Lofoten Islands of Norway

by Kelly

This is your guide to visiting the beautiful Lofoten Islands of Norway! Everything you need to know to go there, how to get around and what to do. This was the highlight of our time in Norway and we highly recommend it.

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Where are the Lofoten Islands?

The Lofoten Islands are located north of the Arctic Circle in the Nordland region of Norway. It consists of an archipelago of seven main islands. The landscape encompasses mountains and beaches, it is a truly beautiful place.

How many days for the Lofoten Islands?

It depends on what type of trip you are looking for, a self drive road trip would be great between 4 and 8 days, a quick 3 day trip is possible or you can take part in an organised tour of Norway that will guide you through the best of the Lofoten Islands.

In general I would stay in the Lofoten Islands area for at least 3-6 days to enjoy the area as much as possible.

Do you need a car for the Lofoten Islands?

If you are travelling slow and have a lot of time up your sleeve then you can take public transport and it will be fine. There is a bus system which runs along the Lofoten Islands and it works well.

Lofoten Car Rental –

If you prefer a self drive road trip then you can hire a car which is honestly my preferred option here. We often opt for public transport when travelling but we are so glad that we hired a car to get around Lofoten as these islands are so beautiful we wanted to run to our own schedule. Although they are not large and driving from one end to another could be done without stopping in 4 hours, it is going to all the smaller locations that will take up a lot of time. These places are where the best parts of the islands are. We rented our car from Lofoten Rental Car in Svolvær.

Is there an easier way?

This tour is really highly recommended and well organised. Check out: Northern Norway Explorer.

Lofoten Islands road trip itinerary

For a 6 day Lofoten Islands of Norway Road trip I suggest the following schedule, check out the details on what to do at each in the next section. yo ucould definitely make this smaller or larger. If adding extra days I would spend them in Hamnøy and Ballstad as they were our favourite places!

Day 1: Svolvær to Henningsvær (30 mins, 25km) spend the morning walking Svolvær and enjoying the atmosphere of the biggest town in Lofoten. Check out the waterfront and get supplies for the trip. Drive to Henningsvær and check out the town for the afternoon.

Day 2: Henningsvær to Ballstad (1.5 hour, 70km) Head to Ballstad, on the way stop off at Hov Gard for a magical experience and Bostad to learn about the Norway Viking culture.

Day 3: Ballstad and surrounds – Enjoy the cute little fishing village of Bostad, drive up to Unstad and check out the surfers as well as dropping in to Leknes for any supplies for the rest of your time. This is one of the bigger towns and has the last wine shop (the only stores in Norway where you can buy takeaway wine or spirits, only beer is available in supermarkets) in the area.

Day 4: Ballstad to Hamnøy (1 hour, 60km) – Head over to Hamnøy but on the way stop in at Flakstad and Nusfjord the cutest little village on Lofoten.

Day 5: Hamnøy and surrounds – Visit the beautiful town of Reine as well as driving out to the last town on the Lofoten Islands, Å. This is the most historic town with loads to see.

Day 6: Hamnøy to Svolvær (2 hours, 120km) – Make sure to experience sunrise at Hamnøy, it is spectacular. Drive back slowly and revisit anywhere you loved or missed!

What to do in the Lofoten Islands of Norway

See the Northern Lights in Lofoten

We saw the northern lights twice while on Lofoten and it was spectacular! Honestly it was the best part of our trip to Norway. We stayed in the most amazing accommodation and saw it from both places. Read all about it in our northern lights Lofoten blog.

Visit the quaint villages of the Lofoten Islands and where to stay:

There is a lot to do in the Lofoten Islands of Norway, although it is not a large area there is a lot to see. Each little town has it’s own charm to entice you in, these are our favourites.


Svolvær is the main town in the Lofoten Islands and worth having a look around. While we were there it was the annual Cod Fishing Competition and the town was packed. There were parades adn boats heading out it was a great atmosphere.

