BEST TIME TO VISIT LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Are you planning a Lofoten trip?
I’ve been travelling to Lofoten since 2012.
In this article, I have collected all the information and all my experience about the Lofoten Islands trips.
Lofoten Islands climate
On Lofoten Islands are The North Atlantic climate.
In winter it can be as cold as -20 C, but the typical temperature is in the range of -5 to +5.
In summer, in July and August, the temperature during the day is typically between 10 C and 18 C although it can turn cold to sleet and even snow. The average summer temperature is 9-12 ° C (46-51 °F).
The Lofoten islands are located beyond the Arctic Circle, further north than Alaska and Iceland. Usually, in such geographical latitudes, it is very cold, but the Gulf Stream flows along the shores of Lofoten and makes the climate softer bringing heat and moisture along the entire coast of Northern Norway.
In fact, this is an abnormally warm place!
It's often raining here. In winter, rain and snow are accompanied by strong gusts of wind. But I don't want to scare you — there are sunny days. Fog is one more problem. While rare in winter, it can greatly spoil your journey in the summer. Once I have waited for 3 days on the beach when the fog will go and liberate the mountain peak. I could not wait there and had to go away. This is normal.
This weather makes the Lofoten Islands one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Lofoten weather changes several times a day. Rain can come but will end in one hour. You should not stay at home. Nice weather can be 10 kilometers away from your site. Prepare your gear in advance and always keep it close by. And follow your road plan.
Weather conditions are changing quickly. Atmospheric fronts come and go away. This weather created really terrific conditions for photo shooting. There is rain, snow, sun, wind, clouds in the sky, amazing light. Take a camera, always. Do not give the weather a chance to spoil your journey. The same place will always look different.
I made my best shots during the terrible weather.
And, I can say about Lofoten weather – 'the worse, the better'.
The best time to visit Lofoten Islands is the big question for everyone who is planning a visit. Of course, the traveler is primarily interested in what the best time to travel is. On Lofoten Islands, the answer to this question is not straightforward. It all depends on why you are going of course.
Seasons on Lofoten Islands
I will tell you about the four seasons on Lofoten.
From early December to mid-January the sun does not rise at all. As photography is all about light what can we do when it is simply not there?
Winter is the best time of year if you wish to see Aurora and snow-capped mountains. If you are lucky and the ground is covered with fresh snow the snow-white landscape will be simply stunning.
I believe the best time for photography would be the period from early February to the second half of March.
Besides, from early February the days become relatively long. But at the same time, the sun does not rise high above the horizon which gives long shadows that look so good on photographs. At night you can take pictures of Aurora.
Not surprising this time of the year is absolutely not interesting for travel and shooting on Lofoten Islands. The mountains are full of melted snow and wet. Vegetation has not yet awakened from winter hibernation.
For the first visit to Lofoten summer is the best time. Despite crowds of tourists, you will enjoy it there. From early June to mid-July this is the realm of the Midnight Sun, a period without sunsets and sunrises. This is a great moment to shoot on the mountain peaks where you can see the sun and the valleys it illuminates.
Autumn is the time for a thoughtful photo trip suitable for an experienced photographer who knows exactly what he or she wants.
In addition to the usual coastal landscapes and mountains, two more themes can be added. One is the Aurora Aurelia, which, with luck, can be seen already from the end of August. In addition, autumn is a riot of colors. I love the Arctic nature in the fall. The surrounding landscape, uniformly green in summer, now blossoms with all colors: all shades of yellow, orange and red. It’s time to give your attention to shooting inside the islands: by the lakes and in the woods.
It is advisable to stay no later than mid-October otherwise one runs the risk that the winds will tear off all the foliage from the trees, storms and bad weather will start and your journey will deteriorate into waiting for the opportunity to go out.
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THE BEST TIME FOR HIKING
From the first half of July to the middle of August. Going before July can be a mistake. The problem is that the snow in the mountains and on the passes has not yet melted by this time. It will be very wet in the mountains will be very wet even if the weather is good. Some routes will cover by snow and will be difficult or impossible to pass.
In autumn it often rains, the temperature is falling and the day is much shorter than in the height of summer. This makes hiking not very comfortable. In winter, hiking in the mountains associated with a likelihood of avalanches and cold. This makes it very dangerous to go into Lofoten mountains without special equipment and experience.
