Lofoten – the pearl of the northern Norway
The nature of the region amazes with its majestic pristine scenes: giant rocks comes into the land right from the water, white sandy beaches stretch to infinity, flocks of wild swans and huge whales can easily float before amused tourists.
What is Lofoten
Lofoten is an archipelago of several large and many small rocky islands, rugged fjords and sandy beaches, which are washed by the icy Norwegian Sea. Along the coast of the archipelago, there is a famous whirlpool Maelstrom, to which Edgar Allan Poe dedicated one of his works. Add the uncertain weather and fascinating Aurora Borealis, and you will get an amazingly beautiful view, which no artist has been able to display on the canvas yet, although attempts have repeatedly been made.
The Lofoten archipelago is one of the oldest rock formations in the world; its age is estimated 3 billion years. The modern outlook of the islands was formed about 10 000 years ago.
The whole history of Lofoten is inextricably connected with cod fishing. Today, most bankers are wealthy people. They prefer to lease out fishermen cabins (rorbuers) to the tourists who come to see Lofoten. Today, more and more fishermen prefer tourism to the traditional fishery: instead of fishing, they guide the tourists. It is more beneficial and less troublesome though the tourist season is short and lasts only 2–3 months a year.
Moreover, eight-nine years ago, there were no tourists in Lofoten at all. Today, the islands are very popular despite the high prices characteristic of Norway. Most tourists come here by Hurtigruten ferries (which were the principal means of communication with the mainland Norway for many years), or by ships while cruising in the northern seas.
What to do in Lofoten
There is a little more than twenty thousand inhabitants in the archipelago who, like many thousands of years ago, are engaged in fishing, sheep breeding and seafaring. Meanwhile, on the islands there are lots of fascinating places and unique activities for tourists.
- In Lofoten, there is a unique museum of dried cod. Its owner assures dried cod, even after 4 years, does not lose its taste and nutrients. Norwegians themselves prefer dried cod mainly as a starter.
- Fishing lovers, coming here, can rent a rorbuer and enjoy sea fishing. Uncertain weather does not interfere with excellent sea fishing in the summer and whale safari in the winter.
- You can go hiking in search of the high peaks, mountain biking, and kayaking. Just do not forget to study the weather forecast and bring along warm clothes.
- The capital of the Lofoten, Svolvær, is a cozy town surrounded by mountains. One of them had received the popular name of ‘The goat mountain’ due to the split tops resembling horns. In Svolvær, you can visit the magical ice gallery and take a cruise on Trollfjord in the summer.
- In a small village called simply ‘O’ there is a museum of a fishing village where from you can go on a guided tour of one the most picturesque fjords in Norway – Reinefjord, as well as to the cave Kolhelleren with ancient rock paintings and to the harsh and powerful whirlpool Maelstrom.
- One of the most interesting attractions of the archipelago is the Viking Museum at Borg where you can see a full-size Viking house and the ship ‘Lofotr’.
- In the aquarium Kabelvåg, you will see seals and fish that live in the Norwegian and North Seas.
In addition, you can see the famous collection of paintings of the Golden Age Gallery Lofoten, visit the museum of whales, take a walk around the city Sortland, where all walls are painted blue symbolizing the sea, conquer the waves while surfing near the beach Fredvang, see a gorgeous sunset on the beach Utakleiv or even go skiing.
Going to Lofoten, take warm clothes, both wind and waterproof, no matter what time of year you are traveling: the weather can be unpredictable here, and it may be difficult to find a place for a comfortable overnight in high season.
When to go
The winter in Lofoten is warm enough though the islands are located in the Arctic Circle. Higher winter temperatures are characteristic of the islands due to the warm Golf Stream and its extensions: the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Drifts. On the islands of Røst and Verёy, winter temperatures are often above zero, which is not typical of all areas located above the Arctic Circle. However, as the archipelago is dominated by a maritime climate, the weather can change drastically: in a matter of hours the snowstorm with strong winds can be changed by the sun and calm air.
In the summer, the weather is cool and dry. The average July temperature is about 15 Celsius above zero. In June, July and August, the weather here is quite set and it is the best time for mountain climbing. However, you should always remember that at any time the warm summer weather can suddenly give way to a storm with a sharp decrease in temperature. While travelling to Lofoten in summer you can observe the midnight sun. In Lofoten, this phenomenon can be seen from May 25 to July 17. The water in the ocean is cool enough the year round, but in the summer it can warm up to 17 Celsius above zero.
So, the choice of the travel time travel depends only on your vacation plans. Lofoten welcome guests at any time of year!
Where to stay
Lofoten Islands in the high season (June, July) attract a lot of tourists from different countries. If you are not going to spend nights in a tent, then it would be better to book a suitable accommodation in advance, otherwise you risk spending a lot of time searching a place for the night. For instance, in April, there may no longer be free hotels for the summer.
In the capital city of Lofoten with four thousand inhabitants, you can stay in a few hotels, but the best option, as in any other town of the islands, are the rorbuer cottages – fishing lodges. The largest and best of the complex is located on the island Svinøya and is called Svinøya Rorbuer. In the cottage, there are usually two or three bedrooms, a kitchen and a large living room. The main feature of Svinøya Rorbuer is that its apartments are scattered among the houses of the locals. This provides an excellent opportunity to observe the life of the Norwegians inside.
Also you can stay in hotels, campsites, hostels, or coastal houses. Per night in a double room in a beachfront hotel in Svolvær, you will give a minimum of 80 Euros. A typical rorbuer for a group of four people will cost you about EUR 200. The same house in Kabelvåg will be slightly cheaper – EUR 65 for two.
How to reach Lofoten
There are different ways for you to get to Lofoten.
There are several airports in Lofoten:
- Leknes Airport;
- Svolvær Airport, Helle Røst Airport, mostly planes fly there from Bodø;
- helicopter port Værøy;
- Stokmarknes Airport, Skagen located in Vesterålen;
- Harstad / Narvik Airport – direct flights to Oslo and Trondheim. The flight duration from Oslo to Narvik is 1.5 hours, the cost is about 250 Euros, and for the flights from Oslo to Bodø you will give about 120 Euros.
And then, from Narvik to Svolvaer you can get in 2.5 hours by bus or car.
In addition to planes, you can get to the islands by ferry. Ferries go from Trondheim and Bodø. They come respectively to Stamsund, Moskenes or Svolvaer. In addition, ferries to Sortland go from Narvik, Skutvik and Melbu. For a ferry travel, for example, from Bodø to Moskenes you will pay about EUR 20 per adult, EUR 80 per car. If you book a place on the ferry in advance, you will pay per car only EUR 12.
By surface transport
From the mainland to the Lofoten Islands, you can get by the road LOFAST, which will allow you to avoid ferry services. The road was opened on December 1, 2007. It takes no less than two and a half hours to get from Evenes to Svolvaer by car.
Between Narvik (via the airport Evenes) and Svolvaer, there are daily buses that go then in other towns of the Lofoten Islands. You can also get to Bodø by train from Oslo, Trondheim and Fauske. The train trip from Oslo to Bodø will cost you from EUR 60 to 180 per person.
Over the last years, the islands attract more and more tourists from different countries: in 2006 more than 220 000 people visited Lofoten, which is not surprising as it's one of the most beautiful places on Earth.