Things To Know Before Visiting The Lofoten Islands

Lofoten Islands Norway Amazing Sunset

Lofoten is one of the most popular archipelagos in Norway and some of the most loved destinations in the area. The views you will be able to admire here are simply breathtaking and there are several activities you can enjoy as well. 

If you are planning to take such a trip to one of the most fascinating archipelagos in the world, this guide will help you significantly. So, keep reading to find everything you need to know before you get to the Lofoten islands to make the most out of such a trip! 

Get familiar with the Lofoten archipelago

Before you plan your trip to the Lofoten islands, it will help you significantly if you got informed about the basic aspects of the area. This archipelago is situated in Northland Norway and it has some of the most dramatic views worldwide. The Lofoten archipelago is also a traditional district in Norway and it incorporated lands untouched by human civilizations.

In this region, you will find two cities, Svolvær and Leknes that are within 3000 km from the North Pole.

Northern Lights above the Coast in Norway

Despite the location and high altitude of this archipelago, the temperatures are mildly cold thanks to the temperate Norwegian sea waters that balance out the subpolar oceanic climate. During autumn and winter, the winds can be significantly strong and snow is a fairly common occurrence during winter. 

Best way to get to the Lofoten islands

Option 1: By plane

You will find that the best way to get to the Lofoten archipelago is by plane. The big two airports you can use when you book your flights are Svolvær (SVJ) and Leknes (LKN). Depending on where you fly from, you might need to transfer to the Bodø airport. SVJ airport is connected via flights with Røst, Stokmarknes, Oslo and Bodø while the LKN connects Oslo, Bodø and Tromsø. It is worth knowing that LKN flights tend to be cheaper so you might want to consider this airport if you are on a budget. 

There is another option to get to Lofoten as well and that is by flying to Harstad/Narvik (EVE) which is a few hours far from Lofoten. When you land, you can rent a car and drive to the archipelago

Option 2: By ferry

From Bodø, you can also get a ferry that is available all year round. This ferry costs about 27 USD and will take you to Svolvær in about three hours and the experience you have will be amazing as well. You can also take a ferry to Væroy, and Røst, depending on what side of the Lofoten archipelago you want to get to. Keep in mind that the ferries run on a limited schedule during winter and it is a bit more difficult to rely on them. Even during the summer, you will have to make a reservation for your ferry trip if you want to be sure you will get a spot. 

You can find all the information you need about this ferry on the Torghatten Nord website

Option 3: By car

Take note that there are no busses or trains that get to the Lofoten archipelago so don’t count on any of such transportation means. You can, however, get to Lofoten by car if you drive on the E10 road. The scenarios you will come across are beautiful, with exciting tunnels and great sights.

Bridge at Lofoten, Norway

If you choose to drive to Lofoten, it should take you about 6 hours to get from Tromsø to Svolvær and about 8 hours to get from Tromsø to Å i Lofoten. Driving to Lofoten is much better during the day. You will get to enjoy the scenarios but you will also be safer. 

The best option to get to Lofoten

The best way to get to Lofoten is by plane as flights are not only the fastest but also the most reliable. As we mentioned, flights to both SVJ and LKN are regular and they are available all year round. Plus, they will leave you right in the urban heart of the archipelago, which can be either Svolvær or Leknes. From these two towns you can decide on which parts of Lofoten you want to experience and make further arrangements such as taking a ferry to get you to different islands. 

Best time to visit Lofoten 

The temperatures in January, February are about 1 degree C while during August they can get to 15 degrees C. On rare occasions, you might get to experience a boost of heat with temperatures up to 25 degrees C during the summer.

The best time to visit Lofoten will depend on your personal preferences. Photographers and artists love to take pictures of the Northern lights and if that is one of your goals, you will have to schedule your trip between February and April. You might be able to see this sky show between September and February as well but the chances will vary according to weather conditions.

If you are looking for a chill place to get away from the heat of summer, you can choose to go to Lofoten during June, July or August. The hottest months on these islands are still spoiling tourists with spring-like weather. During these months you can observe the wildlife and enjoy all types of sports from biking to swimming.  

