LOFOTEN ISLANDS, NORWAY | TRAVEL GUIDE
An archipelago set across the rugged Norwegian Sea, above the Arctic Circle with a mild climate due to the temperate waters of the Gulf Stream. This rare raw wilderness offers a landscape of striking mountains, deep fjords and long beaches - you can hike, fish, kayak, scuba dive, surf or mountain bike. With their strong connection to the Viking Age and natural beauty, staying here feels like stepping back in time.
Daily flights from Oslo to Bodø on Norwegian (budget, but really nice airline). Bodø is just a ferry transfer town, wouldn’t stay the night. Babel Barista is a cool coffee shop to hang at if you need to kill time waiting for your boat.
Rent a car for hiking and most adventures. Locals, usually the owners of car repair garages, rent out cars for 1/2 the price of big agencies. Should be around 500 NOK ($53) a day and it’s the best way to see the islands.
Ferry into one village and out another to avoid backtracking. We spent 5 days in East Lofoten and 5 days in West Lofoten.
Rorbuer Old fishermen cabins that have been restored and converted into modern accommodation for travelers.
Allemansratten The freedom to roam and right of access; “Leave it as you found it”. Feel free to throw your tent down wherever you’d like and just respect Norway’s golden rule.
- Mountain Huts Spread across Lofoten (all of Norway really) are huts that you can get keys to stay the night in. We didn't have time do this, but hiked to a few and they are very cozy, mostly with wood burning fires and full kitchens.
Alcohol is expensive, especially in Lofoten, as it’s highly taxed in Norway. We had an occasional post-hike beer, but other than that avoided it. We also cooked and packed hiking lunches most days as the food isn't cheap nor worth splurging for (with some exceptions).
East Lofoten (Stamsund & Leknes)
Less commercial than the West, we experienced a stronger sense of local community here. Close to the best surf break in Lofoten at Unstad and countless hiking, biking and water adventures. Ride on the Hurtigruten cruise liner ($60/person) to get here, more expensive than the normal ferry, but comfortable and the only direct route into Stamsund (3.5 hours).
Stamsund Hostel Highly recommend, one of the coolest hostel experiences we’ve ever had. In this tiny village, you sleep in old fisherman cabins on the water. Sea vibes are strong with a backdrop of striking green mountains. The owner only does reservations by phone +47 909 123 00, his name is Roar, is a legend and has run the place for 44 years.
Unstad Surf Surf camp hotel with a short walk to the best surf on the islands. They have communal saunas & hot tubs, board rentals and a restaurant. The setting is incredible and if you are looking to surf multiple times a day then I’d recommend staying here. Otherwise swing by to rent a boar and grab a meal after.
Mannfallet Cool restaurant and bar, walking distance from Stamsund Hostel. Very controversial but they serve whale here and it's a delicacy locals have eaten for hundreds of years.
Skjærbrygga A 150 year old fishing dock and warehouse that has been converted into a cozy pub with good food and drinks.
Lofoten Gardsysteri Goat cheese and meat farm that sells out of their house. Great stop for a picnic on the way to Unstad beach.
Himmeltindan Peak At 964 meters, this is the highest mountain on the central Lofoten island of Vestvågøya. Straight climbing for a few hours up, but you are rewarded with 360 views the entire time. Grab a coffee/tea or beer after the hike at Kraftstasjonen Haukland. Trailhead is 30 minutes from Stamsund Hostel, park @ Haukland Beach (4 hours round trip).
Ryten The climbing is more balanced here, but still a fairly steep hike. Along the way you pass some high elevation lakes and a mountain hut. The views at the top of the peak over Kvalvika Beach are stunning and not to be missed. The sheer size of the mountains dropping into a deserted sand beach is like nothing I've even seen. The beach can be accessed by foot only, I'd go after the Ryten peak and you can camp here too which looked rad. Trailhead is 1 hour from Stamsund Hostel and a little tricky to find, read more here. (4-6 hours round trip, to do the peak and beach).
Unstad Beach If you are lucky enough to be here when a swell hits, then rent a board and thick wetsuit to catch this unique wave. The furthest north known surf break in world and it has quite the backdrop in between sets. Get here soon as the world is getting out - NYT on Unstad.
West Lofoten (Å, Reine, & Moskenes)
Mountains are slightly larger and the landscape maybe even more striking, but also more populated and touristy. The express ferry leaves from Moskenes to Bodø a couple times a day (3.5 hours), depending on the season.
Reine Rorbeur Arguably the most famous rorbeur in Lofoten. Set in the the small village of Reine, staying here would be a dream. Rustic chic fisherman cabins and a short walking distance to Reine Adventure for all of your gear for the day. Recommend biking from here, it's a great way to see the other villages.
Eliassen Rorbuer Famous fisherman shacks with picturesque mountains and a sleepy harbor behind you. Slightly more upscale and secluded if you are looking for that. It's fun to bike or kayak here if you don't end up staying here.
Lofoten Å Hostel We stayed here which was really nice and affordable. Has a bakery and restaurant on the grounds too, so if you don't feel like cooking you have options.
Å Bakeri Built in 1844, they fire out Lofoten’s best cinnamon rolls using birch wood in their furnace and hand making them from the original recipe. Great breakfast before a day of adventure.
Anita's Sjømat Go here for lunch and try their fish burgers - insanely good. Popular spot with locals and great for picking up a fresh catch to cook that night.
Reinebringen Peak Can leave on foot from Reine, it’s very steep & intense most of the way. Popular for it’s amazing 360 views over Reine and other mountains, but the trail has been badly deteriorated over the past few years and can be sketchy with bad weather. There is talk of them shutting it down for a while to safely restore the path. (4 hours round trip)
Munken Hut Leaves from the village of Å, a 30 minute walk to the trailhead. This hike has a little bit of everything and will definitely make you work for it. The weather and landscape seems to change around every turn from coastal bays to glacial lakes. If we did this hike again, we would stay in this cozy wood fired hut for the night. (5–6 hours round trip, depending on the weather)