Lofoten Roadtrip – Our 8-day Lofoten intinerary in May
5. March 2019
When I am thinking about the Lofoten Islands my heart starts beating faster. The archipelago in the far north of Norway fascinated me completely and if it wasn’t so expensive to fly to the Lofoten Islands, I would probably be there as often as possible. But on the other hand – who wouldn’t ;). For a long time it was a dream of mine to travel to the Lofoten Islands and again and again I repressed this destination due to cost and weather reasons. When my kindergarten friend, who was studying in Finland at the time, told me about her plan to go to Lofoten Islands in May, I could only answer with a “yes” to her question if I wanted to come along.
Our road trip to the Lofoten islands in Norway took us through Finnish and Swedish Lapland – a 8-day itinerary. Why we chose this route to reach the Lofoten Islands, you will find out below.
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Location – What and where are the Lofoten Islands?
The Lofoten Islands are an archipelago in the northern Norwegian region. The Lofoten Islands consist of about 80 islands. They are only inhabited by about 24,000 inhabitants. The Lofoten Islands offer unique nature, picturesque fishing villages, crystal clear waters and spectacular rock formations. Not forgetting about the stunning lighting conditions far beyond the Arctic Circle. The midnight sun is definitely not to be underestimated. When I was at the Lofoten Islands at the beginning of May, the sun was still setting, but it was not getting dark anymore. I found the lasting daylight particularly exhausting in the evening after a long and impressive day. To have dinner on the veranda again at 8 pm with warm sunlight on my face was just great. Luckily there were curtains for the night :).
Arrival – How to get to the Lofoten?
There are different ways to get to Lofoten Islands. The quickest and easiest way is definitely by flight – but the flights are quite expensive and can hardly be found below € 300. In addition, you have to change planes at least once in a Scandinavian city. However, if you want to forego a day long arrival, the price must inevitably be taken into account.
We opted for a – for us then – cheaper option but quite long journey. Since my friend was studying in Finland and was near Helsinki, we decided to fly to Kittila in Finnish Lapland. I flew from Frankfurt am Main via Helsinki (with an overnight stay) to Kittilä. This route was about € 100 cheaper than the flights via Oslo or Stockholm at this time. The overnight stay in Helsinki was not a problem for me, as it gave me the opportunity to spend time with my Finnish host sister. For all those who do not know me personally, at the age of 17 I lived in Canada for one year and went to school there – therefore the host sister :). Nevertheless, this way is a nice opportunity to explore Helsinki. Another advantage was the much cheaper price for the car in Finland. The big drawback, however, is the 9-hour drive from Kittila to e.g. Svolvaer in the Lofoten Islands. Since we were traveling with four people, this was fine for us.
Possible airports to get to the Lofoten Islands:
Svolvaer, Lofoten, Norway
Leknes, Lofoten, Norway
Evenes, Lofoten, Norway
Bodø, Norway and then with a ferry to Leknes
If traveling to Norway via any airport on the Lofoten Islands is too expensive, I would tend to travel to Kiruna in Sweden next time. From there it “only” is a 5 hours drive, sometimes the car hire prices are more affordable than the Norwegian ones and also the grocery shopping is a bit cheaper in Sweden, as on the Lofoten Islands. Of course, that depends on the current prices. My tip for finding the best flights is Skyscanner. The site is fairly easy to understand and gives you the rare option of specifying a full month as the travel period. So you have the opportunity to select the cheapest days for arrival and departure.
Travel itinerary – Our itinerary and accomodations at Lofoten Islands
Arrival – The first 2 days we needed for the journey to reach the Lofoten Islands. On May 12, we landed after a 2 1/2 hour flight from Helsinki, at 13:10 in Kittila. From Kittila it is not far to the Swedish border. After about 5 1/2 hours drive we arrived in Abisko, Sweden. The road conditions in Finnish and Swedish Lapland are very good and surrounded by dense forest. From time to time even reindeer ran across the street. In Abisko we stayed at the youth hostel Abisko Turiststation STF. It was a basic place to stay but as it was four of us we had a nice room to ourselves. The kitchen was big, clean and well equipped, so we were able to cook something in the evening. We were satisfied. We chose this stop because it was realistic to reach the location after the flight and it was located approximately in the middle between Kittila and our first accommodation on the Lofoten Islands.