Best months to visit Lofoten island

The sun will not set between mid-May and mid-July and it doesn’t rise from early December to early January. So, the time you choose to visit will depend greatly on the type of experience you want to have. If you want to admire the Northern Lights or orca chasing some herring in the Reinefjord and Vestfjord areas, the best time to visit is February, March, and April

Those who love cycling and wildlife photography, prefer visiting during the summer or the weeks when the sun doesn’t set.

Visiting Lofoten in the winter

On average, December, January and February bring temperatures between -3 degrees C (26.6 degrees F) and 3 degrees C (37.4 degrees F). 

Choosing to visit Lofoten during the winter can be a true adventure. Even if many of the restaurants and even several hotels choose to close their doors during the winter season due to the low temperatures, you will get to experience the Northern Lights. Seeing the Northern Lights is one of the best motivations to visit Lofoten during the cold season. 

Besides seeing the Northern Lights, snowboarding is another favorite activity for tourists in Lofoten, during winter.  There are several local tours you can join if you don’t want to venture into this experience all by yourself. Snowshoeing to Ryten is one of the best options when it comes to tours, so you can still enjoy the beauty of the mountains even if you don’t do winter sports. 

Make sure to pack your snow boots and warm clothes so you can be prepared to face those low temperatures during winter in Lofoten. 

Transportation

When it comes to transportation in Lofoten you have two options: you can rent a car or you can rely on public transportation. Renting a car, however, even if it seems to offer you more freedom of movement, is a much more expensive option compared to public transportation. 

The public transportation network in Lofoten is very well established, both on land and in between islands. Therefore, there are busses to take you from one point to another within the same island and frequent ferries to help you get from one island to another. Choosing to use public transportation will not only help you save money during your trip but it will also help you enjoy your surroundings a lot more since you will not be stressed about driving and trying to not get lost. 

Travel Pass Nordland offers a full pass for all public transportation means in the Lofoten area for $111 per adult and $55 per child. This pass includes all busses as well as all ferries in the region, the exception being the big ferries that transport cars. To get around Lofoten easier, we recommend downloading the local Entur app that shows you the fastest routes as well as important schedules you need to consider. 

Expenses 

When it comes to how much your Lofoten trip can cost you, the sky’s the limit as there are many factors to consider. The national currency in Norway is Krone and we recommend converting your money to the local currency as soon as you get to Norway. 

In big lines, you can estimate a Lofoten trip budget to $53 per day and $372 per week for one person. 

Food for one day shouldn’t cost you more than $35 unless you want to eat at expensive restaurants for all your meals. At the same time, a daily transportation cost shouldn’t be more than $11 and a hotel room in Lofoten is on average $14. However, these are values reported by tourists and you might find it difficult to get a room at such a budget-friendly price unless you are planning to stay for a minimum of two weeks. 

These costs are based on the reported experiences of travelers and they can vary according to your preferences. You can save money if you choose to stay at an accommodation where you have a kitchen which allows you to prepare your meals which can be significantly cheaper if you don’t eat out every day. If you want to have your own kitchen or even a shared kitchen, you will have to look at hostels and Airbnb apartments for such facilities.  At the same time, your accommodation can change the final cost of your trip too since you can find a hotel or Airbnbs at different costs. 

Best things to do in Lofoten Islands 

If you choose the Lofoten islands for your next vacation destination, you will not be disappointed as they have a lot to offer:

  1. Visit Svolvaer. One of the main places you should check out when you are in Lofoten. Here you will find a fancy world in the middle of wildness. This city has fancy restaurants, a ferry port and an airport, great hotels to stay at, and shopping areas for tourists that want to purchase some souvenirs. You will also have the opportunity to visit the Lofoten War Museum here which will give you an intense experience about an important piece of history. 
  2. Make a trip to Henningsvaer village. This is a fishing village that will offer you plenty of traditional vibes regarding this area of the world. There are also plenty of small but cozy restaurants here where you can have an amazing dinner with traditional delicacies. 
  3. Don’t miss out Reine, Sakrisoy, and Hamnoy. One of the main activities to do here is fishing and these three towns are very close to each other so you can visit them all at once. These towns can offer you cheaper accommodation as well and a more traditional vibe of the Lofoten area. 
  4. Visit the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum, a rustic bakery with delicious dishes, and the Lofoten Stockfish Museum. 
  5. Do not miss is the Nusfjord village which is one of the best fishing villages in the area. This village feels like an open-air museum where you can learn a lot about fishing as well as how to make cod-liver oil at the local factory with this profile. If you want to spend the night at a traditional fisherman cabin, this is also an option while you are in Nusfjord. 
  6. Check out the Svolvaergeita rock for hiking or bungee jumping. This climbing rocky area is also called The Goat and it is one of the main attractions for hiking enthusiasts and rock climbers that get here. 
  7. Witnessing the magic of the Northern Lights. This is one of the most beautiful experiences you can have in Lofoten. The best months to see this sky show are from September to April, as long as you have the luck to get a clear sky. 

