Å is in the region of Moskenes at the most southerly point of the Lofoten Peninsula, making this historically preserved Norwegian fishing village the most remote of all the small fishing villages in Lofoten.
For this reason, we added it to our Lofoten road trip itinerary. Also, we were curious to see what a place with the same initial as us, Angela and Andrew, was like. But would a teeny weeny village, positioned where the land meets the sea, be worth seeing?
I had researched before visiting and found Å was marketed as an open-air museum with eight heritage buildings telling the story of the cod fishing industry in Northern Norway through the centuries. As I love history, this sounded like the perfect place to visit. The village also has accommodations, a small cafe and a bakery dating to the 1800s.
Now I have experienced this delightful preserved fishing village for myself, I can say that it is worth visiting. To help you decide whether it’s something you will enjoy, I have written this ultimate travel guide covering what to do in Å, how to get to Lofoten’s most remote fishing village, and where to stay.
Things To See In Å Village
- Old Shop (cafe)
- Post Office (ticket office)
- Manor House
- Boat House
- Fish Oil Factory
- Lofoten Stockfish Museum
- Coastal View
Å Village Map
How is Å Pronounced?
Å is pronounced ‘au’, and unlike the English alphabet I am familiar with, in Norway, the letter Å is the last in the alphabet, not the first. If you think you have seen this letter before, maybe at school, it’s because, in English, this symbol represents the angstrom, a unit of measurement.
Places of Interest
Old Grocery Store and Post Office
The ticket office and cafe are inside the old grocery store and post office and sell coffee, cakes, and sandwiches, but be prepared for them to be busy. On our visit, we struggled to get into the cafe with all the people around, and when we did, there was no food left, so don’t come along with empty tummies just in case the same happens to you.
You must buy tickets from here to look around the folk museums.
You might notice that there is quite a large amount of bird poo on the buildings. This is all down to the black-legged Kittiwakes that nest on the window ledges during summer (I was there in July). Come winter, they fly away and spend their time at sea scattered over large swathes of the North Atlantic.
This was the second time I had seen nesting Kittiwakes. The last time was on Skomer Island in Wales, when they shared their breeding space with puffins.
Stepping into the manor house is like stepping back in time, as it is a reconstruction of how the squire’s family home would have looked in the past. A squire would have controlled the small fishing village from the 1840s to the 1960s. The house is cosy with black and white photographs, oil lamps and a big wood burner to keep the family warm through those cold Norwegian winters.
You can see old fishing boats and fishing equipment inside the boat house. Also, the alien-looking dried head of a King Cod dangling from the beams! On the first floor, a film tells you more about the village. There are still a few anglers at work here, even though walking around, it feels like this small Norway village is purely a tourist attraction.
Fish Oil Factory
The heritage fish oil factory was where cod livers were left to ferment in barrels to create a brown liquid known to us as cod liver oil. In the 1800s, it was given to all Norwegians as a medicine to help boost their immune systems through the cold, dark winters. Nowadays, we know it as a supplement to help with stiff joints, heart health and depression, although there is still no concrete medical proof that it works. All I know is that it tastes very fishy!
Another monument to past times is the blacksmith’s shed, where antique items he would have used are displayed. Sadly, there is no longer a blacksmith in the village. It would have been nice to see one at work and maybe bring home a souvenir.
The bakery was shut on our visit, so I can’t comment on what the cakes were like; however, going on other pastries I ate during our 7-day Lofoten road trip, I imagine they would be pretty tasty. They claim to make the world’s best cinnamon rolls, but I will never know!
The bakery is usually open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the summer months of June to August.
Lofoten Stockfish Museum
The Lofoten stockfish museum is heralded as the only one in the world. Its interior shows how it would have looked when fishing for cod was at its height. It is similar, but on a smaller scale, to Nusfjord, the best-preserved of all the Lofoten fishing villages.
You will see dried cod (stockfish as it is called in Norway), ropes, baskets and other fishing equipment that would have been used through the years. You will also find out that a staggering 16 million kilograms of cod are annually suspended for drying in Lofoten, and, intriguingly, throughout this drying procedure, the fish reduces in weight by 80%.
Why is stockfish farmed?
At the museum, you will learn more about Lofoten’s primary industry, which is catching and drying cod for southern European markets – Italy, Spain and Portugal – where this staple is called bacalao (dried and salted cod) and bacalhau (fresh cod). On the other hand, the cod heads are exported to Nigeria, where they’re boiled with peanuts and red hot peppers into a lively West African dish. It blew me away to think that cod caught in these remote European waters end up on someone’s dinner plate in Africa!
And, of course, cod tongues are a special dish in Norway, and yes, we did taste them, and they are OK. We also tried Stockfish, Norway’s version of biltong, because after learning about its processing method, we had to. Let’s just say that it wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the cod tongues!
If you are wondering where the cod is dried, you will see drying racks in the village and along the coastal villages and towns in Lofoten. For us Brits, it was unusual to see row upon row of cod hanging out to dry, and we saw quite a few, especially at the famous Anitas seafood restaurant in Reine.
Come prepared for rain in the Lofoten islands because even though it’s summer, you will get wet at some point. That said, this was our first dismal afternoon out of 2 weeks of travelling through Northern Norway from our starting point in Tromso. We experienced something close to a freak heatwave for the rest of our trip, with temperatures in the high 20s, meaning we could enjoy time on the beautiful Lofoten beaches.
