Sunrise: 10:51 am Sunset:12:51 pm
When I was in Svalbard, my roommate and a few outdoor guides told me that if I wanted to see the Northern Lights I should visit the Lofoten Islands, and after doing a quick search on the archipelago in northern Norway, I was sold! The blog 68 North was really helpful in helping me sort out the general geography and terrain of the island, and if I had more time I think I would have been much more invested in finding more of his hikes and hidden spots! It was hands-down the most beautiful place I’ve ever been and I can’t wait to go back in the summer time when the cold might not be so completely biting and there would be more time for hiking — the 7 hours of quasi-daylight was limiting. A map of the islands from 68 North:
To get to the islands I took a flight from Copenhagen to Oslo, another flight from Oslo to Bodø, and then because my plane was late and I missed the only ferry from Bodø to Moskenes, I went back to the airport and took yet another flight to Leknes. I finally got a hotel in Leknes at 11pm, so a full 12 hours of travel and I made it!
IF you are not pressed for time, or under the impression that you are pressed for time (as I was), it is very possible to walk from the airport to the ferry terminal in Bodø within 20 minutes, and it is also very possible to walk from the airport to the hotels in Leknes within 20 minutes as well. I say this to spare you the expense of taxi rides, or the stress of finding a ride on the limited public buses. I really recommend taking a flight from Bodø to Leknes or Svolvær over trying to get the ferry — it takes much less time and is a lot more convenient, since you have to fly to Bodø anyhow, and the ferry schedule is very limited and difficult to interpret.
Another option for getting to the islands would be flying to Narvik and renting a car, or taking a bus down the archipelago. I believe you can also fly from Narvik to Leknes or Svolvær.
I had an AirBnB booked in Moskenes at the prettiest (westernmost) end of the archipelago. I got up early and took one of the few public buses from Leknes about an hour down to the Moskenes ferry port where I rented a car from Rent-a-Car Moskenes. There are a few car rental companies on the island that rent used cars for way less than the bigger companies. I got a 2-day rental for 1300 NOK (about $160), but I wish I had negotiated more since it was the low season.
I really loved this image below — it embodies so much of Norwegian culture for me. Norwegians are these incredibly warm, hospitable, mountain fisher-people, and this fishing hut built ON TOP of a huge rock, with a gorgeous fjord and mountains in the background is the epitome of Norway for me. I really love how outdoorsy Norwegians are, and seem to treasure the sea, the mountains, and even have a word for their culture of outdoor recreation: friluftsliv, I believe one of the only cultures to do so. Traveling through Norway in the frigid winter, Norwegians are skiing, hiking, boating, walking, and do not let their harsh climate keep them from enjoying their amazing landscape.
After riding the bus from Leknes and being stunned with the sunrise over the mountainous archipelago, I picked up my rental car and headed to Fredvang. Heading east from Moskenes toward Leknes, I took a left over the two little bridges and parked near an information sign. Across the street from the sign was a path that led past a house and up to the saddle of two peaks.
The rest of the images are from the rest of my day driving back towards Å and Moskenes, just taking in the scenery and enjoying that I was the only tourist for miles.
The next day I got up early to try and hike Reinebringen, a peak near Reine, before sunrise. But I went the wrong way on the trail since there had been about 3 inches of snowfall and I was the first one up the mountain that day — I had no trail to follow. I ended up going up the wrong side, but was able to get this one picture of the fjord from a saddle.
After scrambling down and fearing for my life, there was ice, snow and falling rocks everywhere, I drove up past Leknes to Eggum, a beach town on the northern end of Vestvagøy. The beach was beautiful and the water was crystal clear. The drive through Vestvagøy, where the mountains were less steep, and the valleys opened up much more than on the western end on Moskenesøya and Flakstadøya, reminded me a little of Montana — especially with the dusting of snow on the ground.
I had to be back at the ferry for Bodø at 3:30 so my second day on the islands was pretty short and sweet. Bodø however, is a very compact tourist town with a pretty little harbor. I followed two of my hostelmates out once the sun went down to the Turist Hytta at the top of Fjellveien where I FINALLY got the most amazing show of the Northern Lights! I don’t have a good camera, so I don’t have any awesome photos of the light show, but it was truly incredible and I could have watched them spin and change forever!
One last nerdy thing! While walking to the Bodø airport to return to Sweden, I walked pass this driveway that served as an awesome little grill area — I think this technique could be used really nicely for the driveways of detached homes being converted to multi-family, or for a household that would rather have a place to grill than a garage.