Where to stay in Svolvær.

Budget accommodation in Svolvær: Fast Hotel Svolvær – basic clean rooms, good location to the ferry terminal.

Midrange accommodation in Svolvær: Anker Brygge – a beautiful hotel with free parking, set on a separate little island from the centre but very close.

Luxe accommodation in Svolvær: Thon Hotel Svolvaer – beautiful hotel, centrally located just next to the Hurtigruten terminal.

If you want to just stay in the one place and see the islands from here you can take a tour that covers the whole area in two days, 2 – Day Winter Sightseeing & Photography Tour in Lofoten or in one day on the Winter Full-Day Guided Tour of the Lofoten Islands. You can also take a cruise to the Trollfjord from Svolvær on the Lofoten Islands Silent Trollfjord Cruise or to see the sea eagles- Sea Eagle Safari to Trollfjord.


Henningsvær is a really cute little town that makes a great stop off for your first day. The town is situated on the water and the waterfront area is really pretty. There is also a football field that is on an island, which makes a unique place to visit!

Where to stay in Henningsvær.

Budget accommodation in Henningsvær: Fast Hotel Henningsvær – Very simple hotel, just basic stay but clean.

Midrange accommodation in Henningsvær: Henningsvær Guesthouse – lovely hosts, great accommodation with character.

Luxe accommodation in Henningsvær: Luxury Home– beautiful hotel great staff, on the water, very charming.


Bøstad is located almost in the centre of the Lofoten Islands. Although there is not a large town it is here you will find the Viking Museum. Lofotr Viking Museum is a large open air museum with lots of wonderful exhibits depicting the life of Vikings.

Where to stay in Bøstad.

There are not many options here but if you are looking to stay in the area then I would check out FURU Hostel & Cafe – lovely hosts, great accommodation cosy and clean.


Leknes is one of the larger towns on the Lofoten Islands. There are lots of hikes that can be done from here which I have detailed below. It is also the last chance if you would like to purchase takeaway wine or spirits as there are no wine shops after Leknes.

Where to stay in Leknes.

Scandic Leknes Lofoten Hotel – Comfortable hotel, good breakfast, lovely mountain views.

Lofoten BaseCamp is a great place to stay, it is incredibly charming and has a lot of activities on offer also.


Ballstad was one of our favourite places on Lofoten. The little fisherman’s village is very sweet, with pretty views and good access to activities in the area. Read more about what to do in on our dedicated Ballstad Norway blog.

Where to stay in Ballstad.

Best accommodation in Ballstad: We would only recommend Hattvika Lodge in Ballstad! It is the most beautiful and welcoming place. Rooms are a modern rustic style and beautifully done with every convenience. This was one of the best places on our trip. Check out our Hattvika Lodge review.


Nusfjord is one of the tinies towns and possibly one of the cutest. You can’t actually reach it via public transport and I have heard that it can cost to enter the town at certain times of the year although we didn’t experience this. Regardless it is one of the most visited villages and with good reason, it is incredibly beautiful. While there visit the Hvalmuseum, Nusfjord Lighthouse, Panorama Nusfjord. There is a parking lot as you get very close to the town, we were not charged to park there. It can be quite icy so be careful walking there.

Where to stay in Nusfjord

The best accommodation in Nusfjord is Nusfjord Arctic Resort – a very special historic place to stay, right in the fishing village.


Fredvang is a really beautiful but remote village. It is not on the E10 but is connected to it by a bridge and is where you will drive towards when going to Kvalvika Beach. We ran out of time to get here but it is on my list for when I return which is hopefully veryu soon!


Hamnøy is a lovely little fishing village but the best thing about it is staying at Eliassen Rorbuer. This is the oldest fishermen’s cottages in Norway and was originally built for the Annual Cod Fishing Competition as the fishermen would travel here to take part. There is an iconic photospot that is right outside looking back on to Eliassen Rorbuer, a gorgeous little wine bar bistro called Anita’s Sjømat which sells delicious food and some unique gourmet food and gifts.

