The Lofoten Islands have a way of spellbinding its visitors. Nothing can prepare you for the wild landscape fringed with white beaches. The air is saltier than chips, and the sound of feeding seagulls follow the shrimp trawler like a never-ending echo. We love this rugged archipelago so intensely, that we will fly you directly into the very heart of Lofoten.
1. Golf as you never played before
If you're a golfer, you are sure to appreciate green grass. But when the green is framed by a wild ocean, 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. Lofoten art – it started with caviar
When you visit Kaviar Factory in Henningsvær, we feel certain you'll feel both overwhelmed, impressed – and maybe even a bit stunned. Who would expect 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's population still 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 has been transformed into a centre for contemporary art. With added touches by nature, of course. It is not uncommon for the sea to wash over the facade in winter.
3. Opera with a serving of stockfish
In the summer of 2012 the opera «Querini» premiered on the island of 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 have become very popular. They are a coming together of art, music, food – and people. Stockfish, the local delicacy consisting of dried cod, plays a major role.
Artists and visitors alike are inspired by Querini’s survival following his shipwreck in 1432. His story about the people who rescued him and the stockfish he took home to Italy lives on, and today the dried fish is the livelihood of the people of Røst. In fact, 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 experience is pure magic!
4. Stay in a traditional rorbu
On beautiful island of Hamnøy in the western parts of Lofoten you'll find Lofoten’s oldest traditional fishermen’s shacks, Eliassen Rorbuer. The oldest of the shacks date back to the 1890s.
They were once shelters for fishermen during the annual Lofoten fishery, now they offer unique lodgings with amazing views. The stunning West Fjord, Reine Fjord and steep mountains rising up out of the ocean outside create a spectacular back drop which makes it hard, even for visiting Norwegians, not to start humming their national anthem.
The jetties and shacks have been refurbished and offer comfortable accommodation all year round. It's a place where you'll find utter peace, maybe with a cup of coffee while enjoying the view. Or, if you choose to be active, both boats and bicycles are available to rent.
Eliassen Rorbuer is one of many fishing shacks where you can stay in Lofoten. You'll find several options here.
If a fisherman’s shack is not your cup of tea, then there are many accommodation options in Lofoten – from camping grounds to hotels of a very high standard. For example, we recommend Thon Hotel Lofoten in Svolvær, which is idyllically situated in the harbour.
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 of Lofoten varies greatly, and the secret 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 with steep mountains plunging 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 – a culinary treat
Artisan cheese flavored with rosebay, meadowsweet, rowan berries, juniper berries, yarrow and lady’s mantle hand-picked on a mountain hike. There's more than fish dishes on the culinary map of Lofoten.
At Aalan farm Knut and Tove offer intense cheese experiences. The farm has a history dating back to the 1940s when Knut's parents stood up against the ravages of war by firmly believing in the motto «People at work keeps the earth from going to waste».
Today you'll be greeted by 200 milk goats on the farm. In the courtyard café, which is open in July, homemade apple mint cake, tractor waffles and asparagus «love» soup is served. This is not only a culinary treat, but also a unique insight in Norwegian life on a small farm.
7. Lofoten on horseback – nature has never looked this beautiful
At least once in your life you should tear a cliché from a postcard and make it your own. Grab the opportunity to go horse riding in Lofoten, where you ride – not into the sunset – but on a white beach below the spectacular Northern Lights or the golden glow of the midnight sun.
At Hov Farm on the tiny island of Gimsøy, you can canter along the sandy beaches, trot on historic trails or hack up to the top of a mountain.
The farm has 42 Icelandic horses and two Shetland ponies which will take you on a variety of riding tours to satisfy both beginners, experienced riders and those with an interest in history. On Gimsøy you'll find boat landing sites, an altar and graves from the Viking era. It is said that over 1000 years ago, the Viking chief 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 minimal light pollution. In the summer months you are sure to be spellbound by the midnight sun, which warrants a chapter for itself.
About travelling 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 routes.
To get around the Lofoten Islands, it's possible to rent a car or a bicycle at all the airports. In the period from May to September we recommend choosing Fly and Bike for an extra special experience. If you don't want to ride a bike or rent a car, you can travel by local bus service to many parts of Lofoten. Travelling by public transport requires some planning, so we recommend you check the routes first.
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