The stunningly beautiful Lofoten islands in Norway are located in the far northwest of the country and close to the Arctic Circle. This Norwegian destination is one of Europe’s hidden treasures and has been on my bucket list for years, and it seems I am not alone. Lofoten holidays are gaining popularity with travellers as an emerging summer destination for those who love discovering remote and wild locations and enjoy spectacular road trips.
When I told people I had arranged a 5-night Lofoten travel itinerary as part of my two-week holiday to Norway, I was asked, “where is Lofoten, and what is there to do in the Lofoten islands?”. I think once you have read this post, it will become pretty clear!!
With breathtaking mountain, lake and sea views, turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and charming fishing villages to explore, including one simply called Å, what’s not to like about Lofoten? And for those looking to keep active on holiday, there are numerous summer activities, including hiking, walking, climbing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, sailing and swimming.
I hope the information in this Lofoten blog guide will help highlight why a visit to Lofoten was high on my travel bucket list and, in my opinion, why this Norwegian destination, with its stunning untouched landscape, is somewhere everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.
Best Time to Visit Lofoten
The best time to visit the Lofoten islands and see them in all their glory is in the warmer months, and while Lofoten is better known as a magical winter destination for visitors hoping to witness the outstanding phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis light display, the Lofoten archipelago in summer, with its midnight sun, is even more special.
The weather in the Lofoten islands in summer is a mixture of blazing sunshine and sudden showers. The summer months are the perfect time for first-time visitors to get a taste of what the Lofoten Islands have to offer.
I had a fabulous trip to Lofoten in July and experienced mainly warm weather with only one day of showers. On several days, the temperature rose to a blistering 30 degrees, which, as the locals told me, wasn’t something they had experienced before in the arctic hemisphere – unfortunately, a sure sign of climate change.
Discover the very best things to do in the Lofoten Islands
Gaze at the Breathtaking Views in Lofoten
One of the main reasons we wanted to experience a Lofoten road trip in summer was to see the stunning views of the snow-capped mountains, glacial lakes and traditional fishing villages scattered throughout the islands. And of course, we just had to experience a stay in a traditional fisherman’s rorbu on stilts!
Our trip to the Lofoten islands ticked all the boxes and exceeded our expectations – there really is nowhere quite like this magnificent Norwegian peninsula.
As you drive through the Lofoten islands, there are photo opportunities at every turn and with plenty of official viewpoints to pull into, you will soon be racking up a large number of images (like the one below) on your camera or phone!
Relax on a Beautiful Sandy Beach
You are in for one mighty shock when you set eyes on the beautiful Lofoten beaches and would be forgiven for thinking you were in the Caribbean!
I must admit that even in summer, the water temperatures are cold, but with golden sand and mighty mountains all around, they are some of the most beautiful places in Lofoten to spend the day.
In summer, the Lofoten beaches come alive, with visitors enjoying beach games, sunbathing, BBQs, and camping. In Norway, wild camping is allowed in almost every place, so you can pitch up and wake to the sound and sight of the turquoise water gently lapping the sandy beach just metres from your tent or camper van!
And don’t forget that in summer the midnight sun means that you can enjoy yourself on the beach all day and all night if you wish as the sun never sets!
If you still can’t believe that there are such stunning beaches in Lofoten, just look at four of the beaches in Lofoten that we visited.
Lofoten Tip: Surfers wanting to experience surfing in the Arctic circle should head to Unstad Beach in Lofoten for some of the best breaks in Norway.
Hike the Wild Landscape
Get back to Mother Nature by hiking or walking in the Lofotens. There are plenty of trails winding their way through the islands. One of the best hikes in Lofoten is the 1km uphill Reinebringen Trail starting on the road that runs outside the Ramsvik tunnel. From this viewpoint, there is a fantastic bird’s eye view of Norway’s much-photographed fishing village of Reine.
A pretty coastal walk taking in views of the crystal-clear aquamarine waters is from Haukland Beach to Uttalkliev Beach along the Mannen Ridge. The route takes around 2 hours to complete, and Uttakliev Beach has interactive QR codes to scan, telling you more about the area’s history.
