Vatican. A country inside the city – the smallest country in the world containing one of the biggest churches ever built.Vatican. A country inside the city – the smallest country in the world containing one of the biggest churches ever built.
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Rome is one of these cities which I always used to leave ‘for later’: very beautiful, very popular, and very expensive for a student traveller. It was always also reasonably close and well connected, so the visit could be postponed for ‘a better time’.
When being in Rome you could completely indulge on walking through the streets, watching busy cafes, restaurants, bars and gelaterias (selling delicious Italian ice-cream), rolling through sunny piazzas or taking a stroll along the river… and never get bored.
Seeing the bad weather coming slowly from the sea, there was not much point in doubting the forecast for next two days.
Instead of hoping for the best we decided to embrace the situation and think of plan B. Thanks to technology, we managed to search the Internet for options. Since before the trip, we considered staying at least 1 day in Rorbu cabins. These are very characteristic for Lofoten: old fishermen’s houses, standing on wooden stilts in the water for the easier fish picking. Nowadays Rorbuer are mostly tourist attractions and provide accommodation for curious visitors.
However, because of their popularity, it is quite hard to get a place in one of them during the summer season. Again, we must have been lucky, as we found a cabin for this one night we needed.
The car rental is in Moskenes and apparently consists of more or less 2 cars for rent. The ‘Sunny’ became our lucky vehicle for the next 2 days.
We had to say goodbye to the luxury and come back to our wanderer lives. We have spent day 7 completely on the road, checking out all places which seemed interesting, stopping for pictures and enjoying the gloomy, heavy clouds above our heads. There are many ‘galleries’, ‘museums’, ‘antique shops’ or ‘handcraft centres’ around, so we never got bored. It was also the unique opportunity to do some shopping and try local specialties. Dried cod is a trademark from Lofoten, known all over the world, so it would have been a sin to skip it!
Dried cod is the main industry on the islands. Wooden racks full of hanging fish are the common view in the islands this time of the year.
After a fair ‘warm-up’ the previous days, we managed to put ourselves together and continue the tour according to the plan.
From Camp 2 on Horseid, the next destination was a small ferry terminal in Kjerkfjorden that allowed the transport to Bunes beach. This was supposed to be a ‘rest day’ to sooth the soreness from previous afternoon stroll. It looked promising: short hike to the boat and then even shorter from boat to Camp 3. However, the long day and beautiful weather won again with common sense and we decided on another little excursion – this time for better digestion after dinner. The views were much worth the effort. And besides – who knows if we will ever come back to this place?
There are flights from several Norwegian cities directly to Leknes or Svolvær, but we chose a more adventurous option, which included 4 means of transportation (why would we go for one only!). So we flew from Stavanger to Trondheim, spent a day wandering around, took a night train to Bodø, then ferry to Moskenes and a bus to the start of our trail. I have to say I really liked the ‘day in Trondheim’ idea – it awakened nice memories and gave me a chance to share a little piece of my student life with Gustavo. After 2 days of travel, we finally put our tents in the sun on a beautiful mountain pass near Fredvang.
Some places deserve re-visiting and Lofoten is definitely one of them. I took my first trip here in 2010 while studying in Trondheim. At that time I crossed the islands with bike. Now, 5 years later, I came back to walk it through with Gustavo and 2 more friends (Ania and Gregor). The idea was to take a hike through quite spectacular Moskenesøya island.
The trip was part of our summer vacation, but the weather quickly brought our minds back to reality. During a 10-day stay, there was no single day that I would spend without a hat and a jacket. Even with the midnight sun, the temperatures did not manage to get too high, but we didn’t complain – it’s just part of the adventure! 🙂
I have divided the trip into 4 stages. Read more about each of them below. But first, the brief introduction to the topic.
Lofoten is an archipelago of islands located on the North-Western coast of the Scandinavian peninsula. It is part of Norway and consists of 8 main islands and multiple smaller ones.
Although it lies within the Arctic Circle, the climate in Lofoten is rather mild considering its latitude. This is the result of the Gulf Stream and its extensions swiping the coast with warm water brought from Florida, USA.
