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Tromso To Lofoten: The Ultimate Bucket List Road Trip Itinerary

Tromso To Lofoten: The Ultimate Bucket List Road Trip Itinerary

Norway is one of the most beautiful countries to visit in Europe, and you will see why when you drive from Tromso to Lofoten. In this post, I highlight the most spectacular scenery, beautiful beaches, and remote villages you will see on this epic Northern Norway self-drive itinerary to Lofoten from Tromso.

I have included helpful directions with driving times and an interactive map that follows the route from Tromso to the Lofoten Islands. Find out about driving in Norway, places of interest between main destinations, and places to stay overnight. So, buckle up – you are in for a memorable drive high above the Arctic Circle!

Depending on how far you want to drive, you can adjust this Tromso to Lofoten road trip to suit your preferences. However long you spend visiting the Lofoten Islands, it is one of the best things to do in Norway, and it is definitely one of the prettiest!

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Red fisherman cabins around the waters edge in Nusfjord Arctic Resort.
Nusfjord Arctic Resort

Driving from Tromso to Lofoten – What to Expect

Aside from some of the most incredible mountainous scenery you could imagine and the phenomena of the midnight sun in summer, the drive to Lofoten from Tromso will allow you to stop at traditional fishing villages, stay in a rorbuer, take a wildlife cruise, walk along sandy beaches, eat the freshest seafood, visit a Viking museum, and stand on the most southernly tip of the Lofoten Peninsula to mention just a few activities.

Sounds good? Of course, it does, so let me inspire you with my 12-day Tromso to Lofoten road trip itinerary. It will help you plan a similar trip, including driving times, places to stay and Lofoten attractions to visit along the way.

  • Tromso for three nights
  • Senja Island for one night
  • Svolvaer for one night
  • Nusfjord Arctic Resort for four nights
  • Lofoten Links for one night
  • Harstad/Narvik Airport hotel for one night

Tromso to Lofoten Map

This Tromso to Lofoten map pinpoints all the places I mention in this travel post, from places to stay, attractions to visit and viewpoints to stop at during the drive.

Things to know about driving in Lofoten

  • Petrol Stations are few and far between, so don’t let your tank go too low.
  • Convenience shops are also hard to find, so stop and re-stock when you see one. Get water, snacks, chocolate, etc., to keep you going during the drive.
  • Norwegians drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  • Be prepared to go slow behind camper vans in some of the more touristy places. This part of the country is popular for caravanning in summer!
  • Be aware of the speed limits on all roads and stick to them.
  • Cars must have headlights switched on at all times while driving.
  • Many car parks are pay-and-display. Download the EasyPark App so you are ready to pay when you’ve parked up.

Best time to do a Tromso to Lofoten Road Trip

Lofoten is an all-year-round destination; however, the best time to make a Lofoten road trip is in the summer when the roads and countryside aren’t cloaked with snow and driving visibility is good.

Travelling to Lofoten in summer will mean not having to walk around wearing numerous layers of clothes! When I visited in July, most of the days had temperatures in the high 20s, which was a big surprise for us and, so it seems, the local people we spoke to. That said, it was cloudy on a couple of days with light showers, so while not cold, it can be wet. As with summer in the UK, be prepared for all eventualities in Northern Norway.

Day 1 – Fly into Tromso

Three Nights in Tromso

Plane in the air with the sun a brilliant orange colour.
Flying into Tromso and seeing the midnight sun at 11:00 p.m.

We flew from London to Oslo (2 hours) and then from Oslo to Tromso (2 hours). There are no direct flights into Tromso. Getting from the airport is easy by using the airport shuttle bus, which you will find to the right of the arrivals hall. I wouldn’t recommend pre-booking a taxi, as I did that, and it didn’t show up.

We had booked for one night at the Comfort Hotel Express as I knew we would be arriving close to midnight and didn’t want to splash the cash on just a few hours of sleep. It turned out it was a really comfortable room, and the receptionist gave us some good recommendations for coffee shops and attractions to visit in Tromso.

Day 2 and 3 – Exploring Tromsø

Our second two nights were spent at Clarion – The Edge, which is a luxury hotel on the waterfront by the Hurtigruten Terminal.

Other hotels in Tromsø around the harbour include: 

Scandic Ishavshotel

Radisson Blu Hotel 

 Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora.

Private rentals like the Red Old House are available in the local neighbourhood.

View out over the sea to the Arctic Cathedral and mountain in Tromso

Tromso is well known as a winter destination where tourists head to participate in snowy activities and see the northern lights, but not so much as a place to visit in summer. Mistake! Tromso is a fantastic summer destination with plenty to see and do.

