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Reinbringen Mountain Panorama in the Lofoten Islands, Norway

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If you’re an outdoor lover looking for a unique adventure travel destination that’s off the beaten path, then look no further than the stunning archipelago of Lofoten Islands! Located on the coast of Northern Norway and far above the Arctic Circle, is a true hidden gem, with rugged mountains, picturesque fishing villages, and some of the most beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen. In this adventure travel guide, we’ll be taking a closer look at what makes this corner of Norway so special, with tips from our own experience to help you plan an unforgettable adventure.

Good to know

Currency

Norwegian Krone (NOK)

Language

Norwegian & Sami

Plug Type

Type F

Time Zone

GMT+2

What to see and do in the Lofoten Islands

In our opinion, of the best ways to fully experience the Lofoten Islands is by taking a road trip, which is exactly what we did! Driving in the Lofoten Islands is an adventure in itself, with winding roads, steep inclines, and breathtaking scenery around every turn it’s the easiest way to explore at your own pace – you can read more about how to get around further on in this guide.

Person standing below mountains in Lofoten Islands, Norway
View of Reine from Reinebringen mountain, Lofoten Islands

Hiking

The Lofoten Islands are a hiker’s paradise, with countless trails of varying difficulty all offering unique views of the rugged coastline, mountains, and surrounding fjords. The most popular hike is Reinebringen, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the famous village of Reine and the surrounding area. This one is a relatively short but steep hike that follows set of stairs all the way to the viewpoint – it really is a MUST DO and we can confidently say it is one of the best views we have ever seen! For those looking for a more challenging hike, Munkebu Hut is a popular choice, offering equally incredible views and a chance to stay overnight in a rustic hut.

Surfing

Despite its (quite literally) arctic waters, the Lofoten Islands are fast becoming a surfing hotspot, thanks to the area’s clean and consistent waves and stunningly beautiful remote beaches. Unstad is the most famous surf spot in the area, with a surf camp that offers lessons, equipment rentals and accommodation all in one.

View from above haukland beach
View of mountain on Kvalvika beach, Lofoten Islands

Arctic Beaches

Fishing

The Lofoten Islands have a long and famous history of fishing, so this is an excellent way to experience authentic local culture and traditions. You can try your hand at fishing by joining a local fishing excursion or if you have some experience, rent a boat on your own.

Photography

As content creators ourselves, this was what really caught our attention about the Lofoten Islands, they really are a photographer’s dream! The midnight sun in the summer and the northern lights in the winter provide unique opportunities to capturing stunning content all year round, and at the right time of year you’ll get beautiful golden hour light that lasts for hours on end. The picturesque fishing villages, crystal clear waters, and rugged mountains all make for incredible photo opportunities, so whether you consider yourself a pro or just enjoy taking pictures for Instagram, you might find yourself needing some extra storage.

Lofoten Islands Photography

As well as the outdoor activities we’ve mentioned already, there are many other things to see and do in the Lofoten Islands on a rainy day, such as museums and galleries showcasing the Nordic history and culture of the area – not forgetting the famous Viking museum!

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When is the best time of year to visit the Lofoten Islands

The Lofoten Islands are great all year round but the summer and the winter offer very different conditions, so the best time to visit really depends on what you’re looking for. The summer months of June to August offer long days and comfortable temperatures, making it the most popular time to visit. During this season, you can enjoy activities such hiking, surfing, fishing, and exploring the many beaches and fjords that make up the stunning coastline., it is also when you will encounter the midnight sun.

Northern Lights Aurora in the Lofoten Islands, Norway

Our first night camping in Lofoten

The winter months of December through February offer a totally different experience, with snow-covered mountains and a high chance to see the northern lights. The polar night begins in December and continues through to January, meaning that the sun will never rise but the northern lights will continue to shine bright. Activities unique to this time of year include dog-sledding, snowmobiling, and skiing, or simply just enjoying the winter landscape.

Rainbow in front of mountain in Reine Fjord, Lofoten Islands
Rainbow photo in Norway

Autumn Rainbow Season

Spring and autumn are considered the shoulder seasons with fewer people around and more unpredictable weather, Spring is a great time to see the islands come alive with blooming flowers and wildlife, whereas Autumn all is perfect for hiking and photography, with a chance to see the Northern Lights. We were there during Autumn and managed to catch the Northern Lights on more than one occasion while still having enough daylight hours to get out and explore, so shoulder seasons are definitely worth considering!

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How expensive are the Lofoten Islands?

