The Summer Guide to Lofoten, NorwayWhat to do, what to see, where to eat, drink & sleep in the land of the midnight sun
The Pukka Travels Summer Guide to Lofoten, Norway
Summer is coming and you may be thinking of escaping the summer crowds of the riviera for desolate, white sand beaches and epic mountain landscapes. The Lofoten Islands, which have probably been filling up your Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest feed is the place to go. While it may seem like one small, quaint town, The Lofoten Islands are a large chain of islands along the Northern Norwegian coast where the weather can be ever changing, and the drives between cities can be long. We are here to help you plan the ultimate Lofoten summer journey so you can be prepared on what to do, where to stay, how to pack and what to expect from this stunning chain of islands in the Arctic. Let us begin.
Where are the Lofoten Islands?
Lofoten is located at the 68th and 69th parallels north of the Arctic Circle in North Norway, Lofoten is formed by a group of islands located in the region of Nordland county, connected by the road E10, or the King Olav V route (that sounds more Viking, if you know what we mean). The road stretches 186 miles and links these islands to the mainland, and the smaller islands are only accessible by ferry.
You might be thinking to yourself Lofoten is like any other destination where there is a small local airport and everything is within a relatively short drive. That is actually not particularly true. Lofoten is big, the distances are long, and it is important to plan ahead before venturing to the far North.
Summer in Lofoten
Summer in Lofoten is simply breathtaking. With the midnight sun in full effect for nearly 2 months (late May to late July), it is easy to take each day as it comes considering you do not have to worry about driving or traveling in the dark. There is always time to explore.
The melting period usually lasts until June, where snow may cover the peaks until mid-June. By July, the color green will take over, and the islands become lush with fields of flowers and grass. The weather in Lofoten during the summer is unpredictable. Where it can be rainy one minute, and sunny the next. That is why it is important to always have a backpack filled with a few layers to stay dry!
There are several ways of getting to Lofoten, and once there one must decide on a route. Getting to the outskirts of Lofoten (Narvik) is the easy part, the drive to Svolvær (the meat and potatoes of Lofoten) is 3h15m drive away. We are here to help and make your planning very easy. No Stress!
First thing is first, let us put things in perspective. Below is a map with all of “Lofoten’s” airports and nearby airports to fly into, along with the distances. We have also listed out the airports from “closest” to “furthest” (closest being to the center of lofoten, Svolvær” – where all of our day trips leave from). When researching flights to the following airports, keep in mind if you are flying from outside of Norway, you will most likely have to connect in Oslo.
- Svolvær (SVJ) – Distance to Svolvær center: 10 min/ 6km
- Leknes (LKN) – Distance to Svolvær center: 1h3m / 63km
- Transfer via Bodø – There are many options where you can transfer to Svolvær or Leknes. Check out Widerøe airlines.
- Other nearby airports:
- Harstad/Narvik (EVE) – Evenes Airport (do not confuse this with the smaller Narcik – Framnes airport). Norwegian, SAS & Widrøe operate to Narvik from Oslo, as well as several other cities in Norway. This is the best option for those looking to rent a car from a few of the major rental car agencies such as Hertz, Budget, Avis before continuing to Lofoten as it is a 2.5-3h drive to Svolvær, and a 4.5-5h drive to Reine in West Lofoten.
- Tromsø, Norway (TOS) – For many, Tromsø is another destination to stop at when visiting the far North. The airport is located 10 min. From town, which allows you to see “the Paris of the North” before taking a bus (4h to Narvik) or drive (similar timing). This is a long drive, but worth it if you are interested in going even further North. You can check out our summer tours in Tromsø, here. There are buses and local flights to Narvik daily.
- Kiuruna, Sweden (KRN): Kiurna is a 5.5 hour drive East of Lofoten. Car rentals can be cheaper in Sweden, but there are no public transportation options. There are direct flights on SAS and Norwegian airlines from Stockholm to Kiurna, daily.
Airlines that fly within Norway: SAS, Norwegian & Widerøe
Many people say the ferry is the most exciting way of getting to Svolvær because the excitement builds as the ferry gets closer and closer to the mountains. The ferry takes around 3 hours. The ferry is operated by Torggattan Nord. This is an express boat from Bodø to Svolvær. The express ferry terminal is near the tourist information center/bus station in the center of Bodø. Ferry information can be found on the Torghatten Nord website: Torghatten Nord
Renting a car & driving to Svolvær: We recommend you rent a car at the Narvik, Bodø or Tromsø airport. Keep in mind, if you rent a car in Bodø, you will have to make sure the ferry you take over has space for your car, along with buying the ticket which includes a space for your car. Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore Lofoten. Keep in mind that it is difficult to find parking in many cities, hiking spots and there are only narrow, 2 lane roads along the water which can make driving dangerous, especially if there is snow or ice on the roads.
Public Transportation/Bus: There are no train connections to Lofoten, and no direct bus connection from the South. Though there are bus connections from the North (Tromsø). Which run 2-3 times per day. Buses do drive all the way to the end of the road at Å in Lofoten, though a change or two will be necessary.
