If you think Norway's fjords are beautiful, wait until you see the Lofoten Islands. High above the Arctic Circle, this remote, majestic string of islands is an appendix-like archipelago of staggeringly beautiful jagged mountains jutting out into the Norwegian Sea to the west of Narvik. The islands are connected by bridges, and while these feats of engineering are impressive enough, the greatest attractions in this corner of the world are geological – soaring mountains, gleaming fjords and long, white sandy beaches (yes, really) sit alongside each other for a landscape that is unmatched in its beauty.
The area is experiencing a mini boom in tourism thanks to newly-found social media fame, but it’s big enough and quiet enough to feel like an undiscovered gem.
Svolvaer is the capital and where you’ll first arrive on your Lofoten Islands holiday – once you’ve retrieved your jaw from the floor (take it from us, seeing the incredible landscape for the first time really is something else), the sky’s the limit for how to fill your days. Due to the Golf Stream the climate is mild and you can even add surfing to your itinerary if you’re visiting in the summer – Lofoten’s stunning beaches attract visitors from far and wide who want to discover for themselves their astonishing beauty. Soaring mountains surround dreamy white sand and clear waters that wouldn’t be out of place in the tropics – it’s a combination that seems unbelievable, even when seen with your own eyes. The fun doesn’t stop there and neither does the adventure – dive into the network of trails that criss-cross the mountains and head on up for a hike, kayak through the deep fjords to spot majestic seabird colonies, or climb aboard a tour boat to experience the islands in a whole new light.
Contact one of our Norway specialists + 44 (0) 20 3958 6120
Just home from the most incredible trip to Northern Norway. We had it all from clear skies and bright sunshine to full snowstorms, and saw plenty of the northern lights.
Thank you again to The Voyageurs Collection for organising such an incredible experience for us.
What can you find in the Lofoton Islands that you won't find elsewhere?
Savour a breathtaking feast for your eyes with wild landscape and unexpected adventures at every turn. Imagine startling scenery with sparkling fjords, green meadows that bloom in the sun, fishing villages huddled together on stilts at the mercy of Mother Nature, crystal waters of darting fish and flocks of sheep that freely roam from beach to field. Expect a wild adventure here and a holiday you'll remember for a lifetime. As for the villages themselves, each has its own idiosyncratic attractions, and the ones not to miss are Svolvaer, the busiest (a very relative term in this neck of the woods) settlement in Lofoten; Storvagan for its Lofoten Museum and aquarium, and Henningsvaer for the hipster haven of Kaviarfactory, an exhibition space and shop. On the way back to the airport it's also worth stopping off at the Viking Museum in Borg to see a reconstructed Viking longhouse near the site of the largest ever discovered, with an excellent exhibition about the Viking way of life and their extraordinary voyages from their Scandinavian heartlands. Seeing Lofoten in summer it's amazing to think they ever wanted to leave somewhere so beautiful.
Who are Lofoton Islands holidays best for?
With its dazzling natural sights that provide photo opportunities at every turn, Lofoten is a photographer's dream and has already gained Insta-fame for its untamed majesty. Nature lovers will jump at the chance to see the islands' animal offerings: encounter moose and otters on land and from the sea, spot whales and - if you're lucky - the White-tailed Eagle. Meanwhile, if a get-up-and-go holiday is your thing, there are active activities galore from hiking and kayaking, to snorkelling and horse riding.
The best ways to discover the Lofoten Islands:
The ideal Lofoten trip would involve picking up a car from Narvik Airport and enjoying the winding road across the bridges and through the tunnels linking the islands until you reach the western tip of the last one, Flakstadøy, stopping regularly to scrape your jaw off the floor at the unbelievable beauty of the landscape. After a day's sailing or hiking, arrive in a village and make yourself at home in a traditional stilted fisherman's house at the water's edge. Soak up the sleepy village atmosphere and marvel at the splendour of the surrounding nature while you experience Lofoten as a local. Another option is to combine a short stay in Lofoten with a mini cruise to dive deep into the nature, wildlife and landscapes of this wonderful region.
Special things to do in the Lofoten Islands:
- You'd be forgiven for thinking there's magic in the skies of Lofoten - depending on the time of year you visit, you'll be treated to a different celestial wonder if you look up. Best viewed between September and March are the Northern Lights; brave the cold and watch as the sky dances with colour before your eyes. Visit between May and July and you'll witness the natural phenomenon of the midnight sun, where the sun doesn't set and the boundaries between day and night are blurred. Watch as a dreamy orange glow is cast across the landscape and fight the urge to do nothing but point your viewfinder at it for 24 hours a day.
- The good news is that it's also possible to interact with the surroundings rather than just view them. Try your hand at trekking on the region's network of well-marked walking routes, climbing up to some of the more accessible peaks for incredible panoramic photo opportunities.
- Back down at sea level you should take the chance to explore the sea itself, because it was the Gulf Stream-warmed waters surrounding the archipelago that attracted vast shoals of cod, which in turn lured the islands' long established fishing communities. In many of the picturesque fishing villages along the way we can arrange sea kayaking or inflatable rib-boat expeditions to explore remote coves and hopefully catch site of some of the region's resident wildlife, including majestic fish eagles and sperm whales.
- It's also in these little fishing villages that Lofoten plays another trump card, the extremely original (something we're rather partial to) places to stay known as rorbuers. These little wooden huts were traditionally - and in many places still are - used for storing fishing nets and equipment and some have been converted into charming and quirky accommodation.