From early July to the middle of August it's warm. It might rain, but the chances are lower than at any other time of the year. If you arrive in Lofoten before July 17, you will find a unique natural phenomenon. The midnight sun. It's amazing. You are standing on the beach or a mountain peak at 1-30 AM and admiring the sun. In early August, the sun sets below the horizon, but for a while yet it is still possible to be a hike at any time of the day or night (depending on the desire and the weather of course)!
THE BEST TIME FOR PHOTO SHOOTING
From early February to the second half of March in winter. And from the second half of July to the end of October in summer and autumn.
Everyone likes to shoot at Lofoten in winter.
But I like shooting mostly in the fall. In the fall, you do not run the risk of standing in line to occupy a convenient shooting point. The cost of accommodation is lower. An Aurora, for which all come here in the winter, starts in August. Plants and trees are becoming yellow, orange in September-October. The grass is still green. This makes a very strong color contrast.
But everyone has their own preferences.
The winter season starts from the middle of January and lasts until the second half of March. In December and January, there is the Polar night. The sun does not rise from beyond the horizon. There is twilight only a few hours in the day. It's a great time to shooting Aurora if the sky is clear, if the weather is bad, you might be stuck in the hotel.
Perhaps you are lucky, and the snow will cover everything around. It's beautiful. This makes an excellent landscape contrast.
Your trip geography will greatly expand in the summer. You can get to the mountains, hard-to-reach beaches, climb the mountain peaks and shoot Lofoten from the top. It's better for focusing on this in the summer. You can always return here at other times of the year and shoot places available all year round.
THE BEST TIME FOR AURORA
Since the end of August and the end of March in Lofoten Islands, you can watch the real wonder of the world – Aurora. The greatest activity of this phenomenon is in the middle of winter. But this does not mean that in autumn or spring you have little chances. The problem is that the Polar Lights do not shine according to the schedule. Its intensity depends on flashes in the sun. And it does not shine only at night. It shines all day. Just watch it can only be in the night. For this reason, going to the shooting of the Northern Lights, consider the longitude of the day. You will have more chances to see it.
For forecasting the shooting of the Northern Lights there are many Internet resources.
I use www.swpc.noaa.gov or app for a tablet.
Weather around the year
|Months||Avg. Temperature, °C|
Weather forecast for Lofoten
Norwegian weather forecasting services
How to get to Lofoten Islands
Flights to Lofoten
Most of Norway's major cities have flights to Bodø, Narvik, Svolvær, Leknes, and Røst.
Near Lofoten, there are several airports, where it will be easy to fly from Oslo Gardermoen. It's airports in Bodø. In Harstad / Narvik Airport Evenes. This airport is located 165 km from Svolvær. And Andenes in Vesterålen.
Everything depends on your plans.
Today, most travelers prefer to fly by plane. Lofoten is very distant from the major European cities.
Therefore it is most convenient to arrive in Lofoten islands by air from Oslo.
The flight from Oslo to Bodø takes about an hour and a half, plus an additional 30 minutes from Bodø to Lofoten.
There is a helicopter service between Bodø and Værøy.
The average cost of a 1.5-hour flight from Oslo Gardermoen to Bodø is 460 NOK. A half-hour flight between Bodø and Leknes a city on the largest island of the Vestvagoy archipelago will cost 350 NOK. A ticket for the Bodø – Moskines ferry costs 196 NOK, journey time is 3 hours. Prices listed on this page are for April 2016 but price changes slowly.
Widerøe is Norwegian airline company. The airline has flights throughout the country.
There are 5 flights to Lofoten from Oslo Gardermoen a week. On the aircraft of this company, you will arrive in Svolvær and Leknes. To Røst from Bodø if you choose such a complex route.
The low-cost airline Norwegian is a convenient and inexpensive airline. But you can not come to the Lofoten Islands. Norwegian offers flight to Bodø and Harstad/Narvik Airport Evenes from Oslo. So you can arrive in Andenes in Vesterålen in the summertime.
It is convenient if you plan to continue your journey.
You can arrive in Moskenes from Bodø with a ferry. You can also start your journey through the Lofoten Islands in Andenes in Vesterålen. And finish it in Moskenes.
