Every serious traveller has at least once dreamt of the magnificent Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway. Rugged mountains plunging into the ocean, grazing sheep on the world’s greenest hills, white-sand beaches like in the Caribbean, picturesque fishing villages, midnight sun: those renown islands are all about that. Located above the Arctic Circle, one may avoid visiting Lofoten Islands because of polar conditions. Forget about that. Because of the Gulf Stream climate there is incredibly mild, with winter temperatures more than 20C degrees warmer than elsewhere on the planet at same latitudes! It’s far from tropical, but in summer even sea temperature is surprisingly warm (prepare for some dips in the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by dramatic landscapes). The only drawback is rain (and a super high cost of living). It does rain a lot, but what you are going to see there will totally make up for it.
Rent a Motorhome
I had the chance to visit the Lofoten islands twice. First time with a car and a tent, second time with a motorhome. While wilderness camping is safe and easy in the islands, I recommend the latter option for more comfort. I chose a classic European Dethleffs model and drove there all the way from Helsinki (almost 1500 km to Svolvær). The motorhome was amazingly well equipped with heating and A/C, hot water, toilet and shower, stove, fridge and freezer. It can accommodate up to 6 persons in theory, but is ideal for a couple as it quickly starts to feel cramped (especially during rainy times). You will find a lot of free places to park in the Lofoten Islands, and only need to use paid camping sites if you want to extensively use features like heating or A/C during the night (you need to plug the car then, as running on the battery only will not last for long). All the kitchen appliances work with propane and you can fill the water tank for free at gas stations. To empty the chemical toilet, use public toilets (the rather small tank fills up quickly). Forget lighting, as in summertime the sun shines around the clock!
From Svolvær to Å
The most scenic part of the Lofoten Islands stretches from Svolvær (considered as the capital city of the islands) all the way to Å, for over 100 kilometers.
Shortly after Svolvær, don’t miss the highly photogenic fishing village of Henningsvær with its colourful wooden houses and completely surrounded by the sea.
I also recommend to quit the main road E10 and take smaller roads along the coastline. Spot pristine beaches (which you will often have all to yourself!) and enjoy the serenity.
Just before the last town of Å, you will pass by the famous Reine (one of Norway’s most beautiful towns). Well, it may not be obvious on a rainy day:
After reaching Å it’s time to drive back to Svolvær and to experience the gorgeous islands from another angle (or take a ferry to Bodø to reach Southern Norway). Take your time, venture on the islands’ smaller roads, park on that perfect spot in the middle of nowhere, have a picnic made of fresh shrimp alone on a beach, and enjoy.