I am obsessed with Norway. But you probably already know that. I have been to this fjord wonderland twice in last 2 years and if given chance, I can just pack my bags and head right back, right now . My love affair with Norway started in 2015. My first trip to Norway was a road trip which lasted for 8 days and till now I cannot pick one single place that was my absolute favorite. I mean how can you possibly be biased when every place you visited left you head over heals with this amazing country and desperate to keep visiting again! Fast forward to 2017 – And this time I specifically wanted to visit Northern Norway , – I wanted to visit Lofoten Islands.
The Lofoten Islands are truly the most fascinating place in Norway and has got bit of everything – heavenly beaches, dramatic mountains, lovely villages , farmlands ,Norway Special fjords and above all midnight sun and northern lights – depending when you go . This archipelago in the Arctic is pretty much Norway in a nutshell. Excited ?? However it may seem easy to plan a trip to Lofoten but there are few things you must know so that you are prepared with all the unexpected that comes with expected beauty of the islands. So here it is : Lofoten Islands – Things to know before you go .
Know the seasons :
Lofoten is one of the places where every season has its own beauty . Basically the season you decide to visit the Lofoten Islands will set the mood , accessibility and the beauty of the islands. So word of advice – research well on the seasons. While in winters it looks like a true white wonderland , summer has everything plushed in greens and blues.
Winter can make things difficult as it gets extremely cold and some areas become inaccessible. However , the inaccessibility of the areas is made up by the sheer beauty of islands clad in snow and if lucky enough you might get chance to see the northern lights. Summers has its own charm in Lofoten. You get longer days , you can enjoy all possible outdoor activities but since more and more travelers chose to plan their visit in the summer months – it might get crowded.
Reaching Lofoten can be a bit challenging :
Ok for me this was the most challenging part of my trip – Planning how to reach to the Lofoten Islands , the easiest , shortest and most cost effective way. It was really hard to find the balance between fastest and possibly cheapest. If you are wondering as to how to reach to the Lofoten Islands – Well you can drive , fly or take a ferry. Each of the transportation type has its pros and cons. By air is expensive and takes several flight changes especially if you are coming from outside of Norway. By road , the journey can be really tiring and by ferry you better not be prone to sea sickness cause it can get really challenging.
Weather is not your friend :
I do not want to scare you all , but the fact is Lofoten islands have the most unpredictable weather …. Everrrr… You can wake up with to the sun and not long after have breakfast looking out on rain followed by a lunch with thunderstorm in the afternoon. Because of this , make sure that you pack for every possible weather conditions . Bring some extra layers regardless of the season. I visited Lofoten Islands in month of July and trust me I witnessed a little bit of everything – clear skies , thunderstorm , heavy rains and even snow on top of mountains.
Not only that Lofoten has unpredictable weather , it is localized too. You can have pouring rains at one end and after driving for only a few minutes , you might find clear skies. It is always advised to check weather when you leave your hotel so that you may make last minute adjustments and explore the island in the direction of sun.
Accommodation is limited :
Lofoten is a collection of small villages and there are only a few towns with fancy hotels and good restaurants. Being a popular destination , the accommodations get booked really quickly in the peak season. So for all those last minute planners , you do not want to delay the booking of hotels in Lofoten as you might not find any on the last moment. If you do not find any affordable hotels and if you are up for a challenge , wild camping is the answer to all your vows. Norwegian law allows “wild camping” everywhere (certain restrictions apply in national parks).
Public transportation is minimal:
Lofoten is not the kind of place that you will want to explore in public commute. Even though there are bus services , but they are very limited and do not cater to all the areas. You are better of renting a car and explore the island on your own. The fact is that the beauty of the island is so captivating that you will want to stop anywhere and everywhere. You will not get that flexibility in public transportation. If driving and renting a car is not a feasible option for you , consider signing up for a tour that will take you to the most scenic destinations.
Driving around the island requires some skill :
Lofoten roads are narrow and windy. In some parts the roads are single lane and to pass by the traffic, it can get a bit challenging. If you plan to travel in winters , remember to take 4 wheel drive. You will need a good grip on the road as it gets very icy and slippery in the snow season.
As a vegetarian be prepared to struggle with food :
Lofoten Islands is known for sea- food , specially cod- fish. As a vegetarian you will struggle to find good vegetarian options for food .You are better of buying groceries from local stores and cooking by yourself or carry your own food . In some areas , the restaurants do not have, even a single vegetarian dish in their menu and depending on how busy does it get they might not entertain your request for making something vegetarian even.
Lofoten is all about outdoor adventures :
If you are thinking about a vacation with a view from the room and being beach bum , Lofoten is not the destination for you. Lofoten is known for some of the best hikes and water surfing beaches. It is a mecca of hiking, climbing, fishing, kayaking and skiing, and you can enjoy these activities both in summer and winter seasons. People indulge in multi day hikes and camping in complete wilderness with no human contact whatsoever. To really enjoy the magnificent views of Lofoten , you really need to be outside , driving around and spending time with nature.
The moment you step on to the islands , no matter where you are , the very first whiff of air will smell like cod. Norwegians dry their stockfish by stacking them up on wooden racks , in open air. The harvesting of stockfish takes place in late June which means fish smell everywhere until harvesting is completed. While for some sea food lovers it might be very appetizing, but for people like me it had an opposite effect.
Its easy to see midnight sun than northern lights :
Considering the location of Lofoten Islands , you might feel that they are the best destination to enjoy the northern lights. However that is not the case. Being a coastal area , Lofoten gets its fair share of rainfall and couple that with unpredictable weather , your chances to see aurora gets really slim. However for all those who plan to visit Lofoten in summer , you will be delighted to see 24 hour day light. This gives you ample time to explore the island and an excellent way to loose track of time 😉
I hope this post would have given you some pointers while planning the trip to Lofoten . Have you been there yet ? Was there anything surprising for you? Do let me know in comments below. More details on transportation , accommodations suggestions and a complete itinerary on my next blog post. Thank you for stopping by.
Were you bowled over by the beauty of Lofoten?