Where to stay in Hamnøy.

Best accommodation in Hamnøy: Eliassen Rorbuer! We can’t say enough about this gorgeous fully restored little fishermen’s cottage accommodation. It is perfect to stay in to visit the area, Reine is just over the bridge and Å is a short drive away.


Reine is one of the prettiest villages on Lofoten. The charming yellow cottages are bright against the snowy back ground and the harbour is really pretty. There are lots of vantage points for great pictures, great hikes and a lovely harbour.

Where to stay in Reine.

Best accommodation in Reine: Reine Rorbuer – by Classic Norway Hotels – Lovely Rorbuer restored cosy fishermen’s cabins.


Å is a small historic town in the Lofoten and the last stop, end of the E10 road through Lofoten. The fishing village of Å is actually a very well-preserved museum. Here, you can walk around the old traditional houses to get a sense of what life was like. There are lots of little museums and the town is actually split in two as there was (unusually) two ruling families, so you will find two sets of everything!

Where to stay in Å.

Best accommodation in Å: Å Rorbuer– A restored Rorbuer which is set on the water.

Horse Riding in Lofoten at Gård

Horse riding on the Lofoten Islands was an actual dream come true and Gård was the perfect place. Hov Horse Farm (Hov Gård) is located out on the water at Gimsøysand. Riding these beautiful horses through the countryside was magical, especially as it was snowy at the time. Even as a beginner I was made to feel confident in no time with the experienced guides. There is a restaurant and accommodation options here as well. Check out my blog on my experience at Hov Gård. You can book your horse ride here or even better book a ride to try and see the northern lights on horseback!

Lofoten Beaches

Haukland Beach

Hauklandstranda is known to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Norway. It is large and scenic with a little coffee shop and paid public toilets available.

Uttakleiv Beach

Uttakleiv Beach is a dramatic coastal area. You will find the beautiful and unique Dragons Eye rock that resembles the eye of a dragon as the name suggests. There is a campsite available for a fee and parking does have a fee also.


The famous surfing beach of Norway! This beach is an easy drive from Ballsatad if you are staying there and there is a little township with cafes and cottages also. We drove here in the hop e of seeing the surfers take to the icy waters, one did turn up when we were leaving so maybe we were a little to early. It is a lovely long beach, there are a couple of spots to park we drove along to the right and parked here. It was really cool to see a snowy beach as we had to trek through the snow to get down there, it is also a good place to go and try to see the northern lights.

Kvalvika Beach

Getting to Kvalvika Beach does involve a 2 hour hike from the parking lot as it is only reachable by foot. The hike is not difficult however and the beach is beautiful.

Bunes Beach (Bunessanden)

This is a lovely beach which is part of a national park. To get here you need to catch the ferry from Reine to Vindstad and then there is an easy and picturesque walk to the beach. All the info you ned to go is on the official website here. Check out this Private Kayak & Hike To Bunes Beach.


This wide and sweeping beach is lovely. When we visited it was snowy and it was such a unique experience to see snow so close to the sea, unheard on our Gold Coast beaches! We loved ruining around here and also walked up to the Rambergstranda Red Shed which makes for some great pictures. Parking can be limited here, it is a popular spot particularly with tours buses. It is also a great place to experience the midnight sun!

Hiking in Lofoten

There are tons of great hikes to do on Lofoten all with sweeping incredible views. A word of caution though, you really need to research and plan your hikes here. They can range from easy to difficult and should definitely not be attempted during the snowy and icy seasons. Every year there are rescues for people hiking, this not only means that the hiker is in danger but also those who have to rescue them. We visited in the spring and it was still too snowy and icy to hike! These are all the hikes I am hoping tod o when I return in summer. I have also added in some great tours that will include a hiking guide which is a safer option also. With all hikes make sure to have proper hiking shoes and equipment. If you are unsure get some advice from locals.


