Lofoten archipelago The paradise islands The main islands appeal to writers and artists as well as outdoor enthusiasts, with climbing, hiking, canoeing, biking, rafting and fishing highly popular. Puffins, cormorants, eagles and seals bring in the wildlife watchers. Nowhere does the midnight sun shine as on Norway's Lofoten Islands.
Lofoten is a group of islands in the northern part of Norway, located at the 67th and 68th degree parallels, North of the Arctic Circle. About 24,500 people live there .
The 4 main islands of Lofoten are Moskenes øya , Vestvåg øya , Austvåg øya and Flakstad øya ( øya means island).
The capital is Svolvaer ; other much visited towns and villages
are Reine , Henningsvaer , Hamnoy , Nusfjord and Å .
National Geographic Traveler magazine ranked the islands as some of the world's most unspoiled. The mountains are separated by swathes of green and the water's edge is fringed with white sandy beaches. The water is blue-green and clear and the views are awe-inspiring.
The Gulf Stream travels north along Norway's coast, bringing mild
temperatures. Even in winter, the temperature rarely drops below zero.
Formed when Greenland separated from Europe billions of years ago, the islands'
abrupt peaks, composed of granite and limestone and estimated to be 3.5 billion
years old -- among the oldest in the world -- rise majestically from the sea.
The Lofoten Islands are characterised by their sheltered inlets …
… fishing villages and harbours of incredible charm…
… lots of red painted wooden houses (rorbu) …
… glacier-carved mountains and peaks, falling right into the fjords …
… stretches of seashore…
… large virgin areas …
… and their purple mountains and green meadows mirrored in Caribbean-blue sea .
Lofoten have for more than 1000 years been the centre of great cod fisheries, especially in winter, when the cod migrates south from the Barents Sea and gathers in Lofoten to spawn.
The cod, which is later salted and dried, is known as stockfish .
Although cod stocks have diminished dramatically in recent years, fishing
still vies with tourism as Lofoten’s largest industry.
The E10 road serves the Lofoten from Svolvær to Å .
The islands are connected by bridges since 1983.
Svolv æ r (pop. 4400) , in Austvågøy (Austvåg island) The administrative capital of the archipelago, a small town that rules most of the fishing trade.
Situated on the south coast of Austvåg island, facing the open sea to the south, and mountains to the north, the town has an airport, express boats and daily arrival of Hurtigruten coastal steamer.
Hurtigruten Coastal Express, the passenger and freight line with daily sailings, calling daily the Port of Svolvær .
Not the most picturesque of the villages , it has a certain charm, like here at
the harbour, when reflections of the red houses dance on the water .
Traditional one-man fishing boat, Svolvær harbour
Svolvær has its population increased to 10 000 during the fishing season
Svolvær is partly located on smaller islands, such as Svinøya , connected to the main island by way of the Svinøy Bridge.
Svinøya (Svinøya i Svolvær) , suburb island of Svolvær. It’s the town’s oldest inhabited part: it was the main centre of Svolvær during the 1800 century .
Today, Svinøya is still a small, vibrant fishing hamlet, part of Svolvær harbour. T he town has become something of an artists’ colony.
an art studio where the artist Gunnar Berg worked.
The gallery presents and portrays the painter Gunnar Berg (1863-1893), who was born and raised on the island of Svinøya.
Above all others, he is the artist who put Lofoten on the map, and he is considered one of the first Norwegian impressionists.
His main work, "The Battle of the Trollfjord" is the jewel in the crown.
Gunnar Berg: "Fra Svolvær havn" (From Svolvær Harbor).
Oil on canvas .
Many of the original shacks have been restored to the Svinøya Rorbuer ( ‘rorbu’ cabins for tourists).
The need to be close to the fishing banks for the fishermen in the north, demanded a short way between their home and the sea . ( Interior of a rorbu )
Fish racks (drying stands) where stockfish is dried (next ->)
Kabelvåg is the oldest fishing village in Lofoten and it was here that fishery was first developed over 1,000 years ago. Fishermen from all over Norway sought out the coves and inlets around Kabelvåg, to harvest their share of the cod that migrates here every year.
Local (only) pub
Lofoten cathedral , in Kabelvåg , Austvåg island.
Vågan Church, also known as Lofoten Cathedral, was built in 1898 and can accommodate up to 1.200 people.
Cultural events often take
place in the church.
Henningsv æ r
Built on small islands separated by arms of the sea evoking from some channels, it is one of the most visited places in the archipelago.
Henningsvær (pop. 750) consists of a group of isles and islets spread out at random in the blue waters of the Vestfjord.
A set of bridges links Henningsv æ r’s small islets to Austvåg island. The islands were not connected to the rest of Lofoten by bridges until 1983.
Heningsv æ r, Venice of the Lofoten . C lose to the port, a channel and some typical houses.
