The endless days and magical light around the time of the Midnight Sun provide the perfect setting for this gentle paced road tour exploring Norway’s beautiful Lofoten Islands.
This narrow chain of islands crams in more mountains per square mile than any other part of Norway. Jagged peaks sweep down to the sea leaving a narrow brim of coastal road with breathtaking views amid charming fishing villages simply perfect for cycling.
Following arrival in Bodø, we board the ferry that will take us across Vestfjorden to Moskenes and nearby Reine situated at the edge of the steep ‘Lofoten Wall’. This is a lovely place to start our time in the Lofoten, with our cycling beginning the next morning with an easy route that gives us chance to visit Tind, Vagån and Å, providing a great flavour of the islands and the cycling to come.
Heading northwards on our route, which follows a coastline of white sandy beaches, rolling hills and soaring peaks ends in Svolvær from where we head back to Bodø by boat. There are numerous highlights along the way including Henningsvær (the Venice of the North), the Long House at Borg, picture postcard Nusfjord, and the Viking powerbase of the north Kabelvåg. With daytime melding into night time, there are also lots of opportunities for ‘midnight’ walks for those with the energy.
For accommodation in the Lofotens we use the lovely quayside Rorbus; traditionally painted fishermen’s wood cabins perched on stilts. With some providing rowing boats, you may wish to try some fishing; or take a sauna and optional fjord dip for an invigorating experience, Scandinavian style.
Evening meals are either taken at the superb local restaurants, renowned for their delicious seafood, or in the Rorbus if you prefer to try your hand at cooking. Lunches en route are picnic style, packed with Norwegian delicacies.
Day 1 - Saturday - Arrival into Bodø - Ferry Bodø to Moskenes and accommodation in Reine
Arrive at Bodø Airport (BDO), following the scheduled flights from either Oslo, Bergen or Stavanger. (Confirmation of the flight times from the UK and internal Norwegian fights will be given upon booking, with the latest arrival time 15:00). Once you have collected your baggage and/or bikes you will be met by one of the Skedaddle guides, who will transport you the short journey to the quayside for mid-afternoon ferry to Moskenes. This journey takes around 3 hours and will give you great views of the Borvasstindene Mountains as you leave Bodø and the islands of Væroy and Røst, plus a superb view of the Lofoten Wall as you near the islands.
On arrival at Moskenes we have a 5 minute transfer to our rorbu in Reine, a picture-postcard fishing town at the arrow neck of the Reine fjord and flanked by sheer mountains on three sides. Once checked in we will spend time sizing up bikes for those who are hiring or for those who have brought their own we will assist in re-assembling them. The evening is spent enjoying a get-together dinner in Reine, during which there will be an informal briefing about the week’s schedule. Should there be enough time (after all, it won't be getting dark!) you can take your bike for a test ride in the local area. Or if you feel like a hike in the midnight light there are many options. (B,L)
Day 2 - Sunday - Reine to Reine - 20kms approx.
Following a tasty and healthy Norwegian breakfast, we start the trip with an easy ride of around 20 kms. It's a gentle start to our riding as we take time to visit Moskenes, Vågan, Tind and Å, a string of picturesque fishing hamlets with their red or ochre fishermen's shanties perching on poles, characteristic of the scenery you'll be seeing during your cycling.
To give you a flavour of the islands we'll spend time in Å. An entire fishing village preserved as a museum and at the very end of the road (its name is appropriately enough the last letter of the Norwegian alphabet too). Here there are a number of fine buildings of cultural and historical interest that date back to the 1800's. Included in this are the cod-liver oil factory, yummy bakery and the Stockfish Museum. The Lofoten is one of the best places in the world for producing Stockfish and no other country in the world can compete with the Lofoten in this method of preserving fish.
Following a nice picnic lunch we head back to our accommodation in Reine late afternoon, where we spend the remainder of the day. Tonight's evening meal will be spend in Reine at one of the local restaurants. (B,L)
Either a short ride in the local area or a night hike to one of the nearby peaks.
Day 3 - Reine - Ballstad - Ferry Nusfjord to Ballstad - 50kms approx.