Combine a trip to the lovely Bunes Beach with a hike up Helvetestinden. This mountain sits behind the picturesque beach making it a lovely hike. Check out the details on how to get there above. The full hike takes about 4 hours but I would suggest going up and coming down as far as you want to for the views, unless you are an avid hiker as it is a somewhat difficult hike.


Flakstadtind is a great hike near Ramberg in Flakstad. It is classified as an easy hike, however I always think this depends on the hikers ability and experience. It has an ascent of 470m and should take about 2 hours. There is a shelter and grill halfway up.

Mannen Haukland

This hike gives great views overlooking Haukland and Uttakleiv beaches. Perfect peak also for enjoying the midnight sun and sunset. It starts easier then becoms a scramble a the end.


This is a medium to difficult hike but it does lead to the most dramatic location. It can take 3 to 4 hours and ascends to 590m. The final leg of the hike is meant to be the most difficult and best only for every experienced hikers. On the way up the mountain you will find Djevelporten, The Devil’s Gate, it is a large rock stuck in a gorge and also a set of stairs called Sherpa Stairs. People do climb out on to the Devils rock but take extreme caution. The official website has a good description of the climb.


This is a 448m hike that is possibly the most well known in Lofoten, it takes about 1-2 hours with a difficulty of medium. Starting near the outer harbour of Reine you climb upwards using stairs at times. It can be demanding and along the way there are benches for breaks. It is a popular hike due to the spectacular views at the top.

Where to eat on Lofoten

We self catered during our time on the Lofoten islands as we stayed in accommodation with kitchens. These were the best supermarkets:

Svolvær: REMA 1000 SVOLVÆR

Hamnøy: Coop Prix Reine

Ramberg: Bunnpris Ramberg

Leknes: There ar a few good ones in Leknes, REMA 1000 LEKNES, Extra Leknes, Coop Prix Leknes

Vinmonopolet – for wine and spirits

For a meal out make sure to eat at:

Anita’s Sjømat – try the specialities and the fish burger is excellent!

Bakeriet på Å: try everything but especially the cinnamon buns, consider yourself warned. They are heavenly!

Brygga Restaurant: stunning food!

Landhandleriet Café: Hidden in the back of the old general store with lots of old memorabilia you will find the cutes little cafe. Make sure to try the Lofoten speciality of dry fish or if you prefer something sweet there are countless delights available at this cosy café.

Lofoten Bakeri: great sandwiches and sweets

Fangst: This restaurant is immaculate. From the interior styling and cozy atmosphere to the excellent food you will love this restaurant.

Where Next:

Northern Lights Lofoten

Best country to see northern lights

Things to do in Tromso, Norway

Tromsø Northern Lights Tour

Norway Road Trip

10 Best Instagram photo spots in Norway

Northern Lights in Norway Tour – Best Arctic Review

Lofoten Islands of Norway

Horse riding is a must do activity in the Lofoten Islands

Things to do in Ballstad, Lofoten

Lofoten Islands hotel, Eliassen Rorbuer

Travelling in Norway Tips

Lofoten Islands accommodation, the hidden gem that is Hattvika Lodge.

What to do in Reine, Lofoten

Gluten free in Norway

Glass Igloos, Finland – review of Artic Snow Hotel Lapland Finland

Ice Hotel Finland- our review of Artic Snow Hotel Lapland Finland

What it’s like staying at Arctic Snow Hotel Lapland, Finland

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fotografwdrodze.pl January 22, 2024 - 6:58 am

In recent years, the Lofoten Islands have become increasingly commercialized. There are more and more buildings that devastate the amazing views.

Kelly January 26, 2024 - 9:53 am

Yes sadly it is very common isn’t it, some the prettiest places become more commercialised and increases infrastructure. The Lofoten Islands are so spectacular we can’t wait to come back in spring or summer and do some hikes. I always hope that travellers will be respectful to the locals and the environment. One of the most beautiful places ever.


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