Haukland tops Norway’s most beautiful beach list, and Uttakleiv is the most romantic, probably due to the giant heart of stones on the grass.
Visit Svolvaer – the Capital of Lofoten
Svolvaer is the capital of the Lofotens and is a busy port with hotels, restaurants and numerous boat tours leaving from its harbour.
I’m not going to sugarcoat the fact that Svolvaer was my least favourite place in Lofoten. After driving through some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet to get here, it was a bit of a letdown, with its grey commercial buildings and run-down vibe.
It appears that this gateway to the Lofoten islands is more a commercial hub for the many great boat trips and holiday cruise liners that use it as a base than the pretty Lofotens location we were expecting.
That said, the hotel we stayed in for one night, Thon Hotel Lofoten, was modern and with lovely rooms and a coveted restaurant Paleo Arctic which seemed to draw boatloads of guests to its Nordic delicacies.
A wander around Svolvaer didn’t uncover anything amazing; however, we did find really good coffee and light bites at BRENT, and of course, many really exciting trips leave from Svolvaer, including sea eagle spotting trips, evening kayaking, photography cruises and Lofoten fjord trips.
Lofoten Tours Departing From Svolvaer
Discover Charming Fishing Villages
One of the most popular reasons to visit Lofoten in summer is to see the traditional fishing villages. Without a doubt, these villages will feature heavily on any Lofoten islands itinerary as a must-see experience.
The fishing huts are easily recognisable with their red or yellow wooden facades, with many on stilts and offering the most unique accommodation in the Lofoten islands. These charming Lofoten fishing villages attract many tourists and give a snapshot of life in this remote part of the world.
The most visited fishing villages in the Lofoten islands are Å (the one initial village and the last village to visit before the land stops and the sea continues!), Reine, Hamnoy, Henningsvaer and Nusfjord. We loved wandering around these traditional coastal destinations, each with a unique charm and identity.
Make sure to visit the cute artisan shops selling Lofoten island crafts, cafes and restaurants serving great coffee and local dishes and plenty of interesting things relating to each village’s fishing history; each has its own identity. Boat trips, including fishing and wildlife cruises, can be booked from the villages.
Stay in a Fisherman’s Rorbu
One of our favourite things to do in Lofoten was to stay in a traditional fishing rorbu. We stayed at Nusfjord Arctic Resort for three nights and had a fabulous time both enjoying the activities in the village (including an outdoor hot tub and sauna) while using Nusfjord as a base to visit the surrounding Lofoten attractions.
A rorbu is a wooden fisherman’s hut normally painted in red or yellow and found in small fishing settlements around the Lofoten islands. Many of the original rorbuer are stilted above the water, with some newer replacements being on solid ground.
When planning where to stay in Lofoten, the rorbuer accommodation in the Lofoten islands is the perfect way to experience a traditional fishing village with modern and luxurious comforts. The rorbuer are usually situated in the remotest coastal locations in Lofoten and are amongst the world’s most unique places to stay.
Explore the Historic Nusfjord Arctic Resort
Whether or not you stay at Nusfjord Arctic Resort, you can still experience how wonderful it is as a day visitor. Nestled in a small cove, this historic fishing village is the oldest and best preserved in Lofoten and is the epitome of everything you could imagine a Norwegian fishing village to be like.
Wander the boardwalk past the red stilted rorbuer and explore the historic buildings detailing the history of life in Nusfjord and how the village was a major production hub for cod liver oil. Climb the small rock in the centre of Nusfjord and gaze out to the horizon before a visit to the bakery or village shop, which is great for good coffee and waffles.
The resort’s Restaurant Karolina serves delicious local dishes for a delightful evening meal, while Oriana Pizza Cafe is a cosy place to grab a quick bite.
Experience the Midnight Sun
Nothing quite prepares you for the midnight sun, an event that occurs in locations that sit on the Arctic meridian. Between the middle of May to the end of July, the sun never sets, so you get to experience 24 hours of daylight.