Today's ride will take us along the coast of Moskenes Island to Flakstad Island. A you leave Reine behind, you'll pass through Sakrisøy, Olenilsøy and then reach Hamnøy, where you'll hear and then see and the densely populated cliffside nesting colony of Kittiwakes. From here a steady, yet steep spot of cycling as you head away from Reine, so make sure you take a breather at the top and take a peak back at the villages in the distance. After passing the Nappstream our next stop is Ramberg; a place that is without doubt stunning. A vast arch of white sand along a sparkling green / blue bay, with a backdrop of Arctic peaks. From here we continue our way on the Northern Coast of Flaktadoya, with its great sea views of the Arctic Ocean and sandy beaches. Just after here is Flakstad; a tiny hamlet famous for its church. Built in 1780 from Siberian driftwood, this red-onion domed church is well worth a visit.
From here we edge our way alongside Flakstadpollen, before we take the small side road towards Nusfjord. On the way you'll pass by Lake Storvannet and Mount Stjerntind, which at 932 metres is the highest mountain in Flakstad. Nusfjord is a well-preserved fishing village nestling amidst dramatic mountain scenery and the ride to get to it is a delight. Nusfjord is typical of the fishing villages that were owned by a squire. The local shop is one of the characteristic old-fashioned general stores and a good place to buy your postcards and souvenirs too. Following a wander around the wharf and rorbus and maybe a quick walk to the small nearby lighthouse, we catch the small ferry that will take us across Nappstraumen to Ballstad where we will stay for the evening. (B,L)
Day 4 - Ballstad to Eggum - 50kms
Heading northwards we take a very quiet road of around 8kms to Gravdal. Just prior to reaching here we pop to Buksnes to check out the church, bizarrely built in the ornamental dragon style in 1905. From here we cycle through the marshlands of Storeidmyra, before skirting the town of Leknes to reach Vikspollen; an amazing horse-shoe shaped beach, surrounded by towering mountains and the clearest sea imaginable.........it doesn't get much better than this! From here, we have a short uphill section, before we wind our way through flat countryside, that is scattered with tiny rural communities.
Close to Borg we head further north to the tiny fishing community of Eggum, Situated on the northern edge of the Lofoten, this should be the prefect place to see the Midnight Sun, with a midnight wander along the beach a must! (B,L)
Day 5 - Eggum to Stamsund - 45kms approx.
Retracing our final pedalling of yesterday afternoon, we head back to Borg. In Northern Norway during the Iron-age, there were about 10-15 Chiefdoms, one of which was at Borg in Lofoten. This is the only place where a Chieftains farm is found. Here, we’ll experience the reconstructed longhouse, see craftsmen at work in the smithy, and an exhibition of original artifacts and ancient breed animals - maybe even a Viking will appear? Suitably up to speed with all things Viking, we get on our bikes again. Passing by Leknes we soon find ourselves heading eastwards to Stamsund, which is reached following a roller-coaster of a route that leads eventually to the rorbu that signifies our arrival. Stamsund is an arrival point for both northbound and southbound Hurtigruten (Coastal Steamers) and with the ships arriving in the evening, there will be the chance to see them maneuver their way into this small ‘port’. This evening’s meal will be spent at the fine restaurant at the rorbu where we will be staying. (B,L)
Day 6 - Stamsund to Henningsvær - 65kms approx.
Today’s cycle of around 40 miles (65kms) is a nice ride along the coast on a flat, or at times gently undulating road. We will ride along the coast of Vestvaagoy until we reach Gimsøy Island. Lunch is served after 35kms/22 miles at the lovely setting of Gimsøy Church. Suitably reinvigorated we continue our ride for the "Venice of the North" - Henningsvær.
During this afternoon's ride we might see the cod drying racks that the Lofoten is often known for and keep your eyes peeled for sea eagles as this is a popular spot in which to view them. We'll also visit the one of the sculptures that appears sporadically during your time on the islands. Nicknamed 'the shower cubicle' by locals it is well worth a brief stop-off.
Just before Henningsvær there is a wonderful beach at Rørvika from where you'll be able to take an invigorating dip in the clear waters. From here it's just 8kms/5miles to reach Henningsvær. This is one of the best places in Norway to climb, so make sure you check out the rock faces for climbers as you cycle along.
Henningsvær is a great place to visit, and with this in mind, the afternoon is allocated some ‘down-time’. Soak up the atmosphere of the major fishing port in the Lofoten Islands and spend time in some of the interesting museums and small art galleries, whose highlights include the wonderful paintings and slide show at the Lofoten House.
