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Visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway: A Complete 2023 Travel Guide

  • Post last modified:September 3, 2023
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Have you ever considered visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway? Maybe they weren't on your radar, or perhaps you haven't even heard of them at all. Well, that's all going to change now, because these are some of the most underrated islands on the planet!


We had seen pictures before, but never really had anyone we knew visiting the Lofoten Islands ever. But as we love experiencing places off-the-beaten-path, we knew that we had to add this unique archipelago to our bucket list.


We spent 5 incredible days visiting the Lofoten Islands, and can say it was even better than we were imagining! How do you get to the Lofoten Islands? What is there is to there? And how many days do you need in the Lofoten Islands? Well, don't worry- we've got you covered. Here is everything you need to know about visiting the Lofoten Islands.

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Where are the Lofoten Islands Located?

The Lofoten Islands are an island archipelago that are located in the north of Norway near the Arctic Circle. The seven main islands are all linked together by bridges, making a large land mass of 474 square miles (1,227 square km).

Where are the Lofoten Islands in Norway

The Lofoten Islands are off the north west coast of Norway.


Visiting the Lofoten Islands: How Can I Go to Lofoten?

Visiting the Lofoten Islands can be a bit tricky, as they definitely are not in the most convenient part of the world! But don't worry- there are a few different ways that you can get there.


Where Do You Fly to Get to Lofoten Islands?

There are a couple of different options when it comes to visiting the Lofoten Islands. The closest and two most convenient airports to fly to are Leknes or Svolvaer. Leknes has flights from Bergen, Bodo, Oslo, and Tromso, and Svolvaer has flights from Bodo, Oslo, Rost, and Stokmarknes.


The next closest airport is Tromso, which is the airport we decided to fly into due to the significantly cheaper prices, and the ease of renting a car from the Tromso airport. Tromso has domestic flights from Andenes, Alta, Bergen, Berlevag, Bodo, Hammerfest, Harstad, Hasvik,  Kirkenes. Lakselv, Longyearbyen, Mo I Rana, Mosjoen. Oslo, Sorkjosen, Stokmarknes, Trondheim, and Vadso. International cities that fly to Tromso include Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Gdansk, Helsinki, and Zurich.


The final option for flights getting to the Lofoten Islands is to fly to Bodo, and then to take a ferry to Vaeroy. Vaeroy is an incredible island that you can stay a day, and then from there you can get another ferry to Moskenes, which is in the southern part of the Lofoten Islands.

Tromso, Norway

Tromso is the cheapest city to fly to to visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway.

How Do You Get to the Lofoten Islands From Oslo?

Oslo is of course the easiest city to fly into from around the world, so unless you are coming from the select cities that we mentioned above, chances are you will need to fly into Oslo first.


There are a few ways that you can get to the Lofoten Islands from Oslo, depending on how much time you have, or what else you want to explore.


How to Get to the Lofoten Islands from Oslo Option 1: Take a Flight

This is definitely the most common option for visiting the Lofoten Islands, since they are very far away. Oslo connects to every airport in the country, so you can check which of the airports is the cheapest or most convenient to fly into, and go from there.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can put from "Oslo" to "Norway". This way you can see which is the cheapest airport in the area to fly. Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for each destination!

Search for a flight to the Lofoten Islands:

How to Get to the Lofoten Islands from Oslo Option 2: Rent a Car or Campervan

If you plan on spending a long time in Norway, and want to explore more of the country, you can rent a car or camper van from Oslo. The drive would need to be broken down into a few days, as it would be over 20 hours of driving!


We would honestly suggest flying to Bodo or Tromso though, and then renting a car from one of those airports instead.


How Do You Get to the Lofoten Islands From Tromso?

When we were searching how to get to the Lofoten Islands from Oslo, we found that the cheapest flights were to Tromso, which is around 5 hours away from the Lofoten Islands. We rented a car from the airport, and absolutely loved our choice to do it this way. We saved a lot on our flights, and the drive was simply stunning!


Tromso is also a great city to visit, and while you're in the area you can visit Senja or Andoya, which are both gorgeous peninsulas that are located between Tromso and the Lofoten Islands.

The car rental experience was absolutely seamless, and was a bit cheaper than renting from one of the companies in the Lofoten Islands, making this by far the most budget-friendly option. Alternatively, you could take a bus from Tromso to the Lofoten Islands, and get around via public transportation while in the Lofoten Islands, but we loved driving there so much that we think it's worth the extra cost. (We also opted to sleep in our car, which saved us a ton of money).

driving to the Lofoten Islands in Norway
driving to the Lofoten Islands in Norway
driving to the Lofoten Islands in Norway
driving to the Lofoten Islands in Norway

The views from Tromso to the Lofoten Islands are stunning!

Here is the site we used to rent a car in Tromso:


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Entry Requirements for Visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway

When traveling anywhere new, it's important to know if there are any special documents or vaccines necessary in order to enter. Here are the entry requirements for visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway.