Accommodation options

When you are looking at your accommodation options, it is important to consider the city or village you want to stay at. Cities like Svolvaer will offer you hotels, Airbnbs, as well as hostels that you can stay at, and the prices vary from $70 to $270

If you want to experience a more traditional vibe, I recommend you find accommodation in a fishing village such as Reine which can be less than $100. You can even stay at a traditional fisherman cabin if you are traveling alone and would like to have such an experience. However, staying at one of these cabins is not easy as they are usually booked so make sure you reserve your cabin at least two months in advance.

fishing village Reine Lofoten Norway

Norvegian food 

Norwegian cuisine is one of the best parts when visiting the Lofoten islands. Regardless of the area you choose to visit, you will find traditional restaurants where you can enjoy all kinds of local delicacies. 

The traditional Norwegian cuisine includes fish in all its forms. But you will find delicious reindeer stakes and different marinate dishes as well as a great local flatbread called lefse that is available at most restaurants and coffee shops. Among the best types of fish, you will find cod, coley, halibut, herring, haddock as well as red bream. In terms of meats used for steaks, stews, or other meat-based dishes you will find reindeer delicacies, sheep, elk, and goats and there are several traditional stews you might fall in love with.

Norwegian cuisine Herring on bread

When it comes to traditional dishes, Lofoten is famous for their Stockfish known locally as tørrfisk served with steamed veggies and butter, cured whale or klippfisk which is a dish made of salted codfish. There is also a traditional Norwegian drink called aquavit that you might want to have several times. Aquavit is served as a shot and it is a concentrated liqueur made of cumin, potatoes and local seasonings that is served with chips of dried cod skin. 

Svolvaer is one of the best places to discover traditional Norwegian cuisine as you will find all the variety here. BørsenSpiseri for instance, is one of the restaurants that offer delicious traditional dishes such as Stockfish Royal or Cured whale. And if you choose this restaurant, after you are done eating you can go to the pub section and enjoy the traditional aquavit drink. At restaurants like this, you can expect to spend between $17 and $40 per meal, depending on the dishes you choose. 

One of the best places for a tasty breakfast is the Thon Hotel in Svolvaer. Thon Hotels are part of a chain of 40 hotels spread all over the country and they are famous for their generous, traditional breakfasts. Here you will find a wide variety of dishes that are served as a buffet so you can choose what you like. They also have Brunost which is a traditional cheese in Norway, sweet and darker in color. On request, you can ask the chef to prepare you fresh dishes such as omelettes and Norwegian pancakes. 

Even if Lofoten is not famous for street food, you will still find different avenues with fish burgers or fried shrimp that you can eat on the go as you admire the surroundings.

ALSO READ: Visiting Guide To The Faroe Islands

Useful tips for your first trip to Lofoten

If this is your first time in Lofoten, here are some tips that will make your trip more hassle-free.

  • Make sure you convert some money in the local currency NOK.
  • Credit cards of all kinds will be accepted in Lofoten but foreign Debit cards are not widely accepted.
  • The Norwegian Automobile Federation number that you want to call in case of emergency is 08505.
  • Other emergency numbers you might want to save are: Fire: 110 – Police: 112 – Emergency medical help: 113.
  • Shops in Lofoten are usually open between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm on a daily basis, except Sunday.
  • Fishing is allowed and free but you are not allowed to sell the fish or get more than 15 kg of fillet out of the country. 
  • Making a fire in woodland is prohibited between 15th of April and 15th of September. 

Final thoughts

Taking a trip to Lofoten can be the experience of your life. You will gather plenty of memories, and you will most likely fall in love with several aspects of Norwegian culture. Make sure you put your safety first and plan your trip so you can reduce the hassle as much as possible once you get in Lofoten!