Throughout the years I have read about how fantastic it is. Seen plenty of stunning pictures and films from it. There was no doubt Lofoten in Northern Norway was a place I had to visit. But I have hesitated going there in summer. The downside of being such a scenic place is that everyone wants to visit, and alongside the stunning images there were images and stories of large crowds of people. So, I postponed it over and over. Until now.
When I suddenly had to travel to the region for work in the beginning of June, just before the main tourist season started, my partner in crime and I jumped on the opportunity and booked a spontaneous 5-day holiday to Lofoten prior to my business trip.
OUR PERFECT 5-DAY LOFOTEN ITINERARY
To get the most of the days we had available we booked a rental car from the airport and spread our nights on different parts of the archipelago. Because of my work trip and due to cheaper flight rates, we flew to and from Harstad/Narvik Airport Evenes.
This is what our program looked like:
- Day 1: Arrival to Svolvær
- Hike Mt. Fløya
- Day 2: Drive from Svolvær to Reine ( drive to Reine).
- Day 3: Explore Reine
- Day 4: Drive from Reine to Henningsvær
- Day 5: Explore Henningsvær
- Hike Mt. Festvågtinden
- Day 6: My boyfriend returned home and i stayed put in Henningsvær
- Hike Mt. Glomtinden
- Swimming at Rørvikstranda beach
Mind, this is a looong post. If you do not want to read all, click the links above to jump to your selected topic.
The scenic drive from Harstad/Narvik airport to Svolvær takes approx. 2,5 hours and I believe it is a great way to start the Lofoten adventure. If you want to save some driving time, you may opt to travel to Svolvær or Leknes Airport.
SVOLVÆR – LOFOTEN’S LARGEST TOWN
We arrived Svolvær at 18:00, checked into our apartment and went out hiking straight away. Lofoten is known for its many majestic, rugged peaks – made for epic hiking adventures with fantastic views. Before leaving home, I had made a list of hikes I wanted to do while there and we had no time to miss. Our goal for the first evening was Mt. Fløya, which towers 590 metres above Svolvær town. You can read more about this and the other hikes in a separate post soon.
Back at Lofoten Rorbuer, our accommodation for the night, we enjoyed the evening sun with a glass of red on the roof terrace while talking about how great our first experience of Lofoten had been. Summer evenings are bright all over Norway, but we were not accustomed to the sun shining bright even late at night. This is a phenomenon you only get to experience north of the polar circle. A phenomenon also resulting in us waking up at 03:00 believing it was time to get up… Blackout curtains or eye masks are musts in Lofoten in summer!
After sleeping a few hours more, we got up to enjoy the same sun (just from a different angle) from the same terrace with a cup of coffee before setting out to see Svolvær town centre. If you want to go shopping, this is probably your best bet in the area. As the weather forecast for the following days just looked better and better, I made sure to secure myself a new pair of hiking shorts. Well aware that I might have jinxed the whole forecast, the new shorts turned out to be a good investment.
From the town centre, we continued across the bridge to Svinøya island where we strolled around the cute fisherman’s cabins and found a perfect spot for a seaside picnic brunch.
DRIVING THE NATIONAL SCENIC ROUTE TO REINE
When road tripping around Norway, always opt for a national scenic route if you can. These 18 routes are even more scenic than other roads, and the good news is that the main road through the Lofoten archipelago is one of them. The E10 takes you through three municipalities, from Vågan in east to Moskenes in west where the road ends in the village of Å.
From Svolvær we headed the car west, ready to spend the rest of the day driving the 120 kilometres to Reine. Our only plan was to stop whenever we felt like it, and that was exactly what we did. We drove or a bit, stopped, drove a bit further, took a detour, stopped again, walked for a couple of minutes, got back in the car, and continued our drive.
The scenery here is nothing but outstanding the entire way. Rugged peaks, white beaches next to the azure sea, and cute colourful hamlets surrounded by flower fields tucked between.
