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18. 2. 2024

Lofoten Islands: Life beyond the Arctic Circle

Picturesque fishing villages, crystal clear water, majestic mountains, auroras, midnight sun, fresh air and the most beautiful landscape you can imagine. This is how we would describe the winter paradise in the Lofoten archipelago, which we can call home.

Author Andrea Beňová, photo Robert Novák | | Instagram @finnghal & @anniessecrets

Where can you find the Lofoten archipelago?

The Lofoten archipelago is part of Norway and lies on the same parallel as central Greenland or northern Alaska, i.e., at the 68th parallel north. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, however, the climate here is much milder than you might expect. The average temperature in winter hovers around zero degree Celsius, making this location one of the most unique places in the world.

For example, there are white-sand beaches that look like postcards from the Caribbean, but are often covered with snow. The uniqueness of the place is also evidenced by the fact that the archipelago is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich sources of marine life, geology, terrestrial fauna and flora, cultural monuments and breathtaking scenery. The respected National Geographic magazine even called Lofoten the third most attractive islands in the world.


What is life like above the Arctic Circle?

When I went to Lofoten with my whole family in 2017 to see the Northern Lights and whales in the wild, I had no idea that in addition to the north of Norway, I would also fall in love with our guide Robert. Half a year later, I was already unpacking my two suitcases in the apartment, which was to become our common home for the next five years. Robert's then seven-year career as a local photographer and guide allowed me to immerse myself in Lofoten events and stirred up my love for the north, adventure and snowy fjords even more. Life here is mysterious, slow, magical and lonely. Magic and hard at the same time, and certainly not for everyone. The winter here is really long, lasting 6–7 months, and people here live mainly off of fishing and tourism. The locals are mostly fishermen, so it's no wonder that cod is the biggest specialty here. It has been caught and dried here for nearly a millennium and exported to the whole world for hundreds of years.


When to go to Lofoten?

Honestly: Anytime, in any season (yes, they really do have them here), and they are all truly beautiful. If you want to see them in the traditional way, with the Northern Lights overhead and snowy, plan your trip at any time from mid-January to the end of March. If, on the other hand, you want to experience the magical summer and midnight sun season, a time when our nearest star never sets below the horizon at all, then June or July are the months for you. And if you want a personal recommendation, our favorite month for a holiday in Lofoten is September. The weather is stable then and still pleasant, the colorful autumn begins, most tourists have already left the islands, and with a little luck, you might see the first aurora of the season.


What to experience in Lofoten?

The islands are a true paradise for lovers of outdoor activities. You'll come into your own, especially if you like hiking in the mountains and breathtaking views. Some of our favorite trails include Reinebringen, Ryten, Mannen and Offersøykammen. Popular in the winter are alpine or cross-country skiing, or you can climb the peaks on snowshoes. The iconic panoramas of snow-capped peaks towering above the surface of the icy ocean can be seen mainly from the water, so be sure to book at least one trip to the sea – whether you choose a catamaran, kayaks or take an eagle safari in Trollfjord. The fauna here is varied and truly exotic, albeit "Nordic": it is not uncommon to come across elk or the mentioned eagles, and with a little luck, you can also see orcas and puffins. The north of Norway also has something to offer in the culinary scene: you can't leave without tasting freshly caught fish...make sure you try the local bacalao specialty. In the south of Lofoten, we recommend visiting our favorite restaurant Anita's Sjømat and enjoying their unmatched fish burger or fish soup. To satisfy your sweet tooth, you should definitely pop in for a cinnamon roll at Unstad Arctic Surf, the most famous surfing spot in the north of Scandinavia.


Have we enticed you?

Are you interested in our storytelling, or even better in the author's photographs, and would you like to visit the north of Norway accompanied by a Czech who spent 14 years discovering the most beautiful and interesting local corners and peaks? Or could you even imagine attending a VIP photography workshop there, whether you are a beginner or an advanced photographer? If so…great news, we're here to help! Let us know, and this winter you can enjoy the snow-capped peaks of Lofoten, the wild coves of Vesterál or the aurora borealis over the island of Senja... And if northern Norway is still too far away for you, you can take a piece of it in the form of our large-format photographs that will add a Scandinavian touch to any home or office. They also make for a great Christmas gift for every lover of the far north.

If you would like to ask us anything about traveling to Lofoten or get inspired by other photos, we look forward to seeing you on one of our Instagram profiles. And as Norwegians would say: Ha det bra!