SAS + WIDERØE
SAS offers direct flights from Oslo and other cities of the world in Bodø and Tromsø. Then you can continue traveling by car or Widerøe in Svolvær or Leknes.
Every day there are flights from Oslo Gardermoen to Harstad/Narvik Airport Evenes.
Union of SAS и Widerøe make possible to buy one ticket for the whole trip.
Some information credit by https://lofoten.info/lofoten See more details.
Fast ferries between Bodø, Svolvær, and Værøy run daily all year round. Some of them take cars.
A passenger without a car has no problem following by ferry.
If you travel by car, you should book a ticket in advance in the summertime.
Express boats from Bodø in Svolvær are a great way to Lofoten Islands. You will see Lofoten and it will be a wonderful sea excursion. Travel time 3,5 h
Passenger buses run daily from Narvik, Bodø, Harstad to Svolvær and Å.
The bus follows E10. Travel time 7-30 h. Be attentive and see the bus schedule.
The bus is not the easiest way to travel around Lofoten Islands.
Trains run from Stockholm and Kiruna to Narvik every day all year round. From there you can reach various towns in the archipelago by bus.
www.sj.se/ – Trains from Stockholm
There are also trains running from Oslo to Bodø with a connection in Trondheim and Fauska. The train journey from Trondheim to Bud is about 10 hours.
www.nsb.no – Trains from Oslo to Bodø
If you prefer to travel by car there are several ways to get to the Lofoten Islands.
If you are traveling from the north between the mainland and the islands there is now a good new system of roads.
WHY RENT A CAR IN LOFOTEN ISLANDS?
Lofoten trip will be difficult without your car.
I traveled to Iceland, and there was an extreme need for a car. Even there, I could give it up, but not here. A bicycle can be an alternative to a car if your journey is associated with sports achievements. Photo shooter or traveler cannot do without a car.
You can travel by bus, but it will be more torment than a complete rest or trip. The problem is that the bus goes along E 10. All the interesting places are on the side of this road. Hikers have a gratitude for the drivers who brought them to their destination, this is the most common situation.
The choice, of course, is yours. But if you do not want to complicate your life, then the car is a definite choice.
TOP 3 TIPS TO RENT A CAR
- Rent a car in Kiruna, Sweden. Yes, in Kiruna. Distance from Kiruna to Leknes 450 km. If you have a trip to Lofoten and the North of Norway for more than 7 – 10 days, then this is a very economical choice. To fly by plane to Kiruna is often much cheaper than to fly to any airport in Lofoten. Rent a car is cheaper in Kiruna. You can buy some of the provisions, in Sweden it costs less. You can come to Tromsø, there is a car rental price lower than Lofoten. But the distance to Lofoten is too great. Distance from Tromsø to Leknes 490 km. In any case, if you are saving your money, you should also consider these options. Perhaps you will save on your air ticket to Hawaii.
- Not budgetary. Rent a car on Lofoten islands. There is not much difference where to fly to Svolvær or Leknes. The distance between the two cities is small. Both airports have the largest rental companies in the world. You can book any car at any time. They have a big minus, it's a huge price.
- There is another little life hack. Rent a used car. Yes, it will not be new, but always on the go and with full service. This is a great solution.
The company has a rental of used cars. I have nothing to do with firm Rentacar-Lofoten with any advertising contracts, but very often I see cars with their sticker. And did not hear bad reviews.
If you want to rent a camper on Lofoten, then you can do it in the firm Arctic Campers. These guys remake ordinary cars in campers, which can perfectly satisfy your taste. The rental price of these cars is slightly higher than the cost of renting a conventional car. But you become the owner of a car in which you can live.
If you rent a car, you should be careful on the road. The roads on Lofoten are very narrow and do not have markings. There are often sharp turns. There is sleet in winter. The car becomes completely unmanageable at this time. And you need a great driving experience in Lofoten, to drive a car along such a road.
WHERE TO STAY IN LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Just 15 years ago Lofoten islands were a place of solitude. But everything has changed since. But you can still see unspoiled nature and experience the traditional way of life of the locals. And best of all, the inhabitants of the islands are still as welcoming to the visitors as they ever have been.