Driving into Eggum, a small village with a population of only 75 people, felt like coming to the end of the world. If I am ever going to write a book, this is where I want to live while writing it! We spent a while there walking next to the sea, only accompanied by a few sheep, looking at a fascinating sculpture of a head that changes 16 times as you walk around it, and a memorial of the people who have lost their lives at sea outside of the village. There is also a radar station built as a small fortress by the Nazis during the second world war. Next to it is a picturesque atrium with only the Norwegian sea as a backdrop, and toilet facilities. Eggum is supposed to be a great place to see the midnight sun drop towards the sea and rise again.
SANDY BEACHES AND CRYSTAL WATERS
Passing all of the mentioned beaches, we just knew had to stop for a swim somewhere. Across the mountains from Eggum, and another short detour of the main road, is Unstad. Known as a surfer’s dream. We stopped for a couple of minutes, but concluded it was far from the prettiest place for a swim. Back on the road towards Reine, we passed several other beaches until we found the perfect spot.
Ramberg beach is a gem! A wide, long, white, and sandy beach with the backdrop of massive mountains dotted with patches of snow and the small Ramberg village. Not only was it pretty to look at, we had it almost to ourselves.
The water temperature? Well, it may look like a Caribbean beach, but it is located in the Arctic…
REINE – A LOFOT DREAM
Arriving at Reine, we walked through the narrow lanes between red, old fisherman’s cabins until we found Kjellebu – our hub for the next two nights. Reine Rorbuer has a total of 39 fisherman’s huts, called rorbu in Norwegian, all furbished to meet a hotel standard. We made a late dinner in the ensuite kitchen and enjoyed it to the views of the bay, the mountains, the village, and the sun. The light smell of dried cod gave the last touch to the atmosphere.
Just next to our veranda, was a wooden rack full of stockfish soon ready to be taken down and shipped away to Italy and other destinations. The same procedure as every year – for hundreds of years.
It was exactly what I had imagined Lofoten to be like!
KAYAKING AND FISH BURGERS AT SAKRISØY
After a good night sleep (thanks to the wooden window blinds in the rorbu), we were ready to explore the area from the sea. More specifically from sea kayaks. Individual sea kayaks, not tandem. There are several companies renting out kayaks and offering guided tours in the area, including Reine Rorbuer. Due to a course all individual kayaks in Reine were already taken that day, but luckily Reine Adventure, which is based in nearby Sakrisøy, had two available if we could be there in 10 minutes. We chugged our coffees, gathered some things, and where in the car in less than five.
Sakrisøy is a small island connected to Reine by a bridge and known for its yellow fisherman’s huts and houses lining crystal clear waters. In other words; the perfect starting point for a nice kayak trip. 15 minutes after calling them we were sitting in each our kayaks, ready to paddle. We ventured into the Reinefjord, surrounded by the massive mountains that we had seen from our veranda. It was another windless day, and again we were all alone. How could we be this lucky?
Note: You need a paddle certificate (Våttkort in Norwegian) to rent single kayaks at all the providers.
Almost three hours later, we had put the kayaks back and handed over the gear. It was high time for brunch. I had read about the fish burgers at Anitas Seafood across the road, and what could possibly taste better after an active morning? We were not alone. Anita’s was actually the only place we experienced as busy during our five days in Lofoten. But we got our burgers plus some souvenirs in forms of cute, small bags of stockfish snacks, and some bakery treats for later. Definitely a place to stop for good and fast seafood!
THE END OR THE BEGINNING OF LOFOTEN?
I cannot think of a more fitting name to a place than Å in Lofoten. Å is the last character of the Norwegian alphabet, and also the name of the last village of Lofoten. Or the first, depending on how you choose to see it. According to the brilliant receptionist at Reine Rorbuer, it is definitely the last. Å is where the road ends. On clear days you can see the island Værøy west of Å too, and even further west is Røst. Both islands are inhabited, but only accessible by ferry. Situated only 10 minutes away from Reine, off course we had to check it out.
