstadoy, Vestvagoy, Gimsoy and Austvagoy connected to each other by bridges and tunnels. Despite the proximity to the Arctic Circle, temperatures are milder due to the Gulf Stream. Here nature reigns supreme in all its forms: mountains overlooking the sea, fjords, white sandy beaches, turquoise sea and lots of fauna. An excellent destination for outdoor activities and to enjoy the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights. Fishing has been, and still is, the reason why people have lived here, and the region is known for its many small fishing villages. Another characteristic of the Lofoten islands is they have a strong connection to the Viking Age.  At Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg you can explore how the Vikings used to live.

PERIOD

27 February – 04 March 2020
Period chosen for the beautiful snowy landscapes and for the Northern Lights. The weather in the Lofoten Islands is so unpredictable that it is normal to see multiple phenomena appear on the same day. The important thing is to always be prepared even if the day begins with the sun. In seven days we have seen: sun, clouds, fog, rain, snow and snowstorms. The temperature has always been below +5 during the day and below 0 at night, so dressing in layers is essential. Weather forecasts generally did not get the weather right.

FLIGHTS

Florence – Oslo, round trip with Lufthansa (stopover in Munich)
Oslo – Harstad / Narvik, round trip with Norwegian Air

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS

Norway is not part of the European Union. For visitors from the countries of the Schengen area is not required a visa. A valid identity card is sufficient to enter. Same rules for going to Lofoten too, but change for the Svalbard islands. For more info read here.

INSURANCE

We have taken out travel insurance with Axa Assistance for 10 days. Company chosen both for its excellent prices and for its name which is always a guarantee. 10% discount with code MAX10 if you click on the link.

day 1

Svolvaer

TRIP: Harstad / Narvik airport – Svolvaer 164 km / NIGHT: Svolvaer

We landed at Harstad / Narvik Airport around 10:30, after an hour and 40 minutes flight from Oslo. Took the car (which we had hired before online) and drove to Svolvaer. Along the way there are very few small villages, so it is better to leave with a full tank of fuel and water to drink.

Tip:

Immediately after Vestpollen (before Svolvaer), there is a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the fjord and the surrounding mountains, with a rest area and toilet. See Google Maps.

Kabelvag the ancient capital of the Lofoten Islands

We spent the afternoon wandering around Kabelvag, 6 km from Svolvaer. A village whose history dates back to the Stone Age with a beautiful wooden church Vagan Church and the rorbuer (typical fisherman’s cabin) right by the sea. The first rorbuer was built here in 1120.

Vagan Church is known as the Lofoten Cathedral. It was built in 1898 for fishermen, in a neo-Gothic style, to replace another one from 1799 which had become too small. Today it is considered one of the largest wooden churches in northern Norway, also visible from the sea.

Useful info:

  • Vagan Church opening hours are subject to change: Mon-Sat 10:00-18:00, Sun 12:00-18:00, we found it closed / Price: for a fee / Location: See Google Maps
villaggio sul mare con le montagne alle spalle in inverno a vestpollen
Vestpollen
villaggio di ballstad sul mare con le montagne alle spalle in inverno
Ballstad
facciata chiesa a kabelvag
Vagan Church, Kabelvag

day 2

Ballstad

TRIP: Svolvaer – Ballstad 78 km / NIGHT: Ballstad

The next day we went to Ballstad where we stayed for three nights. Ballstad is a typical fishing village located about 17 min. from Leknes.
Leknes, like Svolvaer, is a very populated city. It has its own airport and several supermarkets. The city is located inland a few kilometers from Ballstad and is an excellent base for visiting the rest of the island.
Just before arriving in Ballstad don’t miss (because you can already see it from the road) the deep red Buksnes church in Gravdal with white details located on top of a hill.

Tip:

Both in Gravdal and Ballstad we saw the Northern Lights. In Gravdal we saw it better because was less light pollution.

day 3

Moskenesoy and Flakstadoy

TRIP: Ballstad – A i Lofoten 69 km / NIGHT: Ballstad

Since it was a beautiful day and the weather in the Lofoten Islands is very unpredictable, we went directly to A i Lofoten, which is the southern most city of the archipelago. On our return, thanks to the constant weather, we visit the rest of Moskenesoy municipality (Reine, Sakrisoya, Hamnoy) and Flakstadoy (Fredvang Bridge, Nusfjord, Ramberg and Flakstad) both connected by the Kakern Bridge.

