At long last – the second part to the recap of our trip to Norway. After a magnificent weekend in Oslo, we headed north. And when I say north, I mean really north.
When I was telling people where we were going, I had a map ready to show people where we would be.
Yeah, really far away.
The next question was, “Why are you going all the way there?” Well, here’s why…
The incredible scenery started as early as the flight in. The views on our little commuter flight of maybe 25 people were absolutely incredible.
The biggest appeal of Lofoten was all the hiking and outdoor adventures. These small islands feature hikes at pretty much every turn that offer some of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen. We were almost overwhelmed with which hikes we should do. We used a great blog as a resource, 68 North, which has a detailed write up for what has to be every known hike. It has pictures of the views, maps, and detailed directions to follow while hiking.
The biggest thing to know about hiking in Lofoten is the scale and intensity. 68 North rates hikes easy, moderate, or difficult. I would hardly define any hike we did as “easy” as everything involves a pretty steep climb. It turns out “easy” by Norwegian standards means there’s minimal scrambling and it’s not super dangerous.
Here are the hikes that we selected:
547 m elevation, 2.25 km distance
This was the first hike we did after arrival in Lofoten and getting a late lunch. It was right across the bridge from our AirBnb, and we quickly discovered that the midnight sun is very much a real thing. We started the hike at 7pm and had no worry about losing daylight the whole time. It was also a great intro to the hikes on the islands – our resource labeled it as “easy” and we were pretty surprised at some of the steeper sections. But the view from the top and all along the way also gave us a good idea at the scenery we would be treated to all week long.
738 m elevation, 6 km distance
This was one of the longest hikes we did, but one of my favorites. The view consistently changed the whole climb up.
After multiple false summits, the clouds cleared right as we made it to the summit for one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever laid eyes on.
200 m elevation, 2 km distance
This popular hike was right down the street from our AirBnb, so we added some distance on by walking down the road to the trailhead. A mellow (by Norwegian standards) climb up to the saddle lead to a gorgeous Game-of-Thrones-esque beach scene on the other side. And a rocky scramble.
This hike is arguably one of the most famous, offering an overhead view of Reine that has turned into the shot you need for Instagram proof of your Lofoten visit. However, the morning we were set to do this hike, our Air BnB hosts assured us that this hike’s “hard” rating is well-earned. They told us that basically foolish tourists are the only ones that do that hike, as locals know how truly dangerous it is. It is steep and rocky, with tons of loose rocks that can cascade downhill to unlucky hikers below. Caitlin and I decided it was not worth it.
At dinner a few nights later, we were talking with a couple who had just arrived in town and completed it as their first Lofoten hike. They said it was hard, but were surprised when we told them our hosts’ cautions. It was a little hard to gauge though, as they hadn’t done any other hikes on the island.
400 m elevation, 1.75 km distance
After veto’ing Reinebringen, we thought we were keeping it mellow by deciding on this hike. Though short, there was quite a surprising climb! And it ended up being one of our favorites.
The 360-degree view pretty much the whole way was absolutely spectacular!
797 m elevation, 5.5 km distance
This trail has the potential to be quite long and include an overnight. We did the shorter version. While obviously beautiful, as any view in Lofoten is, it wasn’t necessarily our favorite.
I think the best part was having to scramble some and use built-in chains to the rock slabs to help the climb.
Other than hiking, we knew we wanted to do two other activities: sea kayaking and a boat tour through the fjords. We found a kayak trip out of Reine during golden hour. Or as close to that as you can get with midnight sun. Paddling around the island through the teal waters in golden light, getting a different vantage point of the views we’d lived with for days, was spectacular.
We made our way back to Svolvær to take a boat tour with Wild Seas through Trollfjord. The only wildlife we really saw were birds, but the views were so amazing.
And the only thing that competes with the feeling of the air blowing through your hair out on the open water is the sound of Caitlin Marx singing the theme song to Free Willy in your ear.
We kind of stumbled across this amazing little town when we decided to stop on our way back south from our boat tour. The town itself is incredibly quaint and scenic, and also serves as a hub for kayak tours, hikes, and beautiful beaches.
The E10, the highway that runs through all the islands, deadends in Å, a town that makes you feel like you’re strolling through a cross of the Northeast and Ireland.
Haukland Beach serves as the launching pad for Mannen.
After hiking the ridge above, we got to have as close to a traditional beach day as either of us could have hoped to have in Norway: we sat with our feet in the sand, watching people play beach volleyball, surrounded by hikers and campers.
We didn’t really get to explore this town, but we got tons of scenic views. It’s a hub in the center of the islands, full of art galleries and outdoors tours.
I highly recommend renting a car! Not only did we hear that the bus schedule is not super reliable, but driving around the islands was absolutely gorgeous and a real pleasure.
Get ready to eat all the fish! Most of our meals out were fish-based, including fresh, rich, and creamy fish soup.
We discovered this Lofoten gem on day 1 and ate there probably 5 times during the week. The fish soup and smoked salmon sandwiches were the perfect meal at any and all times.
Definitely add this gem to your culinary bucket list! The atmosphere is perfect, and the food is absolutely delicious. The most memorable part of our meal is our adventurous appetizer choice: whale. I will say that I’m a big believer in trying local delicacies when traveling, and Scandinavia is pretty much the only place in the world I would try this. I was shocked with how delicious it was!
Gammelbua is an adorable lodge-esque restaurant in the heart of Reine. We tried another unusual (to us at least) appetizer dish: cod tongue. Fried and sprinkled with herbs… yum!
Without a doubt this was one of the most amazing trips ever! City and outdoors adventures. Mountains and ocean. Restful and active. Good food, great company. It had everything!
Want more Lofoten? Check out my Instagram Stories from the trip!