Winter in Lofoten transforms this archipelago into a serene wonderland, where the landscapes wear a white blanket, the air is crisp, and the Northern Lights dance in the night sky. While the days may be shorter and the temperatures lower, this season offers a unique charm, with a quieter ambiance that allows you to truly connect with the natural beauty of this Norwegian paradise.
In winter, the usual crowds drawn to the vibrant colours of the midnight sun dissipate, leaving behind a calm and quiet collection of islands that await discovery. Lofoten emerges as a cluster of islands, patiently awaiting exploration by those seeking to immerse themselves in the distinctive allure of nature and local life.
Day 1 – Chasing Northern Lights and tales of the Locals
Begin your winter escapade in Svolvær, the bustling heart of Lofoten, and just a short 30 minute flight from Bodø. Upon landing, make your way to the conveniently located car rental services at the airport. Renting a car is a seamless process, and you’ll find yourself behind the wheel in no time. The scenic drive from the airport to Svolvær is delightfully brief, allowing you to soak in the stunning coastal vistas as you approach your destination and already here you’ll find yourself stunned by nature’s beauty.
Although quieter than its summer counterpart, Svolvær still pulsates with life. Wander through its charming streets adorned with Christmas lights, explore local galleries and shops, and savour baked goods from the local bakery Kringla (the raisin bun comes highly recommended), before checking in and nestling comfortably at Thon Hotel Svolvær, renowned for possibly the best breakfast in Norway.
As night falls, embark on a magical Northern Lights tour with Lofoten Aktiv. With a camera in hand and equipped for the cold, your guide will take you to Gimsøy, in the enchanting chase of the elusive natural phenomenon, all the while spinning the most hilarious tales. Being true nature enthusiasts, they live by the motto that when you bring someone out with you in nature, you are amongst friends. A feeling truly confirmed during the hours of chasing the northern lights. While watching the stars lighting up the sky, awaiting the dance of the aurora, they give you a glimpse into the science and folklore surrounding this celestial spectacle.
Day 2 – Out at sea, like a true fisherman
The following day, after enjoying a proper luxury breakfast, set sail with RIB Lofoten on a traditional fishing boat, immersing yourself in the life of a local fisherman. Fishing in the chilly December weather might not strike you as the most touristy activity. However, unlike the old-time fishermen who braved the elements regardless of wind or weather, you now have access to the right attire for a comfortable experience.
As you cast your line, witness the majestic sea eagles soaring against the dramatic coastal backdrop and enjoy hours at the open waters. Learn about the catching of the arctic cod, and how this dates back as far as the viking age, when stockfish first became Norway’s largest export product.
Artistic vitality and coastal tranquillity
Safely back at shore, a short drive from Svolvær takes you to Henningsvær, a charming fishing village celebrated for its thriving artistic community. The roads leading to this idyllic destination may be narrow and winding, yet they reward you with breathtaking views. Wander through the snow-draped streets of Henningsvær, adorned with lively fishing cabins transformed into art studios.
The quieter winter months provide a unique opportunity to connect with local artists or unwind in cosy cafes, sipping warm beverages while winter winds weave tales of the sea. Don’t miss a leisurely stroll along the harbour, where fishing boats gently sway in icy waters, creating a picturesque tableau. Or best of all, the renowned Pre-Christmas Adventure, where the holiday cheer weaves through the air, adorned with twinkling lights and a festive array of activities that create a tapestry of Christmas spirit, embracing the entire village.
Henningsvær embodies a distinctive blend of artistic vitality and coastal tranquillity. Checking into Tobiasbrygga feels like coming home, where the warmth of hospitality and the embrace of charm envelop you. It’s no wonder this has been the gathering place for fishermen after a hard day at sea since 1935. If you’ve brought your own catch from the fishing expedition in Svolvær, take advantage of Tobiasbrygga’s fully equipped kitchen to prepare your fresh meal. The view from this cosy haven reveals a stunning harbour and pristine waters, adding a touch of calmness and natural beauty to your experience. And if you’re in luck you might see the sky light up in colours of green and red again.
Day 3 – Nusfjord Arctic Resort: nature’s spa retreat
In the early morning hours, venture westward along the E10, covering approximately 85 km, and you’ll find yourself in Nusfjord, one of Norway’s most well-preserved fishing villages. Located between imposing mountains and the expansive sea, Nusfjord offers a timeless escape into the past, standing as an oasis – a place to truly connect with both yourself and nature.
The essence of Nusfjord Arctic Resort resides in its 19 meticulously converted red fishermen’s cabins, harkening back to the village’s heyday in the 1850s. These cabins, offering various standards, provide authentic rorbu lodging in a quintessentially Norwegian setting. As you step into these cabins, the historical significance becomes evident. Invision up to 16 fishermen sharing laughter, meals, and unforgettable moments here. Today, these historic walls stand as an integral part of the experience, echoing tales of the sea and seafarers’ camaraderie. Every creaking floorboard and weathered beam holds a fragment of history, contributing to a serene, yet palpable atmosphere. And best of all, a sanctuary of unparalleled luxury awaits in what must be the most comfortable bed in hotel history.
At Nusfjord Arctic Resort, the staff transcends mere service; they authentically seek to know you. Quality permeates every facet of their operation, ensuring a stay that is both memorable and comfortable. You can find something for everyone here, whether you prefer to unwind in the local cafe, indulging in the restaurant’s immaculate Christmas buffet, or immersing yourself in activities like kayaking with a local guide. There are a range of various winter pursuits on-site to enjoy as well, such as fishing, chasing the northern lights, or hiking through the snowy landscape.
