Almost every corner of Norway is rich of nature, amazing landscapes and wholesome hiking paths. One part of me is certain that it doesn’t really matter where you decide to go, it will be most likely awesome; on the other hand I must say that Lofoten Islands are a particularly beautiful part of the Country, whose places would make anyone just speechless. Although, each traveler needs tips and I’m glad to share some with those who might be interested.
Survival hiking kit :
- Good hiking shoes are highly recommended since most of the paths are quite steepy;
- Vitamins are a good boost in the morning, it might be a multivitaminic or fruit such as orange or kiwi;
- A Thermos containing hot cocoa/tea/coffee to get yourself cozy on the top of the mountains where it could be quite windy;
- A rain cover for your backpack and a rain coat, Lofoten is rainy, especially during the Autumn season;
- A food container for your lunch (we never ate at a restaurant since it was a budget friendly trip);
- Chocolate, the perfect hiking treat;
- Good company! Hiking alone or with a bad company is dangerous.
Our group was made of 4 people, which is a good budget/comfort compromise since the 5-seats cars are just a little more expensive than the 4-seats ones. The same applies to the Airbnbs.
As you might have figured out at this point, we rented a car which is the smarter thing to do since the buses are very few, notably when the summer season is over. We flew from Oslo to Harstad/Narvik airport (which is in Evenes) on the 26th of October around 1pm and we returned on the 29th around 8pm.
We got the car only a couple of minutes after our landing, finally ready to start the engine and prepared to begin this roadtrip adventure.
We chose to book an Airbnb relatively in the middle of Lofoten, so it would have been easier to drive around. The place wasn’t far from Leknes, a quite big town (considering Lofoten standards) where we could find the basic facilities such as supermarkets and a gas station. The drive from the airport to our house was about 3 hours long (we even saw a moose on the way), so we decided to stop in Svolvær for a tour of the town, sharing a pizza at Peppes (famous american pizza chain in Norway) and grocery shopping.
Once arrived at the Airbnb which was a nice house on two floors with strong grandma vibes, we started preparing the dinner. After eating we all agreed on going out chasing the Northern Lights. The perfect location for spotting them is of course somewhere without artificial lights and what’s better than a quiet beach? Unstad Beach was a few kilometers away, so we took our hot cocoa thermos and we headed there. It actually turned out to be the ultimate perfect location. The photos speak for themselves!
The alarm rings around 8 (quite late for what is waiting for us today). A rich pancake breakfast later we’re ready to drive toward Fredvang. On the way we saw another majestic beach, Rambergstranda. There are many choices for what concerns hikes and walks in Lofoten; for our second day we chose to hike on the top of Ryten hill which has an amazing view on Kvalvika Beach. We probably took the wrong /long path so the hike turned out to be longer than expected but nonetheless amazing. The path was although a bit snowy, icy, wet and muddy at some point, that’s why it is important to have good hiking equipment, especially shoes, which obviously I hadn’t and i fell on my butt and belly something like 10 times. Luckily the snow was pretty soft besides being extremely cold. The hike, with all the breaks and lunch (or ‘Matpakke’ how they call it in norwegian), lasted about 4 hours.
We continued to the south and we passed by the fishermen village of Hamnøy on our way to Reine. In Reine we stopped in a very cozy café/restaurant, Vertshuset Lanternen, since it was raining. After that we had a tour and took some photos to the characteristic red houses on the fjord. There is a really suggestive hike nearby called Reinebringen, but it was clearly too late and rainy for that.
Our next stop was Å i Lofoten, another small fishermen village that you don’t want to miss. Again, everything is very traditional and the red houses are a must in these little towns on the coast.
An early morning and a big breakfast later we leave our cottage to reach Haukland Beach. What to say, a wonderful place where we took a lot of photos.
If you just cross the street from the parking you will see a path going up; that’s where we started our hike to reach the top of Mannen. This time the path wasn’t excessively icy, but there was quite a lot of snow instead. We saw a hawk observing us while flying in circle and some footprints of deers (or maybe goats?). Once on the top the view took our breath away. We could see Haukland Beach and a few other islands on the horizon. After coming back from the other way of the mountain, we got again to te beach where we ate our salmon and smashed avocado sandwich (so deliiiiiicious!)
Next stop was the town of Buksnes, famous for the typical norwegian red wooden church; man that was really impressive!
Finally we also stopped in a café, a lovely concept store where we could play Tic Tac Toe. There we met some locals who started the conversation asking what we were going to visit and what we already visited. They were actually really impressed about the travel plan, since we managed to include all of the musts of Lofoten Islands. They also suggested us to drive to a nearby town, Ballstad, where we could have done a suggestive walk in the forest surrounded by lakes and pine trees.
Well, of course we followed their directions and it was totally worth it! An afternoon walk through the woods before it gets dark is one of the most relaxing things after a long day spent in the mountains. The colours of the sky reflecting in the frozen lakes created almost a supernatural atmosphere.
Before going back to our place we passed by Leknes for some grocery shopping. Once at home we made the fire, ate and went directly to bed exhausted.
Our last day begins packing. We check multiple times the cottage to see if we forgot anything. All seems to be in order, unless us. We have to leave, but the hell it’s hard to leave this paradise. Our day is still long though, the plane is only at 8pm, so there’s still a lot to do on the list. We proceed in the direction of Henningsvær, an agglomerate of islands where they built a peculiar soccer pitch between the fjords. While on our way, we try to stop in Gimsøysand, where there’s a nice white church. Apparently the norwegian TV show ‘Twin’ had other plans because they were filming one of the episodes precisely there just when we arrived. The norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones) was there as well. We hadn’t the chance to talk to him by the way.
The perfect way to enjoy the view of Henningsvær is without doubt hiking on the top of one of the peaks that’s around it. We chose to do the Festvågtind hike.
Well, more than a hike that was actually an expedition. Man that was hard, but probably because we took the wrong way and ended up climbing slippery rocks overlooking the overhang. Besides the difficulty of the hike, admiring the view in the end was pretty satisfactory. Who would have ever believed that I was capable to face a trail like this one?
That’s also one of the reasons why I love Norway, every hike is a test and you can learn so much from nature as you wouldn’t expected.
After what I like to call it ‘expedition’ we went to Hellingsvær islands to grab a coffee in a cafeteria and walk around. We stopped at Trevarefabrikken, a sort of concept store/café/pub/concert hall which was closed, BUT a man who was working there as electrician invited us to sit inside and offered us some coffee too! The kindness and hospitality of people here is priceless, it reminds me of some little villages of southern Italy where everyone talks to everyone randomly.
After eating our luch, we went to see the particular football pitch with a great view of the fjord.
Before heading back to the airport we wanted to see one last thing: the sunset from Rørvikstrand. That was insane! This beach is located 10 minutes driving from Henningsvær. It’s a bit hidden and you can’t really see it from the street.
The time to go arrived in the end. We remounted in the car, the driving was smooth toward the airport although at some point we stopped in a gas station to clean the car with water and tissues ‘cause we were panicking about the cleaning tax that could be applied from the rental company, which is something like 180 bloody euros. The employee told us that we didn’t have to do it but caution is never enough I guess. Everything was easy and fast. The queue moved quickly in the tiny airport of Harstad/Narvik.
We chatted for a bit and suddenly we were sitting in the plane, staring at the window, hoping to spot the northern lights one last time.