Lofoten: Nordic Paradise for Outdoor Adventures

Just when most people in Europe head south during the summer months I travelled north to the Lofoten islands. In search of the great outdoors, sunlight, fjords, hikes and kayaking.

Did you know there is a place above the Arctic circle where you can go on all kinds of outdoor adventures with warm weather and endless sunshine? Probably not, right?

While most people would expect (not entirely without reason) that the Northernmost parts of Scandinavia remain cold and a bit rainy during the summer. There is an archipelago of islands in Northern Norway, called Lofoten that is not quite like any other place with this latitude (68 Degrees north for those of you wondering!).

This geolocation makes the Lofoten Archipelago special for two main reasons. First of all, incredibly warm temperatures during the summer thanks to a strange phenomenon that makes the convergence of the Gulf Stream with two other currents. On the other hand, the extended levels of sunlight which literally means that the sun NEVER sets.  So, there’s no reason to worry about darkness spoiling your outdoor adventures!

Lofoten Islands - Norway Map

The many islands that make up the Lofoten Archipelago have all one thing in common. A dramatic landscape, characterised by white sand beaches, towering mountain peaks, breathtaking fjords and turquoise waters. All of which makes this place the perfect summer destination for those seeking outdoor adventures and friluftsliv. Here are some of the best outdoor activities you can expect when visiting this Nordic paradise in the summer.

1. Kayaking in Arctic waters exploring the fjords

I am not going to lie, this was was of the main reasons I was drawn to Lofoten. And it was beyond worth the effort to get there. Honestly, paddling in the midnight sun in the Norwegian fjords was one of the things I wanted to do since I started taking this sport more seriously.

Kayaking midnightsun lofoten norway

If bringing your equipment isn’t an option, you can easily rent it at reineadventure in Reinefjord. There are levels for everyone, and you can either go on guided tours or rent it individually (You will need to show a certificate though, Norwegians like their safety).

Kayaking in Reinefjord lofoten norway

2. Midnight sun hiking

There are many incredible hiking trails for any level in Lofoten. However, I highly recommend doing the Kvalvika Beach trail because the scenery is from another world.

Hiking Kvalvika Lofoten Norway.jpg

The trail starts from Fredvang in the island of Moskenesøya and lasts about 2.5 hours until you descend to the beach. Another option is to do the Reinebringen trail which is far shorter but more challenging, it takes about 3 hours but you will be rewarded with amazing views afterwards.

Kvalvika Beach Lofoten Norway.jpg

3. Wild camping with a driftwood fire

In Norway, (and the rest of Scandinavia and Iceland too) you are allowed to roam, make a fire, forage and wild camp with very few restrictions. It is something Norwegians refer to as Allemannsrett. Although this is very common in the summer, you should be aware that camping on cultivated land isn’t permitted. Also, you are required to move after a couple of days, other than that you are good to go.

Wild Camping in Lofoten Norway

I headed to Bunes Beach taking a ferryboat from Reine towards the small village of Vindstad. This beach is very isolated, perfect for setting up camp and the hike is very mild, it only takes about 3 hours both ways. Make sure to bring everything you need with you, as there’s nowhere to buy supplies in Vindstad.

Bunes Beach Lofoten Norway.jpg

5. Swim in cold waters then relax in a hot tub

If there was one time I embraced the Scandinavian concept of friluftsliv was when I swam in the freezing cold sea in Lofoten. Actually, it was more of quick dip followed by a few screams, but I have to say I felt great and would do it again. A great place to combine a surf sesh and a hot tub is at UnstadSurfing which offers both cabins and board rentals.

Beach Lofoten Norway.jpg

6. See the white-tailed sea eagles hunting

Jump on a ferry boat excursion towards Trollfjord to get the best chances of spotting the white-tailed sea eagles diving for fish. There are a few companies that you can choose from to do this.

white-tale sea eagle lofoten Norway
Foto credit: Getty

7. Go fishing and learn more about Lofoten’s fishing community

Lofoten was basically shaped by the fishing culture since the Viking age until the modern days of the big fishing industry. You can learn more about facts such as the Arctic cod going to the islands once a year to spawn during the winter and many other interesting things in the Fishing Village Museum

Fishing Community Lofoten Norway.jpg

8. Cycle between fishing villages and discover Lofotr the largest Viking longhouse ever found

Lofotr Viking Museum Lofoten Norway.jpg

Cycling is a great option to explore your surroundings and some places offer rentals. Also, if you are thinking about going to Lofoten you should definitely try to stop by Lofotr the largest ever found Viking house which was reconstructed into a museum. Every year in August there is a Viking festival with many cool activities.

Wood carvings Lofotr viking museum Norway.jpg

Best time to go to Lofoten? Late Summer in August when the biggest crowds of June and July dissipate.

How to get there?  There are few options depending on the budget and time you have got. You can either fly to the small Airport in Svolvær or take the ferry across from Bodø or drive (3h 30 min) from Narvik.

Where to stay? It can get fully booked very fast during the summer, so try to book at least 4 months in advance. I can recommend staying at a nice b&b called Catogården in Reine which is run by lovely Runhild.

Cabin rorbu Lofoten Norway

Kayaking in Fjord Lofoten Norway

Other things you should know:

  • There are tons of flies, especially in Reine Fjord where there’s plenty of stockfish. Also, bring mosquito repellent.
  • Sometimes the weather is fickle. Pack waterproof and warm clothing and a wetsuit if you want to “swim” in the sea.
  • For more detailed information about the Norwegian outdoors, trails and routes for hiking check out your new best friend the DNT Norwegian Trekking Association.
  • Food and alcohol: are very expensive and if you are vegetarian like me it is a real struggle, as it is very hard to find vegetarian/vegan options. Most popular foods tend to be any kind of fish and whale steak. Not cool, tell me about it!

I hope my suggestions for this Nordic paradise have inspired you to go exploring, reconnecting with nature and embracing the great outdoors like Scandinavians (and in particular Norwegians) like to do. Let me know in the comments section what your favourite outdoor activity is.

Happy exploring!