A i Lofoten the last city of the Lofoten islands

It is located in Moskenesoy. Here you can visit the Stockfish Museum (Torrfiskmuseum) and the Fishing Museum (Norsk Fiskevaersmuseum) (found closed). The red rorbuers overlooking the water are suggestive. Great place for the Northern Lights. Parking availability, see Google Maps.

Reine

It is considered one of the “most beautiful villages in Norway”. It is a small fishing village nestled in the Norwegian fjords and surrounded by mountains. Great location for Northern Lights. The view from the bridge before going down to the village leaves you speechless. Parking is also available there, see Google Maps. If not, there is another car park inside the village, see Google Maps.

Sakrisoya is one of the smallest villages, characterized by orange rorbuer.

Hamnoy is very picturesque. Present the red rorbuer. A photo from the bridge overlooking the town is a must.

Fredvang bridges

Norwegians are geniuses when it comes to building bridges, and Fredvang Bridges are one of many examples. The bridges connects Fredvang village to the rest of the islands. Each bridge is 240 m long and allows the passage of two cars flush. I do not recommend that you be on the top of the bridge when there is wind, because seeing the car swing with the water under you is really impressive. See on Google Map where the bridges are.

Useful info:

  • Stockfish Museum / 11:00-16:00 Jun-Aug / Price: 50 NOK – adult, 30 NOK – child / Location: see Google Maps
  • Fishing Museum / Mon-Fri 11:00-15:00, from 1 Feb-13 Jun; every day 11:00-18:00, from 14 Jun-31 Aug; Mon-Fri 11:00-15:00 from Sep 1 to Dec 17 / Price: 100 NOK – adult, 70 NOK – child / Location: see Google Maps
rorbuer rosse ad a i lofoten con le montagne innevate sullo sfondo
A i Lofoten
villaggio sul mare con le montagne alle spalle in inverno alle isole lofoten
Reine
ponti fredvang che collegano isolotti con la neve
Fredvang bridges
case colorate lungo il mare con le montagne innevate sullo sfondo a nusfjord
Nusfjord

Nusfjord the city museum of Lofoten islands

It is located 6.2 km from the E10 road. The village is one of the oldest settlements dating back to 425 BC. and best preserved from Norway. Availability of parking before entering the village, see Google Maps. Toilet: see Google Maps.

Rambergstranda beach

It is located along the E10 road. In winter with the snow-capped peaks that surround it and the landscape painted in a thousand shades of white it was almost unreal. We were lucky enough to see it with the sun which allowed us to appreciate its beauty. Panoramic parking, see Google Maps.

Skagsanden beach the most photographed beaches of the Lofoten Islands

Also along the E10 road is Skagsanden Beach. Large in size and dotted with black boulders, with Hustinden mountain in the background. Excellent stop for surfers. Excellent for seeing the Northern Lights. Panoramic parking with toilet (closed in winter) see Google Maps.

Near the beach of Skagsanden there is Flakstad Church (found closed), a red church built in 1780 with wood from Siberian rivers brought to the beaches thanks to the sea currents. Its Russian-style spire is very pretty.

day 4

Vestvagoy

TRIP: Svolvaer – Ballstad 78 km / NIGHT: Ballstad

It was the day dedicated to the most important beaches of Vestvagoy and Eggum.

Eggum

A small village overlooking the sea, sheltered by the mountains. It is reached starting from Bostad, taking the road that runs alongside Lake Heimematsoatnet and then ends at the entrance to the scenic site located after the village. Eggum has become famous for being an excellent place to experiment the midnight sun. The site is also recognizable from afar thanks to the presence, on top of a hill, of a German radar station from World War II that has the appearance of a medieval tower. From there starts a lot of hiking trails. The trails map is located a few meters from the hill. Availability of parking at the entrance to the viewpoint. Cost 30 NOK to put in the box present at the entrance or to be paid with Swiff, Vipps, Iban. See Google Maps.