ON A BUDGET
Norway is a very expensive country, especially when it comes to accommodation. In high season, i.e. in summer, the cost of hotels is extremely high. Fortunately, camping is extremely popular.
Do you know about the Act of free access in Norway? The gist of it is that anyone has the right of movement on any piece of land which is not fenced off. So you can put a tent up in any open space.
For example — most coastal areas, parks, fields, Fjords, and even nearby islands. You cannot camp less than 150 meters away from a home, on roadsides and on areas in agricultural use, i.e. fields, meadows, and pastures.
One of the key components of the Act of free access is care for the environment, so remember this when camping! And of course, do not put up tents on fields and pastures as this will annoy not only people but also animals. According to recent reports, cows are pretty happy to snack on tents.
If you are camping not too far from a farm, do drop by and meet the farmer! Norwegians respect everyone's rights to the land and are very hospitable towards visitors, indeed you may be offered to join in a meal or even to stay at the house!
But please be careful. Some locals do put up signs saying 'No Camping', especially in larger cities. In Oslo for example, in theory, you can camp in various places, but clearly, to put up a tent you need a flat space, but all of these are occupied by buildings!
Since camping is so good in Norway, it's worth choosing somewhere nice. Remember, one can camp for a maximum of two nights in the same place, but of course, you can and you should move around. Camping is safe in Norway, even in a forest.
FINDING A PLACE TO CAMP
The first thing I found out when camping in Norway is that water in most rivers, lakes, and streams is clean enough for drinking. That's really good news, and it's really true. Of course, it's best if it's a mountain stream or a waterfall as the water is crystal clear and tastes good! Camping is so much better when there is fresh water around.
The second piece of good news is that water is abundant in Norway. And on Lofoten, in particular, there are thousands of streams, rivers, and lakes. This means there are plenty of places to choose from for putting up a tent. Here are the most beautiful places.
6 BEST BEACHES FOR CAMP ON LOFOTEN
There are no ratings for these places, neither are they somehow special compared to others — they are just some of the most beautiful places out there and if you spend a few days in each of them, you will see what I mean. They are truly magnificent. Some of them might be too popular for some tastes, but hey, I am not forcing you to stay in some of the most beautiful places on this planet!
Here we go:
If you don't want to camp in the wild, go for a campsite. This is the second most popular type of accommodation.
Campsites in Lofoten are not amongst the most luxurious in Europe or the US. Usually, it's just a place for tents and a small building with showers, toilets sometimes an itched and washing facilities. It's clean tidy and practical. Quite reserved as it is typical in Scandinavia.
Note that at night the showers may not work. Some campsites have kitchens, washing machines, dryers. More often than not this cost a little extra. Average price for a campsite – 10 EUR per night. Not very expensive to clean yourself up after a few days of wild camping.
If you have your own tent, most of the time you don't need to book a space at a campsite in advance.
When you arrive, go to reception and follow their instructions. If you arrive late and reception is closed, find a space and put your tent up. You can pay the day after!
Of course, if you plan to use on-site accommodation at a campsite, especially for more than one day or if the campsite is in a popular well-known spot, especially in high season, you might like to book in advance.
What to do: Once you have decided on a location to stay the night, write to one or two campsites. It might take 2-3 days to get a reply, but don't worry. Usually, a reply would contain some options. Make a choice and send them an email. You will get a confirmation.
After that — simply arrive at reception, but if you plan to arrive late, give them a call in advance and let them know. For that, it's useful to have an app with contact details of campsites.
It makes sense to book a house if
1) You are planning to stay more than one day
2) You want private toilet/shower facilities or in special cases (e.g. you have animals with you)
3) You are traveling in a group or you have several children
4) You are staying next to a popular landmark of in high season
5) There is only one campsite nearby
When I found out that bed linen in guest houses is available for a fee, for me it was a surprise. If you are booking a guest house, it is not superfluous to clarify this issue. I'm not sure that I would start taking a set of bed linen.
You can stay at the hotel or the rorbu.
I recommend booking a hotel in the high season (July-August, February-early March) in advance.
The best places are the Reine, Hamnøya, Sakrisøya, A.
Lofoten has a lot of private hotels. But rorbu is a real exotic. And if you choose not a budget accommodation, then a rorbu, it will be your choice.
