Lofoten Islands

  • © William Mackesy
  • Reise - © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • Reise - © William Mackesy

Key information: Lofoten Islands

  • Extraordinary chain of granite mountain-islands off the coast of northern Norway, inside the Arctic Circle.
  • Ice-hewn peaks and spires rising sheer from the sea with fishing villages clinging to any scrap of flat land, often on stilts above the rocky shoreline.
  • A wide variety of outstanding walks, up among the crags and lakes of the mountains and the wild Atlantic coastline.

Walkopedia rating

(Top 100)
  • Walkopedia rating91
  • Beauty35
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest7
  • Charisma33
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating91

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: 1,029m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
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Reise - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

This chain of granite mountain-islands was carved by the last ice age into fantastic spikes and smooth sheer cliffs, gashed by deep fjords. Lying well inside the Arctic Circle, this is harsh but extraordinarily beautiful scenery. You can enjoy the rugged coastline or gasp at some of the world's most thrilling views from the high ridges.

 

From a distance, the Lofoten wall seems like an unbroken mass; close up, it reveals itself as a series of improbably carved peaks and ridges up to 1,150m (nearly 4,000ft) high, rising straight out of the sea, separated by deep sounds and sheltering inlets which cradle ridiculously atmospheric fishing villages with brightly painted houses - sometimes built on stilts out into the water. The whole area has been submitted for World Heritage Site status.

 

The Lofotens are reminiscent of the beauties of Milford Sound in New Zealand's Fjordland and - wait for it - Hong Kong, with its vast slopes of ice-smoothed granite and its remote little stilted wooden fishing villages (even the stink of the fish processing is strongly reminiscent). Maybe the water here is a little cleaner.

 

The islands are composed of ancient granite, sharing their origins with the Scottish Highlands and the Appalachians of the USA. They were ground into their current shape relatively recently: this area was at the edge of an enormous ice sheet, up to 2km thick, that covered all of Scandinavia and which tore and polished the rock into the extraordinary peaks, crags, lakes and fjords that we now see.

 

It was a tough life for the itinerant fisherman who rowed up in the dark of late winter for the cod fishing season. While fishing remains important, artists have moved up, attracted by the scenery and the long hours of cold summer light.

 

The Lofotens are a walker's paradise, every hill beckoning you and the coastline threaded with trails, the best along the wild, northern coast, where you can see dolphins and seals sporting in the surf. The whale watching can be superb here, and you can encounter elk on Austvgoy. Delicate arctic flowers bloom in early summer and rich colours and berries decorate the brief autumn.

 

Try to walk on more than one island and vary the drama of the high viewpoints with at least one coastal path. There is no single outstanding walk, so you are free to choose. The walks described here are some of the best known, listed (approximately) from west to east. These walks take a day or less, but can be connected with other walks to form a longer expedition, involving stays in guesthouses, old Fishermens cabins (rorbuer) or camping.

WILLIAM MACKESY'S ACCOUNT
of this walk

The jagged, sheer Lofoten Islands face the North Atlantic like a line of tough veteran legionaries awaiting some wild enemy. From a distance, the “Lofoten wall” seems like an unbroken mass; close up, it reveals itself as a series of improbably carved peaks and ridges up to 1,150m (nearly 4,000ft) high, rising straight out of the sea, separated by deep sounds and sheltering inlets which cradle ridiculously atmospheric fishing villages. The whole area has been submitted for World Heritage Site status.

The Lofotens are reminiscent of the beauties of Milford Sound in New Zealand's.....

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Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS

Name: Roger
Posted on: 05/01/2011
The walksworldwide trip looks great BUT doesn't seem to attract interest. I've booked twice, but it didn't run in either year for lack of support

Name: Articlemming
Posted on: 31/03/2014
Hello and thank you for your fantastic site ;-) I would suggest you to add to your "Useful websites and information" the following link : www.hiking-lofoten.net. This site is made by local hikers and seems very complementary to your work although it is far more limited and specialized on the lofoten islands. Best regards, Dadou

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

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© William Mackesy

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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© William Mackesy...
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