Put on your virtual seat belt as we take you through our road journey to the mystical fjord land of Norway. To the land of Vikings and Samis, along narrow roads that tirelessly follow outskirts of mountains, through tunnels that open to great wide vistas. The wild Norwegian sea backs up against spectacular mountains tumbling down to the sea in this part of the world. And we just couldn’t resist some smooth asphalt under our tires and ended up renting a car. Of course we had to write about it.
On our recent trip to the Lofoten islands in Norway, we spent most of our time backpacking on Sordland, the south islands. But we couldn’t leave without exploring the other islands of Lofoten and with the amount of time we had, we could only squeeze in a road trip to explore Lofoten north to south. What we love about road trips is the freedom to explore at our own pace, spending time at great sights and zooming past the ordinary ones. But, this time we found ourselves surrounded by such stunning idyllic mountain and seascapes throughout the drive that it made it hard for us to just move on from one stop and get to the next planned stop. We had to trick our mind and heart, which did not always work. So it actually took us 4 days to finish a stretch of 140 miles on the E10.
The lofoten National tourist route or E10 in short is the only major road that runs north to south on Lofoten islands and ends at the town of A. But there are lot of off roads that branch off E10 and we had our fair share of driving on most of them.
Getting to the Lofoten islands & renting a car
The most common way is to take a flight to one of the two major airports on the island, Leknes or Solvaer. Another option is to fly to Bodo on mainland and take a ferry either to Solvaer or Moskenes. Cars can be rented in Bodo or on the islands itself. Usually renting a car in Norway can get really tough on the wallet, on the islands it gets even more pricier. Many people rent it either in Sweden or mainland Norway and take the ferry to get to Lofoten. We by some stroke of luck found a good deal with rent a car moskenes. The cars aren’t the newest, so are a little cheaper but are usually in great condition. They are a locally run business and were extremely helpful and flexible with pick up and drop off times. For us the added advantage was that the rental office was right outside the ferry terminal in Moskenes. Read on for our travelogue on the road.
The red fishing huts of Lofoten
Village of A
We started the drive from south to north and what better than to start chronologically from the village of A. This fishing village is the last motorable road on the island of Moskenesoya. The next islands. Vaeroy and Rost both require a ferry from Moskenes. The port of Moskenes is itself stunningly beautiful and makes for a great picnic stop watching the ferry boats come in and leave, which actually is only a few times a day. Most other times the port is idle and the calm waters reflect the mountains that meticulously frame the cute little port.
Moskenes ferry terminal
Most imaginations of a great Lofoten holiday are based out of Reine. This cute town is dotted with the famous red fishing homes called rorbuer. These houses are perched on the edge of water while majestic cliffs that rise straight out of the sea form a background that can’t be matched. Make sure you stop at the cafe next to Reine church for a bite or two of their scrumptious cakes. We made it a day long stop and hiked to the top of Reinebringen for the best views.
Reine, the most picturesque town in Lofoten
View from the top of Reinebringen
We then stayed back for another day to explore the fjords. The Kjerkfjord lying right behind the town of Reine is not accessible by the road. We kayaked in the midnight through this fjord at our own pace watching the sun paint the sky in a vivid orange hue that lasted for hours. Its also possible to take a ferry that shuttles between Reine and the village of Vindstadt. Its a great way to take in the beauty of the calm fjord and the laid back lifestyle of the Norwegians.
Kayaking the fjords of Reine
Kjerkfjorden and village of Vindstad
Driving in Norway you can’t help but marvel at the great mix of modern architecture and the striking beauty of the fjords. This can be best seen at Hamnoy where E10 connects the tiny islands like pearls on a string.
A superb blend of the architectural and natural beauties
A diversion we highly recommend from here is to the village of Ferdvang. We passed by two iconic bridges which can easily get anyone thinking they are on the The Atlantic Road which is way south but holds the same charm. The sea stretches on both sides and the bridges curve and sway while the water below shines in a silver. This offroad ends dramatically at the Yttersand beach, a white sand beach with the turquoise blue water and the wide panoramas of the mountains striking the perfect balance.
