The Lofoten Islands: Paradise in the Arctic

This post was last updated on February 21st, 2017

A Guide To The Lofoten Islands


The Arctic Circle is known for many things, namely Santa Claus, the Northern Lights, long summer days and endless winter nights. But sitting 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle also lies a surprising island paradise and one of Norway’s most scenic destinations: the Lofoten Islands.

The Lofoten Islands are harsh and dramatic, with tumultuous weather conditions and craggy mountaintops that tower above icy water. But despite the archipelago’s rugged nature, there are also plenty of charming details, such as the traditional stark-red fisherman cabins, the rows of codfish hanging out to dry, and the boats that slowly sail through the fjords to deliver mail to the area’s unlikely inhabitants.


The Lofoten Islands: Paradise in the Arctic - Delivering the Mail in Lofoten


We only had one day of good weather during our visit to Lofoten, but that was all it took for us to fall in love with it. Have a glimpse at this spectacular collection of islands and see why:

The Lofoten Islands: Paradise in the Arctic


The Lofoten Islands: Paradise Above the Arctic - Norway

The Lofoten Islands: Paradise Above the Arctic - Reine, Lofoten Islands Norway

The Lofoten Islands: Paradise Above the Arctic - Hanging Cod Fish

Fishing Lofoten Islands

The Lofoten Islands: Paradise Above the Arctic - Fishing in Lofoten Islands

Houses in the Lofoten Islands

The Lofoten Islands: Paradise Above the Arctic - House in Lofoten Islands

The Lofoten Islands: Paradise Above the Arctic - Fishing in Lofoten Islands


A Few Travel Tips For Visiting The Lofoten Islands


Sleep in a traditional fisherman cabin

Rorbuer are the traditional red fisherman cabins that dot the islands. Typically you’ll find them in groups, with one end firmly planted on land, the other end suspended by polls in the water. Some of the rorbuer are still used by fisherman in Lofoten, though now they are primarily used to rent out to tourists.


The Lofoten Islands: Paradise Above the Arctic - Eliassen Rorbuer Cabins Lofoten Islands

Houses in Lofoten Islands


Eliassen Rorbuer is the oldest fishermen cabin village in Lofoten, located on the teeny tiny island of Hamnøy. This is where we stayed in Lofoten, and we could not have imagined a more ideal place to base ourselves. Though the cabins are still named after the original fishermen that used to call them home, the rorbuer have all been renovated, combining old-world charm with modern amenities. It was just the two of us, but our cabin had ample space with: two bedrooms, a loft, a fully equipped kitchen, a large bathroom with heated floor and a comfortable living area.


The Lofoten Islands: Paradise Above the Arctic - Norway


Eliassen Rorbuer is just a fifteen-minute bike ride from Reine, said to be one of the ‘most beautiful places in the world’. But Hamnøy itself is a magnet for photographers, and one of the reasons why we chose Eliassen Rorbuer in the first place. Even with the horrible weather, we enjoyed a few nights of cooking dinner, drinking wine, and enjoying the majestic views of the surrounding sea, mountains and Reinefjord from inside our warm cabin. We might have even caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights from the couch one night, as both of us noticed a green haze extending out from the horizon.

Eliassen Rorbuer isn’t a hotel—it’s a cabin, and as is typical of renting cabins in Scandinavia, you are expected to pay extra for bed linens, tidy up after yourself when you leave, etc. However, the manager is extremely helpful and able to answer any questions about Lofoten or the cabins you might have. Kayaks are available free of use, or you can also arrange bike rentals, fishing boat rentals and other tours.


Rent a car

The E10 highway connects the Lofoten Islands. Though it is possible to use bus transport to get from place to place along the route, having your own car will make a world of a difference. One of the best things to do in Lofoten is just drive around the islands, stopping to take photos as you please (which is about every five seconds, if you’re us). Eliassen Rorbuer has free parking for guests, and with a car it is just moments from some of the best hiking, climbing, and cycling on the islands. Unfortunately we didn’t have our own vehicle, but we did befriend a wonderful couple also staying at Eliassen Rorbuer that offered to shuttle us around the islands with them. The difference in the freedom and flexibility we had driving with them versus taking the bus was astronomical.


The Lofoten Islands: Paradise Above the Arctic - Lofoten Islands Norway


Visit Reine

Reine is as picture-perfect as small Norwegian fishing villages come. We walked to Reine, we cycled to Reine, we drank coffee in Reine…we even took a short boat ride through the Reinefjord. Being so conveniently located just south of Hamnøy, we found ourselves returning to this quaint and colorful town again and again. If we’d had better weather, we also would have indulged in the nearby hiking, kayaking and beach going.


The Lofoten Islands: Paradise Above the Arctic - Norway


Pray for good weather

Lofoten has amazing opportunities for surfing, climbing, hiking, fishing, scuba diving, kayaking and cycling. Basically, if you enjoy active travel in spectacular places, you can’t go wrong. In one sense we were a bit grateful for the thunderstorms and wind during our stay as it enforced us to hibernate in our cozy abode and get a bit of work done. But to really get the most out of Lofoten, you need clear skies.

A Cruising Couple Lofoten Islands


We’ve already claimed that Norway is the most beautiful country we’ve ever visited. And if we have to choose one place in Norway that takes 1st for jaw-dropping scenery, it’s easily the Lofoten Islands. We don’t think there’s anywhere else on Earth quite like it.


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the lofoten islands bucket list worth adventures


Had you heard of the Lofoten Islands before? Have you ever been? Want to go now? As always, we appreciate all thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!