In addition to being the end of the road, Å is one of the best preserved fishing villages in Lofoten. The old centre is turned into The Norwegian Fishing Village Museum, where you can visit the buildings and learn about 250 years of development of fishing. You can also learn more about stockfish at Lofoten Stockfish Museum here. Both museums were unfortunately closed while we visited, but we could still walk around the old, red buildings.
A VIEW WORTH 1700 STEPS
Back from Å, it we were ready to conquer another peak. Who would have thought we could go hiking in shorts and t-shirt in the Arctic Lofoten an evening in early June? We did not, but we did!
Next up was Reinebringen (448 masl), a must do when in Reine. Reinebr8ingen is a popular hike and the high volume of people hiking has caused erosion which made the steep path difficult and dangerous to walk. Like at Mt. Fløya and several other popular hikes in Norway, sherpas from Nepal was hired to build stairs up Reinebringen a few years ago. They almost completed it before covid hit, so the path now consists of approx. 1700 steps and 150 metres of dirt.
1700 rock steps is many steps. Is it worth it? Do not even hesitate – the view to Reine, the Reinefjord, Værøy and surrounding mountains is priceless! Unless you have problems with your knees of course. You have to return the same way…
Our last hours of easy living in the rorbu in Reine was spent on the veranda with some fine bubbles and good company with our new friend – the seagull Kjell. There was still plenty of Lofoten to explore, and next morning it was time to move on.
THE PERFECT BRUNCH SPOT?
None of us are huge fans of breakfast. We start our days with coffee and save food for later, which means that we during weekends and holidays have time to find the perfect brunch spot. Or at least a really nice brunch spot, like on Svinøya in Svolvær a few days earlier.
Sad to leave Reine behind, we drove back the same way we came. The menancholy did not last long. There were way too much to look at for feelings like that! Another detour off the E10 was coming up, and as we crossed the bridges over to Fredvang we were stunned. The unreal blue colour of the sea below us, with the rugged peaks as a backdrop and small clusters of colourful wooden houses inbetween…
Fredvang is where you find Ryten, another popular mountain to hike in Lofoten. And tucked beneath the mountain is Kvalvika beach (the whale bay beach in English). We found a place to park next to where the 2 kilometre long path to the beach starts, packed our food and started walking. The walk to Kvalvika is rather easy, and after less than 30 minutes we found the perfect grassy spot for our picnic with the best view of the beach. How is that for a brunch place?
NUSFJORD – A 19TH CENTURY FISHING VILLAGE
Instead of walking down to the beach or further up to Mt. Ryten after lunch, we headed back to the car. There were more beaches and mountains waiting later that day. Now it was time to be tourists.
Another short and scenic detour off the main road is Nusfjord. An authentic 19th century fishing village made into an open air museum. It is definitely worth the NOK 100,- entrance fee, especially if you travel outside of the peak season like we did. It is such a tranquil gem of a place. Again we basically had the place to ourselves, but unlike in Å, everything was open when we visited. We spent an hour just walking around the cute buildings, popped into the old store which is kept like it was in the 19th century but offering modern treats like kombucha. Luck was certainly on our side on this holiday, and we even got to experience a beautiful art exhibition in the old salting house just before it was taken down and closed – there were even pieces made by HM Queen Sonja of Norway. If we had not just eaten, we would defintely have sat down on one of the two cafés/restaurants there. The stone baked pizza looked delicious!
ANOTHER MOUNTAIN, ANOTHER BEACH VIEW
As we approached Hauklandstranda beach we got a clear hint of how it must be like there on a sunny mid-summer day. It was a Sunday afternoon and the sun had been shining all day. It looked like all of Lofoten had ventured here for the day… Luckily we found an available place as a car left when we entered the large parking area next to the beach. A brief look at the beach told us why; Hauklandstranda is a large, white junk of sand that meets crystal clear turquoise water surrounded by mountains. We were not surprised when we a few days later read that Lonely Planet had listed this as Europe’s most beautiful beach!
But, we were not there just for chilling on the beach. Hauklandstranda is also the starting point of the popular hike to Mt. Mannen (400 masl).