Enroute to Ferdvang, hard to miss these spectacular bridges
Yttersand beach, a grand affair
Back on the E10 passing through Ramberg, we get to the island of Flakstadoya. Ramberg beach is one of the longest beach on the island and gets lot of crowds. While most people come for soaking the sun, there are also a handful who are busy kitesurfing. Just a few kilometers further is Flakstad. The Flakstad beach is our favorite beach to see the midnight sun. It is unobstructed by any mountains unlike most beaches on the Lofoten. There are also camping and public facilities available. A small cafe also serves freshly baked goodies and we loved their apple strudel. After Flakstad the road goes briefly inland tracing contours of a U shaped fjord. This part of the drive the fjord water is so shallow that one can see the reefs below effortlessly.
Kite surfing at the Ramberg Beach
Raging white waves at the Flakstad beach
A great side trip from here is to drive to the south coast and the village of Nusfjord. This best preserved fishing village, named the same as the fjord is a UNESCO world heritage site. The village itself has an eerily calm and serene mood to it. We spent our time sitting at the harbor and watching the tranquil water and the cliffs towering behind.
Arriving at Vestvagoy, the next island on the Lofoten we drove towards Leknes. Leknes, an urban town was our stop to get fueled up and stack up on food. There are also convenient stores, great restaurants and sports shop. It was kind of a breather after the stunning scenery that had our eyes peeled throughout.
Just outside of Leknes a road branching off from the e10 leads to Uttakleiv and a beach with the same name that had our jaw drop in awe. Another beach right next to it is Haukland with white sand. It is the one of the most beautiful beach on the island of Vestvagoy and is conveniently accessible by car.
Eggum & Unstad
On the northern part of Vestvagoy island, a lesser known gem is Eggum national reserve. There is a camping spot, a run down stone fort and lots of soft sand at the beach. There is a short coastal walk of 1km that leads to the Unstadt. Unstadt is also accessible by car through a tunnel so bare you can see the stones dug randomly. Unstadt is a local favorite for adventure sports with organized tours for paddling and kite surfing. The cute town leading to the beach has colorful houses that urge you to just call one of them home.
Eggum beach bathed in the golden hues
A coastal walk from Eggum to Unstad
Driving back on the e10 highway we passed by a bridge that connects the island of Vestvagoy and Gimsoy. Although this island is the smallest in Lofoten, it boasts of a golf course in the most secluded setting. We spent the evening watching midnight sun dazzle the sea from our tent with the only sound being of the crashing waves. We woke up the next day to the pretty meadows and fields of wildflowers. It was very hard to bid bye to this place and get back to the road towards the island of Austvagoya.
Watching the midnight Sun grandeur at Gimsoy beach
Bridge connecting the Gimsoyland
Austvagoya island is also home to the town of Hennigsvaer. This charming port town has a picturesque harbor, excellent cafés, pastel colored houses. For a taste of this quaint town head straight to the climbers cafe even if you are not into climbing. There freshly baked cakes are out of the world and the atmosphere itself is electric and abuzz with. adventure enthusiasts. Take a stroll in the village or hike up to the Glomtinden. This short and easy hike offers a beautiful view of the town itself and the two bridges that connect the rocky islands, while the fjords and sea stretch in both directions in the backdrop.
Taking a stroll in Hennigsvaer
Svolvaer is the biggest town, the closest a city on the islands. This is where the casual travelers and adventure seekers come together. There is a famous boat tour to trolls fjord through a 2 mile long fjord where the boats almost kiss the walls is a thrilling ride in itself. There are also lot of challenging climbs around Svolvaer. The most iconic of them is to Svolvaergeita, where climbers can jump from one pinnacle to the other. We took a hiking route that allowed seeing climbers do the jump. We continued onto the devils window. E10 continues on to the island of Hinnoya, but for the lack of time we had to turn back.
Appreciating the view over the town of Svolvaer
A climber touting the pinnacles of Svolvaer’s famous rocks
Read our other posts on Lofoten islands