Reine, Lofoten Islands (photo credit, Sunsurfer)

Destination of the Month

June - The Lofoten Islands (photo credit, Sunsurfer)

The Lofoten Islands are a gem of  northern Norway, known for their distinctive scenery, dramatic mountains and peaks, open sea, long beaches, and, of course, its abundance of wildlife, especially seabirds. They are located across the Norwegian Sea, far above the Arctic Circle, and comprised of six principle islands:  Vågan, Vestvågøy, Flakstad, Moskenes, Værøy and Røst  (There is evidence of human settlements here, dating back 11,000 years ago!).  The highest mountain peak in Lofoten is Higravstinden in Austvågøy, at 3,809 feet.  However, a much easier climb would be up Himmeltindan, which is the highest mountain on the central Lofoten island of Vestvågøya, at 3,163 feet high; it takes about 2-3 hours, depending on your pace and number of breaks.  Once atop, the views are nothing short of extraordinary!


There is plenty to do in this northern wonderland, including fishing, hiking, kayaking, sea rafting and scuba diving, surfing, skiing, horseback riding and even golf!  And, if you're a avid bird watcher, it will not disappoint!  Although, there are birds there year round, it is in June through August where you will see the largest seabird colonies.  Also starting in June and into autumn, is the best time to go out for a whale safari!  In the summer, you will see mostly Sperm whales, and occasionally, Pilot whales.  In the winter months, it's possible to see Humpback whales, Fin whales and Killer whales.  Hvalsafari AS comes highly recommended for these tours and has a very insightful and educational website:  http://www.whalesafari.no/?p=2082&lang=en


From late May to mid-July, you can experience the midnight sun, and from September to mid-April, the northern lights (aurora borealis)!  Many tend to think that it remains very cold here because of its location, but due to the warm Gulf Stream, the weather is actually quite mild and summers are glorious!


Small fishing villages are scattered about the islands and there are plenty of options for fishing tours, as well as accomadations.  You can stay at Rorbu, the old fishermen’s cabins, and eat stockfish made from spawning cod. The stockfish is often the base product in many of the food dishes served in local restaurants.  There are 32 cabins in all with modern comforts (including wifi) and they are available from January to October.  For more information on staying at Rorbu, please visit:  http://www.classicnorway.com/hotels/reine-rorbuer/the-rorbu-cabins/


Lofoten also has a Viking museum, live Viking reenactments and Viking festivals and feasts.  It is open every day from May 1 - September 15.  http://www.lofotr.no/index.asp


There are numerous restaurants, cafes and bed and breakfasts, from casual to elegant dining, serving local cuisine and other varied dishes.  Many of these establishments also rent out their space for conferences, weddings and other celebrations and events.

  

So, as you can see, there is no shortage of things to do and see in this amazing place, but the scenery, all by itself, is enough to make you fall in love with it!