We spent two full days wandering around town, visiting the botanical gardens, taking the cable car to the top of Storsteinen, seeing the Arctic Cathedral, hunting out the street art, souvenir shopping, visiting the museums and getting our heads around the fact it never goes dark thanks to the Midnight Sun!

Tromso is full of attractions, so I don’t think it will be boring just because it’s high in the Arctic Circle – no, sir! It’s a vibrant place and is a university city, so there’s a young vibe running through the town.

You can read about Tromso in more detail in my post: 16 Great Reasons Why Tromso in Summer Is Worth Visiting.

Angie sitting on a purple bench on top of the mountain in Tromso

Day 4 – Driving to Senja

Driving time from Tromso to Senja is 3 hours. Take the E8 out of Tromso, drop onto the E6 at Vollan, and then at Olsborg, drop onto the 855. Continue on the 855 to Finnfjordbotn, then onto the 86, which will take you into Senja. Add extra time for photo stops.

On our last morning in Tromso, we picked up a rental car and headed to the next overnight stop on our Tromso to Lofoten road trip, Norway’s second-largest island – Senja.

There are many reasons to visit Lofoten, and you will see why as you drive further into the Lofoten Archipelago. The further south you go, the more dramatic the scenery gets. There will be a lot of ‘oh wows’ being said on this trip.

Here are the stops we made on our way from Tromso to Senja:

  • Ramfjordbotn
  • Laksvatn
  • Nordkjosbotn – two supermarkets and a burger joint are here, so stock up on supplies while you can!
  • Rasteplass
Lake and mountain view in Nordkjosbotn.
Rasteplass.

One Night in Senja

Senja is often overlooked by travellers who want to stay on the main route and go straight from Tromso to the Lofoten Islands. However, this short detour meant we could stay in a traditional Norwegian lighthouse and visit some of the island’s attractions – it’s the perfect place to spend 24 hours.

Wondering what to do in Senja? You can find out in my post: Senja Norway: How to Spend One Day on Senja Island in Summer.

White lighthouse beside the water in Senja.

Want to stay in this lighthouse in Senja? You can book online at Norwegian Wild.

For alternative accommodations in Senja, please check Senja hotel availability and pricing on Booking.com.

Day 5 – Driving to Svolvaer

The driving time from Senja to Svolvaer is 5 hours and 40 minutes. Take the 86 and 855 back out of Senja, drop onto the E6 and continue to Bjerkvik, where you will need to turn onto the E10 into Svolvaer.

A car ferry goes from Grylleford on Senja to Andenes, which can cut driving time. We didn’t use this service as it is not pre-bookable. You have to turn up, and I hope you get on. If you don’t, it could throw your plans out. For this reason, we opted to drive from Senja to Svolvaer.

It’s a long drive from Senja to Svolvaer; however, there are some charming places to stop along the route, and of course, the scenery just gets better and better. Expect to see rivers, lakes, streams, waterfalls, mountains, valleys, and cute red wooden villages dotted throughout the landscape. It’s like a fairytale!

Here are the stops we made on our way from Senja to Svolvaer:

  • Bardu
  • Lapphaugen
  • Husjordoya
  • Laupstad

Bardu

Sir Henrik Waterfall is an easy 15-minute walk in and out of the car park (which is a simple layby). Turn off the E6 onto the Fv161, and the waterfall is close to the Polar Park, which, sadly, we didn’t have time to visit.

Polar Park Sign.
A rapid river flowing through the countryside in Lofoten.

Lapphaugen

This is an interesting stop if you are interested in WW2 historic sites. This Narvik memorial marks the place where the Norwegian army made their first strike back against the Nazi army in 1940.

Main Road leading towards a snow capped mountain in Lofoten.
Lapphaugen.

Husjordoya

Husjordoya is an island in the middle of a fjord, which you will cross over via a bridge. We parked up here and went for a little walk along the river, where we came across information boards telling of Viking history and traditions. It’s a really green and picturesque location, as you can see from my photo.

a vibrant jade green coloured lake in Lofoten.
Husjordoya.

Laupstad

If you are drawn to churches, you’ll spot a red-roofed chapel at the tip of an outlet. Take a quick detour, stretch your legs, and have a look at the 19th-century Sildpollne’s Chapel. It’s very remote and has beautiful lupins nearby (they are a regular sight in Lofoten).

Svolvaer – capital of the Lofoten Islands

One Night in Svolvaer

After a day of driving, we officially arrived in the Lofoten Islands at Svolvaer. We checked in for one night at the Thon Hotel Lofoten, a modern building on the waterfront.

