A popular question that every would-be Lofoten traveler will have is: How do you even plan an itinerary for a trip to Lofoten??? After traveling extensively I will admit, Norway was one of the toughest destination I’ve ever visited when it came to planning out my trip. This was mostly because of how unpredictable the weather can be, especially in the summertime.
To tackle planning out a suitable Lofoten itinerary you must, first off, accepted that unpredictable weather is guaranteed in Lofoten and you will have to extensively research all the things to do and see in each region of Lofoten. This is exactly how I went about it. Once I had done the research and knew what I wanted to see (and had back up plans if the weather took a turn) I woke up each morning while in Lofoten and planned the day.
How To Plan Your Lofoten Trip
I have written three articles to help you plan:
My exact Lofoten itinerary — use this to understand how much we could fit into each day along with driving distances. It will also include my thoughts on some of the things we saw and which ones I wish we had skipped.
Top sights in Lofoten by Region — use this to understand the best things to do and see broken down by region. This article includes the top cities, best viewpoints, best hikes, and best beaches.
Best things to do and see in Lofoten — this article, which will go over all of the best things to do and see in the entire archipelago. If you are planning a longer trip and you aren’t sure where to stay for the best experience then I would start here.
All these articles will help you understand what is best to see and do in Lofoten. My suggestion is to read all of these three articles together. I would even have them open in different windows so you can go back and forth.
Jump to a specific section:
Best Hikes in Lofoten (for beginners)
Points Of Interest—including viewpoints and picnic spots
Best Beaches in Lofoten
Best Restaurants and Cafes in Lofoten
Tips For Driving in Lofoten
Best Guidebooks to Plan Your Trip to Lofoten
Pro Planning Tip: Most locations listed throughout these articles I have linked to Google Maps. Use these links to star items and plan your trip.
Pronounced “oh”, Å is a small village about 10 minutes Southwest of Reine. The tiny village is part fishing village, part museum. They have a parking lot near the front for tourists to leave their cars behind making it much quieter than most of the other fishing towns.
Most travelers coming to Lofoten will take the three hour ferry from Bodø to Moskenes to get to Lofoten and also the only ferry you can take if you have a car. The ferry is operated by Torghatten Nord and has 3-4 sailings per day during the summer. In winter though, there is only one crossing a day.
Probably the most famous town—and most popular photo spot—is Reine in all of Lofoten. No doubt you have seen this gorgeous town on Instagram or Pinterest. The town is a must-see and is a charming fishing village that only a few hundred residents live in permanently.
A very small village, Vindstad is the gateway to two of the best, and most isolated beaches, in Lofoten. You will want to take the ferry from Reine to here to begin your hikes to Bunes or Horseid Beach.
Hamnøy is a tiny island that used to hold the smallest of fishing villages. It is now home to a wonderful hotel. The island is still open to the public and has a great rocky waterfront to relax on.
Fredvang is a notable tiny town due to it being the gateway to Ryten hike and Kvalvika Beach hike.
This pedestrian-only fishing village (and the surrounding hills) deserves to be extensively explored because it is absolutely stunning. Nusfjord is the only town with an entrance fee (as of July 2019 it was 50 KR) to enter but the fee includes entrance to the most perfectly preserved towns in Lofoten and is completely worth it.
Highlights of the small town of Flakstad include a very cute church, as well as Skagsanden Beach, and the attached picnic area. If you are looking for a place to stay near here check out Lofoten Beach Camp.
One of the largest towns in Lofoten, Leknes is a great central location to base yourself out of. Leknes comes with easy access to both Reine (to the south) and Svolvær (to the north). We stayed at Scandic Leknes and loved it. You can read my full review here. The airport in Leknes was also where we chose to fly into from Bodo.
A 20-minute drive from Svolvær, Henningsvær is a fishing village at the base of an imposing mountain. The town is breathtaking and home to one of the most remote soccer pitches in the world. The short hike right outside the city is also a must do for even the most beginner of hikers.
5 kilometers from Svolvær is Kabelvåg, an interesting and small town with a couple great points of interest and scenic viewpoints. Right outside the village is the Vågan Church which you shouldn’t miss.
The capital of Lofoten, Svolvær is considered a big city but somehow is still an enchanting small-town charm. You'll find many hotels, restaurants, shopping, and galleries to explore. We used this town as a home base for two nights staying at a budget hotel called Fast Hotel Svolvær. You can find a full review of my full Fast Hotel experience here. If you want to check out something a bit more upscale check out Scandic Svolvær.
