Planning the perfect Lofoten itinerary is a pure joy and an incredible addition to any trip to Norway. Far beyond the Arctic Circle, high up on the wild Norwegian coast, lies the island archipelago of Lofoten.
Majestic mountains pierce the skyline, plunging down onto white sand beaches, hiking trails weave through untamed wilderness, quaint fishing villages dot the coastline and a fascinating history full of Viking tales unfold.
Whether you plan on visiting during the summer or the polar winter, use this Lofoten Islands itinerary to make the most out of your 3, 4 or 5 days in the Lofoten Islands.
How Many Days in the Lofoten Islands?
7 primary islands make up the archipelago, and unlimited activities to take part in, so deciding how many days to spend in the Lofoten Islands can be a challenge. Because of how remote it is, it can also take up an entire day just to travel there, so bear this in mind when booking time off work and planning out your greater Norway itinerary.
With 3 days in the Lofoten Islands, you will be able to explore the two largest villages, Svolvær and Henningsvær — the latter of which has become recognised worldwide for its football pitch on social media.
You will also have time to head out on the water to explore the fjords and at least one hike to experience some of the incredible views. There is also just enough time to squeeze in one of Lofoten’s jaw-dropping, pristine beaches and go horse riding on day 3.
If you can spare another day to spend 4 days in the Lofoten Islands, you’ll also be able to visit the iconic Viking Museum and ride on one of the traditional wooden longboats. After delving into the island’s Viking history, we then head over to the Lonely Planet’s ‘Best Beach in Europe’ and hike up above it into the mountains.
This cluster of islands off the Norwegian coast is one of the most beautiful places in the world, so ideally, you will want to spend as much time here as possible. With 5 days in the Lofoten Islands, you’ll have time to head down to the southern tip, exploring the town of Reine and the old fishing village at the very end of the archipelago, Å.
There is plenty to do on this side of the archipelago, including some of Lofoten’s best hikes, kayaking, galleries and museums.
Getting To & Around the Lofoten Islands
Take a look at a map of Norway and you will instantly see how remote the Lofoten islands really are. Reaching them is not as tricky as it may seem at first but it may take an entire day of travel, depending on where you are arriving from.
The most efficient way to get to the Lofoten Islands is by plane. The most popular route is to fly into the major airports in Bodø or Harstad/Narvik Airport. From there, during the summer, you can take a connecting flight to a much smaller domestic airport on Lofoten.
There is one in Leknes and another in Svolvaer. If you are travelling outside of the summer or plan on hiring a car anyway, the quickest and most dependable way to travel is to pick up your car from Bodø or Harstad/Narvik then drive across to Lofoten either via the ferry or the bridge.
If you’re coming from another place in Northern Norway, like Tromsø, you can also drive across the bridge to the Lofoten archipelago and avoid the ferry altogether. If you need to rent a car for your trip, you can browse Rentalcars.com to compare prices of major companies.
If you fly into Bodø, you will take the ferry across to Lofoten. This is a 3.5-hour crossing that can get rough and wild in bad weather. So, if you are prone to seasickness, consider flying into Harstad/Narvik and driving across the bridge instead. The ferry does sell out in advance during the peak tourist months, so make sure to book ahead if you opt for this route.
There are no train stations anywhere near Lofoten. The nearest railway is in Bodø. From here, you would need to hire a car to take the ferry. It can be a more affordable option than air travel if you are visiting from Oslo or Trondheim, but you will still need to hire a car so a road trip in Norway is unavoidable.
Whether you are bringing your own car or picking up a hire from the airport, getting around the Lofoten Islands is best done on four wheels. There are buses that link the islands but they are unreliable and during the winter, some only run once or twice a day.
There are hundreds of hiking trails to get around on, including ‘The Long Crossing’ which traverses the Lofoten Islands. It is around 160 km, depending on added diversions and takes roughly 11 days so it’s definitely one of the longest hikes in Lofoten. If you are visiting during summer and want to ditch the motor, this is a truly epic adventure.
3, 4 or 5 Days in the Lofoten Islands Itinerary
Now you know how to get there, it’s time to dive into our Lofoten Islands itinerary. To really make the most out of your time, this schedule is packed to the brim. Full of hikes, cultural centres, beautiful beaches and unique places to visit.