The advantage of it never going dark is that you can continue to enjoy outdoor activities well into the early hours. We went for a midnight hike and saw people out and about well after that time! It’s a really cool phenomenon to experience. The only disadvantage is that if you are staying somewhere without blackout curtains, it may be hard to sleep, but then again, who wants to sleep in this amazing location!
Lofoten Tip: Make sure you bring an eye mask to sleep in summer in the Lofoten islands!
Visit the Lofotr Viking Museum
No trip to northern Norway would be complete without learning more about the Viking era, so the Lofotr Viking Museum is a must-visit attraction in Lofoten.
Don’t miss the main star of the show at the museum. A reconstruction of the 272-foot-long chieftain’s longhouse, the largest Viking building ever found. Visitors can also take part in an interactive exhibition, see artefacts discovered during excavations, sail around the fjord on a reconstructed Viking longship and try some of the free Viking activities; I have to say I was pretty good at axe throwing!
Lofoten Tip: Make sure to try the traditional Viking stew and glass of mead that is served in the longhouse; they are delicious!
Enjoy Outdoor Activities
Lofoten is the number one spot for some fantastic Norwegian outdoor experiences. From cruising the crystal clear waters to kayaking and surfing and, of course, exploring the numerous hiking trails. There are so many activities to do in Lofoten you certainly won’t run out of ideas to add to your Lofoten itinerary.
Organised Tours are a good idea to experience the hidden treasures of Lofoten.
Play a Round of Golf
If you want to play a round of golf in a spectacular location, the Lofoten Links Golf Course is perfect. With views of the ocean, this is one of the best golf courses in Norway and attracts both Norwegians and international golfers.
Lofoten Links Lodges offer good accommodation for both golfers and road-trippers. I stayed for one night as a tourist rather than a golfer and loved the rugged vibe of the area and Hof beach with its white sand and shallow waters.
In summer, Lofoten Links is glorious, and in winter, it is one of the best places to stay to see the Aurora Borealis; it’s even classed as a Northern Lights Base Camp. They even offer alerts to wake you up if the lights appear at some ungodly time of night!
Taste Norwegian Seafood
One thing you can be sure of in the Lofoten islands is that seafood will be very fresh and tasty. With fishing villages around every corner, the Norsk cuisine is based mainly on fish, and the Lofotens have been one of the world’s top cod exporters for over 1000 years. Make sure to try Lofoten stockfish, a dried cod delicacy sold all over the islands.
Lamb dishes also appear on many menus, although I only saw a few sheep throughout the whole of my stay, so I am not sure where they farm them in Lofoten!
One of the must-visit places for seafood in Lofoten is Anita’s Seafood Shop and Bar in Sakrisoy. Fish burgers and fish soup are popular tourist choices, with fresh salmon, prawns and lobster plates also on the menu.
Anita also sells local goodies from seaweed chocolate (don’t judge!) to cod and reindeer jerky and other Norwegian specialities.
Find Anita’s Seafood at Sakrisøya, 8390 Reine, Norway
See Norwegian Wildflowers
It was a pleasant surprise to see an abundance of beautiful wildflowers growing in a country blanketed in snow for most of the year,
My favourites were the pink and purple lupins that grow everywhere and are a stunning colour contrast to the black granite mountains and vivid green landscape. The fluffy cotton plants are a plant variety I hadn’t seen before and are quite charming.
Wild Camp in Lofoten
Imagine driving through breathtaking scenery on a Lofoten road trip and pulling up in the shadow of one of the mighty Lofoten mountains or on the sunny shores of a Lofoten beach and camping for the night. In Norway, wild camping is permitted, giving you the freedom of the road and perfect if you have a camper van (which most visitors bring) or a tent to pitch.
Make sure to only camp in public areas, not private land and then enjoy the scenery – you will be the envy of many other travellers!
PIN FOR FUTURE TRAVEL TO LOFOTEN