10 of the best things to do in Lofoten
Written by Robyn Roste - professional writer living and working in Abbotsford BC Canada
The Lofoten Islands of northern Norway are a picturesque wonder of nature. Travelers from all walks of life come to Lofoten every year and leave with a newfound appreciation for this remote corner of the world. With moderate year-round temperatures and endless discoveries to make, there is something for everyone in Lofoten.
Here are the 10 best things to do in Lofoten on your next visit.
Go on a RIB Safari
Norway is world-famous for their fjords, with towering mountain faces that dive down straight into winding rivers of deep blue Arctic water. One of the most popular natural attractions in Lofoten is the stunning Trollfjord, with its glacier-capped peaks reaching up to 1,100 metres (3,608 feet). The best way to experience this area is by taking a RIB tour.
The Lofoten Islands are home to Europe’s largest Sea Eagles colony, and taking a Sea Eagle Safari to Trollfjorden with RIB boat is an ideal way to catch a glimpse of the bustling birdlife in the area.
See the northern lights
Nestled within the Arctic Circle, Lofoten emerges as an ideal vantage point for the awe-inspiring northern lights, particularly from October to March when the nights are longest. While you can see aurora borealis from just about anywhere in Lofoten, venturing out of town, away from artificial lights, enhances the visibility of their vibrant colors and dynamic movements. A unique way to experience this natural wonder is through a Northern Lights Tour. Guided by local nature photographer Geir Nøtnes, these tours offer personalized experiences in small groups. They include hotel pickup, a briefing, transport to optimal viewing locations based on weather and aurora conditions and technical support for photography. Tours also provide a special portrait of participants under the Northern Lights.
Join a photography tour
With so much to see in Lofoten, capturing experiences in photographs is a fantastic way to look back on these memories for years to come. Photography tours allow for a fun, unique way to experience the area and are a good fit for both experienced photographers to push their skills to get the ultimate shot and for novices to learn something new while enjoying the views.
If you visit in the summer, you can take advantage of 24 hours of daylight shining down on Lofoten. During the winter, you can experiment with low-light techniques to snap stunning long-exposure night shots.
Subjects for photography may include:
- Rocky islands
- Tall mountains
- Deep fjords
- Colorful fishing villages
- The northern lights
- Unique arctic plants and animals
Take in the midnight sun
Between the end of May and mid-July each year, Lofoten and other areas located in the northern Arctic region experience a phenomenon where the sun never fully drops below the horizon. Called the midnight sun, this means it stays light 24 hours a day on the Lofoten Islands!
To help you make the most of the extra hours of sunlight, many local attractions and stores stay open during the night hours so visitors can partake in nighttime activities that are usually done in the daytime.
You can experience the midnight sun on a kayaking trip with us.
Stay in a traditional fisherman's cabin
Quaint red cabins lining the coast are a staple of every fishing village in the Lofoten Islands. These traditional fisherman’s cabins, called Rorbu, are from a bygone era where fishermen visiting the area would stay in order to be close to their boats. Now, fishing boats have room for the fishermen to sleep on them so these cabins have now been converted into tourist accommodations.
Now, these stilted red cabins allow visitors to stay along the water with unobstructed views of the beautiful mountains and crystal clear waters. What more authentic way is there to experience Lofoten?
Have a beach day
Northern Norway may not be what comes to mind when you think about spending a day at the beach, but did you know that Lofoten has some of the best beaches and surfing in Europe? Lonely Planet named Haukland Beach as the best in Europe for its blue water, white sand and surrounding mountains. While the beaches of Lofoten don’t have the warm waters of southern Europe, they deliver when it comes to beauty and solitude.
Experience the Lofotr Viking Museum
Lofoten is an area rich with tradition, culture and history. The Lofotr Viking Museum is located in Bøstad and is the biggest tourist attraction in the area. Visitors are taken back in time over a thousand years to the Viking Age and are given the chance to experience how ancient Norse people lived.
In the 1980s, Europe’s largest Viking longhouse was uncovered here and the 83 metre (272 feet) long settlement is now the central feature of the museum.
In addition to learning about history and archaeology, some of the activities you can participate in at the museum include children’s horseback riding, rowing a Viking ship, ax throwing and shooting a bow and arrow.
The Lofoten Islands' capital city, Svolvær, still maintains its small-town-by-the-sea charm. Having one of Lofoten’s two airports and being a docking port for cruise ships, this is often the starting place for tourists visiting the area.
There are plenty of things to do in the capital city. Food lovers will enjoy exploring the street cafés and bakeries and eating delicious meals at some of the best restaurants in Lofoten. History buffs should make a point to visit one of the many museums and galleries, such as the Lofoten War Memorial Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of WWII artifacts.
Go skrei fishing
The traditional Lofotfiske, or Lofoten fishery, is deeply rooted in the history of Lofoten Islands, Norway. This seasonal fishing, primarily targeting the Arctic cod or "skrei" that migrates to these waters each winter, has been the economic and cultural cornerstone of the region for centuries. It has shaped the local communities, traditions, and even the landscape itself, notably through the iconic "rorbuer" (fishermen's cabins) and drying racks for stockfish.
Today, visitors can immerse themselves in this rich fishing heritage through organized tours like the ones offered by XXLofoten. Their fishing trips on the authentic fishing boat MS Symra provide a hands-on experience of traditional fishing methods. These tours not only offer an insight into the historical significance of Lofotfiske but also connect participants to the timeless rhythm of life in the Lofoten Islands. You can read more detailed information about the winter fishing trip here.
Go on an epic hike
One of the best ways to take in the beauty of Lofoten is by immersing yourself in nature. Challenging yourself with a mountain hike on one of the many trails is an enjoyable way to experience the area and get some fresh air. The most popular hike is Reinebringen, probably because it ends with a spectacular mountain-top view over the villages of Reine, Sakrisøy and Hamnøy.
Other popular hikes with beautiful scenery and breathtaking views include Mannen Mountain in Haukland, Svolvær’s Fløya Mountain and Festvågtinden Mountain in Henningsvær.
You can also go on a guided hike together with one of XXLofoten expert guides, adjusting the hike and destination to your level of experience.
No matter what brings you to the Lofoten Islands—the scenery, the fjords, the villages, the culture, the people—you'll find so much more once you arrive.