The next day we went straight on route to Norway. As we approached the Norwegian border, it began to become mountainous and nature became more and more impressive. Our first accommodation was at the beginning of the island Vestvågøy on the Lofoten Islands. On the way there we have already seen incredibly beautiful places, so that our excitement and anticipation of the next few days increased enormously. After about 4 1/2 hours drive we reached our little cottage in Vestvågøy on the Lofoten Islands. Nestled in the middle of nature, our accommodation was right opposite a lake. We found the offer on AirBnb and we were very satisfied. We have decided to choose two different accommodations during our time on the Lofoten Islands. This gave us the opportunity to make excursions from two different starting points and to take a closer look at the respective surroundings. In Vestvågøy we spent a total of 2 nights.
Change of accomodation – On the fourth day of our Lofoten adventure we left our beautiful accommodation in Vestvågøy and we went even deeper into the Lofoten Islands. Of course, we used the path for further stops. The landscape changed from increasingly flat tundra to steep and spectacular rock formations. Our second accommodation was in the small village named Å i Lofoten. This place is the last place on the Lofoten Islands and so to speak a “dead end.” The place is really great and offers great, converted and modernized Rorbuer on the waterfront (traditional Norwegian fisherman’s houses) .The place is about 15 minutes behind Reine. However, Å is a lot cheaper and was therefore more suitable for us for accommodation. We found our Rorbuer on Booking and it was absolutely great. I would recommend it to anyone, even on cold days it was very warm and comfortable in the house. We stayed 3 nights.
Way back– On the seventh day we went from Å back to Kiruna, Sweden. The 500 km took a total of 7 1/2 hours. While the first half of the way looked incredibly varied and spectacular – yes the Lofoten Islands looked so different from the “other” side and we were once again fascinated! We were literally stuck to the window. The last 4 1/2 hours drive was really exhausting and in addition we were completely overwhelmed by the last days and the collected impressions of the Lofoten Islands. We found our accomodation on booking. From Kiruna it is only 285 km which took us just under 4 hours. Then I flew from Kittila via Helsinki back to Frankfurt am Main.
Expenses – How expensive are the Lofoten Islands?
The route we chose should definitely not to be underestimated because a lot of time is spent in the car. In our case however it definitely has paid off from a cost point of view. Due to the flights via Helsinki, Finland from Frankfurt I only had to change planes once. In addition to that they were approximately € 100 cheaper than the flights via Norway or Sweden. The rental car in Finland was more than € 150 cheaper than in Norway and since we were four people, fuel and accommodations were divided and more affordable. The possibility to go grocery shopping in Sweden certainly saved us some money, too. In addition there are € 9.20 road tolls in Norway. In the end, we spent a total amount of 565 € per person for one week.
€ 136 return flight from FRA to HEL
€ 114 return flight from HEL to KTT
€ 225 accomodation and rental car
€ 90 for food, road tolls and gas
In my opinion the price is absolutely fine for a week in Norway. Of course we have chosen fairly cheap accommodation and meals. We also never went out for dinner. To be honest, I didn’t even see that many restaurants. Also both cottages were very well equipped, so we could easily cook without any problems. In case you haven’t figured that out yet it should be mentioned that obviously the nature is the “attraction” on the Lofoten Islands and you actually don’t need to spent further money for e.g. admissions. In my opinion, the way we chose has paid off a 100% and I would do it over and over again if it costs so much less. Of course, there are no limitations to the prices for accomodation on the Lofoten Islands and there are incredibly beautiful Rorbuers with huge panoramic windows. However, by researching and a trip before or after and not in midsummer you will also find cheaper but beautiful accommodations. Besides, once there you’re usually out and about anyway :).
Highlights – What to do on the Lofoten Islands?
Day Trip 1 : Starting point Vestvågøy: Rørvikstranda – Henningsvaer – Svolvaer – Haucklandstranda – Uttakleivstranda
Once we finally arrived on the Lofoten Islands we went on a journey of discovery full of anticipation. First stop was the beautiful Rørvikstranda. On our way to our accomodation the day before we had already went past this beautiful beach and we knew we had to return. The weather was absolutely amazing in the morning and once in a while it was even possible to walk around in a T-shirt.
Afterwards we went on to the little fishing village Henningsvaer. On our way there unfortunately the weather changed a little. However, the place was still very nice and definitely worth a visit. Some of you may already know Henningsvaer from Instagram – at the end of the village is a soccer field in the middle of the small island. The village Svolvaer just a few km further is also very nice to wander through. The harbor is perfect for photos because the reflections of the red and yellow houses and the countless boats in the water are very fascinating. To sum it up the little villages on the Lofoten Islands are worth a visit no matter the weather condition.