Visa Entry Requirements for Norway

The Lofoten Islands have the same entry requirements as the rest of Norway. As Norway is part of the EU and the Schengen Zone, they have the same rules and regulations as the other countries in this area. Even if you are coming from another EU country though, Norway does require everyone to go through customs, unlike most other European countries within the EU.


The 90/180 Rule

All countries that belong to the Schengen Zone have free travel amongst one another. That means that tourists can have 90 days to travel in the Schengen Zone. This is important to know, because if you spend time in another country in the Schengen Zone before Norway, you will have to subtract those days of allowance.


For example, you plan on spending 1 month (30 days) in Spain, you will then have a limit of 60 days to spend in Norway. After leaving Norway, if you have used all 90 days, you will have to spend 90 days outside of any Schengen country before being able to re-enter. The 90/180 rule states that you can spend 90 days within a 180-day period.


We spend a lot of time in Europe, so we always use the Schengen Visa Calculator to make sure that we don't overstay. (It is a serious offense if you even spend 91 days in 180 day period, so it is crucial you make sure to stay in compliance).


Covid Entry Requirements for Norway

All Covid-related requirements have been lifted, so there is no need to bring any documentation with you.


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Local Adjustments for Visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway

Whenever traveling to a new destination there are things that may differ from your home country. Here are some of the adjustments to keep in mind when visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway.


What Language Do They Speak in Lofoten Islands?

The official language in the Lofoten Islands is Norwegian. However, the level of English throughout Norway and most Scandinavian places is incredible! We did not meet a single person who did not speak a great level of English during our 2 weeks in the country.


Norwegian is a very difficult language, and things are super hard to pronounce. We do think it's nice to try to pick up a few of the words though, as it's a nice gesture!


The Best Currency Used Visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway

The currency used in Norway is the Norwegian Krone, or what you'l see as NOK. As of July 2023, $1 USD is equivalent to about 10 NOK.


Is Visiting the Lofoten Islands Expensive?

Visiting the Lofoten Islands is definitely not a cheap trip. However, there are plenty of ways that you can cut down your costs. Stay tuned for our upcoming article where we share all of the ways to do the Lofoten Islands on a budget!


Do You Need Cash in Lofoten Islands?

We actually didn't need to withdraw cash a single time while visiting the Lofoten Islands! Save the exchange fees and stick to using your credit card.


What Adapter Plugs You I Need for the Lofoten Islands?

Norway uses the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which types C, E, & F. The standard voltage in the Lofoten Islands is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. If you are coming from the US, you will need to get a travel adapter to use your electronics there.


Can You Drink the Water in Lofoten Islands?

The water in the Lofoten Islands and Norway in general is amongst the cleanest in the world! Skip buying expensive bottled water, and fill up with the fresh tap water. We suggest buying a reusable water bottle for your travels. Also, we even filled up our water bottle at the many waterfalls in the area! We also got a Steripen as an extra step to purify the water that we collected from outside water sources.


Tipping While Visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway

The tipping culture in the Lofoten Islands is very similar to other areas of Europe. Tipping is never required, but 10-15% is generally suggested to be left for servers in restaurants.

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Things to Do While Visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway

Now that you know almost everything you need to know about visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway, here are the best things to do in the area.

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Things to Do in the Lofoten Islands #1: Experience the Epic Hikes

The Lofoten Islands seriously has to have some of the most stunning hikes in the entire world! Being that there are so many islands and the area is so mountainous, the views from above usually feature a lot of tiny islands, turquoise waters, and breathtaking peaks in the background. 


In the south of Norway, all of the hikes are very long. However, the ones in the Lofoten Islands are always shorter, and steeper. So while they can be a little intense, the good thing is that most of them don't take more than an hour or two each way.


There are an endless amount of hikes in this area, so we actually just narrowed it down to some of our favorites for you to check out. Make sure to check out our full Lofoten Islands hiking guide to see some of the top hikes in the area!

hikes in the Lofoten Islands in Norway
Offersoykammen, best hikes in the Lofoten Islands
secret hike, the best hikes in the Lofoten Islands
hiking in the Lofoten Islands, Norway

The Lofoten Islands have some of the best hikes in the world!


Things to Do in the Lofoten Islands #2: Visit the Gorgeous Beaches

You wouldn't think that the beaches would be a highlight while visiting the Arctic Circle, but the Lofoten Islands has some seriously stunning beaches! Imagine Caribbean-style beaches with white sand and turquoise waters, but with mountains surrounding them. It is seriously what dreams are made of! Here are a few of our favorites to add to your list:

  • Hauklandstranada: next to the popular Mannen hike overlooking the beach, but can be accessed via car
beach in the Lofoten Islands, Norway
beach in the Lofoten Islands, Norway
Mannen, hikes in the Lofoten Islands

Hauklandstranda Beach

  • Uttakleiv Strand: on the other side of the mountain from Hauklandstranda, which can be accessed via a parking lot, or walking along the seaside trail from Hauklandstranda
beach in the Lofoten Islands, Norway