We were guests of Eliassen Rorbuer. All thoughts and opinions are— as always—our own.



  1. The Lofoten Islands are by far the most beautiful region I have been to. Exactly a year ago now, I was exploring the islands by bicycle. Best time of my life!
    Bram recently posted…Memorial Day at Saint-GaudensMy Profile

    • I can’t even imagine how amazing it must have been to explore them via bicycle! We tried to cycle one day, but the wind was just too rough for us. We hope to return one year over the summer though so we can do more climbing/cycling/hiking. The scenery is just unbelievable!

    • Thanks Rob! Definitely worth making an extra effort to visit :)

    • Thanks Franca! The fisherman cabins were the best- so quaint, and they really added to the overall vibe and characteristics of the islands!

    • Haha we are SO ready to sweat. We’re still in boots and scarves, which is not typical for us at all!

  2. This post makes me feel a little bit colder now :). China’s been way too hot these days. Great adventure I must admit and the scenery’s so breath-taking. I would definitely rent a car to visit Eliassen Rorbuer. How expensive is this place? Would it be possible to do couchsurfing there?
    Agness recently posted…5 Things I Loved About Being Disabled In ChinaMy Profile

    • Thank you Agness! Car is definitely one of the best ways to go exploring. Eliassen Rorbuer actually isn’t that expensive, especially for Norway. If you bring a lot of friends to fill the cabins up to maximum capacity, it’s really one of the most affordable options! :)

  3. Beautiful! It reminds me of Iceland which is one of my favourite countries. I am a little bit crazy about Islands (my travel blog is partly devoted to them!) and I will definitely add these gems to my Island bucket list (Yes I actually have a bucket list for Islands) :)
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted…Twenty days out that will make you LOVE AucklandMy Profile

    • That is SO awesome that you have an island bucket list! Lofoten has to be on them, then :) We really want to go to Iceland. Hopefully on our next trip to Europe!

  4. Casey, Um. Yes, please. How did you get there, by ferry or air? It would have been wonderful to have a fireplace…but then you might not have ever left, right? It looks gorgeous!

    • Oooo a fireplace would have been just dreamy! We took buses and ferries, which was a really nice way to experience the scenery. The train from Kiruna, Sweden, to Narvik, Norway is just gorgeous, and then from there the bus ride to Lofoten just gets better and better :)

    • It’s definitely not the easiest of destinations to get to but totally worth the extra effort! :-)

  5. Beautiful pictures. We’ll be passing through the Lofoten Islands in a few days time so I’m excited to see them for myself. I sooo hope we get the weather!
    Kirsty recently posted…Cuban Icons | A Photo EssayMy Profile

    • I can’t wait to hear about your experience!! Best of luck with the weather ;-)

  6. Couldn’t agree more. The Lofoten Islands are stunning. We recently spent 5 days with our friend Trgve who lives in Henningsvaer in the Lofoten Islands. Our first day of exploring the islands was fine and sunny. The other days not so fine but was good to experience the moody cloudy atmosphere over the fishing villages.
    Cheers, Elwynn and Gavin

    • We had the same experience with the weather as well. Luckily we got to snap a couple of photos before the clouds and rain set in. It is nice to experience both sides though. The Lofotens definitely have a special mood in the wind and fog.

  7. This is a GREAT post. I love that you didn’t just sling a pile of photos up with brief descriptions. It’s a *real* travel post with useful information for your readers, and I’m sure they appreciate that.
    Jennifer recently posted…Five Tips for Vacation Home Rentals During the SummerMy Profile

    • Thanks Jennifer! The Lofoten Islands are so beautiful it would be easy to do a whole post full of photos, but then you wouldn’t know how to get there and see it for yourself ;-)

    • Thanks! We loved Norway! Particularly hiking Pulpit Rock and driving through Fjordland, but the magic feeling of the Lofoten Islands is worth a trip on it’s own :-)

    • It was really special to be able to stay in a traditional cabin and really get a feel for what life must be like for the fisherman there.

    • I’ve never been to Newfoundland but it has that raw Alaska wilderness feeling to it for sure!

    • Aren’t the cabins so cool! And it’s not just one or two, but all the houses are built in this style. Loved it! :-)

  8. Our parents just returned from Norway. Pretty sure they didn’t make it this far north, though. They surely would have told us if they did. Loving these photos, guys.
    Gran Canaria Local recently posted…Fermin RomeroMy Profile

    • Lofoten is pretty far up there. Do you know where they did venture to? Norway is spectacular all over so you really can’t go wrong :-)

    • Thanks Mary. I can’t wait to hear about your trip to Norway!! I’m sure you’ll have a blast :-)

    • We had heard all the stories so when the weather was good we took full advantage of it :-) The fisherman’s cabin is such a special touch too!

  9. We have of course heard of it, since we live in Norway :P And we’ve seen lots of photos, and heard lots of stories, but we’ve never been there. It’s a shame, but we’re planning to take a road trip around in our own country, hopefully not too far in the future :) But there’s so much to see around in the world…
    Looks like you had an awesome trip, and you got some really pretty shots :)
    We Travel Together recently posted…Ancient MaltaMy Profile

    • We’ve found it’s easy to pass by places in our own country with the excuse that it’s right in our backyard and we can see it anytime :-p We did a road trip around the states for our honeymoon before moving abroad and it was a great way to learn about the US before setting off to explore the rest of the world. But you’re totally right, there’s sooo much to see :-)



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