For a touch of luxury, treat yourself to a spa day amidst the landscapes, letting the soothing warmth contrast with the crisp winter air. Nusfjord offers a peaceful retreat, where the only sounds are the whispers of the wind and the occasional crunch of snow beneath your feet. It’s not just a destination; it’s a place to immerse yourself in the charm of a bygone era and the serenity of nature.
Day 4 – Sørvågen: guided mountain adventures
Time has come to leave the tranquil oasis of Nusfjord behind and continue the road to Sørvågen, on the southern tip of the Lofoten archipelago. Along the way, make a mandatory pitstop at the famous Lofoten Beach Camp, where the azure waters and stormy waves create a picturesque contrast against the snow-clad mountains. Take time to also absorb the breathtaking beauty of Reine, a small but enchanting village in the midst of this Nordic paradise. The roads are narrow and the views extraordinary, so setting aside a little extra time to stop and enjoy it is a necessity for sure.
Upon reaching Sørvågen, the coastal beauty welcomes you with open arms. The winter landscape beckons for exploration, and what better way to experience it than with a guided mountain hike led by Audun, a local man armed with headlamps to pierce the darkness and a smile that will brighten your day. The crisp air and snow-covered trails creates an unforgettable adventure despite the darkness that engulfs the afternoon. Having guided tourists for years, his tales and knowledge from the surrounding mountains are captivating, and age nor your health is an obstacle, as all the trips are arranged according to your personal preference.
As hunger sets in and your legs start to get tired, refuel at The Tide, indulging in traditional Norwegian cuisine that warms the soul. The colder months bring a sense of cosiness to Sørvågen, where hearty fish stew and local delicacies provide a delicious respite. The Tide also offers you to partake in fantastic experiences, combined with modern aesthetics and design, being a warm refuge after a day of exploration. Or consider Holmen Lofoten, a space where you can log off and truly reconnect with yourself. Being a family driven hotel, they focus on showcasing the culture of their home at the outermost edge of the islands.
Day 5 – Skårungen in Kabelvåg: unspoiled wilderness
It is time to journey back up north, towards Kabelvåg. When heading north, don’t miss the chance to pause and experience the local culture in Sund, by making a memorable stop at one of Lofotens oldest tourist attractions. Here, the echoes of tradition ring through the air as you watch blacksmith Tor-Vegard Mørkved crafts cormorants in wrought iron – a mythical bird in Northern Norwegian folk legend.
Complete your Lofoten winter escapade with a visit to the secluded haven of the basecamp of Skårungen. Located in unspoiled wilderness, this destination, easily accessible by car and only a ten minutes drive from Svolvær, beckons with its untouched winter charm, inviting you to slow down and live in sync with nature. What sets Skårungen apart is the personal touch of its proprietors, a couple whose own passion for nature and boundless adventures led them to Lofoten, and who found it impossible not to return (like so many others).
Skårungen offers a diverse range of accommodations catering to various styles and budgets. A stay at this charming destination promises not only relaxation, but also unique experiences. Winter enthusiasts can revel in the offerings of the season, from kayaking amidst the icy landscapes to nighttime strolls in the surrounding area, guided by the soft glow of a headlamp. In the month of December a local Christmas market also takes place, where you can buy local goods. But most famously is their spa, where wellness takes centre stage when spending a few hours outdoors, enjoying their sauna, hot tub and the cold sea. All surrounded by the magnificent views of Lofoten.
The cosy café, adorned with a crackling fireplace, invites guests to end the day unwinding and share stories with fellow travellers or immerse themselves in the solitude of a good book. This intimate setting perfectly encapsulates the essence of Skårungen, providing the ideal conclusion to a journey dedicated to slowing down and immersing oneself in the unparalleled beauty of nature.
Day 6 – Homebound with cherished memories
As the soft glow of dawn pierces through the frost-kissed windows of Skårungen hotel, you find yourself savouring a final breakfast before your departure to Svolvær Airport. A carefully crafted meal, as a testament to Skårungen’s commitment to sustainability.
Here, the focus on minimising food waste is evident as you recall the unique practice of ordering breakfast the day before, ensuring that you are served only what you intend to relish. It’s a thoughtful touch that aligns with the ethos of this unspoiled wilderness retreat, where the delicate balance between human comfort and environmental consciousness is maintained.
As you reluctantly return the keys to your trusty rental car at Svolvær Airport, you can’t help but reflect on the enchanting journey through Lofoten’s winter wonders. The silence that blanketed the archipelago allowed for a profound connection with the serene landscapes, and the absence of summer crowds gave you the rare luxury of solitude amid nature’s stillness. Whether sharing laughter with your Northern Lights guide in Gimsøy or engaging in conversations with local fishermen in Henningsvær, you’ve discovered that the genuine interest of the locals adds an extra layer of richness to your travel experience. With a heart full of gratitude and a mind rich with experiences, you bid farewell to Lofoten, knowing that this winter escapade has left an indelible mark on you. And without a doubt you know you will return, one day.
When travelling to Lofoten during winter, a small packing list might come in handy.
– Woollen underwear as a base layer
– Layers of wool and an additional fleece
– Waterproof and windproof clothing
– Hat and mittens (tips is thinner mittens under the big ones)
– Headlight is good to have when the darkness sets in
– Additional battery for your camera, as the cold will eat it up quickly
Pictures courtesy of Northern Norway Tourist Board – Henriette Danielsen.