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      our holidays > Walking Holidays > Norway > Lofoten Cottages: an Arctic Island Discovery

Lofoten Cottages: an Arctic Island Discovery

Lofoten Islands – awe-inspiring landscapes

With the freedom a hire car brings, you can explore as much of the archipelago and its astonishing scenery as you wish.


We provide notes for a good selection of routes so that you can enjoy the best of the archipelago's walking, but please be aware that the wild and rugged nature of the terrain means that some of the walks are quite remote and challenging. Most of the walks are linear, requiring you to retrace your steps to your car, a fact which means that you can shorten most routes if you so wish.

• SLETTHEIA: 8.5km, 3hrs (grade 2)

This relatively easy walk takes you to a dramatic headland for outstanding views in return for little effort. A beautiful woodland start gives way to moorland, climbing a long whaleback of open country and returning by the same route.

• UTAKLEIV: 8-10.5km, 3.5hrs (grades 2 & 3)

A relaxed circuit takes you from the white-sand beach by Haukland, over a small pass, following an ancient fisherman’s way to the hamlet and beach of Utakleiv. From the pass an optional steep ascent of ‘Mannen’ gives extraordinary views for keen peak-baggers. The return from Utakleiv is a level, traffic-free track around the headland of Veggen, with good birdlife between the coast and the nearby island of Tåa.

• JUSTADTINDEN: 13km, 5hrs (grade 3)

For a high-level walk, choose to ascend the summit of Justadtind – one of the highest points on Vestvågøy which affords a memorable 360-degree panorama of the island. The majority of the walk is a steady ascent over stony paths, only becoming steeper and more strenuous as you make the final ascent to the summit. The rewards, in fine weather, are well worth the effort.

• NESLAND TO NUSFJORD: 10.5km, 5hrs (grade 2-3)

This charming walk takes you from Nesland, a tiny fishing hamlet, to the larger fishing village of Nusfjord, which is widely considered to be the best-preserved fishing village in the whole of Norway and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The path follows rugged coastline over diverse terrain, with short challenging sections across rock, with chains and a ladder to assist you. To the east you can see mainland Norway, while to the south-west you can see all the way down to the tip of the Lofoten archipelago. Orca (killer whales) have been spotted off the coast here but you are more likely to see seals in one of the rocky coves.

• VIKTEN TO HORNESET LIGHTHOUSE: 7km, 2.5hrs (grade 2)

Just the drive to Vikten and its beautiful glass studio and gallery is worth the journey. The walk beyond follows the beach and then a rocky coastal path, below a huge cliff face rising over 500 metres above you. The path climbs in the final metres to a lighthouse on the headland of Horneset before returning the same way.

• KVALVIKA BEACH: 14km, 6hrs (grade 3)

A visit to the perfect sands of Kvalvika has become one of Lofoten’s most popular walks and rightly so. Starting from Fredvang, a short walk along the shores of the Torsfjord is followed by the main route over to the beach. From there, a steep climb leads to the lake of Forsvatnet, with the option to continue up to the peak of Ryten which towers over 500m above the bay, for classic Lofoten views. From the lake an undulating, pretty mountain path descends to traverse coastal fields of reeds and grasses to reach Fredvang.

• MUNKEBU: 10km, 5hrs (grade 3)

One of Lofoten’s classics, the relatively demanding walk to the Munkebu hut ascends through beech woods to the first of several lakes before climbing more steeply, in a series of steps alongside waterfalls and above further lakes. Two smooth rock sections involve chains fixed across the slabs but the majority of the walk is on ‘normal’ mountain path, though the views are anything but. The final section crosses high mountain terrain to reach the unmanned hut beneath the summit of Munken. You return by the same path.

Other activities

For a change from walking, you can hire rowing boats to experience the sea at close quarters, and bicycles are also available to hire from Mortsund harbour, just 100 metres away from the cottages.

Driving tour

We thoroughly recommend taking a driving tour (for which we provide directions) across the islands to gain a fuller perspective on the Lofotens and their landscapes. The spectacular E10 (a designated National Tourist Route) is a joy to follow as it winds its way around wide sweeping bays, over moorland passes beneath jagged peaks, and along the shores of Flakstadøya and Moskenesøya. The various islands of the archipelago are linked by tunnels or elegant arched bridges, while the nature of the scenery at every bend in the road will make you want to take your time. Head south to visit the interesting fishing museum and bakery in Å, stopping in Reine for a boat trip; or north to the Loftr Viking Museum at Borge, for a sail on the lake in a replica viking longship.


The archipelago boasts a surprising range of fascinating museums which include the Lofoten Aquarium; the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum in Å, where much of the village has been turned into a living museum showing what life was like for itinerant fishermen in the 19th century; the Lofoten Regional Museum, which looks at life on the islands from the Middle Ages to the 19th century; the Espolin Gallery, home to over 100 works by Kaare Espolin Johnson, who captured the Lofotens so beautifully on canvas; and the Viking Museum, the focal point of which is a reconstruction of the Viking chieftain’s house that was found on the archipelago (pay locally in all cases).

Add a stay in Oslo

To extend your holiday, why not add a couple of nights in Oslo – where we offer a centrally located hotel – if you are flying via Norway's cosmopolitan capital?

To find out more or plan your trip

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At home with the Vikings
To experience what life was like for island communities in the past, visit the remarkable Viking Museum at Borg. Read more >
See our blog
To see more fabulous photos from the Lofotens Islands, take a look at our blog >