One of the best tiny towns is Laukvik and it has many great areas to walk around. Don’t miss the Laukvik Lighthouse and the smallest information center in Norway. Both make a great photo op. You can grab some coffee (even espresso-based drinks) and cakes at the local coffee shop; Keans Beans.
Best Hikes in Lofoten
There are a lot of amazing hikes in Lofoten, some are made for beginners and only a couple of hours, while others cover over 10 miles and require a full day to reach. If you consider yourself a beginner hiker like me (in shape, but don’t think you could do—or don’t want to do—10 miles or 10 hours of hiking) you should definitely read the list below. I will be listing the best hikes in Lofoten for beginners.
By the way, to research which hikes I did want to attempt I primarily used 68North’s hiking guides. Their website, in general, was an invaluable guide for planning my trip to Lofoten. If you want to look into more hikes other than the ones I’ve listed I would check them out. I’ll also be linking to them under each hike I have picked out so you can read a more in-depth guide for the hike. Again, I have listed the hikes in order from Southwest to Northeast.
To summit: 5.5 KM | 3 hours | Google Location
The scenic and adventurous trail to Munkebu huts and then beyond to the summit is a bit more advanced. Most travelers hike this course over two days, resting at the tourist huts or nearby camping spots. If you only want to hike a bit of the trail though I highly recommend it. The beginning of the trail has a beautiful waterfall along with some gorgeous scenery.
More hiking info here
To summit: 1 KM | 1 hour | Google Location
In July 2019, a Nepali Sherpa team built a 1500+ stone staircase that ends 50 meters before the summit. This renovation has made the hike more accessible—and more popular—than ever. Even before the stairs, the hike gained popularity via Instagram stardom and the short length. The entire hike rises only 450 meters, quite modest for Lofoten. And the summit views are to die for. You can expect it to be crowded year-round. You should try to time your hike starting in the early morning or late evening. Personally, I would go with the early morning option.
More hiking info here
To summit: 3.5 KM | 2-3 hours | Google Location
The summit of Ryten is a great addition to a day at Kvalvika beach with one of the most breathtaking views in all of the islands. There are two trail options for both Kvalvika Beach and Ryten summit, one starts from the southwest of Fredvang and the other one begins in a parking lot to the northwest of Fredvang.
More hiking info here
To summit: 2 KM | 2 hours | Google Location
A very small mountain peak (for Lofoten standards) that gives you gorgeous views of Skagsanden Beach and the tiny village of Flakstad. It may look like a steep hike but the well worn trail is a popular choice for locals and is fairly easy.
More hiking info here
To summit: 1.75 KM | under 2 hours | Google Location
Veggen literally translates to ‘the wall’, so prepare yourself for a steep but quick and rewarding hike. The path is easy to follow and ascends for nearly 400 meters with zero relief from the steep incline. I highly recommend this hike if you are visiting during the midnight sun. The views overlooking Uttakleiv and Haukland Beach are magnificent.
More hiking info here
To summit: 6 KM | 3 hours | Google Location
One of the longer hikes you can take while in Lofoten, and the highest peak on the eastern side of Vestvågøy island. The trail is easy and well worn making it a perfect hike for beginners looking for something longer and more impressive to tackle. The 360 degree views will astound you if you make it up here.
More hiking info here
To summit: 1.5 KM | 1.5 - 2 hours | Google Location
A gorgeous hike right outside Henningsvær. Festvågtind looks ridiculously steep but is actually pretty mild (for Lofoten standards). The summit rewards you with some beautiful panoramic views of the islands surrounding Henningsvær village. This hike is similar to Reinebringen, another popular hike in Lofoten.
More hiking info here
SVOLVÆR OVERLOOKS: FLØYA & SVOLVÆRGEITA
Roundtrip: 4.5 KM | 3-4 hours
Fløya Google Location | Svolværgeita Google Location | Devils Door Boulder Google Location
There are two views you can hike to that overlook the town of Svolvær. Many hikers conquer both on the same afternoon, making for a truly memorable day in Lofoten. Also on the trail is the popular Devils Door Boulder, also known as Djevelporten. Some have said it is similar to Kjeragbolten, a popular hike near Bergen in South Norway.
More hiking info here
Points of Interest, Viewpoints, and Picnic Areas
Norweigan Fishing Village Museum in Å:
Hamnøy Scenic Viewpoint:
Fredvangskrysset: A very cool viewpoint and parking lot with 360-degree views of the surrounding islands.
Skreda rasteplass: A great rest stop and viewpoint with public bathrooms as well. There are also tons of tables to sit and have a meal with a stunning view.
Leitebakken: Another great scenic spot that you can drive to easily.