Today, however, it was cold, grey and damp; the kind of weather I had expected in Lofoten in summer, which is why I packed my raincoat! Nevertheless, it gave us moody views of the fog rolling over Vestfjord, the giant bay separating Lofoten from Norway’s mainland. It was pretty dramatic.
To reach this viewpoint, you need to follow the signs from the car park in the opposite direction of the village. You can’t miss the path, as many other people use it. Remember to have your walking boots in the car as it’s muddy in the rain.
From this point, there is nothing other than a tiny uninhabited island called Mosken far in the distance. Standing on what felt like the end of the world certainly made me feel a long way from home.
Å village hike
If it’s a clear day or you are prepared for a soggy hike, a trail leads to the cliff top. I didn’t do the hike myself because, to be honest, I was wet and cold, and it was slippery underfoot. I did find out from someone in the know that if you hike to the top, you can see a lake from one side and the sea from another, so it did sound fantastic, but I was content with this viewpoint.
Å is the first stop on the E10 Highway, which runs a whopping 530 miles through Norway and on to Luleå in Sweden. If you had a mad moment and decided to do this epic road trip, your starting point out of the village would look like this, but hopefully with not so much rain!
You can hire a car in any of the main towns in Lofoten. We picked ours up in Tromso at the start of our Northern Norway road trip and dropped it back at Narvik airport, from where we flew to Oslo for three nights.
Many visitors hire camper vans as Norway allows wild camping in Lofoten, so you can pitch up wherever you fancy so long as it’s safe.
However, for your journey to Å, you’ll stay on the E10 (King Olav V’s highway) until you run out of tarmac; it’s the Norwegian Sea after that point!
On your right-hand side, you will see some white houses next to a stream. Then, you will go through a small tunnel. Once on the other side, there’s an information office, a car park and the preserved fishing village.
By Public Transport
If you are coming by public transport, hop onto the Lofoten Express Bus 300, which runs from Narvik. Be warned that if you make that complete journey in one hit, you are looking at being on the bus for seven and a half hours. So you must book accommodation in Å or break up the trip by stopping at other destinations like Svolvaer and Henningsvaer for a few days in between.
Although the historic village can be seen in next to no time, it is a place you shouldn’t miss in the Lofoten Islands if you want to learn about life in one of the remotest parts of Norway. It’s also a great place to see the stilted red rorbuer, a noticeable feature throughout the Lofoten islands, once used as cabins for fishermen. Oh, and the scenery is pretty spectacular!
One last mode of transport is a 3-4 hour boat crossing from Bodo on the mainland. The car ferry terminal is in Moskenes, and the fishing village is a 10-minute drive from the port.
Flying into Lofoten
The nearest airport to the village is Leknes Airport, which is around an hour’s drive away. Narvik is where you’ll find another airport; however, it’s much further away and will take 5 hours and 30 minutes to drive.
Where to stay in Å
After coming so far along the Lofoten peninsula, you might want to stay overnight and have the village to yourself once the tourists have gone. There are several properties to choose from that will allow you to experience sleeping in a renovated fisherman’s rorbuer or hunkering down in the village’s hostel. There is also a restaurant with rooms called Brygga.
Å Rorbuer by Classic Norway Hotels – An authentic Norwegian experience can be had in a traditional rorbuer.
Å-Hamna Rorbuer – These delightful private cabins have a kitchen, lounge and outside decking area and are next to the Stockfish Museum. Laundry facilities are close by, and WIFI is free.
Brygga Restaurant and Rooms – Rooms with shared lounge and bathroom facilities.
Salteriet Hostel – Facilities include a restaurant, bar, shared kitchen and tour desk. Also, free parking.
Lofoten Å HI hostel – Both male and female dorms can be booked using a shared kitchen and lounge space.
I have stayed in a stilted rorbuer at Nusfjord Arctic Resort, an hour’s drive away, and believe me when I say it’s a unique experience and one of the reasons you must visit Lofoten.
Places Nearby Worth Visiting
If you are looking for other places to visit either on the way to the fishing village or after you have seen it, then I would recommend the following:
This is the most photographed Norwegian fishing village in Lofoten and most likely the one you have seen online. You can get a great photo from the roadside before entering the village. There is also a popular hike up the mountain, which starts in Reine and is called Reinebringen. I didn’t do it myself as it was still raining, but the view from the top is supposedly breathtaking.
Anita’s Seafood Restaurant
Look at the reviews for where to eat in Lofoten, and Anita’s pops up repeatedly. She stocks a wide range of dried fish products and has an upmarket fish restaurant where you can devour a lobster lunch or try freshly cooked battered cod. I can vouch for its freshness and taste. It was just what we needed after an afternoon in the rain.
Find Anita’s in Sakrisøya, a 10-minute drive from Reine.
Nusfjord Arctic Resort
While Å is an incredible place to visit, Nusjord fishing village is in another league. Not only is it Lofoten’s best-preserved fishing village, but the whole resort, which happens to have the most luxurious rorbuers you can imagine, is also open to the public as a historic attraction. How do I know this? Well, I stayed for 3-nights in Nusfjord Arctic Resort and can confirm it is absolutely incredible and one of the most unique places I have stayed at.
Is Å Worth Visiting?
If somebody asked me whether a trip to visit this tiny historic village in a remote part of Norway was worth the effort, I would say yes. Å is interesting to see and allows you to transport yourself back 250 years to experience what a traditional Norwegian fishing village would have been like. If you plan on doing a Lofoten road trip, be sure to add Å to your itinerary. And if you are coming to Lofoten in winter, you might be lucky and capture a glimpse of the Northern Lights!
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