Lofoten islands: plots of land draped across the Norwegian sea, as the Norwegian themselves define them. But how can you get to the Lofoten islands? Far above the Arctic Circle, between the two continental towns of Bodø and Narvik, the Lofoten islands are a reflection of the very essence of Norway.
The Lofoten islands are the perfect spot for anyone who loves:
- unspoiled nature
- outdoor life
- breathtaking landscapes
- paths overlooking the ocean
- tucked-away Carribean-like beaches
- dramatic valleys hidden between snow-capped peaks
You can get to the Lofoten islands in many ways and they are all equally stunning. They all give an amazing start to your nordic adventure. But don’t waste a minute more: here you’ll find a list of my suggestions about how to get to the Lofoten, take a look and find out the one that best suits you!
There are three airports on Lofoten islands:
- the biggest one is very closed to the capital town, Svolvær
- a minor airport is the one in Leknes, more or less halfway along the main road that connects the islands, the E10
- a third very small one in the southern island of Røst
I used the Svolvær airport to come back from my 2015 trip from the Lofoten islands. Even if it’s the biggest one, it still only consists of two rooms and the people who work in it can probably be counted on one hand (or maximum two).
The nearest airports on mainland Norway are Bodø and Narvik.
A little story from Svolvær airport
I was in front of the airport two hours before take-off and the airport was still closed. I had a walk around the area and I managed to take some of the best photos of the whole trip.
Just half an hour before the take-off, a woman appeared from the middle of nowhere, riding her bike to the airport.
She opened the door with a key just like the airport was her house and welcomed us all inside. We were about ten or fifteen people waiting for our flight. She checked in our luggage and did all the gate procedures, then wore an high-visibility jacket and jumped on the airstrip to guide the pilot to his landing.
She stored the checked-in luggage in the cabin and then invited us to go on the airport.
And would you believe she was also our flight attendant? “We are ready to go even if it’s earlier than our timetable, but… we can go anyway, if no one has anything to say”. And we took off towards Bodø.
I’d strongly suggest you the take the ferry from Bodø to the Lofoten islands. The ferry sails from Bodø harbour and docks in Moskenes. It takes from 3 to 4 hours, depending on the type of boat. In Summer there are six daily departures from Bodø. If you’re looking for more information, here’s the link to the site that runs the service.
If you want to know which ferry I took, you can read it and lots of other details in the post about my on-the-road itinerary in the Lofoten islands.
I’d recommend you to be at the harbour early in the morning and be ready to get the best seats: they are the ones on the front upper deck, from which you can enjoy a beautiful view all journey long. As soon as the ferry arrives in Bodø harbour, the ticket officer comes down the boat and you can buy the tickets, by cash or card. There aren’t any reserved tickets or fixed seats.
Seeing the snow-capped peaks appearing from the ocean waves, and then the sinking horizon that lights up the green slopes of the mountains and the fishing villages on the coast, is something priceless!
You can also arrive to the Lofoten islands by sea using the Hurtigruten, the fjord postal boat. It is a cruise company that provides wonderful trips in amazing destinations all around the world, such as the Svalbard islands, Antarctica, Canada and Australia, but their boats were originally used as links for the Norwegian fjords.
The Hurtigruten travels between Bergen and Kirkenes, stopping in the towns and villages of the Norwegian shoreline and islands. You can choose to book a fast track from one town to another, or an entire cruise on the classic itinerary from Bergen to Kirkenes or on one of the many alternative routes.
Although we’re talking about islands, the Lofoten are linked to the continent by perfectly maintained roads and bridges. They are easily accessible even in winter, when the islands turn into one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights.
These efficient connections allow the buses from Bodø, Narvik and Harstad to run daily. Public transport provides good links between Norway and its amazing islands, going along the main road E10 and branching out to the coastal fishing villages. Take a look at the schedules on 177nordland.
If you have enough time to take a journey by train from Oslo… lucky you! Enjoy your trip along the breathtaking Norwegian coastline, using daily tickets or Interrail passes (the complete one for the whole of Europe or the one-nation-pass for Norway).
The Norwegian national railway (NSB) runs until Bodø, then you can take a ferry or a bus from Bodø to the Lofoten islands. The journey from Oslo to Bodø is incredibly moving and never boring. It takes you through dramatic landscapes and amazing views for about 18 hours.
The rail route from Oslo to Bergen goes up Europe’s highest plateau and has been included in the Lonely Planet’s best travel list. A special regard was given to the secondary stretch that reaches the village of Flåm, which has got one of the greatest inclinations in the world.
You can also use the Swedish railway to get to Narvik. The route from Stockholm to Narvik passes through Kiruna, then crosses the Norwegian border and goes straight to the coast. From Narvik, you can take a bus to the Lofoten islands, which takes about 4 hours.
Arriving to the Lofoten islands by car is a stunning experience, really simple to do and completely astonishing to see. The reason of its simplicity lies in the well maintained roads, while the surprising landscapes do the rest.
Driving in Norway doesn’t require an international license, your own country’s one is enough, if you obtained it more than one year before. The international one is only mandatory if you’re driving for more than three months consecutively. For updates, please see this site.
Dipped headlights are always to be switched on and the seatbelts to be worn by every passenger. The speed limit is normally 80 km/h, that goes down to 50 in residential areas and up to 100 on major roads. A charging system with tolls is often applied, and the presence of cyclists and walkers is not so rare: be careful because they usually take precedence.
Traveling by car in Norway is even more exciting thanks to the Touristic Routes. Apart from the E10, the Lofoten Touristic Route, Norway has got an additional 17 National Touristic Routes. They show you the beauties of nature, art and make the journey by car worthwhile.
The best way to get to the Lofoten islands is the one that best suits you.
Are you looking for an on-the-road adventure? So, start from Oslo or from Stockholm and enjoy the journey by train, bus or car at your own pace, exploring the places which inspire you the most, while you travel around.
Do you only have a short time to visit the Lofoten islands? Choose the plane, possibly arriving in Svolvær airport. Flying directly to the Lofoten islands may be very expensive, but a lower-cost solution could be to land in Bodø or Narvik.
If you want to get a glimpse on the Lofoten islands from the ocean, choose the ferry from Bodø to Moskenes, and start your exploration from the southernmost islands. If you arrive to Narvik, the most convenient solution is the bus, which is particularly recommended if you want to start your visit from the North.
Finally, if you’re looking for comfort and luxury, choose the Hurtigruten cruise with all its benefits.
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