Due to Rorbus in Henningsvær being very spread out throughout the town, we will stay at a more basic accommodation than other nights. Although rooms are twin share, not all have en-suite facilities, though there is a large lounge and eating area, the place is extremely friendly and depending on group size we should have it all to ourselves. Tonight's evening meal will be taken either in the famous Fiskekrogen restaurant, (with seafood undoubtedly the order of the day) or for those in search more relaxed surroundings - Klatrekafeen (the Climbers Bar) offers delicious food at more reasonable prices. (B,L)
Day 7 - Henningsvaer to Kabelvåg - 25kms approx.
Today we have a short day's ride that starts with a little back-tracking to the beach at Rørvika. Once here we turn northwards once again and head for Kabelvåg. Mid-way there is the option of cycling over the mountain pass for those looking to sample an easy off road section, and once at the top of the short climb there are some wonderful views back to Henningsvær and beyond.
Lunch today is at the beautiful beach at Kalle, where you'll have time to explore the rock pools and relax in this sheltered location. From here we head to Kabelvåg and Northern Norway's power base in Viking times. Kabelvåg has a relaxing feel to it and is now home to some lovely art galleries and museums at Storvågen, which we will have time to visit. Amongst the highlights are the sea-front Lofoten Aquarium, Rural Museum and one of Norway’s most worthwhile galleries – Gallery Espolin. The gallery features artist Kaare Espolin-Johnson’s works, which reveal in haunting monochrome, the lives and hardships of the Lofoten’s fisherfolk. Accommodation tonight is at Nyvågår rorbuer; a modern Rorbu, boasting a great restaurant, sauna and optional quayside dip! (B,L)
Day 8 - Kabelvåg to Svolvær 8kms approx + extra options. Then Costal Steamer or ‘Speed Ferry’ to Bodø
A little more time to explore Kabelvåg, before heading off to Svolvær. After winding our way through the small town and its nice wharf, we reach the edge of town, which is marked by the Lofoten Cathedral. Built in 1898 that seats some 1200 people. Close by you’ll also find the “Trollsteinen”, with an engraved Norman cross, which was possibly used as an altar piece when King Oystein came into the area to convert them to Christianity in around the year 1120. Svolvær is the regional centre of the Lofoten and famous for the Svolværgeita Peak (330 metres), which was first climbed in 1910. The jump between the two ‘goats horns’ provides an adrenaline rush that should satisfy even the hardiest of daredevils. Svolvær also has numerous galleries and museums you may wish to visit.
For those looking for more miles then these can easily be accommodated, with one option a superb loop ride around the island of Austvagoya (the most northern of the Lofoten Islands), via the tiny fishing hamlet of Laukvika. Alternatively you may just want to watch the world go by in one of the excellent quayside restaurants or bars. Either late afternoon or early evening - this depends on the particular trip, we head back to Bodø by boat. On leaving make sure you check out the statue of the ‘Fisherman’s Wife’ standing in the breakwater to greet all passing seafarers.
Once we arrive into Bodø we transfer to the nearby hotel for the evening. For those with still the energy then a hike or ride to the top of Mount Rønvik is possible. This is Bodø’s Midnight Sun viewpoint providing a dramatic panoramic view of Bodø and the surrounding mountains.
Day 9 - Airport departures from Bodø
Depart for the airport for your scheduled flights (Mid morning or lunchtime depending on your particular routing). (B)
Rorbu - So what exactly are these Rorbus that we have been talking about so much?
These are traditional wooden Norwegian Fishing houses some of whose sites date to as far back as the time of King Oystein in the early 1100’s. They are usually built on stilts in the sea/quayside or on the shore and it has been customary over the centuries to paint them red and ochre. They now provide much of the accommodation for tourists coming to the Lofoten and have been suitably modernised with this in mind. All are very different in room layout, depending on age and size and we have chosen those on the tour that we feel best reflect the nature of these islands. Whilst en suite facilities are not the norm, all Rorbu have great facilities including showers, 'lounges' / 'sitting rooms' and kitchens which we will use for breakfast.
All our tours to the Lofoten are scheduled 'around' the time of the Midnight Sun, so this means that there is little or no darkness during these times. With this in mind we have scheduled some evening rides/walks/hikes for those looking to do a little extra exercise. Please note that these are purely optional!
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