Rorbu is a fisherman’s cabins. Fishing cabins have all the amenities for a stay. Most rorbu are on the seashore. And from the window opens an amazing view.
I am the author of Lofoten photo and travel guide. If you want to support my project about Lofoten and find out about the most interesting places for photography, you can buy my book using this site. This will allow me to develop my project even further and tell you about new interesting locations.
You should prepare your equipment before you travel to Lofoten. Despite the fact that there are no difficult routes, the weather and climate will make you regret if you do not prepare properly.
Equipment is different in summer and in winter. You will not stay in camping in the winter time. And you prefer to spend the night in comfortable rooms in the 'rorbu'. It's reasonable.
In summer, your journey will be in a hiking style. You will want to see more. You will walk more. In Lofoten, camping is free. And this makes it possible to travel with a tent. Do not waste money on expensive hotels. Use the tent. It's really an adventure. You will be surprised how free camping is developed in this country.
The law in Norway allows you to do camping anywhere if you do not disturb the locals. This is the difference between Norway and other European countries, where traveling with a tent can be a problem. Here – not a problem.
Of course, going on a trip with a tent, you will need camping equipment. In this article, I will give my tips.
THE LAYERING SYSTEM
The best way to protect yourself is to wear three separate layers. The base layer, mid layer, and outer layer. It's The Layering System. The weather changes often, but you will always be protected. And you can always take off or put on one of the layers. This is the main principle of hiking.
How does it work? Look at the infographics.
The base layer removes moisture from the body, the middle layer keeps heat and continues to remove moisture from the body, the outer layer protects against wind and precipitation, and also to remove moisture.
This is the layer that is closest to the skin. It plays an important role in the thermodynamics of your body. It is important that the clothing of this layer is of high quality, removes sweat, lets in air and quickly dries.
Despite the fact that we all like to wear things from cotton, in this situation it will not work. The best choice is a synthetic, tight-fitting body t-shirt. They will take away moisture from you under load and quickly dry on rest. This is a very important aspect. Despite the fact that it can be cold in such clothes, believe me, you will not catch a cold and get sick.
This layer will keep you warm. The best choice for the Lofoten Islands will be a regular fleece jacket. You can also use jackets made of synthetic, breathable materials. The middle layer is what you would wear for a walk in the park in autumn.
It's all a little more complicated. The outer layer must perform two functions. You must be protected from the rain and protected from the wind. I take all three layers even in clear weather when climbing a mountain. I remember only once I am on top that I did not wear them all. The wind is really strong and cold. Your outer layer should protect you well from the wind. In order not to wear two things, the outer layer must be waterproof. I advise, do not stint and buy an outer layer of breathable materials. Buy clothes 1-2 sizes larger than yours. The outer layer should be free.
Good hiking boots are very important — especially as getting this wrong can result in injury! If you do not have or have a little hiking experience, then your legs and muscles are probably not prepared for walks on rolling stones and sharp edges. Light shoes may not be right for you. Therefore, if you are planning to go for a walk in the mountains for the first time, then choose strong and heavy shoes. They will reliably protect your feet from dislocations and injuries.
On Lofoten often there are raw parts of the route, swamps, puddles, wet moss. If your shoes get wet, this is not the best choice.
I always choose shoes with a membrane. My feet do not sweat and are in comfort.
Never save on Hiking Boots!
Be sure to take one more pair of shoes for camping.
All the time walking in heavy hiking boots is very hard and uncomfortable.
5 TIPS HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING BOOTS
- Weight. The heavier the shoe, the faster your feet will get tired.
- Waterproofness. It is absurd to buy to get wet shoes for a hike. Membrane 'Gore-Tex' perfectly copes and your feet 'breathe'.
- Protection. Steep climbs and descents, many stones make the probability to dislocate the leg. I try not to risk and buy shoes with high support feet.
- Durable outsole. The finger protection is mandatory. The shoe must have a sole of hard rubber. Shoes should not slip.
- Test the shoes in the store. Hiking shoes should be immediately comfortable. Fingers should not rest against (remember hiking socks). But the foot should not slide in the boot, it should be pressed tightly.
It's so good if you have trousers for a mountain hike. They are very durable, they dry quickly.
