Did you know that there is a place where the sun never sets? We knew that we wanted to visit Norway in the summer for this very reason - to chase the midnight sun. And it was well worth it! Romantic fishing villages, small towns connected by bridges, and some of the most incredible views you will ever find make it easy to see why the Lofoten Islands are a pilgrimage destination for so many hikers and thrill seekers around the world. Check out our 9-day itinerary in Norway for travel inspiration and tips!
Tips for Visiting Norway
Fun fact - did you know that almost all salmon served in sushi restaurants in Japan comes from Norway? Before the 80’s, salmon sushi was unheard of. That’s where Bjorn Eirik Olsen comes in. In the 80’s, Norway had too much fresh, farm-raised salmon. Seeking new markets, Bjorn spent years trying to break into the Japanese sushi markets. Eventually he broke through, making a staple of the sushi industry! When we learned this, we did a Google search for sushi restaurants and stumbled upon Sakura Lofoten. Go for the lunch buffet - while there's not a ton of variety, it was the best salmon nigiri we had ever tasted (so much so that we went twice!)
Unstad Arctic Surf claims to make the world's greatest cinnamon roll. That is a very bold claim, but they do a fantastic job. A warm cinnamon roll, fresh fruit, and cold whipped cream really hit the spot on a hot day like we had. If you're stopping for lunch, check out Lofoten Gårdsysteri - we missed their cafe hours but read lots of good things about their cheeses. Instead we continued on to Haukland Beach, which had some of the clearest water we had ever seen but was a bit too cold to go past ankle-deep.
Once we made it to the heart of the Lofoten Islands, we knew that we had to take advantage of the midnight sun. Every night around 11 PM, the sun would swing down along the horizon's edge but never set. Golden hour lasted for hours, so as photographers, we knew we had to shift our sleep schedule to catch the best light. That meant waking up at 12 PM, leaving for hikes around 11 PM each night, and getting home at 2 AM. Our very first midnight sun hike was at Reinebringen, one of the most famous hikes in Lofoten. It was a struggle getting up the mountain, but the views were incredible!
Truly when people say weather can change in an instance, they mean it. On our hike up to Ryten, it was clear and sunny when we left. We ascended a boggy marsh and went up the mountainside to see the peak. As we got about halfway up the final ascent, a huge fog bank blew in, completely obscuring our view. Visibility dropped to about 5 feet and we eventually had to turn around. We set up to take photos of the beach, but the fog even followed down the mountain. Lessons learned - manage your expectations with the weather and always pack layers.
The town of Å has great vibes - little houses with birds nesting on every available surface, fresh baked cinnamon rolls with the recipe on the bag for you to take home with you, and a few easily accessible hiking paths make it no wonder why it gets crowded late in the day. Go early and explore the town before heading back up the coast for the day.
Narvtinden was the last hike we got to do in Lofoten. While not as well known as the other hikes (we didn't see a single person during our entire hike!) we were so glad we went. The weather was so clear - completely opposite from the day before - so we got to see the mountains cast almost perfect reflections on the water.
The Viking museum was a lot of fun - they have workers whose entire jobs are just to be Vikings for the day! As you walk around, you'll see people carving wooden signs by hand, repairing throwing axes at the blacksmith shop, and cooking stew in the feast hall. Included with admission are also activities, from rowing a Viking ship to axe throwing to archery. But know that this is not a leisurely boat ride - you will be placed with an oar and put to work! We quickly learned that rowing a ship was a lot harder than we thought, as we made little to no progress with our lack of coordination. But hey, at least we made a few bullseye hits with the bow and arrow!
Hesten has possibly the best views in Norway, rivaled only by Reinbringen. The 360° views were unparalleled - even in Reinebringen the views were 180°. Our only advice would be to bring some insect repellant. We were not prepared and were both eaten alive on the way to the top, so spare yourself from that torment and come prepared unlike us! Once we got to the top, we just sat and enjoyed the views for a long while before making our descent down at 2 AM.