Few things in Norway give you greater reason for pride than the Lofoten Islands. The sight of a wild natural landscape fringed with white beaches. The wind that chills the temples and blows life into even the flattest hairstyle. The air that is saltier than chips, and the sound of feeding seagulls following the shrimp trawler. We simply love this rugged archipelago so intensely, that we will fly you directly into the heart of Lofoten.
Here are some of the reasons to love Lofoten:
1. Golf – as you have never played golf
If you are a golfer, then you know to appreciate green grass. But when the green is framed by wild seas, red fishermen’s shacks, rock formations bathed in the midnight sun – and the course is open around the clock – we are talking golf experiences that cause the heart to beat a little bit faster.
Lofoten Golf Links has become world renowned because of its location, and CNN said the golf club was “the coolest golf club with the hottest light show on earth”. The hosts offer accommodation, beginner courses and pro lessons.
2. Art – and it actually started with caviar
Art should be part of a Lofoten experience, and when you visit KaviarFabrikken in Henningsvær, you are both overwhelmed, impressed – and maybe even a little stunned. Who expects to find world-class art in an abandoned caviar factory at the mouth of a fjord?
The factory has deep roots in the local community. Most of the area has a great grandfather or a grandmother who worked here. Now there is little trace of the cod roe industry – but the factory and functionalist gem have been transformed into a centre for contemporary art that is in such harsh location that the sea often washes over the facade.
This summer great artistic experiences can be expected. In May, the exhibition Painting or Not – an exhibition for both those who love art – and for those who do not know it yet. Queen Sonja is coming. Are you?
3. Did you think opera was boring? Not when served with stockfish
In the summer of 2012 the opera “Querini” premièred on Røst – nearly 600 years after the Italian sea captain Querini was shipwrecked there in 1432. In a weather-beaten landscape, the Querini-days on Røst is held 3 to 6 August 2017. They are a coming together of art, music, food – and people. Stockfish plays a major role, and the bond between Lofoten and Italy is strengthened.
Artists and visitors alike are inspired by Querini’s survival following the shipwreck in 1432, his story about the people who rescued him and the stockfish he took home to Italy. Today the dried fish is the livelihood of the people of Røst and over 90 percent of all stockfish on Røst is exported only to Italy.
Bacalao is on the menu when the festival is held during the first week of August. There is a night concert with Ola Bremnes in Røst church. The opera “Ramsalt” is both an opera pub and opera gala. You are even invited to an “at-home-concert” with a Røst islander and a trip to visit the artists at Skomvær lighthouse.
Be quick to get both festival and plane tickets. This will be magical!
4. Rorbu. Life in Norway is not complete until you’ve stayed in a fisherman’s shack
On beautiful Hamnøy in western Lofoten can be found Lofoten’s oldest traditional fishermen’s shacks, Eliassen Rorbuer. The oldest of the shacks date from the 1890s. Here you can stay comfortably in shacks that were shelters for visiting fishermen during the annual Lofoten fishery. With views over the stunning West Fjord, Reine Fjord and steep mountains rising up out of the ocean, it’s hard for visiting Norwegians not to start humming their national anthem.
The jetties and shacks have been refurbished and offer comfortable accommodation all year round. Maybe you will just sit with a cup of coffee and enjoy the view. But if you prefer to be active, then both boats and bicycles are available to hire.
Eliassen Rorbuer is only one of many fishing shacks that you can visit in Lofoten. You can find several options here.
If you do not feel like a fisherman’s shack, then there are of course many accommodation options in Lofoten – from camping to hotels of a very high standard. For example, we recommend Thon Hotel Lofoten, which is idyllically situated by the harbour in Svolvaer.
5. Paddling. You won’t get closer to nature
There is probably no better way to experience Lofoten than from a kayak. There is a reason why kayak enthusiasts believe that Lofoten deserves a place at the very top of the list of world sea kayaking destinations. The natural landscape in Lofoten varies greatly and the trick is to experience both the northern and southern sides of the archipelago.
The southern side of the Lofoten archipelago offers sheltered coves where you can pull up your kayak and enjoy life. The northern side is wilder. On the northern side of Moskenesøya you get the sense of being on an expedition. Here the steep mountains plunge into the sea. There are hardly any populated areas, and you are likely to find incredible white sand beaches – and have them all to yourself.
6. Lofoten – taste more than fish
Not much compares with home-made cheese flavoured with rosebay, meadowsweet, rowan berries, juniper berries, yarrow and lady’s mantle hand-picked on a mountain hike.
At Aalan farm Knut and Tove offer intense cheese experiences. The farm has a history dating back to the 40s when the parents of Knut started up following the ravages of war with the motto “People in work keeps the earth from going to waste”. Today you will meet 200 milk goats on the farm. In the courtyard café, which is open in July, home-made apple mint cake, tractor waffles and asparagus “love” soup are served. Can anything be cozier?
7. On horseback. It is better than in a film
At least once in life you should tear a cliché from a postcard and make it your own. You can get the opportunity on the back of a horse in Lofoten. But the coolest thing is that it is actually even better than in the pictures. You ride – not into the sunset – but on a white beach under the glow of the Northern Lights or midnight sun.
At the furthest point in the Lofoten Islands, at Hov Farm on the tiny of island Gimsøy, you can gallop along the sandy beaches, trot on historic trails or ride up to the top of a mountain. The farm has 42 Icelandic horses, two Shetland ponies and offers a variety of riding tours to tempt both beginners, experienced riders and those with an interest in history. On Gimsøy can be found boat landing sites, an altar and graves from Viking times. It is said that over 1,000 years ago the Viking Tore Hjort had his seat of power here.
Hov is one of the best places to experience the Northern Lights in the period from September to April, due to the minimal light pollution. In the summer the midnight sun warrants a chapter for itself.
About traveling in Lofoten
There are three airports in Lofoten. Leknes, Svolvær and Røst. Widerøe flies to Leknes and Svolvær directly from Bodø, Oslo and Tromsø with good connections from the rest of Norway. If you are heading to Røst you fly via Bodø. Here you get an overview of the possibilities.
To get around the Lofoten Islands, it is possible to rent a car or a bicycle at all the airports. In the period May-September we recommend choosing Fly and Bike for an extra special experience. If you do not want to ride a bike or rent a car, there are links with local buses to many parts of Lofoten.Travelingg by public transport requires some planning, so check the routes first.
Photo at the top: Trym Ivar Bergsmo / Widerøe