At 68º above the artic circle, the weather is unexpectedly warm in winter and cold in summer. Dramatic mountains sculpted by glaciers surround the village. .
Nowadays, almost as many pleasure boats as fishing boats …
Is this how they welcome tourists?
Henningsvaer is a still active fishing village.
During the period that begins in January and ends in April, it is very interesting to see the fishing activity . Many boats come and leave, bringing the fish back to the docks where the stockfish is prepared and then dried on wood support in the wind.
The winter fisheries for cod are crucial for the settlements in Lofoten.
Fishermen from all over North Norway take part in the Lofot Fisheries .
Stockfish drying racks
Henningsv æ r Hotel
From hotel’s esplanade
A café and esplanade looking at the ‘canals’
A dream beach - Rørvik (water 15º), on the E10 to Hennigsvaer. Purest white sand, surrounded by wildflowers and towering islands. The shallow water is crystal clear and warm enough for swimming in summer despite being in the Arctic. In June/July, 24 hour sunbathing !
Stamsund in Vestvågøy
Stamsund is the main village in Vestvågøy (pop. 1400) .
“ Two dragons”
Details of Stamsund
Stamsund is a port of call for Hurtigruten daily coastal express, southbound from Svolvær .
The local pub
1 A.M. , Stamsund
The excepcional Haukland beach, Vestvågøy.
Viking Museum Borg, Vestvågøya
Impressive reconstruction of a Viking chieftain's home.
Viking longboat Viking long boat ( Lofotr )
The E10, officially named King Olav V 's Road , passes through Flakstad on its way to Å .
Nusfjord i Lofoten , Flakstad island
http://www.nusfjord.no/nusfjord/index_en.html UNESCO protected fishing village on Flakstad island, Nusfjord is an amazing tiny bay. Nowadays, the village is converted into a sort of an open-air museum.
Nusfjord (pop. 35) is an idyllic, small harbor at the entry of a sinuous fjord, with traditional rorbu cabins from the 19th century, renovated in 1975 .
"rorbuer" or rorbus
are the huts painted in red, which were used formerly to place the many fishermen during the fishing season, when the trading settlement experienced the largest growth.
All the houses are near the waterfront, have wooden piers for boats and small shacks for equipment. Most of them accept tourists in summer.
It is clear why Nusfjord is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The colour of the houses used to indicate the wealth of the owner. Red means that the paint was made of the cheapest materials, fish blood and fish oil. The yellow was nationally produced and could not be made locally and a bit more expensive, and the white was made from imported zinc, and was the most expensive colour.
Warehouses alongside the quay – storehouse for dried fish and other goods
Crystal balls for fishing nets, Nusfjord Museum
To catch cod off Lofoten Islands, in 1844 Christopher Faye
of Bergen introduced glass fishing floats.
Hamnøy Hamnøy is a little fishing village in Moskenes island, on the E10 to Reine.
A tiny idyllic fishing village, magnificent countryside, the sea and tall mountain peaks, "rorbu" cabins, traditional quayside buildings, fishing boats and distinctive traditions and culture.
Lilliput among the fishing villages of the Lofoten Islands
A small islet situated 4 km north of Reine, on the E10
The rorbu cottages have been painstakingly restored, retaining most of the old atmosphere. The buildings date from the 1880s.
The ochre-coloured fishermen's shacks that stand with their legs in the water are over 120 years old, and give the opportunity to stay overnight in a real fisherman's shack.
“ Sjømat" - An attraction in its own right !
Anita's abundant fish stall has most of the delicacies that the Lofotens have to offer ... fresh cod, saithe, redfish and wolf fish, stockfish, fresh salmon, klipfish, char, shellfish, fresh prawns, smoked salmon, whale steaks, smoked whale meat, gull's eggs, fish burgers…
Reine i Lofoten
An imposing site in the south of the Lofoten islands.
Fjords, mountains whose certain tops reach the 1000 meters,
a blue water... so is the village of Reine and its coloured houses.
Reine (pop.342) is the administrative centre of Moskenes
island. European route E10 passes through Hamnøy and
Sakrisøy island on way to Reine.
The E10 road through Reine, between the islands, on it’s way to A.
In 1970 Reine was voted the most beautiful place in Norway .
A nice and calm fjord with two fishing boats, a typical Norwegian village (Reine ) with red rorbuers, this is the quintessence of the Lofoten Islands!
The Reine fjord area is a very good terrain for fishing due to the nearby Maelstrom (see ahead). A one-man fishing boat at Reine’s harbour.
Like in most Lofoten towns and villages, there are wood
cabins like this (rorbuer), prepared to accomodate visitors.
In Lofoten it is usual to see houses with grass roof.
Reine in midnight sun.
Reine scenary in the evening at sunset .