The Lofoten Islands can be an expensive destination, as you might know, Norway is not a cheap country! Accommodation will probably be your biggest expense, with hotels and guesthouses charging premium prices during the peak summer months (another great reason to consider the shoulder seasons!). Transportation costs can also add up, especially if you want to rent a car as fuel prices are high and parking can be expensive in some areas.

 

We can’t deny that the Lofoten Islands can be an expensive destination, but there are many ways to make the most of your budget, such as searching for more affordable accommodation options and cooking your own meals. Despite the expenses, we think that the stunning scenery and unique experiences to be had makes the Lofoten Islands a destination that is more than worth cost adventure travellers.

 

We used our Wise international bank account and debit card to spend and withdraw cash at the true exchange rate, it’s such an easy way to save time and money when you travel!

Are the Lofoten Islands safe to visit?

The Lofoten Islands are generally a safe destination for travellers, with a low crime rate and very few personal safety concerns. However, you should be aware of the natural dangers that come with exploring the remote landscapes mountainous terrain, weather conditions can also change quickly so you should always be prepared for rain, wind, and cold temperatures – even in the summer! Swimming in the ocean can also be more dangerous than many other places in the world, with strong currents and cold water all year round.

 

Make sure you’re covered with travel insurance – it’s a small investment that could make a big difference if something goes wrong!

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where to stay in the Lofoten Islands

The Lofoten Islands offer a wide range of accommodation options to suit every need and budget, choose from hotels, guesthouses, cabins, apartments, and campsites located throughout the islands. During the peak summer season, you’ll definitely want to book accommodation well in advance, as prices can be high and in such a small area, availability limited is limited.

Rorbuer

For a cozy and authentic Norwegian experience, you should consider staying in rorbuer, the distinctive red cabins that were traditionally used by fishermen and have since been updated with modern features such as kitchens and bathrooms, while still retaining their historic charm.

View from Reinefjord Sjøhus accommodation in Lofoten
Inside Reinefjord Sjøhus accommodation in Lofoten

Reinefjord Sjøhus

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We stayed in one of the famous red cabins at Reinefjorden Sjøhus, situated just outside one of the most beautiful villages in Norway. The cabins are just a stone’s throw away from the water, offering spectacular views of the fjord and surrounding mountains.

Camping

Camping or staying in a van is also a very popular option as Norway has a law called ‘Everyman’s Rights’ which allows anyone living in or visiting the country to freedom camp, fish, forage and roam the countryside, just be sure to leave no trace and respect the rules, wildlife and nature. There are also several campgrounds that offer amenities such as showers, laundry facilities, and even hot tubs.

how to get to and around the Lofoten Islands

Plane

Getting to the Lofoten Islands can be a bit of an adventure in itself as the islands are located off the northwest coast of Norway. The easiest way to reach them is by flying to the town of Svolvær, the largest settlement on the islands, but you will first have to fly into one the international airports in Norway, including Oslo, Bergen, and Tromsø.

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Ferry

There are several ferry routes that connect the islands to the mainland, with frequent departures from the towns of Bodø and Moskenes. The ferry journey takes between three and six hours, depending on the route, and offers stunning views of the islands’ rugged coastline and mountains. Although this is the easiest way to reach the islands by car, we found that it was much cheaper to drive further north and take the main road onto the islands. While this still requires you to get a ferry, it is part of the public road network and works just like any other toll road in Norway so you don’t have to book in advance and it is only a very short crossing.

Car

The best way to explore the Lofoten Islands is by car or camper van, as it offers the most flexibility and allows visitors to access more remote areas at any time of day. Several car rental companies operate on the islands, with rental prices varying depending on the season and the type of vehicle. If you and don’t mind a VERY LONG road trip, consider driving from one of the international airports elsewhere in Norway or even from Europe – we drove our van all the way from the UK so we promise it’s possible!

Car driving in Lofoten Islands with Autumn mountains backdrop

Public Transport

Public transportation is also available, with regular bus services connecting the main towns and villages, however, the bus network can be limited in some areas, so you will need to plan accordingly. There is also ferry system provides transportation between the islands and the mainland or Norway, making it easy to explore multiple destinations during your trip.

Rentals

For those looking for a more active way to explore the islands, the Lofoten Islands offer several bike rental shops, and there are many well known bike routes allowing visitors to explore the islands at a slower pace. If you want to really get off the beaten path, kayak rentals and guided tours are also available, allowing you to explore the stunning coastline and remote beaches from the water.