How To Travel To Norway’s Lofoten Islands

The landscapes and nature of Norway’s spectacular Lofoten islands draw visitors from across the world. The dramatic mountains rising out of the ocean provide an unforgettable welcome, but it’s the remote beaches, picturesque villages and views from the endless hiking trails that you’ll remember.

Most visitors try to cram in as many of Lofoten’s highlights as possible, without spending much time considering how to get there. Picking the right travel option can help you make the most of your time on the islands.

Flying there is expensive but convenient, while the cheaper options mean doing battle with ferry timetables and rental car offices.

How to get to Lofoten

There is not one best way to get to Lofoten. It depends on your travel preferences and your intended location and itinerary once you arrive.

For example, are you planning to use Svolvær as a base and take day trips? Or are you more interested in hiking and exploring some of the islands’ beaches? You’ll want to arrive in Svolvær in the first case and Moskenes in the second, which will influence your choice of travel option.

Flying to Lofoten

There are a couple of small airports in Lofoten but they are typically served by Widerøe propellor aircraft operating from Bodø. Leknes (LKN) is towards the western end of the islands, while Svolvær (SVJ) is farther east.

During summer, Widerøe usually operates direct flights from Oslo to Svolvær, but these seasonal flights are yet to be confirmed for future years.

Another option is to fly to Harstad/Narvik airport, also known as Evenes. While not on the islands, the airport’s longer runway means it is served by larger planes from Oslo. From Evenes, there is a direct (albeit infrequent) bus service to Svolvær, although most people rent a car.

If flying directly to Lofoten, bear in mind that rental car availability on the islands is limited especially in the summer. Book a car in advance. If you turn up without a car in the high season, chances are you will not find one.

Because flying to the islands is expensive, many people choose to travel by air to Bodø instead. From Bodø, there is a choice of ferries that cross over to Lofoten including a car ferry to Moskenes.

Driving to Lofoten

Most people driving to Lofoten will fly to Bodø and rent a car there. While a longer road trip around Norway is a goal of many, you’ll realistically need two days just to get up to Bodø from Oslo, and that’s without including any sightseeing.

From Bodø, the best option for drivers is the daily car ferry to Moskenes at the western end of the archipelago. It takes just over three hours.

It’s also possible to drive without using the car ferry. However, driving from Bodø to Moskenes takes up to 8 hours and that still includes a smaller ferry crossing from Bognes to Lodingen.

Driving a completely ferry-free route via Narvik takes at least 8.5 hours. Knock off about two hours if you’re driving to Svolvær.

How to get to Lofoten by public transit

Given the crowded roads of the summer, more people are choosing to travel to Lofoten using public transit. It’s possible, as long as you have some patience. From Oslo, you can get all the way to Bodø by rail. The Oslo to Trondheim train takes about seven hours, with the Trondheim to Bodø train taking almost 10 hours.

Night trains run on both lines so it’s possible to travel by train between Oslo and Bodø within 24 hours. However, there are no showers on Norwegian trains, so you may prefer to spend a night in Trondheim to break up the journey.

There is also the option to take a shower at a nearby hotel upon arrival for an extra charge. You’ll find out more about this option on the train.

From Bodø, there are three options to reach Lofoten. Firstly, it’s possible to join the Moskenes car ferry as a foot passenger. A smaller passenger-only express ferry connects Bodø with Svolvær. It takes just over three hours with several stops at islands and small communities along the way.

Finally, you can join the Hurtigruten as a port-to-port passenger between Bodø and Stamsund or Svolvær. While slower (the full crossing from Bodø to Svolvær takes six hours) and more expensive, the Hurtigruten doubles as a sightseeing cruise along the rugged Lofoten coastline between Stamsund and Svolvær.

If you prefer, you can travel all the way from Bergen on the Hurtigruten or competitor Havila. The ferries depart Bergen at 8.30pm most days and arrive in Svolvær approximately 72 hours later. However, you’re unlikely to find a fare for the three-night voyage (which includes a cabin and meals) for under $800 per person.

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