When to Go
Situated north of the Arctic Circle, Lofoten has two main seasons – High Summer and Deep Winter (which the locals call simply ‘mørketid’ – dark times) with two periods of rapid transition dividing these contrasting times.
Midnight sun - approximately 27 May to 17 July.
Polar night - approximately 6 December to 6 January.
How to Get There
It is a fact that Lofoten is quite a long way from anywhere – Bergen to Skutvik is almost 1600km of which a grand total of only 15km are on a motorway. Factoring in the low speed limits and often rather tortuous roads, means that the driving time for that journey is about 24 hours.
Flying - Flying is far and away the quickest method to get to Lofoten, and often it is also the cheapest. First fly to Oslo, Bergen or Trondheim then take an internal flight to Bodø, before a short hop in a tiny turbo-prop plane over to Leknes, or Svolvær. SAS or Norwegian Air Shuttle fly to Norway then it is Widerøe up-country. There is a 15kg luggage limit on the Norwegian Air Shuttle and this applies on the final short hop anyway, although you can use a ferry for this if you have a lot of gear. The Hurtigbåt – a rapid seacat for foot passengers only – does the Bodø to Svolvær crossing in 2.5 hours. With the opening of the LoFast road, Lofoten was finally connected to the mainland and it is possible that the Evenes (Harstad/Narvik) airport will become a good option for getting to the islands. Currently Norwegian Air Shuttle and Scandinavian Airlines fly there from Oslo. There is an express bus connecting the airport with Lofoten – check Destination Lofoten (opposite) for current prices.
Train – It is possible to get the train from Oslo to Bodø. This overnight journey takes 17 hours and currently cost about 1200NOK each way. Concessionary fares are available.
Car – If you take a ferry, or drive from Sweden or further afield, then you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time driving north on the E6. Despite this being a quiet road progress is not as fast as you might expect. The speed limit is 80km/h for much of the journey and sneaky speed traps are more common than you might expect, even in the middle of nowhere. The on-the-spot fines are hefty enough to put a real dent in your holiday fund. Although travelling by car is slow and expensive on the ferries, there are plenty of pluses – you can carry lots of gear and plenty of food, it makes getting round the islands easy, and you have somewhere dry to sit when it rains.
Ferry from the UK
Newcastle to Bergen - From the UK there are two sailings a week with DFDS in the high season (Tuesday/Friday – Monday/Thursday alternate weeks). The crossing takes about 26 hours. Check out www.dfds.co.uk for more details and to book. Prices vary with the season, but the cheapest way across in the peak season costs about £450 each way for a car and cabin – travelling in a group of four cuts the cost markedly.
Bergen to Lofoten – From Bergen, drive through the superbly spectacular Fjordland to the E6 and then head north. The shortest ferry crossing to the islands is Skutvik to Svolvær, it takes about two hours and booking is not normally needed. Bodø to Moskenes involves less driving but a longer crossing (three and a half hours) and, in the high season, may need pre-booking and you can’t book it the day before crossing.
If money is less of an object, using the magnificently plush Hurtigruten (fast route) boat is a spectacular way of getting northwards. There is a daily sailing from Bergen, which takes about three days to get to Svolvær, and they can carry about 40 cars. As to the cost – it is in the ‘if you need to ask, you can’t afford it’ category. The price of meals and beer on board is highly amusing. Driving to Trondheim first and catching the Hurtigruten there speeds things up and cuts the cost as it only involves a single night on board!