To the locals of Norway, the land of deep fjords and grand mountain vistas, Lofoten Islands aroused a sense of amazement. They hoped to travel there one day. And those who visited the islands spoke with an absolute air of incredulity. The islands lie to the north of Norway. Contrary to its location above Arctic Circle, it experiences mild climate than the rest of Norway. As one of the locals mentioned that Oslo could be far colder than Lofoten.
In a span of three days we drove on the National Tourist Route E10 (a title given to the scenic routes in Norway) that runs through the whole of Lofoten Islands. Starting from Henningsvaer we ended our road trip in A i Lofoten, covering approximately 230 kilometers. There couldn’t have been a better way to explore the islands than by car. The islands are well connected by road bridges and tunnels making it convenient to traverse by car.
On the first day we tasted Lofoten’s uncanny and harsh beauty as the dense clouds and rains had its spell over the islands since the past few days. We started our journey from the Leknes Airport where we hired our car. It was our first experience of left hand driving.
The stormy arctic winds grew harder as we drove along the shore side towards the well-known town of Henningsvaer. The sea waves bashed against the rugged coastline as our car passed over the bridge and the rain had started to slap against the windscreen. On the other side, the mountains were cloaked mysteriously in the clouds as we could only make a guess about its enormity. The stark beauty uncomforted us. This was something we didn’t expect and it was completely different from what I saw in the pictures. Everything on the first day seemed overwhelming.
After checking in the hotel, we roamed in Henningsvaer. We had our Indian snacks and retired to beds.
It was eight in the morning next day; the clouds had cleared a bit so as to only give us a hint that there stood a mountain right outside our room window. We could see sun in the weather forecast and that cheered us up. We left Henningsvaer in the afternoon as there was going to be sun only after two. The day looked promising and we knew we had to make the most of it.
As the day was clearer we came across more cars on the road than the day before. A-frame wooden racks for drying fish were a characteristic feature of the villages in Lofoten and I couldn’t resist posing in front of one of them. Fishing is the Lofoten’s largest industry along with tourism.
Our first detour was at Eggum, a fishing village that lies between the ocean and the mountains. We started a short coastal hike from the rest area that looks like an amphitheater and also has a car park. To get to the rest area one has to pay a small fee at the entrance. It was an easy and a beautiful hike and anyone could do it. If you go further the trail takes you to another village of Unstad which is about 9 km from Eggum. We walked till the point where an artwork has been installed. The head sculpture looks out over to the sea. The interesting thing about it is when you circumvent it the head appears to be upside down depending on your angle of vision. We spent two hours with return hike.
The owner at the Henningsvaer hotel had suggested us to make a detour at Uttakleiv Beach. The road going towards the beach looked deserted as if we were the only ones heading for it. The turquoise blue waters of white-sand beach surrounded by mountains took our breath away, for we had never seen a beach like this before. As we neared the beach we spotted numerous caravans parked there and few souls strolling on the beach. It turned out to be Haukland Beach. But we were sent for Uttakleiv. What more could be more arresting than this? From Haukland Beach, a tunnel takes you to Uttakleiv Beach or one can also take a short hike from there to reach Uttakleiv. In the camping area people had pitched tents; others barbecued in the open, while the kids played on the beach. Uttakleiv Beach and Haukland Beach were like a little known treasure, best-kept secret of Lofoten Islands.
By now the sun was out and a new journey had just begun for us. We drove on the highway E10 not exceeding 70 kilometers per hour speed. That surely irritated those who were behind us. They seemed to be angry as they honked when they zoomed past us. Sometimes we would stop the car at one side; giving way to them. We could’ve only gone slowly. We couldn’t help it as we wanted to enjoy every bit of our journey and were in no hurry to reach. We clicked pictures and made pit stops to our heart’s content. And now it seems that was the best thing we did.
We marveled at the snow capped Arctic peaks rising sharply behind sparkling blue green waters of beaches as the smoky white clouds sailed gently on the craggy mountain faces. The picturesque villages dotted with wooden huts besides lush green pastures seemed to come straight out of a fairy tale book. At every turn lay epic landscape that only suggested we were on a different planet.
At Hamnoy we dropped our bags in one of the Rorbuers (red painted fisherman’s huts, now a lodge for guests) and took to the road. Just outside our hut stood a gigantic mountain bathed in sunlight from one side. Tourists couldn’t stop photographing it from every possible angle. It was eleven at night and the village only seemed to be awake; making most of the sun that had appeared after almost a week. No one was in the mood to retire. It was surprising to tell back home that we were out at this time of the day and had no plan to go back to the hotel for at least a couple of hours. We wished to stay out all night for the sun also had the same plan
We reached Reine; the one village whose pictures I had seen and had instantly made up mind that I wouldn’t stay anywhere but here. When I stood at the bridge from where Reine is most photographed, I stood speechless. The mountain scape was silhouetted against the golden yellow sky of midnight sun and stood towering over the village and the placid waters of the sea. We strolled on the bridge unwilling to leave the place any sooner. It was thirty minutes past one in the morning.
Next day we went to the village of A i lofoten, perched on the tip of the archipelago where we had cinnamon buns with coffee. Later in the evening we left our car at the Moskenes ferry point and were ready to depart for Bodo.
Let’s Get Practical
Start/ Car Pick Up: Leknes Airport
Finish/Car Drop Off: Moskenes Ferry Point
Detours: Eggum, Haukland Beach, Uttakleiv Beach, Ramberg
Car Hire Company: Lofoten Utleiebiler
Duration: 3 days
Airports in Lofoten: Leknes, Svolvaer, Harstad/Narvik Evenes
Best time to visit: Lofoten is beautiful in every season.
Handful of Tips
• Check weather forecast before you begin your road trip. Weather can ruin or make your day and therefore it is utmost important that you stay updated about the weather everyday.
• It is advisable to book the hotels that refund your money at least 24 hours before you check in. you can save your money in case of cancellation or delays in flight or change in your itinerary schedule.