Put in your backpack thermal underwear for windy and cold weather.
Socks are an important element. They should be specially made for hikes. They will protect you and your walk will be comfortable. You can not use everyday socks made of cotton with trekking boots.
Socks will be durable if they are specially sewn, they will not rub your feet and will drain moisture.
The acquisition of trekking poles made a revolution in my mind. I never thought that their use made it so easy to walk in the mountains. My back, my legs scream for trekking poles – THANKS! Feel free to look at them like an old man. Only you know how it's cool when the back and legs are not tired.
You should use only multi-section trekking sticks in mountain walks. You will need a different height of sticks during the ascent and descent. The height of the sticks must be adjusted. Choose light sticks.
I'm not ready to vouch for whether you need a hat or not. But my wife did not take off her cap for two weeks of our joint trip to Lofoten. However, bandana will definitely be helpful.
Near the water and on the mountain peaks it is always very windy and cold. Once I did not take the gloves. And my shooting turned into a torture. My fingers are frozen. You should have gloves even in the summer.
SUNGLASSES AND SUNSCREEN
Be sure to bring your sunglasses and sunscreen.
There is a constant salty wind, the sun shines all day. Getting sunburn is very easy. Especially for people with sensitive skin.
Ask yourself two questions. A backpack, this will be the only thing in which you will carry your things. What is the duration of hiking you planned?
If the hiking backpack is alone, then you will have to fit all your equipment there. But it is not convenient for short trips because of its size and weight.
On Lofoten, there are no pedestrian routes longer than 2-3 days. You can use a backpack 50-70l.
For one-day walks, a backpack 30L is suitable.
If you are planning professional photo shooting, then, except for things and food, you need to put all your photo equipment there.
Today, f-stop specializes in solving this problem and they make the best outfit for photographers.
Put your equipment in an F-stop bag. This bag is very well placed in the backpack and it is easy to pull out of it. Place the bag with the photo equipment on the top of the backpack. If the weight of the equipment is large, then it is better to put the bag down the backpack. The weight of your backpack will be balanced.
The lighter your tent the better. The downside of this is that the tent is lighter, the more expensive. If you do not plan to do walks in the mountains with a tent, then the first place is its size and comfort. But do not forget that it is very difficult to install a tent on a strong wind. If you plan to go to two or three, then you have enough of the tent is designed for 3-4 places. This will evenly distribute your gear during the trek. But choosing a tent, keep in mind that in addition, you must fit inside your clothes and backpack itself. I always use a 2 sleep tent for solo travel.
And I use a big awning for 4 people with a big tambour for the base camp. I love comfort. But you can not take all the things you want on the plane. You should remember about the baggage limit. Buying an expensive tent, do not skimp and get a footprint. The footprint really increases the life of your tent and protects the bottom from stones, moisture.
This will be the most necessary equipment in your journey. I'm sure.
Do not trust the temperature characteristics for which it is designed. I have three sleeping bags at different temperatures.
My warmest sleeping bag is designed for 0 ºC (32 ºF) comfort and -15 ºC (5 ºF) extreme.
Believe me, I always use it on Lofoten in the summer. And I was not hot never once.
3 TIPS HOW TO CHOOSE A SLEEPING BAG
- Size. The sleeping bag must be free for movement. But do not be too big. You will be cold to sleep in an overly large sleeping bag.
- Temperature rating. How to choose a sleeping bag and do not freeze? This is the most frequent question. Each sleeping bag is designed for a certain temperature. Choose 10 degrees warmer than the coldest temperature during your journey. For example. Minimum night temperatures will 5 ºC (41 ºF). You should buy a sleeping bag with a temperature of 'comfort' -5 ºC (23 ºF).
- Down or synthetics? The best sleeping bag is from natural fluff. But fluff is hygroscopic. If your sleeping bag gets wet, then it will be very difficult to dry it. I prefer synthetic materials. They are not without their minuses. But going on a journey where the rains are very frequent, I'm most worried about keeping the sleeping bag warm.
This pad is very compact and convenient to carry.
Try to always inflate your rug in advance and let it cool. Then blow the air a little more.
Jetboil – This outstanding solution if you are alone.
2-3 people will need more utensils and another camping stove.
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