My geographical knowledge is much smaller than my husband’s which makes sense if you consider our degrees. Still, usually I can roughly locate places on a map. Had you asked me about Lofoten before, though, I would have taken an educated guess deducting from the name that it could be something Scandinavian, maybe part of Greenland or even Alaska.
Would you have asked me what the islands looked like I would have assumed it to be a place within permafrost and Artic research containers. The whole trip to Norway had already left me in awe because I couldn’t believe how stunningly beautiful this country was. I’ve spent all my life coming up with travel plans but Norway just never made it onto the list of places I wanted to see before. From my stereotype-ridden perspective it would be boring, cold and rainy.
Nice, nicer, Norway
Boy, was I wrong. While Norway in general had already blown me away at first sight, Lofoten in particular might easily count as one of the prettiest places on earth I’ve ever seen. Craggy mountains, some with remaining patches of snow, rise right next to turquoise-blue water and sandy beaches so white they might be mistaken for Caribbean.
To complete the picturesque look, small fishing villages are dotting the winding road across the islands with colourful wooden houses and falun-red rorbuer huts (old fishermen huts that nowadays often serve as tourist accommodation, restaurants, cafes or museums).
Prepare for four seasons in a day
Meanwhile, the weather can vary. When we first arrived it was a rather rainy day and the forecast didn’t look to good, either. However, the weather changed constantly and we enjoyed both beautiful sunny spells as well as rain and fog. Activity-wise the islands are a water-sports, fishing and of course hiking Eldorado. Needless to say, some of those activities aren’t necessarily suitable for children as small as Mats. However, besides enjoying the view of the nature around us we also accomplished two rather easy hikes (Svolvær and Glomtinden) that were manageable with the kid in the backpack.
Beach life above the Artic Circle
While there is an abundance of beautiful beaches to choose from, Skagsanden Beach proved to be the most accessible one for us as a family. It is very conveniently located right next to Lofoten Beach Camp in Flakstad, even though you don’t need to stay at the site to access it.
The villages have their particular charm, too. Henningsvær, where we made our first stop on a rather moody day, was buzzing with travellers and almost felt a bit ‚too busy‘. It offers some nice shops, galleries, cafes and restaurants though and we happened to stumble upon a Sunday market in Trevare Fabrikken, a cultural center in a former wood factory, where local products were being sold.
We also managed to visit Nusfjord, an acclaimed tourist magnet, on a very calm and sunny night and almost had the place to ourselves. Kabelvåg with it’s trio of museums (Galleri Espolin, Lofotmuseet and Lofotakvariet, the aquarium) was another worthy stop for a rainy morning that turned into a pretty day after all.
Reine might have the most popular face of the islands but Å (yes, that’s a full name for a village) in the south is just as beautiful and the kannelsnurr (cinnamon bun, Norwegian style) at Bakeri poses a real challenge for Hopia’s korvapuusti (the Finnish variety).
Eventually, we have to move on, even though we agree we could easily spend the rest of the summer here. Since we cannot fit all the islands into our van we take a final detour to Laukvik to buy the only souvenir we ever bother buying when traveling – locally roasted coffee at Keans Beans.