The Lofoten National Tourist Route in the county of Nordland is a 142-mile-long stretch of road between the bridge across Raftsundet in the north of the islands and Å in the south. Svolvær and Leknes are the two urban centers in the area.
This national tourist route takes you through Lofoten's distinctive, and stunning, scenery - a contrast of craggy peaks, white beaches and emerald green sea. The tidal currents between the islands and the sea around them are the origins of Lofoten's important fishing industry and its rich cultural traditions. Along the shores are fishing hamlets with their characteristic rorbuer (fishermen’s cabins).
Every year the wonders of nature and the living coastal culture attract thousands of visitors, filling the brief weeks of summer with life and sound - and the midnight sun. There are many opportunities for activities at sea and in the mountains, but the Lofoten Islands are also a place of peace and quiet. Winter is the time of the Lofoten fishery, for the skrei (winter cod) which still means so much for local settlements.
Getting around the islands by car or cycle is easy. From Bodø and Moskenes there are boats out to the island communities of Værøy and Røst, the last settlements before the open sea. The rocks south of Røst are the nesting sites for millions of seabirds. Whales, seals and killer whales are also to be seen in the area, and organised boat trips give you the chance to experience the bird cliffs and sea animals at close range.
Viewpoints along the road
Along the route, 11 stopping points have been designed for taking breaks, parking for hikes and taking photographs. There are rest areas, viewing platforms and bird observation towers, as well as a rest house for cyclists and cafés.
The parking lot at Rambergstranda for example has views of Rambergstranda Beach and the surrounding mountains, while the platform at Reinehalsen affords views of one of Norway's best-known panoramas. Thousands of travellers arrive every year to take photos here.
National Tourist Route maps
In co-operation with Nordeca, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) have launched a series of new road maps, each covering one of the 18 different National Tourist Routes in Norway.
The maps describe viewpoints along the way, as well as the National Tourist Routes' nature attractions, dining, accommodations and other attractions along the routes. To give the reader a good and visual impression of the routes, several pictures and descriptions have been placed in the maps themselves.
The maps are available in English, German and Norwegian from kartbutikken.no.
What to see
The main tourist islands, Austvågøy, Vestvågøy, Flakstad and Moskenes, appeal to writers and artists as well as outdoor enthusiasts. In summer, the midnight sun shines over the archipelago. Winter is the time of the famous Lofoten fishery, which is still vital to the population of Lofoten.
One of the world’s biggest sea eagle colonies is found here. On Lofoten’s southernmost islands you can see enormous bird rocks, swarming with hundreds of thousands of puffins, cormorants, guillemots and eagles. Seals, killer whales and whales are regularly spotted in the seas.
For anyone interested in Viking history and culture, a visit to the Lofotr Viking Museum is a must. The Viking Museum is a reconstruction of the 83-metre-long chiefdom that was erected at Borg in Lofoten around 500 AD.
With the mountain at its back and otherwise surrounded by the sea, Henningsvær was a natural hub of activity during the Lofoten Winter Fishery. Henningsvær became one of the most prominent fishing villages in Lofoten.
The fishing village of Nusfjord has an intertwining building area, which evolved at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Here archaeologists have uncovered evidence of the earliest "industrial fishing" in the Nordland region.
In the village of Å you find the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum and the Stockfish Museum. On the way from Å, the fishing villages lie like pearls on a string: Tind, Sørvågen, Moskenes, Reine and Hamnøy. The view from Reine towards the Kirkefjord was the reason why Reine was once voted the most beautiful place in Norway.
At Vikten, Ramberg and Sund, there are well-established arts and crafts centers. Smeden, ”the Blacksmith”, at Sund, probably has the largest number of visitors, together with the Glassblowing Workshop at Vikten.
Experience the white beaches at Haukland, or the pebble beach at Eggum, both on Vestvågøy; these are excellent spots to watch the Midnight Sun, and popular places for outings among both locals and tourists.
Outermost in the Lofoten archipelago, you will find Røst with its 365 islands, isles and skerries. The steep and towering islands southwest of the populated island of Røstlandet are "home" for the largest number of nesting birds across Norway. You can visit the islands of Værøy and Røst by taking the car ferry from Moskenes or Bodø.
Read more about Scenic attractions in the Lofoten Islands.
What to do
Climbing, hiking, extreme skiing, riding, golfing, kayaking, biking, sea rafting and fishing are highly popular activities in the Lofoten.
Relax and watch the sun setting in the ocean from Vikten, Utakleiv, Unstad or Eggum, all of which are detours that are part of the official route.
The proximity of the ocean, the jagged Lofoten mountains and the ever shifting arctic light make the Lofoten Golf Links course at Hov, on the island of Gimsøy, more than just a round of golf. Try golfing under the midnight sun - from mid-May to early August.
Lofoten is in general easy cycling country; however the roads can be pretty crowded with cars, caravans and mobile homes during the height of summer. The hiking trails in the islands promote all kinds of activities and experiences in varied and exciting nature.