Skjerpvatnet: A lake that is great for birdwatchers. We visited this area during the midnight sun and saw some amazing nocturnal birds out hunting. Truly unmissable if you are a bird lover.
Unnamed Viewpoint: This random viewpoint we found on the way to Unstad Beach while driving along a road called Saupstadveien. I have marked the GPS coordinates so hopefully, you can experience it as well. A picture of this viewpoint is below.
Viking Museum: You should spend all of your time outside when visiting Lofoten but this one museum is the exception. Inside you can find archaeological exhibits and recreated ships that are magnificent to see up-close.
Borga: A historical relic from past world wars. Inside is a small cafe that is great for a quick cup of coffee or sandwich. This is the perfect place to watch either the sunset or take in the northern lights.
Henningsvær Port Viewpoint: A beautiful point of view to take in the harbor and see the colorful houses, boats, and mountains surrounding the island.
Vågan Church: It's hard to miss the impressive—and huge—Viking church as you drive. This particular one claims to be the oldest and is right outside Kabelvåg village.
Kabelvåg kystbatteri: A great viewpoint you shouldn’t skip right outside of the Kabelvåg village. We got some wonderful pictures there.
Austnesfjorden rasteplass: This picnic area and viewpoint had a fantastic view. We even visited it on a rainy day and still found it incredible. I can only imagine it on a nice day! A staircase leading up to the platform looked freshly built, all abilities and ages can enjoy this place. There were also public restrooms.
Trollfjord: Very close to Svolvær, Trollfjord is a beautiful and narrow fjord that is teaming with wildlife. There are many boat tours you can book to visit the area but do be aware they will be pricey. Most boating excursions leave from the restaurant-lined waterfront of Svolvær. If you want to save a bit of money you can always drive along the opposite side of the fjord (road Fv868) for partial views.
Best Beaches in Lofoten
On the isolated northern coast of the south are three beaches that you should definitely add to your Lofoten vacation. You can’t get to them by car, but all three of them are worth the extra effort. The isolation makes them truly special, plus there are no power lines, no cars, and far fewer tourists. Just you and the wild Lofoten shoreline.
Horseid Beach: By far the most difficult to reach, you will have to take the same ferry I mentioned above (Reine to Vindstad) and then hike several hours. The immense isolation and rugged beauty of Horseid Beach make it worth the extra effort.
Kvalvika Beach: The easiest to reach with a simple hike that takes around 45 minutes to an hour. The hike is very easy, leaving from Fredvang and walking over a low mountain pass. The approach to Kvalvika is truly special, with mountains rising all around you. Some say it is the best view in Lofoten.
Other than the three beaches above the rest of the beaches listed are accessible by car. There are many of these types of beaches to visit throughout Lofoten. If you are visiting during the midnight sun definitely visit the western beaches. The absolute most beautiful are the Vestvågøy Island beaches: Utakleiv and Eggum.
Literally right on the E10, and a couple of kilometers past Skagsanden Beach is the large uber-white sand of Ramberg Beach. Undoubtedly one of Lofoten’s most popular beaches you should definitely make a quick stop here.
A popular tourist beach (tons of the large bus tours stop here) for its quiet water and the attached picnic/rest area. We decided to eat lunch here and also took this opportunity to jump in the water. It wasn't as cold as I thought it would be and super fun!!
Located just 15 kilometers west of Leknes this is one of those hidden beaches that has been growing quickly in popularity. There is a small pullout for parking and you will probably encounter many photographers here due to the perfectly placed (natural) boulders.
Another quiet little beach, close to Myrland Beach, and only 13 kilometers west of Leknes.
I list these three together because they are so incredibly close to one another. Also, if you are visiting during the summer I suggest seeing these beaches during the midnight sun, as close to midnight as possible. We took a power nap from 8 PM to around 10:30 PM then woke up and ate a quick snack before heading out around midnight. It worked like a charm and we saw them with basically no one (that was actually awake) around. Magical!
These three beaches are popular for a reason, they are simply stunning. Haukland Beach has been ranked the most beautiful beach in Norway by many publications but I personally thought Uttakleiv was the best. The tunnel to Uttakleiv Beach made the isolated (but still crowded) beach feel magical. Plus, there were tons of sheep grazing all around us, making it even more idyllic.
Quite underwhelming compared to the gorgeous beaches of Vik, Haukland, and Uttakleiv.
A public beach a short distance from Svolvær. Surprisingly, I didn't find this beach on any lists, but we found it absolutely stunning! You will also pass right by this beach if you are heading to Henningsvær.
Best Restaurants and Cafes in Lofoten
Vedsjåen Cafe: a small cafe and great place to grab a coffee.