For alternative accommodations in Svolvaer, please check Svolvaer hotel availability and pricing on Booking.com.

Svolvaer wasn’t exactly what I imagined it would be. I had a picture in my head of a traditional mountain town similar to Tromso. It wasn’t – and I felt a little underwhelmed by its concrete buildings and parking lots, which made a blot on the otherwise incredibly beautiful landscape.

Row of hotels and flats by the waterfront in Svolvaer, Lofoten.

Nevertheless, Lofoten’s capital is a working port, has some good restaurants and is where you can board a cruise to the inner Trollfjorden, making it a tourist hotspot. It has red wooden cabins, which Lofoten is famous for, and a park with an interesting and unexpected art trail, so it’s a place you either warm to or choose to drive on through.

Harbour in Svolvaer.
Buildings on the waterfront with a mountain in the background in Svolvaer.

Day 7 – Driving to Nusfjord Arctic Resort

The driving time from Svolvaer to Nusfjord Arctic Resort is 1 hour and 40 minutes (allow extra time for photo stops). Take the E10 out of Svolvaer and continue on for around 90 minutes until you see the sign for Nusfjord. Turn onto the Fv807 and continue straight into the resort, where the road stops.

This part of your road trip in Lofoten will be completely incredible. Expect to see beautiful Lofoten beaches with golden sands that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean. See mighty mountains rising from inky lakes and sea inlets, drive past waterfalls, and, of course, visit a traditional fishing village and see the fjords that make up the Lofoten islands. If you have ever travelled to New Zealand and found the scenery amazing, Lofoten is like NZ South Island but on steroids!

Here are the stops we made on our way from Svolvaer to Nusfjord Arctic Resort:

  • Rorvikstranda
  • Henningsvaer
  • Bostad (you will pass back this way on the return journey)
  • Haukland Beach
  • Uttekliev Beach
sandy beach in a bay surrounded by mountains with a small path and wooden bridge leading to it.
Rorvik Beach.

Henningsvaer

Henningsvaer was one of my favourite places we visited during our Lofoten to Tromso trip. We spent around two hours wandering around this beautiful island, browsing its cute shops, stopping for coffee, cakes and beer, taking hundreds of photographs and checking out its football pitch – one of the world’s most famous due to its location. If you are a football fan, you will want to see this pitch!

houses and boats by the sea with a mountain in the background in Lofoten.
Henningsvaer.
football pitch on an island in Lofoten.
beach with mountains in Lofoten.
Haukland Beach
long sandy beach with mountains all around it and a large heart shape on the grass made out of boulders.
Uttekliev Beach
Mountain rising from the fjord in Moskenesoya in Lofoten.

Nusfjord Arctic Resort – Lofoten’s Historic Fishing Village

Four nights in a traditional fisherman’s rorbuer on stilts (you could reduce nights spent here to save time – however, you probably won’t want to!).

If you love unique places to stay, Nusfjord Arctic Resort is a must. All the buildings are original traditional structures, from the fisherman’s cabins (rorbuer) to the bakery and the fish processing barns.

Almost everything in the resort is historically authentic, making a stay here so special. In fact, if you watch BBC’s Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby, you may have spotted this magical Lofoten resort being featured.

Day One – Arrived in the evening, headed for dinner at Karoline Restaurant and snuggled up in our fisherman’s rorbuer.

Day Two – Explored the village and learned about the history of Nusjord. Relaxed in the outdoor spa and enjoyed fabulous food.

Day Three – Took a private boat out to the fjords for half a day. Spent the rest of the day in the rorbuer relaxing with a book and wine.

Day Four – Drove to the most southern point of the Lofoten Peninsula, the village of Å. On route, we took photos of Reine from the bridge and had lunch at Lofoten’s one and only Anita’s Seafood Restaurant.

Pricing and availability for Nusfjord Arctic Resort on Booking.com.

Tall sailing boats in the harbour. with red fisherman cabins all around the waters edge in Nusjford Arctic Resort.
front of a boat on the water pointing towards sea mountains.
A morning on the Norwegian Sea
yellow wooden building with dried fish hanging outside.
Anita’s Seafood Restaurant
Village in a fjord setting with red cabins in Lofoten.
The village of Reine
A Fishing Village
The village of Å 

Wondering what to do in Å? You can find out in my post: What To Do In Å: Lofoten’s Most Remote Preserved Fishing Village.

Day 11 – Driving to Lofoten Links

Today should have been the end of our time in the Lofoten Islands, and we should have been catching a plane from Leknes Airport to Oslo. Sadly, that wasn’t going to happen.