Because the islands are connected by bridges and driving times are relatively short between destinations, you could easily mix and match this itinerary to suit your plans whether you have 3 or 5 days to explore Lofoten.
Day 1 – Svolvær, Trollfjord & Northern Lights
Svolvær is the ‘capital’ of the Lofoten Islands. It is the largest settlement in the archipelago, so it makes sense to begin our Lofoten road trip here. Nestled between soaring mountains and a serene harbour, this charismatic town is home to a rainbow of fishermen’s cabins lining the waterfront.
Spend the morning strolling around the town. There are several galleries and artisan boutiques as well as a church, an ice bar and an aquarium to explore.
Svolvær is often referred to as the adventure hub of Lofoten. There are several options for day trips from the town, but the most popular is the Trollfjord cruise. Trollfjord, or “Trollfjorden” in Norwegian, is a narrow fjord known for its dramatic sheer cliffs.
The main attraction of Trollfjord cruises is, of course, the breathtaking scenery. As you sail through the narrow fjord, you’ll be surrounded by towering, nearly vertical cliffs that rise dramatically from the water. The fjord is often shrouded in mist and fog, adding to its mystical allure.
There are several vessels to choose from: large cruise ships, fishing boats and much smaller ribs. There is also a silent, electric boat tour so you can hear the sound of the lashing waves and the call of seabirds without a boat engine in the background.
The Trollfjord cruise can also become part of a longer trip out on the sea. Whale watching and fishing are popular day trips from Svolvær. You can see whales from October to January, but if you are visiting over the summer, don’t worry, there are plenty of other animals to spot and wildlife tours to join, such as seals and otters. You can also take this cruise that focuses on sea eagles
Lofoten is one of the best places in Europe to go hiking. Towering mountains, pristine white beaches and quaint fishing villages often rolled into one hike. There are hundreds of trails to choose from, but one of the most popular hikes is Svolværgeita or “The Svolvær Goat,” which refers to a pair of distinctive rock peaks that resemble the horns of a goat.
From young adventurers to active seniors, the first peak of Tjeldbergtind is easily accessible, and the path is well signposted from Svolvær town. From this plateau, you will be treated to the most incredible views, not only over Svolvær but across to Vestfjord, the high peaks of Svolværgeitathe and Fløyen. This hike is 2 hours out and back with 360m of elevation.
Beyond this viewpoint, climbers don their helmets and harnesses to tackle the vertical peaks above. If you are not an experienced climber but still want to scale the ‘horns’, you can hire equipment and a guide to take you up from Svolvær.
It’s no surprise that the local cuisine in the Lofoten Islands revolves around fish. Everywhere you go, you will see traditional outdoor cod drying racks, also known as hjell. The harsh winds and cold temperatures provide the perfect conditions for drying fish.
The most famous dish, especially in Svolvær, is the grilled stockfish. The perfect golden seer on local cod, served with various vegetables, depending on what is available seasonally. For the best grilled stockfish, head to a restaurant that specialises in fish such as Børsen Spiseri.
Experiencing the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, in the Lofoten Islands is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The dancing wisps of green, blue and purple glide across the sky, putting on a show for anyone lucky enough to witness it. The aurora are most active from September to March, so if you are hoping to spot them during your trip, you’ll want to avoid visiting during the summer months.
There are several nighttime tours available, which usually include boarding a boat or a minibus to chase the Northern Lights to where they are most visible. If you are a camera enthusiast or want to learn more about night photography, you can even join a photographer on a guided tour.
Of course, you don’t have to join a tour to see the Northern Lights. You could wrap up warm and head out to find them yourselves, but doing it this way, you may miss out on some of the hidden spots only the locals know of.
Day 2 – Explore the Lofoten Coastline
Day two, and it’s time to set off on our Lofoten road trip itinerary. Just a 10-minute drive from Svolvær, you’ll find our first stop, Kabelvåg. Kabelvåg is a charming coastal village known for its rich history.