Instead of joining the crowds on the beach, we went uphill. Up, up, up and further up. Most of the time with views to Hauklandstranda and nearby Vik beach, rugged mountain ranges in all directions, and off course to the sea. As we entered the rigde and got closer to the top, we could see straight down to a third beach and the small village surrounding it too; Uttakleiv. Although steep, Mannen is one of the easiest, but rewarding, hikes we did.
Again, we had had on one of the most popular mountains in Lofoten almost to ourselves at the same time as we could see car after car leaving the beach’s parking below us. And guess what? Back down, the beach was more or less empty! Did we go for a swim? Off course, how could we not? Just look at the water!
URBAN VIBES IN HENNINGSVÆR
Regardless Hauklandstranda’s serene beauty, we got back in the car and headed east again. An hour and a half later we checked into Henningsvær Bryggehotell for the two last nights of our Lofoten adventure. We instantly got an urban feeling in this small fishing village with a population of approx. 450 people, located on small islands combined with bridges and a pier. Even though tourism has sailed up as an important industry here, fishing is still the most important. Testified by racks of drying cod overlooking the town.
After a quick dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, Den blå fisk, and an evening walk around town, we went to bed. Tired after yet another eventful day.
Next morning we woke up to a sound we had not heard since we left home. Car tires on wet asphalt. Looking out the window, the mountains we so clearly had seen the evening before was completely gone.
As there was reason to rush out for another hike, we went over to Trevarefabrikken, an old carpentry and cod liver oil factory that is turned into a hip café / restaurant / bar / accommodation / remote work space by some young enthusiasts. What better to do while hoping that the mystical fog would clear up, than checking e-mails and eating cheese cake for breakfast in surrundings like these?
HIKING THROUGH THE CLOUDS
The fog did indeed clear up and we set out for the last hike on my “to-do list” for Lofoten. The path to Mt. Festvågtind (541 masl) starts a couple of kilometres outside Henningsvær.
As the other hikes, Festvågtind is a steep walk. Which also means you get pretty epic views very fast. But it also means that you will surely feel your legs after climbing one mountain a day… But up we went.
The clouds moved around us as we were going up. Suddenly we could be inside one and not see antything but white, and just as sudden it was gone and we could see Henningsvær and the horizon in one direction and numerous peaks in the other.
I do not think I ever have uttered as many superlatives on a trip than in Lofoten. Sunny, foggy, cloudy, by the sea, or in the mountains – it was nothing but stunning.
Back down from Festvågtind we realised that all restaurants in Henningsvær were closed on Mondays outside of the main season. Except for Klatrekaféen, but it was closed due to staff party that night… We ended our last evening of the holiday with a picnic and Netflix in bed.
THE PERFECT ENDING TO 5 DAYS IN LOFOTEN
Even though the fog cleared up the day before, it was a completely different Henningsvær we woke up to on our last morning together in Lofoten. While he packed and got in the car and drive back to Harstad/Narvik airport, I pondered on what I could do on this beautiful day without access to a car.
Luckily the receptionis could help me out. After yet another quick stroll to the pier to get the famous view of Henningsvær in sunshine, I jumped on a bus. 10 minutes later I got off at Rørvik, where the side road to Henningsvær meets the E10, and started walking. Again.
Apart from the hike to Kvalvika beach, Mt. Glomtinden (419 masl) was the easiest one I did in Lofoten. Perfect after 5 tours in 5 days, but also perfect if you are travelling with children. The views could not compete with those from Mannen, Reinebringen, or Festvågtind, but still out of the ordinary. A good tip from the receptionist!
Another perk of my small solo bus and hiking adventure? I got Rørvikstranda beach all to myself while waiting for the bus back to Henningsvær. How many times had I pinched my arm to make sure I really was this lucky on this trip?
My perfect five (6) days Lofoten adventure ended with coffe on the quay at Klatrekaféen (another must to visit in Henningsvær) while waiting for my colleagues to arrive later that afternoon.
The next few days were to be spent with the wonderful group of people I work closest with on a whirlwind of a study trip in Lofoten and Narvik. More on that later.