On our last day, we heard SAS Airlines had gone on strike, and the next flight we could get was four times as expensive and would be in two days’ time with Norwegian Air. Not ideal as we had plans in Oslo, but like all good travellers, we got on with the job of scouring the internet to find somewhere to stay for the next two nights.

We went to Lofoten Links for one night – a golf course and accommodations in Gimsoya.

And we stayed at the Aiden Hotel by Best Western at Narvik Airport the other night.

The driving time from Nusfjord Arctic Resort to Lofoten Links is 80 minutes (allow time to stop at Lofotr Viking Museum). Take the road out of Nusfjord Arctic Resort, continue on the E10, and cross the bridge at Sundklakkstraumen bru (I have plotted it on the map). Turn onto the Fv861 and continue to Saupstad, where the Fv862 takes over. Then it’s straight into Lofoten Links.

Here are the stops we made on our way from Nusfjord Arctic Resort to Lofoten Links:

  • Vikten
  • Bostad

Vikten

Vikten is a beach village with red cabins dotted along the shoreline. We stopped here to visit the glassblowing studio, and I’m glad we did. I came home with a beautiful pink glass heart as a souvenir.

You can watch the glass-blower at work creating beautiful bowls, vases and hearts and then grab refreshments from the on-site cafe. Afterwards, wander along the beach and see the glass ornaments that are welded to the rocks.

Long red stilted cabin by the waters edge.
Moskenesoya.

Bostad – Lofotr Viking Museum

If my original flight hadn’t been cancelled, the Viking Museum wouldn’t have made it onto my itinerary due to time limitations, so getting the chance to visit it was great. It is a superb museum with a reconstruction of a Viking Longhouse on the grounds.

Step inside the longhouse and see how the Viking chieftain lived. You can dress up, play games, and, for a little extra, buy soup, bread and mead to enjoy at the wooden table that runs along the wall in part of the longhouse.

Afterwards, follow the path through the fields and down to the river, where you can sail around the lake in a scaled reconstruction of the Viking ship that is displayed in the Oslo Viking Ship Museum.

On my sailing, things got out of hand when the wind turned, and the sails became hard to control. I had visions of swimming back to land. All turned out well and added to the fun. You can also try axe throwing for free.

Viking longhouse in Lofoten.
Viking Longhouse.
Viking Ship

Lofoten Links

After a full day, we arrived at Lofoten Links in the evening. You can read about my stay at Lofoten Links in this post: Lofoten Links: Lodges and Golf in the Arctic Circle. It will give you a better idea of the accommodation and what to do there.

Day 12 – Driving To Harstad Narvik Airport

The driving time from Lofoten Links to Aiden Hotel at Harstad Narvik Airport is 3 hours. Take the E10 all the way to the airport.

Before we left Lofoten Links, we had a lovely morning walk along Hov Beach and then hopped in the car for our last drive before returning it to the airport.

Sandy Beach in Lofoten Links.

We chose not to stop as we passed back through places we had already been, like Henningsvaer and Svolvaer. It was a straight drive to the hotel this time, with some dinner and an early night.

Day 13 – Flight from Narvik to Oslo

After a comfortable night in the Aiden Hotel, we called a taxi for the 5-minute journey to the terminal. Yes, you read that correctly! There is no way to cross from the hotel to the terminal as the wide main road (E10) is between you and it. So we had no choice but to call a taxi which charged us £50 for the 5-minute ride.

We felt very ripped off. This was a joke, even knowing how expensive it is in Norway; however, it was a case of paying up or watching the plane depart without us. After being stranded for two extra days, we were ready to be on our way, so we paid up and headed to Oslo for three days. Oh, and in case you are wondering, only two taxi firms are in the area, so they can charge what they like! It’s a shame our Tromso to Lofoten road trip ended on a sour note, but it would never detract from the enjoyment we had experienced in Northern Norway on this marvellous journey.

Sailing boats and a ferry on the waterfront in Aker Brygge Oslo.
Aker Brygge Waterfront, Oslo.

Is a Tromso to Lofoten Road Trip Worth Doing?

Yes, yes, and yes again! I have been fortunate to travel to amazing countries and see amazing sights, but Northern Norway has to be at the top of my list. Its raw natural beauty is spellbinding, and journeying through its mighty landscapes under the midnight sun is an experience I will never forget. Where else but in the Arctic can you sit on a beach close to midnight, and it’s still light?

Norway is one of Europe’s most mountainous countries, and its fjords are undoubtedly breathtaking. So do yourself a favour and visit Northern Norway and uncover its Nordic magic on a Tromso to Lofoten Bucket List Road Trip; you won’t be disappointed!

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