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The five best things to do on Norway's Lofoten Islands

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
The five best things to do on Norway's Lofoten Islands
Our guide on some of the best things to do once you reach the Lofoten Islands will help you make the most out of the trip. Photo by Daniel Diemer on Unsplash

Situated in northern Norway, north of the Arctic Circle, the majestic Lofoten Islands are often listed among the country's top natural attractions. If you're planning a trip to the archipelago, these are some of the best things to do .


Internationally known for awe-inducing natural beauty, rich cultural traditions, and outdoor activities, the Lofoten Islands are one of Norway's most famous tourist magnets.

The destination seems to have something for everyone - visitors looking for an active vacation can enjoy long hikes and kayaking, fishing enthusiasts can try their hand at some of the best fishing in the world, while "bucket-listers" can test their luck and try to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

Regardless of the category you fall into, our guide on the best things to do once you actually reach Lofoten will help you make the most out of the trip.

Lofoten 2

Don't miss out on the raw beauty of the Lofoten Islands - go on a road trip and explore the archipelago. Photo by Daniel Diemer on Unsplash

1. Set aside an entire day for a road-trip

Reaching Lofoten can be somewhat of a challenge. There are no train connections to the archipelago, the Hurtigruten ship voyage can be quite expensive, and trips by car (which are then combined with ferry connections) tend to take a while.

The fastest way to reach the islands is via plane. If you're taking the plane, we recommend renting out a car (well ahead of your trip) for the duration of your stay on Lofoten. Multiple rental companies have car collection points at the Svolvær airport.

Having a car lets you embark on road trips which are among the most picturesque in the world. We recommend setting a day aside for a trip along the Scenic Route Lofoten, which runs between Raftsundet and Å, with detours to Nusfjord, Vikten, Utakleiv, Unstad, Eggum, and Henningsvær.

If you depart from Svolvær to Å, you'll need about 2-3 hours to make the trip in one direction.  If you do make the trip from Svolvær to Å, make sure to visit Anita's Sjømat restaurant and delicacy shop in Reine on the final leg of the journey. It has delicious seafood, the diner is very cosy, and the staff is delightful.


Lofoten fishing ship

Organised fishing trips often make use of old fishing ships that can accommodate more than ten people at a time. Photo by Daniel Diemer on Unsplash

2. Go on an organized fishing trip

Lofoten is an extremely popular fishing destination. If you want to try landing monstrous cod, the time to visit is between January and April.

That's when the Northeast Arctic cod (called skrei in Norwegian) returns to the area to spawn. Both commercial fishermen and fishing enthusiasts visit Lofoten during this time to try and catch skrei.

Numerous agencies and private fishing guides offer fishing trips, and the prices for group trips often start from 800-1,000 kroner per person. Private fishing trips will cost you 2,000-3,000 kroner or more, depending on the season and duration of the trip. You can also fish from the shore if you wish. 

You can find an overview of fishing guides in Lofoten, here

Some companies have teamed up with restaurants and offer the chance of having the fish you catch on your trip prepared for you for dinner.

Sea eagle

The sea eagle safaris take you really close to these majestic animals. Photo by Federico Di Dio photography on Unsplash

3. Experience a sea eagle safari from a RIB boat

On paper, bird watching might seem a bit unexciting at first glance. That is definitely not the case with the sea eagle safaris offered at the Lofoten Islands.

Sea eagles are among the world's largest, with a wingspan of up to 2.65 metres. Seeing them at close range is an unforgettable experience.

Several Svolvær-based companies offer RIB (rigid inflatable boat) trips through Raftsundet, where visitors can see and admire the majestic sea eagles up close (the guides feed fish to the eagles, which you're then able to watch from a distance of just a meter or two), and further to the Trollfjord.

After seeing the eagles, the safaris make their way to the Trollfjord, and the guides try their best to share interesting facts about the history and culture of the places you pass by.

The sea eagle safaris usually take up to 2 hours and are available most of the year (of course, if the weather allows it). Remember to pack warm clothes year round. 


Northern Lights

The Lofoten Islands are among the top locations in the world for seeing the Aurora Borealis. Photo by Federico Di Dio photography on Unsplash

4. Go Northern Lights hunting

As most guides in the area will tell you, the Lofoten archipelago is located just beneath the auroral oval, a belt of light that encircles the geomagnetic poles, providing some of the best odds anywhere for seeing the Aurora Borealis.

Furthermore, due to its northern location, the sun stays below the horizon for about five weeks during the winter, providing visitors with amazing opportunities to see the Northern Lights – depending on the weather conditions.

There are a number of panoramic saunas in the area, as well as hot tubs, which can be rented out even at night, so – in the best-case scenario – you might find yourself gazing at the Northern Lights from the comfort of a hot tub!


Just remember that there are never any guarantees that you'll see the Northern Lights. You'll need luck, clear skies, and – ideally – you'll need to visit before the equinox, as the phenomenon is easier to spot in complete darkness.

Furthermore, if you make the trip around the time of the equinox, you'll have increased chances to witness the lights, as that is when there are periods of high geomagnetic electrical disturbance.

You can further increase your odds by booking a Northern Lights hunt with a local guide or company specialising in providing tourists with this experience (they know the best spots and use multiple apps to decide where and when to head out).

Prices tend to start around 900 kroner per person, and the tours are usually available from September or October to April.


Boat Lofoten

Renting out a boat for a day or two will give you unparalleled freedom to explore the islands. Photo by Maciek Sulkowski on Unsplash

5. Rent out a boat and explore surrounding islands

If you have a boatman's licence, you can always skip organised sightseeing and fishing trips and rent out your own boat.

Multiple companies offer boats for rent, but the demand might be quite high during the skrei fishing season.

Outside said season, you can expect to pay between 2,000 and 3,000 kroner per day for a 7-9 meter-long boat in Svolvær. The boats tend to be equipped with GPS and sonar systems, which will help you move around, avoid the shallows, and locate good fishing spots.

The fishing is so good in virtually any season that you'll likely catch something special on a lot of trips.

If you're not keen on fishing, you can enjoy the scenery from the sea and visit numerous villages along the islands' coastline.


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