It is one of the oldest fishing villages in Lofoten, with a history of over a thousand years. It was once a centre for the fishing industry, and remnants of its maritime heritage can still be seen in the historic buildings and docks.
One of Kabelvåg’s prominent landmarks is the Lofoten Cathedral, also known as Vågan Church. This Gothic-style church, built in the 19th century, is one of the largest wooden churches in northern Norway and serves as a cultural and historical focal point for the village.
There are a variety of activities on offer in Kabelvåg. You could discover marine wildlife in the aquarium, learn about the history of Norway’s coastal steamer service, known as Hurtigruten, in the museum or visit the art gallery Galleri Espolin.
One of the most popular villages in the Lofoten Archipelago is Henningsvær. Recognised worldwide for its football pitch, surrounded by quaint fishing huts and dramatic mountains. It’s an up-and-coming destination, growing in popularity with new art galleries, artisan producers, cafes and restaurants opening every year.
Located on the southern coast of the island Austvågøya, the village is connected to the mainland by a series of bridges, including the famous “Bridge of Henningsvær”. As you drive across, you are greeted by stunning views of the village, surrounding islands, and the Norwegian Sea.
Like many places in the Lofoten Islands, Henningsvær has a rich fishing heritage. The village was historically a hub for cod fishing, and remnants of its maritime history can still be seen in the fishing cabins, docks, and the lively harbour. You can sample some of the fresh seafood in one of the cafes or restaurants.
One of the best ways to experience the magical Lofoten coastline is by taking to the water. Paddle through crystal-clear waters, tracing the contours of rugged cliffs, hidden coves, and charming fishing villages. Glide beneath dramatic peaks that rise from the Arctic Sea, their reflections creating a mirror-like magic.
Whether you’re a novice or an experienced kayaker, there are several routes to discover around the coastline, from serene fjord explorations to thrilling open-water journeys. Encounter wildlife like seabirds and seals, all while basking in the awe-inspiring beauty of Lofoten’s coastal landscape.
There are several kayak rental shops in Henningsvær where you can pick up a kayak and safety equipment. Some of these offer experienced tour guides who can provide insights into the local environment, history, and geography along the way. You can pre-book some experiences such as this half-day tour or this evening tour.
You can head out on a self-guided tour, but make sure to check the weather forecast and wear appropriate clothing. It can get very cold out on the open water, especially if visiting Lofoten during the winter months.
Henningsvær is also the epicentre for climbing on the Lofoten Islands. If you have a head for heights and want to explore some of the notable climbing spots in the vicinity, you can hire equipment and an experienced guide from the village to help you scale the sheer rock faces.
If you are an experienced climber with your own gear, the most iconic routes in the region include Vågakallen, a prominent peak offering a range of climbing routes with varying levels of difficulty or Presten, an iconic granite tower that attracts climbers from around the world, offering both traditional and sport climbing routes.
Day 3 – Explore Gimsøy
After spending the evening in Henningsvær, we are now heading onto the next island in the archipelago, Gimsøy. Seeing as there is no major settlement on Gimsøy, it can often be overlooked and driven through on the main road heading south, but take the long way around and drive the coastal road to discover hidden gems, incredible views and our next stop, Hov Beach.
Hov Beach is a coastal gem that truly encapsulates the essence of Arctic beauty and it is a must-visit place on any trip to the Lofoten Islands. Its soft, golden sands stretch along the wild Norwegian Sea, framed by dramatic mountains and rolling dunes.
Because it is not on the typical tourist route around Lofoten, it is a much quieter beach than those featured in days 4 & 5, so if you are searching for tranquillity, this is the ideal location.
Horse Riding at Hov Beach
Whilst you could simply stroll along the beach, leaving footprints in the sand, one of the best ways to explore the surroundings is on horseback. Saddle up your Icelandic horse to tolt (the Icelandic version of a trot) through the lapping waves.
Whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or a beginner, Hov Gard Horse Riding Centre has a trek to suit you. Choose from full-day sightseeing treks to shorter beach rides or even Northern Lights tours on horseback.
After riding across the golden sands, you are sure to have built up an appetite. Hov Beach may be off the beaten path, but you don’t have to stray far to find a fantastic restaurant.
