Winter in the untamed islands of Lofoten

I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures and heard the stories about the magical place that is the Lofoten islands. The archipelago located in Nordland, Norway that’s well known to all outdoor and adventure lovers.

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When you reach the top of the dramatic mountains (you can find them anywhere on the islands) you’ll be rewarded with amazing scenery from above. And the mountains are just the beginning, there’s also wild nature and gorgeous beaches with turquoise water. But beward, the water can be cold! If you’re brave, you’ll still swim. If you’re like me, you won’t. And one thing that you can count on in Lofoten is that there is beauty everywhere!

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It was everything I could’ve imagined

When I visited the Lofoten islands for the first time in March 2015, I was in awe! It was one of those spontaneous trips that ended up being one of the best trips I’ve taken. My friend Kate told me she wanted to go there and I didn’t even hesitate before saying I’d come with. Fast forward to a week and 456 kilometers later, we were there! Kate had booked us a yellow Rorbu (an old fisherman’s cabin) in Ballstad that we shared with Jeff and Kostas, our roadtrip mates for the weekend. Our plans were none and it couldn’t have been better. No expectations and no schedule to follow. Just the way a spontaneous roadtrip should be!

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So what can you do in Lofoten?

Lofoten consist of six municipalities – Vågan, Vestvågøy, Flakstad, Moskenes, Værøy and Røst. It’s a great place if you’re looking for adventure. What about surfing, rock climbing, hiking, fishing, scuba diving or cycling? Lofoten has it all. And even if you’re not the adventurous type, Lofoten could still be a destination for you. How does kayaking in the fjords or walking in the countryside sound to you?

Lofoten is deeply connected to the Viking Age, it’s located within the Arctic Circle and has been the centre of great cod fisheries for more than 1,000 years. Cod fishing is very popular in the winter when the cod migrates south from the Barents Sea and gathers in Lofoten to spawn. And did you know that most of the small villages actually are old fishing villages?  Well, now you do.

The climate in Lofoten is milder than other parts of the world that shares the same latitude. During the summer you can experience the midnight sun and during the winter you can see the northern lights. Two of my favourite nature phenomenoms. It really doesn’t get better than that!

So what did we do in Lofoten?

We did so much but barely anything at all. We watched the northern lights from the backyard of our cabin. We went deep sea fishing, we all caught fish that we later prepared and had for dinner that night. We walked around in the snow on Haukland Beach and we admired the brave surfers in the water at Unstad Beach. If you want to go surfing in Norway, Lofoten is the best place. Probably the best place in all of the Nordic countries. I can’t say for sure, because I’m not a surfer, yet. We also tasted stockfish and we took so many photographs, of the scenery and of each other. We created a memories of a lifetime there.

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Would you recommend going there in winter?

Yes, definitely! My favourite thing about Lofoten in winter would be the northern lights. Just imagine standing on an empty beach, watching the lights dance across the sky. You’ll love it! I didn’t get to watch them from a beach, but I did get to watch the most amazing northern lights I’ve ever seen in my life! And I even had a small mountain as a backdrop.

The islands won’t be as crowded as they can be in the summer and accommodation will be cheaper. I actually went back there barely three months later and accommodation prices definitely had changed. Lofoten is gorgeous all year around and definitely a great winter destination!

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Top three things to do in winter

This is just my personal recommendations, but there’s three things you should do if you visit Lofoten in winter.

Chase the northern lights.

Go deep sea fishing.

Walk on a deserted beach.

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How do I get to Lofoten?

There is three airports in Lofoten (Svolvær, Leknes and Røst ) and two just outside the islands (Bodø and Harstad/Narvik lufthavn). If you don’t want to fly, you can easily drive there. Just know that the distances probably will be longer than you think. The roads in Norway are usually narrow and you won’t be going fast.

There is also buses that leaves Narvik, Bodø and Harstad everyday. The end destination is Svolvaer and from there you can take local buses to your final destination. Buses are a good option if you don’t have a car or just don’t want to drive. You can also take the night train from Stockholm (Sweden) to Narvik (Norway). And from Narvik you can get the bus to your final destination.

And of course, you can get there by boat. There is ferries and express boats (check timetables here).

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