Lofoten islands is considered as one of the most beautiful places in the world. And after visited the archipelago myself, I can say there’s not a bit of exaggeration in that statement. Other than the cute villages and majestic fjords, situated in the arctic circle, Lofoten islands is also a great place to see the northern lights and mid-night sun. But somehow, Lofoten is less known than -not just its southern counterparts -Pulpit Rock, Trolltunga and Kjerag, but also Iceland. And because of this, I would recommend Lofoten Island to travellers who want to go to Iceland but don’t want to self-drive or those who’ve been to Iceland and want to be amazed by great landscape again. Because Lofoten is easy-er to get around by public transportation than Iceland, one can easily covered lots popular sites by bus, and it also shares some high latitude features such as northern lights and mid-night sun but still has its own unique culture and geological sceneries.
Of all the islands, Reine and Hamnøy are the places that are easier to get to by bus. Therefore, while there are other amazing spots, Reine and Hamnøy are sill the must-visit to almost all visitors.
How to get to Lofoten Islands：
There are two ways to get to Lofoten from Oslo:
1. Fly or Train to Bodø then take a transfer flight to Leknes
2. Fly or Train to Bodø then take a ferry to Moskens
How to get around on the islands:
First you need to decide whether to rent a car or use public transportation
The most efficient and flexible way is to rent a car. Mainly because the public transportation is to serve the locals not travellers. Therefore, buses are not very frequent and the connection far from perfect, which greatly limits the possibilities of setting up a flexible itinerary.
So I would suggest, if you
have enough budget but not enough time：rent a car
limited budget but plenty of time：public transportation
-Going for public transportation
Basically, you can cover most major spots in Reine and Hamnøy by just using public transportation. Including Reinebrigen, villages in Reine and Hamnøy, stock fish and the possibly seeing killer whales in Reine harbour and northern lights in winter.
But if you plan to go outside Reine area, you might want to consider camping. Otherwise, the cost of accommodation will probably eats up the money you saved from not renting a car and takes even more time.
Also, due to the infrequent schedule and bad connection, you might have to hitch-hike, too. And remember to check if you’re going on local holidays as there may not be services. But if you’re will to put in the effort of planning transportation, the view outside of Reine area is truly spectacular.
Once you make up your mind on how to get around ON the islands, now it’s time to get TO the islands from Norway mainland.
-if you chose renting a car
Because renting a car in Lofoten is A LOT more expensive then from the mainland, most people would choose to get their car from Bodø then ferry to the archipelago. But make sure you book it way in advance as there’s alway a long queue getting on board.
-if you chose public transportation
Take the ferry from Bodø then switch to bus once you arrive in Lofoten.
Reine and Hamnøy is connected by the main road E10, most buses take this route.
There is a supermarket Coop in the village, quite convenient for shopping food and etc. But because of this, accommodation is pretty expensive and there’s no good spot to camp.
When planning you trip, download the must-have app “177 Nordland” first. It has the prices and timetables of buses and ferries, and also serve as a route planner. Also, they accept credit cards on buses and ferries, so are the shop, there’s no need to have too much cash on you.
The high season is summer. By this time the snow is melted and there’s no avalanche and falling rock risks, and longer daytime means more time you can spend outdoors. Spring and winter are preferred time for photographers as there are longer golden hour (I mean, really long) and northern lights. Just make your you dress for the weather, have proper gears for whatever activities you plan on doing and don’t try your luck in bad weather. Also, batteries ten to run out juice faster in low temperature, make sure you pack spare batteries and put them in your sleeping bag when camping.
I went in mid-April this time, the main reason is that the weather condition isn’t as hash as winter times, so I don’t need to carry my bulky winter gears, and also the daytime isn’t so long that I still have some chance of capturing northern lights. But just as mentioned earlier, there’s risk of falling rock and melting snow. The main objective of my trip to Lofoten is to take a photo of Reine from the top of Reinebringen. But I gave up after several scary slip on the almost vertical slope of Reinebringen -the slope was covered wit fresh snow so I couldn’t find secure footings and the snow was also too soft the be made footings.
But even though the weather is usually unstable in Spring, I was lucky this time. I’ve got seven clear day of my nine-day stay in Lofoten. I managed to visit Reine, Hamnøy, Uttakliev Beach, Huakland Beach以 and Skagsgaden Beach in Ramberg.
I was going to visit Kvalivika and hike up Ryten mountain, but the last two days of my journey was hit by a snow storm so I had to change my plan and headed back to Reine.
There are lots of cute little houses called Rorbeur in Lofoten, they are the houses of fishermen. But more and more of these are converted to B&Bs so tourists and get a taste of what it’s like. If you have enough budget it’s worth a try. Of course there are other B&Bs that are more affordable, If you failed to get one within your budget, try to book one in Å, and use bus to explore Reine and Hamnøy.
And for camping, I brought my three season tent, sleeping pad and a good sleeping bag. My sleeping bag as slightly not warm enough in the leg area but solved with putting my coat on it. I had pretty descent sleep with this setup (and hiked a lot during the day might also helped). As for the bad weather in the last two days, I thought my setup wasn’t capable of handling weather that is snowing and hailing horizontally, so I booked a B&B in Reine and spent the last two days there. Therefore, I would suggest that check your weather app at all times just to make sure you’re updated on the weather condition.
Living cost in Norway is EXPENSIVE! Not just in restaurants, even the price of food in supermarkets are higher than most European countries, alcoholic drinks are even crazier. So prepare more on food when budgeting your trip. But at least the water is drinkable, from the tap or from rivers, and tastes delicious, so you can save a few bucks on bottle water.
Like the Norwegians say, there’ no bad weather only bad clothing,
For the arctic weather I would say the best way is to layer up, below is my clothing system for the trip.
-100% wool base layer : because the temperature was quite low so it’s unlikely I’ll sweat a lot. So I opted for wool base layer.
-Insulation layer：100% wool jumoer and FP 600 down jactet. Because I will be traveling in other (warmer) European countries for almost three months, so I chose to bring two thinner insulation layers instead of a thick one so I can mix and match later on.
-External：Goretex hardshell jacket.
-Head：beanie and bandana. To cover my head and face when needed.
-Hands： Waterproof and windproof gloves.
-Softshell hiking pants: It turned out they are not warm enough so I had gaiters on all the time to gain a bit extra warmth.
Goretex hiking boots
Above is my guide to Lofoten islands, hope it helps people who’s interested on visiting to this amazing place. If you haven questions, feel free to leave a comment or PM me on Facebook. If you’re interested in my photography work, you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram