Falling in Love With The Lofoten Islands

After reading and hearing so much about the Lofoten Islands we couldn’t wait to visit on this trip, as always when expectations are high there was a degree of “will this place be good as we imagine”. Well the answer was yes.

From the minute the ferry docked we knew we’d arrived somewhere special, the stunning mixture of mountains and coastline made our jaws drop, they remained this way for the majority of the next 4 days.

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Here’s our itinerary for our four days exploring the Lofoten archipelogo.

Day 1 – Glomtidden Hike and Henningsvaer

We knew we wanted to do a lot of hiking on the Islands, we’ve found from our time in Norway that the best way to get to grips with a place, is to view it from the top of a huge mountain. Our first hike took just over 2 hours, with the weather somewhat turbulent throughout, strong winds made it quite a challenge, especially when tackling the final summit ridge, once on top however the clouds cleared and we were rewarded with views of snow capped mountains rising from crystal clear waters hundreds of metres below.

After the morning spent mountain climbing, we thought we’d take off the hiking boots and put on the trainers for an easy stroll around the fishing village of Henningsvaer. The quaint town is dotted with colourful houses, red rorbeur cabins and boutique type shops selling anything from handmade soaps and jewellery to edible sea urchins.

Cloudy views from Glomtidden.            The colourful wooden houses of Henningsvaer.

Like us, there were also an abundance of weary hikers and climbers refuelling in the many cosy restaurants and coffee shops.

Henningsvaer is also one of the towns on the Lofotens that has huge numbers of wooden racks placed near the sea. As we wandered through them we wondered what they were used for, then we got a whiff of something that gave it away. The wooden racks are used for drying cod, which is the main export from the Islands. The cod heads and dried fish are sent to places like Italy where it is used in dishes such as fish head soup. Who knew! We aren’t fussy eaters at all but after that aroma, I’m not sure I want to see that on my plate!

Day 2  Unstad and Eggum

Unstad is a quiet and tiny little village with a few coloured houses, the main reason people visit this beach is for its surf. It has the best surfing waves on the Lofotens.

We unfortunately found ourselves stuck in Unstad as our campervan’s clutch decided to give way, so after a few phone calls to our UK breakdown cover, we then had many hours to sit and wait for the recovery truck. Luckily we were surrounded by the mountains and spent the day watching the surfers.

By a stroke of luck we managed to find a mechanic who could fix the van that day, we’d been told from various other companies that we’d be stuck for at least 5 days to wait for parts.

This meant we were back on the road by 8 P.M, as it never really gets dark this still gave us plenty of time to get to your stop for the night in Eggum.

Eggum is famous for it’ s world war 2 radar station, used by the Germans to keep track of movements out in the Arctic Ocean.

We found a great spot to park here overlooking the water, we’d been told that this is a great space to watch the Midnight Sun, unfortunately the evening we were there, brought think clouds so there wasn’t a great deal to see.

 

Day 3 – Reinebryggen Hike and Å

We didn’t actually venture into the village of Reine, instead we chose to do a short but challenging hike up Reinebryggen. The views at the top are so worth the scramble up. Once at the top you are rewarded with a panoramic view of Reine and the surrounding islands. The recent rain had made the trail incredibly slippery, we found our descent was more sliding that actually walking.

 In the afternoon we took in the village of Å, which we’ve since learnt is actually pronounced “oh”. Just up to the right of the village there’s a small hill which offers great views of the village as well as the ocean stretching out behind. Å is actually the final point on the islands, the main tourist route the E10 comes to an abrupt stop here.

 The view from the top                               Summit Selfie 

Day 4 – Nusfjord, Fredvang and a Hike to Ryten

We decided to divert off the main road and head to Nusfjord. A UNESCO world heritage site. The entry fee is 75 NOK per person, this was actually the first tourist attraction we’ve paid for in Norway, unless you count the £40.00 car park fees for some of the hikes!

Visiting the village is like taking a trip back in time, firstly we came across a general store from 1907, still full of the treasures it would have sold inside the store at that time. You can also wander around the harbour, visiting the cod liver oil factory which shows a short film about the fishing industry and the drying of the cod. After venturing up to a view point, we decided to take in the fjord with a cup of coffee and a homemade vanilla and rhubarb bun from the tiny bakery.

 

UNESCO heritage site Nusfjord            Fish head soup anyone?

Crossing the incredible bridges that lead to the town of Fredvang is worth the detour in itself, they pass over the most beautifully clear arctic water. Once past Fredvang is the village of Yterrsand, home to a vast sandy white beach. After a day exploring, making the most of the long bright evenings we decided to hike to Ryten at 8pm. It was a nearly 3 hour round trip due to aching legs from the previous days hike. It was a fairly steep climb but provided us with breathtaking views of Fredvang and then Kvalvikka beach. Ryten is the rock at the top of the hike, famous for hikers taking death defying instagram snaps.

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