Låven Restaurant is housed in a restored barn, offering a cosy and rustic ambience. Savour locally sourced ingredients in dishes that reflect the region’s traditions, including fresh seafood, reindeer, and Arctic herbs.
Perhaps one of the easiest mountain hikes in the Lofoten archipelago, Hoven Mountain rises up 360m from Hov Beach.
Despite the modest elevation and a gentle main trail, the views from the summit are breathtaking. The ascent should take between 1-2 hrs and is accessible no matter what your previous hiking experience. The trail is well-signposted and begins at the golf course.
On a clear day in the summer, you can see across to the islands of Vesterålen in the north. During the winter months, the ascent will most likely be in the dark, but this is a great spot for watching the Northern Lights so make sure to pack a head torch and a picnic blanket.
The trail is well-signposted and begins at the golf course. Of course, if you don’t want to hike, you could always opt to play a round of golf at the world-famous Lofoten Golf Links instead.
Stay in a campervan or tent at Hov
If you are road-tripping in a campervan or travelling with a tent, you can camp at Hov Beach. Hov camping offers incredible views out to the North Sea, with open access to the golden sands and fresh ocean breeze.
They have all the usual facilities, showers, toilets and camper services, along with a wooden sauna you can either book privately or enjoy in a public session.
Day 4 – Viking Museum, Haukland Beach & More!
Lofotr Viking Museum
Another 35 minutes along the E10, the main highway through Lofoten, you will be transported on a captivating journey back in time to the Viking Age.
The Viking Museum is centred around the reconstructed Chieftain’s House, a vast longhouse that showcases authentic Viking architecture and artefacts. With so many immersive experiences and historical insights, the Lofotr Viking Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives and legends of the Norse seafarers who once roamed these rugged shores.
Here, you can travel back in time to experience Viking culture, participating in activities like archery, crafting, and feasting on traditional Viking cuisine such as lamb soup and mead.
The museum also boasts a full-scale replica of the Viking ship Gokstad (from the 800s). Subject to the weather forecast, the museum offers a 30-minute sailing aboard this ship, which is included in your admission price. In the event of bad weather, the ship is moored, but you can still go inside to explore.
Unstad Surf Beach
After returning to the present era, it’s time to head on to one of the most iconic beaches in the Lofoten Islands, Unstad. Here, you will find towering mountains, rolling dunes and, most importantly, the world’s most northern surf school.
Lofoten is renowned for its consistent and powerful waves, making it a top destination for both seasoned surfers and novices. The surf scene at Unstad is well-established, with a surf camp and rental facility catering to all levels.
The chance to ride Arctic waves under the mesmerising Northern Lights or the midnight sun is an adventure like no other.
If you are not interested in plunging into the North Sea and riding the waves, head on to the next beach on our itinerary, Haukland. This beach holds many accolades, and as soon as you arrive, it’s not hard to see why.
It has been voted as Norway’s Best Beach as well as the Lonely Planet’s most stunning beach in the whole of Europe. Haukland, along with the neighbouring bay Uttakleiv, makes up a true Arctic paradise. Powder white sands contrast vividly with the turquoise Norwegian Sea.
Towering peaks and emerald-green hills envelop the beach, creating a breathtaking backdrop whether you want to relax on the beach, walk along the shore or set up a picnic. This area is also popular among hikers, with several routes starting from the beach.
If you want to view this picturesque coastline from above, the best hike is up mountain Mannen.
Rising majestically from the sea, Mannen offers an iconic peak to conquer. The relatively short trail meanders through pristine Arctic landscapes, winding up rugged slopes and moss-covered rocks. It is one of Lofoten’s most popular hikes and is a must-visit spot for photographers. As you ascend, the panoramic views expand, revealing the beauty of the surrounding fjords and dramatic coastal vistas.
The entire hike takes around 2-3 hours and is accessible to anyone who is comfortable with a little elevation (around 400m).
Day 5 – Iconic Lofoten Villages
Day 5 begins with a brief stop-off along the E10 highway. It may look unassuming at first, but the blacksmith museum and shop in the tiny fishing village of Sund is well worth stopping for.