Unstad beach

Particular is its position surrounded on three sides by mountains. To get there, go through the tunnel dug into the mountain. Near the beach very few houses, a small cemetery with a white church. The beach is a favorite destination for surfers. Parking available in front of the beach, see Google Maps.

Uttakleiv beach

It is a beach that alternates sandy stretches with large rocky boulders. From the parking start a trail between the mountain and the sea and which in about 30-40 min. arrives at Haukland beach. The landscape is truly spectacular. Excellent for seeing the Northern Lights. Price parking 50 NOK / 3h / car. Toilet (closed in winter), see Google Maps.

Haukland beach

It looks a lot like a Caribbean beach, but without palm trees, with fine white sand and turquoise sea. Beautiful with the sun but also with snow and fog. Parking with toilet (closed in winter), see Google Maps.

spiaggia innevata a eggum
Eggum, radar station on the top of the hill
fiordo tra le montagne innevate alle isole lofoten
the road to Unstad beach
sentiero che costeggia la montagna lungo il mare con la neve
the trail from Uttakleiv beach to Haukland beach
spiaggia di haukland innevata circondata dalle montagne
Haukland

day 5

Henningsvaer, Svolvaer

TRIP: Ballstad – Henningsvaer 71 km, Henningsvaer – Svolvaer 26 km / NIGHT: Svolvaer

We returned to Svolvaer passing by Henningsvaer.

Henningsvaer

It is an archipelago consists of several small islands that are connected by bridges. Henningsvaer is a fascinating destination with the mountains behind it, characterized by rorbuer, colorful boats and huge seagulls flying around. Heimoya represents the heart of the archipelago. The village has played a significant role in Lofoten’s fishing history. Wherever you walk you’ll smell the fish. Henningsvaer become also famous for its stadium nestled in the rocks. We found it all covered in snow, but true beauty can be seen from above with a drone.

Svolvaer the largest town in the Lofoten islands

Svolvaer has its own airport and port, a large supermarket and a mini-shopping center. The city is considered among the oldest in Europe. Here you can find the Museum dedicated to World War II and the Magic Ice Lofoten (bar with several “art below zero” ice sculptures) (which we did not visit).
After seeing Henningsvaer, the rest of the day was dedicated to seeing the Fiskerkona (the fisherman’s wife) in Svolvaer, a sculpture not far from the lighthouse on the southern of Kuba Island. To get there, you pass by bunkers and war relics from World War II (found covered in snow) and by the various Hjells (supports created for the drying of cod). Location Fiskerkona: see Google Maps.

città di henningsvaer col fiordo e le montagne innevate
Henningsvaer
paesaggio con mantagne innevate a svolvaer
Svolvaer

day 6

Bogen, Narvik

TRIP: Svolvaer – Bogen 177 km, Bogen – Narvik 43.6 km / NIGHT: Bogen

Bogen was chosen for its proximity to the airport, about 15 min. of car.

Tip:

A few minutes from Bogen, in a parking along the main road see Google Maps, we were able to admire the most beautiful Northern Lights of our vacation.

Narvik

It is located about half an hour away from Bogen. Access is via the Halogaland bridge, 1533 m long, the largest suspension bridge in all of Antarctica and the second in Norway. At the beginning there is a monitor that shows the wind speed, because if it is too strong the passage is blocked. We saw the main square Torgsvingen with the peace monument and the fountain. Next to it is the Fiskenhallen Fish Market and along Kongensgate Street is the old post office and the very special Swedish Sailors’ Church.

Tip:

For those like us who have the idea of taking the famous Narvikfjellet cable car to get to the top and have a beautiful view, there are some considerations to take into account. If you do not intend to ski, you can only buy the route that starts from Skistua 220 m and reaches 656 m, where there is the Narvikfjellet restaurant and then back. The price is really expensive. Without a sky pass you have no access to anything else. For more info read here.