Luckily the sun showed again because Haukland Beach and Uttakleivbeach were on the agenda. Both beaches are very nice, but extremely different. The two beaches are connected by a tunnel, so it is possible to drive to both beaches by car. There is also a very pleasant hiking trail that connects the two beaches. The journey takes about 45 minutes and I would definitely recommend the trail to anyone. It is really easy to tackle and doesn’t take up too much time. In addition it offers incredible views of the beaches and when you are lucky you can spot a few sheep. If it is nice and warm, the moss along the trail is perfect for a nap ;). In the evening we were surprised with a magical sunset at 22:30 clock. The first day on the Lofoten Islands were better than I could have ever dreamt off.
Day Trip 2 – Nusfjord, Leknes, Rambergstranda, Fredvang, Kvalvika Bay, Hamnøy, Reine, Å
On our fourth day on the Lofoten Islands we left our beautiful accommodation in Vestvågøy and went even deeper into the Lofoten Islands. Of course, we used the way for further stops. Leknes is one of the largest places on the Lofoten Islands. Leknes is also a good spot if you need to make further grocery purchases. It even has a small shopping mall. Approximately 20 minutes past Leknes there is a road which leads to the small town of Nusfjord. A beautiful little fishing village, even just the way down to the village is worthwhile.
After our little detour to Nusfjord we went to hike to Kvalvika Bay. On our way there we passed Ramberg Beach by car. This beach really left us speechless… I would have never expected such an incredibly beautiful white sand beach with Caribbean water conditions in the far north. Shortly before the little village Fredvang you will drive over a long bridge, which is also an ideal photo spot.
About 3 minutes past Fredvang is the starting point of the Kvalvika Beach Trail Head. There is a small parking lot from which you can start the approx. 50 minute hike. The hike is one of the easier hikes on the Lofoten Islands but the trails are not comparable to hiking trails in Switzerland or Austria. At first you walk uphill over narrow wooden beams, later you have to climb over rocks. Sturdy footwear is definitely important because it can be quite slippery. Once at the top, you can expect a spectacular view of the bay and the beach. To get to the beach however, you will have to walk the same altitude back down.
The view was so beautiful and the weather got better again, so we decided to climb the neighboring mountain Ryten (543m). The path from Kvalvika Bay to Ryten is very steep at first. The second half will be easier and will reward you with incredible views over the Lofoten Islands. Once you reached the top, you will find one of the infamous photo spots of the Lofoten Islands. Sitting on the rock was a feeling I’ll never forget – incredible! At this point it should be mentioned that the rock looks more dangerous than it really is.
Since two of us decided to hike back to the car instead of mount Ryten, we had the opportunity to chose another way down and therefore we climbed down the other side of Mount Ryten. This time we went past the left side of the small lake towards Fredvang beach.
The finish point for us was the Ryten Trail Head in Fredvang. In my opinion, this way is easier to handle than the one from Kvalvika Beach to Ryten. The path is not as steep and you have more time to cope with the altitude. Also you get awarded with changing views all the time… Just amazing! Overall, both hikes took us 4 1/2 hours. Once we finished our hike we drove to Å. On our way there we passed Hamnøy and Reine. These two places are definitely a photographer’s paradise and therefore very popular spots.
After two incredible days on the Lofoten Islands with countless impressions we arrived in Å. The place is bigger than we thought and very idyllic. Unfortunately, the weather changed and it got quite cloudy, windy and cold. Therefore, during the next days we only went on small trips and enjoyed the atmosphere. Especially in the evening the lighting conditions got spectacular. In this case, pictures say more than 1000 words.
There are countless hikes on the Lofoten Islands and as soon as the weather cooperates and it is safe you should absoultely try to climb as many mountains as you can. I’m sure every hike on the Lofoten Islands will be unforgettable. My recommendation for hikes is the page http://www.68north.com/.
Weather – How are the weather conditions on the Lofoten Islands in May?
If you decide for a trip to the Lofoten Islands in May you will have to expect any weather. If it’s raining in the morning that doesn’t mean the sun won’t shine at noon. The weather on the Lofoten Islands can change every hour and you should be prepared for everything. During a trip in May I would recommend a solid accommodation rather than a tend. This gives you the opportunity in case the weather is really bad to get warm again and read a good book. When we were there in May 2018 we had 4 good days and 4 rather rainy and windy days. With a little luck, the sun will break through the rain clouds at sunset and you still have great photo opportunities. On the good days we had about 11 degrees however it felt much warmer in the sun. Of course you can not expect perfect weather every day in May, but you can’t do that in Norway or Scandinavia anyways, can you? I would always go back to Lofoten Islands in May.