Few interesting facts about Lofoten found around the Internet:
- The sun stays above the horizon continuously from late May to mid-July (phenomenon known as ‘midnight sun’)
- The sun stays below the horizon continuously from early December to January (phenomenon known as ‘polar night’)
- It is the largest producer of ‘stockfish’ (fish dried on the racks, usually cod) in the world
- The sea is rich with wildlife and contains the biggest deep water coral reef in the world (Røst reef)
- To the South-West of the islands, there is a system of tides and whirlpools called Moskstraumen
Location of Lofoten Islands and main cities
How to get there?
Plane. The easiest, most convenient but also the most expensive of the options. There are several airports around Lofoten, the main ones are in Svolvær and Leknes. You can get a direct flight to the heart of the archipelago using one of the Norwegian airlines: SAS, Norwegian or Widerøe.
Ferry. Ferries are a common way of transport in Norway and cities in Lofoten are also well connected with the sea routes . The cheaper option is to get a regular ferry that starts in Bodø and goes to Moskenes. The trip takes about 4 hours. Another alternative is getting the Hurtigruten or express boat. There is a lot of information about means of transport available on Lofoten website: www.lofoten.info.
Train. If you decide on taking the ferry, you need to get to Bodø first 🙂 The best way (besides flying) is to take the train (NSB). The trip from Trondheim takes about 10h, so it is the best to get the night trip. Tip: the view outside of the window is very monotonous along the way, so you can relax and sleep without a heavy conscious 🙂
Where to stay?
There are several camping spots around, but being in Norway it is very convenient to just pick your favourite place and put the tent there. Yes, it is free and allowed to camp in Norway, as long as you stay at least 150 metres away from the nearest inhabited house or cabin. Of course, if you decide for that, you need to behave and collect all your trash! You can find more information about the right of access here: www.visitnorway.com
If sleeping under the stars (or the sun if you visit in summer) is not your thing, you should try to book one of the Rorbu. These are old fishermen’s cabins located by the sea, usually standing partially on the wooden poles in the water, allowing easy access to fishing boats. There are plenty if them available around the islands (virtually in each town or village), but you need to be organized and book them in advance, as they are one of the big attractions for many tourists.
Lofoten is the paradise for outdoor activities and photography. The only problem that comes on the way is the weather: rather unstable, rainy and windy, however, sunny days and amazing landscapes compensate for even the worst conditions, so you need to stay patient, stock up with good weather proof clothes and start exploring.
If the weather is an issue, there are plenty of local galleries, small museums and cafes on the way. Some bigger places worth visiting are:
- Lofotr Vikingmuseum in Borg: http://www.lofotr.no/
- see how the Vikings used to live based on the archeological discovery from the 1980’s of one of their houses.
- Glasshytta in Vikten: http://glasshyttavikten.no/
- watch the process of melting and creating new glass objects. You can also purchase them afterwards or just sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee here or just opposite the road.
- Galleri Lofotens Hus in Henningsvær: http://www.galleri-lofoten.no/nb/
- here you can admire more than a 100 of North Norwegian paintings, which makes it the largest collection of the kind.
- Lofoten Tørrfiskmuseum in Å: http://www.lofoten-info.no/stockfish.htm
- one of my favourite – mainly thanks to a very attentive owner (Steinar Larsen), who speaks multiple languages and is very keen on explaining the perks of a fisherman’s life based on his own experience.
Fishing. Many people come to Lofoten mainly for this: either to catch or eat a cod. Although you can fish freely in the sea, you may need to take a boat to catch a big fish, which will be associated with extra cost. Fishing is not really my thing, so I can’t give too much of a first-hand advice.
Cycling is one of the most popular activities on Lofoten. The main road (E10) that crosses the Islands is often used by two-wheelers. However, it may be a bit busy during the high season, so it is better to choose an alternative route. One of such roads may be 815 on Vestvågøy, that I can recommend from previous experience 🙂 You can also take shorter trips around – just pick a map and plan your tour!
Hiking. There are numerous hiking paths crossing the islands. You can pick from longer and shorter tours leading to spectacular beaches and mountain peaks. If you are planning a longer trip (about a week), you may want to follow our path or a piece of it if you have just a few days.