Useful info:

  • Fiskenhallen / Mon-Fri 09:30-16:30, Sat 11:00-16:00, Sun-closed / Location: See Google Maps
aurora boreale di notte nel bosco alle isole lofoten
Northern Lights in Bogen
vista dall'alto della città di narvik, mare e monatgne
Narvik

day 7

Oslo

TRIP: Boggen – Harstad / Narvik airport 16.2 km / NIGHT: Oslo

In the morning we went to the airport where we left the car and took the plane back to Oslo.

How to visit the Lofoten islands

  • Airplane: In Lofoten, the airports are located in Harstad / Narvik, Svolvaer, Leknes, Tromso and Rost.
  • Train: On the islands, you cannot travel by train, as it only goes as far as Bodo and Narvik. For information on train timetables, read here.
  • Bus: With public buses you need to be well informed about the timetables because there are not many. Check the connections so that you are not with the accommodation far from the bus line. For more info on lines and timetables, look here
  • Ship: The ferry service is more intense during the summer. For more info about ferries or express boats to and from Lofoten look here. Hurtigruten is a famous tourist ferry service covering a beautiful part of Norway, including Lofoten. To evaluate their proposals, check here.
  • Car: The best way to get around the Lofoten Islands is to rent a car. There are several companies such as Hertz, Avis, Europcar, Rent a Car Lofoten.

Tip:

Entur is a website that also has an app where you can get info on buses, trains, ships and planes in Norway. There is also the possibility for some routes to purchase tickets directly through their website.

We rented a car from Hertz (online rental, before we left) with all-inclusive insurance. We picked it up and brought it back to Harstad / Narvik airport. All cars have winter equipment (studded tires). We had chosen a city car, but at the time of collection the only one available was a Volkswagen 4 × 4 van. Better to choose a bigger and heavier car because if you find yourself in strong winds or snow storms, you will have more stability on the road and you will feel it moving less.

Where to stay in the Lofoten islands

Airbnb / Svolvaer / 1 night

We had a very simple private room with shared kitchen and bathroom. Adjustable temperature in the room. If you are lucky you can also park in front of the house.

Fish Factory / Ballstad / 3 nights

Private room in a house with 3 other rooms. The room is very simple and small with a bed and a few hangers. Shared kitchen, bathroom and lounge. The kitchen is well equipped with everything you need. Despite only one bathroom, there was no problem sharing it. The view of the fjord from the house is beautiful. Adjustable temperature in the room. Availability of parking in front of the house. Although the village is quite illuminated, we were able to see the Northern Lights from here as well.

Lofoten Rorbuer / Svolvaer / 1 night

Our room was small with bunk beds (a bit uncomfortable) and equipped with a mini-kitchen. Shared bathroom, unfortunately to be shared with too many rooms. Another kitchen but much larger in common. Adjustable temperature in the room. Availability of parking in front.

Bogen Hostel / Bogen / 1 night

Large room with sitting area included. The view of the lake from the room is amazing. Large shared kitchen (in the past it was the kitchen of a restaurant so well equipped). Shared bathroom. Adjustable temperature in the room. Availability of parking in front. Great place to see the Northern Lights. Just 15 min. from Harstad / Narvik airport.

How much does it cost 7 days in the Lofoten Islands

The cost of 2 people in Lofoten, for 7 days and 6 nights was € 1,819.59

Airplane Florence – Oslo – Florence for 2 pers. / € 267.14
Airplane Oslo – Narvik – Oslo for 2 pers. / € 221.36
Travel insurance for 10 days for 2 pers. / € 58.35
Car rental for 7 days / € 466.44
Fuel / € 147.80
Roadside assistance deductible / € 47.00
1 night in Svolvaer / € 64.56
3 nights in Ballstad / € 182.79
1 night Svolvaer / € 89.26
1 night Bogen / € 74.75
Uttakleiv beach car park / € 4.92
Narvik car park / € 1.77
Food / € 181.89
Souvenirs / € 11.56

Among the expenses there is also one relating to the excess on roadside assistance. In fact, leaving the parking lot of a beach, due to the snow that covered everything, we ended up with the car in a ditch. A tow truck was needed to get us out. However, despite having taken out all-inclusive insurance with Hertz, they still charged us the excess.

Last update: march, 2022

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