At Unstad, there are excellent conditions for surfing. A tunnel leading to the village was opened in 1995.
Follow the British newspaper The Guardian's advice and go kayaking in the Lofoten Islands. The newspaper listed the Lofoten Islands as one of its top 10 sea kayaking destinations.
Come out to sea and try your luck at fishing. One thing is certain - you will not be bored with the scenery while you are waiting for the fish to bite.
Enjoy the Reinefjord by using the local passenger boat from Reine. In summer, a perfect combination is a walk from Vindstad beside the Reinefjord to the white sandy beach of Bunesstranda. This walk takes approximately one hour each way and is very suitable for families.
Join a sea eagle safari or experience snorkelling in crystal clear arctic waters and deep-sea rafting/RIB safaris with Lofoten Opplevelser (based in Henningsvær).
In summer you can visit Raftsundet and the Trollfjord by travelling with Hurtigruten (The Norwegian Coastal Voyage) between Stokmarknes and Svolvær, or by joining one of the scheduled boat trips from Svolvær.
Read more about Tour suggestions and What to do in Lofoten.
Where to stay
In Lofoten, you will find cosy rorbu cabins. These cabins originally provided simple overnight accommodation for fishermen. In the fishing villages you will find large quayside buildings ("sjøhus") originally designed to accommodate the landing of the fishermen's catch. Other forms of accommodation include campsites, hotels and youth hostels.
Unstad Sjøhus is spacious with special good opportunities for backpackers, youth groups, hiking groups and other low budget groups. It has its own quay with view to the fjord and the Lofoten Mountains Himmeltindene (the Heaven Peaks).
Skjærbrygga is situated at Hjellskjæret in Outer Stamsund. The oldest part of this rorbu complex was built in 1845. Skjærbrygga keeps a simple, but good standard and is a nice resort for tourists as well as conference delegates.
Statles Rorbusenter with its 54 rorbu cabins is situated in the fishing village Mortsund, in the center of the Lofoten Islands. Make sure you try some of the local fish specialities in the restaurant “Marmælen”.
At Ballstad, Solsiden Brygge offers 12 rorbu-apartments with high standard. There is also a fishing boat named "Vibeke" with capacity of nine persons, which offers two deep-sea-fishing daily.
Read more about Where to stay in Lofoten.
Where to eat
Northern Norway enjoys a plentiful pantry, and its many culinary temptations can be experienced through traditional and new dishes in the restaurants that are members of Arctic Menu. All of them serve new and traditional dishes based on high quality ingredients from Northern Norway. Some of the Arctic Menu Restaurants are located in Lofoten, close to Lofoten National Tourist Route.
The chef and owner at Du Verden Restaurant at Svolvær, Roy Magne Berglund, has won a number of awards and distinctions.
Enjoy a meal based on fresh ingredients from the sea at The Blue Fish Restaurant at Henningsvær in Lofoten.
On the outer side of the Lofoten archipelago, you will find Ramberg Gjestegård - enjoy the view of the great ocean and a thousand-yard-long sandy beach from the restaurant.
One of the most important culture heritages of Lofoten is the famous stockfish. Stockfish is made from spawning cod, and is often the base product in many of the food dishes served in local restaurants. Try stockfish at the restaurant Børsen Spiseri in Svolvær.
Read more about What to eat in Nordland.
- Road: E 10 between Raftsundet and Å in Lofoten in the county of Nordland.
- Length: 142 miles, including the detours.
Getting to Lofoten National Tourist Route
Several access roads lead to Lofoten National Tourist Route. Follow the E10 or take one of several ferries.
In the south, ferries operate the routes Bodø - Moskenes, Svolvær - Skutvik and
Bognes - Lødingen. In the north, a ferry operates the route Melbu – Fiskebøl.
Distances by car from Bergen, Oslo and Trondheim to Bodø:
- From Bergen to Trondheim: Approximately 434 miles (10 hours)
- From Oslo to Trondheim: Approximately 335 miles (7 hours)
- From Trondheim to Bodø via the scenic Kystriksveien rv17: Approximately 320 miles (15 hours)
Lofoten National Tourist Route lies approximately 62 miles north of Bodø.
If you drive, you can take the car ferry from Bodø across to Moskenes, Værøy or Røst. Or you can drive further north of Bodø, to Skutvik, and take the car ferry Torghatten Nord (phone: +47 90 62 07 00) across to Skrova or Svolvær.
Hurtigruten (The Norwegian Coastal Voyage) starts out in Bergen and takes you across the Arctic Circle to Kirkenes in Finnmark, through the heart of coastal Norway. You can choose to join for a short trip, or take the whole cruise to Kirkenes and back. The journey Bergen - Kirkenes - Bergen takes 11 days.
Departures are daily and there are frequent stops along the coast. The ships can accommodate cars, making it easy to combine the cruise with a drive along the Lofoten National Tourist Route. Hurtigruten's ports of call in Lofoten are Stamsund, Svolvær and Stokmarknes.
Read more about Hurtigruten and Getting to Lofoten and around.
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