Pier restaurant: great food and the inside has some adorable decor.
Circle K: Yes, I am suggesting you eat at the gas station! Norway is known for having great food in their gas stations, I would say the quality is similar to fast food like McDonald's in the states. Circle K, a chain in Norway, has a wide variety of food options. Even excellent veggie burgers and ice cream! Best of all it is hot and cheap. The Circle K location in Reine has a cute outdoor seating area and is a great option for travelers visiting Norway on a budget.
Gammelbua Restaurant: A more traditional option in Reine, and opposite the Circle K mentioned above, this classic restaurant has a great menu and view. Inside you’ll find cozy seating as well as friendly servers.
Bakeri Unseld: This local bakery is a great option in Kabelvåg village and a great place to stop in after seeing the Vågan Church and the villages excellent viewpoint (Kabelvåg kystbatteri). The bakery had a variety of reasonably priced paninis and soups and even had some veggie options. Believe me, this is rare in Norway. They also served brewed coffee, but no espresso.
Marmelen AS avd LivLand Gård: This farm (by the way gård is Norweigian for farm) is located on fv888 and is a great stopping point on the way to Laukvik. The small shop sells ice cream and other small snacks. Watch out for sheep on this road
Best Hotels in Lofoten
Scandic Leknes: Apart of the same chain of hotels I mentioned above, we stayed at Scandic Leknes for two nights. You can read the full review here. This hotel in Leknes was a great option to use as home base since it is one of the best centrally located hotels in Lofoten. If you have more than a few days in Lofoten and want to see more than just Reine and the surrounding southern islands I wouldn't stay further south than Leknes.
Fast Hotel: This small hotel chain is in a couple of cities throughout Lofoten (and Norway I THINK) and is a great option for anyone traveling Norway on a budget. We stayed in the Fast Hotel in Svolvær and really loved the experience. The rooms are clean and spacious. We received a substantial breakfast, hung next to the door, each morning. (Our booking included breakfast but it depends on each hotel). You can find a full review of my full Fast Hotel experience here.
Scandic Svolvær: This is another great hotel chain option in Lofoten (and Norway I THINK). But it is pricer than Fast Hotel—which I consider a more budget hotel. We walked around the grounds of Scandic Svolvær and I definitely wish we hadn’t booked so late! (The hotel was completely sold out when we did our bookings.)
Top Excursions in Lofoten
Very close to Svolvær, Trollfjord is a beautiful and narrow fjord that is teaming with wildlife. There are many boat tours you can book to visit the area but do be aware they will be pricey. Most boating excursions leave from the restaurant-lined waterfront of Svolvær. If you want to save a bit of money you can always drive along the opposite side of the fjord (road Fv868) for partial views.
Whale Safari in Andenes
Technically you have to travel to Andenes in the Vesterålen archipelago (not apart of Lofoten) for this excursion. Although it is far, litereally about as far north as you can go (it took us a good 3.5 hours from Svolvær to make it up there) it is so worth it. There are two options for Whale Safaris in Andenes. One is with Sea Safari Andenes on a smaller RIB boat, the other is with XXX in a much larger boat. Both costs are comparable, around $200 each with the smaller RIB boat being on $20 more.
Again, getting to the excursion is a long drive and lots of time (and money). But, I can honestly say the sea safari was amazing, every penny was worth it. We saw so many Orcas it was truly one of the best things we did while in Norway. I wouldn't miss it if I were you. You can read all about the full experience, how much the safari costs, and what you can expect if you book this excursion here.
More Tips For Driving Around Lofoten
Google maps works great in Norway and we used it the entire time. Norway is constantly building new viewpoints so I suggest searching inside the map while you are there.
Rasteplass means viewpoint, or picnic point, and it is helpful to type that into google maps to search for scenic viewpoints along your route or near your hotel.
Gård is Norweigan for farm and is another helpful word to type into google maps. These farms usually have small cafes and ice cream that make excellent stops!
Signage is excellent in Norway and it's hard to miss an exit for a town that is off the main road. There will be signs everywhere!
Many farms let their cows, sheep, and goats run free. Most side roads are very close to farms and it is very common to see sheep along the side of the road.
Planning a trip to Norway, and especially Lofoten is overwhelming. Everyone has an opinion on this beautiful location. Rest assured that no matter what you choose to do or where you choose to stay you'll have a beautiful time.
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a Norway travel guide along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
One of the most common questions I get: What is the best camera for travel photography? I personally love my Nikon D5600. I use the kit lens and a Sigma wide-angle lens (for Nikon) which I am genuinely obsessed with.
And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (tessajuliette at gmail dot com).