Uttakleiv Strand

  • Kvalvika: can be accessed via hike on a couple of different paths, typically paired with hiking Ryten
Kvalvika Beach in the Lofoten Islands
Ryten & Kvalvika Beach, best hikes in the Lofoten Islands
Ryten & Kvalvika Beach, best hikes in the Lofoten Islands

Kvalvika Beach

  • Bunes: secluded beach accessed via hike from Vindstad
  • Horseid: a more demanding hike than Buenos, but one of the most beautiful beaches
  • Rambergstranda: has an iconic red shed in front of it
beach in the Lofoten Islands, Norway
beach in the Lofoten Islands, Norway
beach in the Lofoten Islands, Norway

Rambergstranda

  • Rorvikstranda: tiny beach between mountains with crystal clear waters
  • Folvika: a beautiful beach we found along the side of the road

Things to Do in the Lofoten Islands #3: Roam the Adorable Towns

As if the hikes and the beaches aren't enough to make you fall in love the Lofoten Islands in Norway, the adorable towns will take the cake here.


The Lofoten Islandsdoesn't have big cities, but is comprised by a ton of different villages. One is seriously more charming than the next. You won't find big malls, fast food chains, or commercial brands here. You will only find handmade crafts, high quality eateries, and the most beautiful buildings. Here are some our favorite towns to visiting in the Lofoten Islands:

 

Å

This town doesn't only have the shortest name in the world, but it may just be one of the smallest and cutest places you'll witness. Located all the way at the southern tip of the Lofoten Islands, it is characterized by its typical red cabins along the coast.

A, Lofoten Islands in Norway

Hamnoy

If the Lofoten Islands could be summed up into one photo, it would be the perfectly picturesque fishing village of Hamnoy. 


The tiny island connected by a bridge has red buildings perched along the coast of it, with gorgeous mountain views around it. The village is best appreciated from the bridge leading up to it, which is pretty much where you'll get the view from the photo below (we flew our drone to get this shot though).


Hamnoy, Lofoten Islands in Norway
Nusfjord, Lofoten Islands in Norway
Hamnoy, Lofoten Islands in Norway

Hamnoy is known for its red cabins on stilts.


Nusfjord

While Å and Hamnoy have those seemingly picturesque red cabins, Nusfjord has a stunning contrast of both bright yellow and red cabins around it. The fishing village is around one big boardwalk, where you'll feel as if you've just walked into a movie scene. As a bonus, there is a viewpoint you can hike up to to get beautiful views of the fishing village! We unfortunately couldn't find it, and visited at 3 am, so we suggest asking a local to find it.


Nusfjord, Lofoten Islands in Norway
Nusfjord, Lofoten Islands in Norway
Nusfjord, Lofoten Islands in Norway

Reine

This is the town where you can experience the incredible Reinebringen hike, with some of the best views in the Lofoten Islands!


Make sure to check out the view from the parking lot entering the town, and pay a visit to the small cafe they have there.

Reine, Lofoten Islands in Norway

The parking lot entering Reine has great views of the city.

Hennisvaer

This is hands-down our favorite village in the Lofoten Islands, and is where you can find the famous soccer field!


We visited an adorable cafe, had an incredible lunch, took epic drone shots, went hiking, and finished off our perfect day at a karaoke bar in town. Hennisvaer may be tiny, but it has a ton to offer, and shouldn't be missed if you are visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway!


Hennisvaer, Lofoten Islands in Norway
Hennisvaer, Lofoten Islands in Norway

Svolvaer

This is the northern-most town in the Lofoten Islands in Norway, and is a super cute seaside town. It is the perfect place to grab a bite along the water, and base yourself for a day or two. It is also where you can find the most hotels, transportation options, and tours to experience the northern part of the Lofoten Islands.

svolvaer, Lofoten Islands in Norway

Svolvaer is one of the best cities to spend a night in the Lofoten Islands.

Things to Do in the Lofoten Islands #4: Cruise the Islands


There are so many islands in this archipelago, and what better way to experience the island chain than by boat! There are several cruises to choose from sunset cruises to luxury yachts with hot tubs and kayaks for rent.


Here are a few different cruises you can choose from:

Things to Do in the Lofoten Islands #5: Go on a Kayaking Tour

Want to explore the Lofoten Islands in Norway by sea but want something more adventurous than a boat tour? There are epic kayak tours that allow you to stay active while having a unique perspective of the islands from the water, while learning all about the area.


Here area few kayak tours that we've found:

Things to Do in the Lofoten Islands #6: Learn About the Fishing Culture

Being located in the Arctic Circle, you can imagine that the weather doesn't permit a lot of agriculture. However, the Lofoten Islands are blessed with a ton of marine life! The fishing culture in the Lofoten Islands is very prevalent, and has been a living for many since 6,000 years ago!


One of the most popular snacks in Scandinavia is Lutefisk, which is fish that is salted a dried outside. You'll actually find large racks of fish drying all over the Lofoten Islands! While we weren't a huge fan of the snack, we definitely thought this was something super unique, and definitely worth learning about.


Visit the Lofoten Stockfish Museum and you can get an insight to the history behind the fishing culture in the Lofoten Islands.