All bus information in Nordland country can be found at: 177nordland
Here are a few examples of what your journey may look like
- Home – Oslo – Bodø – Leknes/Svolvær (in the summer, there are a few non-stop flights from Oslo to Leknes/Svolvær that leave early in the morning on Widrøe airlines)
- Home – Oslo – Narvik – Drive to Svolvær
- Home – Oslo – Tromsø – Bus to Narvik – Bus or car to Svolvær
Kvalvika beach is famous for its stunning views and moderate hiking level to reach the location facing the Atlantic ocean. The trek is absolutely worth it and at the end of the 1 hour hike you will are rewarded with a beautiful secluded bay, white sand beaches surrounded by high, picturesque mountain peaks.
Kvalvika beach is only accessible by foot and best to visit in the late afternoon/evening when the summer sun pointing straight into the bay. The drive to Kvalvika beach, is an experience by itself and offers a scenic route through the Lofoten landscape.
Trollfjord or Trollfjorden is a stunning, narrow fjord surrounded by steep mountains, and is only accessible by boat or a challenging hike. The famous fjord is located on Austvågøya and the name is derived from the “Troll” a figure from Norse Mythology.
Traditionally an important fjord for cod fishing, this place has through history sparked some friction between local interest, accumulating to the event known as “The battle of trollfjord”. In the fjord we find a variety of birds in the summer, including the mighty white tailed eagle.
Kabelvåg is an important historical fishing village located just 5 Kilometers (3.1 Miles) and about a 10 minute drive from Svolvær. This village is a popular day visit and offers a picturesque atmosphere with its blend of historic importance and modern updates of a typical Norwegian coastal town, known for its cod fishing. In the middle ages Kabelvåg became the most important cod fishing harbours on the Norwegian coast, and contributed to the dry cod from “Nordland” accounting for almost 80% of Norway’s export in the 13th century.
Kabelvåg has traces of settlements from the late stone age, and now offers attractions such as the Lofoten Museum, Lofoten Aquarium and Vågan Church (known as the Lofoten Cathedral).
Henningsvær is located 20 Kilometers (12 Miles) and about 40 minute drive from Svolvær. This traditional fishing village accommodates about 500 permanent residents.The village is build on top of a couple of islands and rock formations, connected to the rest of Lofoten with small picturesque bridges, making the drive to Henningsvær an absolute treat for your senses.
Narrow streets and fishing boats parked all in the middle of town, are blended with small shops, restaurants, dried fish and maybe the world’s most unique soccer field.
Haukland Beach is one of Lofoten’s most famous beach and hike, located on the westside on Lofoten. The caribbean like-waters, mountain landscape in the background, and white sand beach make Haukland Beach, a popular destination for travelers and photo-seekers year round.
Haukland beach is Lofoten’s “swimming beach”, although the water temperatures don’t reach above 15 degrees, you’ll see locals and tourists enjoying the water in the summer sun (water temperatures range from 3-15 degrees). Haukland beach is a unique destination in Lofoten as it offers the possibility to easy access from the road that takes you all the way to the beach.
This small fishing village on the outer part of Lofoten offers an absolutely stunning view and attracts thousands of visitors each year. With a permanent population of only just above 300 people, the picturesque feeling of a small town vibe shaped by the atlantic waves is an experience you will remember for a lifetime. Reine is located just southwest of Sakrisøya, and as we drive through the landscape the narrow roads and bridges between the villages is breathtaking to say the least.
On the mountain peak west of Reine town, we find the famous Reinebringen, a peak reached by a hike from the shoreline in 1-1.5 hours. The view from the peak is mesmerizing and magazines, bloggers, and explorers use the view over reine to promote the stunning landscape of Lofoten all across the world.
Sakrisøya is a very small island just North of Reine and West of Hamnøy bridge. It’s probably one of the most photogenic islands in scandinavia, and every day a large amount of visitors drive through the small village.
A unique blend between a traditional fishing village, with the sound and smell of the ocean with stunning views of the dramatic mountain landscape in the background is a dream for every photographer and explorer. On the island we’ll find a fishing industry, small cabins for rent and a dolls & toy museum.
Hamnøy Bridge is yet another very photogenic location in the outer parts of Lofoten. The bridge connects the island Hamnøya with the island of Toppøya, and is one of the most popular viewpoints for photography in all of Lofoten.
Logistics on the small island can be challenging, due to the volume of visitors passing by, but the rewarding views are worth the effort of a short leg stretcher around the island, the view’s won’t disappoint you! Traditionally Hamnøy was connected to Reine by ferry, but replaced by this beautiful bridge as part of European route E10.
Rorbuanlegget Svolvær Havn
Offering a garden, Rorbuanlegget Svolvær Havn is located in Svolvær, 1.6 km metres from Hurtigruten terminal Svolvær. Free WiFi is featured throughout the property.
Get directions here
If you are in the mood to make your stay feel as cozy, we recommend browsing through some of the incredible apartments and home Svolvær has to offer. What better way to end the day than lighting candles, gathering around the dinner table and cooking with friends in family in your very own Scandinavian home.