The original blacksmith who built this workshop, Hans Gjertsen is famous for surging through the crowd at the 1963 opening of the E10 road (also known as King Olav V’s Way) to present the king with a hand-forged iron cormorant as a gift.
Now, these metal birds, perched on rocks, are made here all year round. Stand and watch as the blacksmith bends and shapes the red-hot iron to create the long, winding necks of these majestic birds.
You can purchase one of these sculptures to take home and place on your mantelpiece to forever remind you of your Arctic adventure.
As we head further south, the next stop is the picturesque fishing village that could have easily been plucked straight out of a fairy tale. Surrounded by towering granite peaks that plunge straight down into the Norwegian Sea, Reine boasts breathtaking views from every angle.
The iconic red Rorbuer (fishermen’s cabins) lining the harbour paint the village with a splash of colour against the dramatic landscapes.
One of the most renowned hikes in the archipelago is the Reinebringen hike. Starting in the quaint village of Reine, the trail ascends steeply, offering panoramic views of Reinefjorden, the red Rorbuer cabins, and the surrounding jagged peaks. The terrain can be challenging, with rocky and sometimes slippery paths, but the payoff at the summit is truly breathtaking.
The entire hike is just 3km, but with 510m of ascent and a risk of rockfall, this trail may not be suitable for everyone.
Stone steps lead most of the way up the mountain to both viewpoints. The views from the summit are truly breathtaking. It is a popular hike for good reason. On a clear day, you can see across several islands in the archipelago, including Reine, Hamnøy, and Sakrisøy, with the dramatic, rocky mountains rising from the ocean behind.
The village with the world’s shortest name, Å sits at the southern tip of the Lofoten island archipelago. Pronounced “Aw,” this picturesque fishing village is steeped in history, with its roots dating back centuries as a fishing hub.
With only 123 residents, this quaint village is one of the best-preserved traditional fishing villages in Norway, with a history dating back to the 1800s. Characterised by its distinctive red Rorbuer cabins and traditional wooden architecture, Å feels as if it is truly frozen in time.
As soon as you walk into the village, you are welcomed by the warm, comforting smell of baking cinnamon buns. These sweet treats are one of Lofoten’s most popular dishes, but Å is where you will find the tiny bakery that makes the best cinnamon rolls, Nordlandsbåt.
After sampling the local speciality you could explore the open-air Norwegian Fishing Village Museum or take a fishing tour from the harbour.
Å is the end of the road both literally and figuratively on our Lofoten Islands road trip. It may seem like we have come a long way, but the entire trip is just 2.5 hours of driving from Svolvær to Å. To return to the mainland, you can either drive back up to Svolvær and across the bridge or take the ferry from Moskenes to Bodø.
Where to Stay in the Lofoten Islands
Henningsvær Guesthouse – Located in the village of Henningsvær, this guesthouse is an excellent base when exploring Lofoten. They have a great location for getting around the archipelago, a number of cosy rooms available and a continental breakfast available in the mornings. Click here to check availability
Thon Hotel Svolvær – Luxury travellers visiting Lofoten will love this sophisticated hotel in Svolvær. Perfectly poised for exploring all that these incredible islands have to offer, they have a range of chic and modern rooms available along with plenty of great amenities on offer to guests. Click here to check availability
Lofoten Cabins – Kåkern – These classic cabins located in Ramberg are an excellent option for those looking for a self-catering option while in the Lofoten Islands. They have a range of units available, all fully furnished and equipped with all you may need during your stay. Click here to check availability
Furu Hostel – Budget and solo visitors to the Lofoten Islands will love this highly-rated hostel located in Leknes. They have a range of stylish dorms and private rooms to choose from along with great self-catering facilities and convivial common areas to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Lofoten hotels!
A true Arctic paradise, a trip to Lofoten is the adventure of a lifetime. The twinkle of the midnight sun, the swirling rivers of purple, blue and green Aurora Borealis in the night sky. Rugged mountains, narrow fjords and pristine beaches. Whether you have 3, 4 or 5 days in the Lofoten Islands, you are guaranteed to fall in love with the incredible scenery. There is nowhere else on the planet quite like it.
Are you planning to visit the Lofoten Islands? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!