Flakstad church , near Reine
in the light of the midnight Sun.
The church was built in wood logs in 1780 and has a greek-orthodox inspired onion-shaped spire.
Å (Å i Lofoten)
The end of E10 – King Olav’s Road
In the last 50 km near Å , the road is mostly less than 6 m wide.
Tiny, cosy and lovely !
Å i Lofoten is one of Norway's most authentic traditional fishing villages :
there are 33 listed buildings at the resort.
Å (pronounced [oː] , from the Norwegian å ( a small river ) is a fishing village in the municipality of Moskenes, specialising in stockfish.
The town contains the Lofoten Stockfish Museum http://www.datadesign.ws/fiskmus.htm and the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum. http ://www.lofoten-info.no/Fiskmus.htm It is served by European route E10 , which ends there.
This is the youth hostel in Å.
The main building at left is a former fish saltery, we can still see some cod drying.
The area is full of drying fish, so it stinks when the wind blows the wrong way !
Most ‘rorbuer’ are now tourist guesthouses, operated by
Drying Cods in Å i Lofoten
16 mill. kgs of cod is hung out to dry on fish racks every year in Lofoten.
The weight of the cod is reduced by about 80% when it is dried.
Old one-man’s fishing boat
Cod-liver oil processing plant .
Cod-liver oil from Å i Lofoten
Å in Winter
Lofoten Stockfish Museum
( http://www.datadesign.ws/fiskmus.htm )
The Munkebu Cabin located near a little mountain lake, a 3 h. trek started from Å i Lofoten.
Picture taken during the climb from Å toward Munkebu c abin :
Lake Ågvatnet sourrounded by impressive peaks. This glacially carved
lake that is very close to being a fjord.
Å lies in the background where the lake arrive in the sea.
The Maelstrom ( Moskenstraumen ) When the E10 road ends you come face to face with the infamous " Maelstrom “, one of the world’s strongest tidal currents creating whirlpools, resulting from the tides stuck by the Lofoten barrier . First described by Pytheas the Greek over 2000 years ago, it has since been marked on innumerable sea charts together with terrifying illustrations and warnings. Simulation study of currents.
Fantasy descriptions appeared in European geographic literature in the 17th and 18th century. Edgar Allan Poe has written a short story called ´ A Descent into the Maelstrom ´ about it, and Jules Verne mentions it in the book ´ 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas ´. Moskenstraumen: http://tripatlas.com/Moskstraumen http://www.math.uio.no/maelstrom Moskenstraumen: http://tripatlas.com/Moskstraumen http://www.math.uio.no/maelstrom
The “swirling, hissing, spinning waters” of the Moskenstraumen.
The strait is about 4-5 kilometres across and 40-60 metres deep, and is considerably shallower than the surrounding sea. The tide fills up the Vestfjord twice a day, and the difference in height between high and low tides can be up to 4 metres. Midway between high and low tide, the current changes direction, and this is when the whirlpools begin to appear, with speeds of up to 6 knots .
Flakstad’s fabulous wild beach - Kvalvika
The small islands
Værøy is the penultimate municipality in Lofoten. The Island is dominated by a long mountain ridge running from northeast to southwest. About 90% of the population lives in the village Sørland where the administration is located, together with a doctor and a nurse.
Tussen – a troll head in Værøy mountain.
Silence, that’s what you can find there.
View from Værøy, the Moskenes island.
In between the worlds strongest system of tidal eddies, the Maelstrom .
Røst islands Farthest out to sea in the Lofoten Islands lies Røst. 600 people and a large number of seabirds live there (some 2,5 million adults).
Røst is one of the bird watching localities in Norway that is known world wide, one of the biggest birdcliffs in the North Atlantic, with puffin colonies, as well as colonies of kittiwake, cormorants etc.
Røst municipality has 600 inhabitants and a area of 10,6 km2.
A vivid description of medieval island life has been delivered by a shipwrecked Venetian sea captain, who was rescued by the islanders in 1432.
The Italians’ account of life on Røst at that time is one of the most important descriptions of ordinary people’s lives in mediaeval Norway.
Boats and Ships
Traditional Nordlands boat
This type of fishing boat has been used for centuries in the Lofoten islands
fishing industry and is closely related to the old Viking Longships.
One man fishing boats
Modern fishing boats
MS Inger Helen , sightseeing and passenger boat for daily trips around the seabird colonies .
S.A.R. rescue ship
The Røst ferry. .
Winter cruise in Norway. Hurtigruten M/S Lofoten (1964 ) has being named a listed vessel by the Norwegian Historic Monuments. She offers an
irresistible classic charm.
MS Polarlys, Hurtigruten Built: 1996 / Gross Tonnage: 12,000 Length: 123 m / Width: 19.5 m The Hurtigruten Ports of Call in the Lofoten are Stamsund and Svolvær .