68 Degrees North
Sprinkled gracefully across the wild waters of the Norwegian Sea, the Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands are, by any standard, staggeringly beautiful. A spellbinding mix of deep fjords, snaggle-toothed mountains, high decibel seabird colonies, quaint fishing villages, Viking legends and stunning white beaches. A sight to make any Norse god proud.
This far-flung corner of the world offers fantastic places to surf, scuba dive, snorkel, kayak, rock climb, mountaineer and cycle before enjoying a BBQ under the midnight sun. Children will love the chance to meet indigenous Sami herders and their reindeer whilst recent years have seen the return of the whales and the growth of the largest concentrations of sea eagles in the world. These islands are also a place with a very strong legacy. For generations communities clinging to this coast relied on the abundant fish in the surrounding waters and evidence of this all-pervasive livelihood remains in the iconic red rorbu huts and stockfish racks gracing the foreshores.
Get yourselves strapped in for your epic road trip through the Middle Earth of Scandinavia.
- Flights: Return flights from UK regional airports to Evenes (EVE)
- Transport: Car hire from airport pick-up to airport drop-off
- Accommodation: 7 nights in characterful cabins & hotels
- Meals: Breakfasts where stated
- Trip Pack: Key family-friendly information about the country you are visiting with recommended activity links, places to eat and fun facts.
- Discover the seals, seabirds and whales of Vesterålen
- Explore Trollfjorden on a boat trip or by kayak
- Learn about the original indigenous people of Norway, the Sami
- Visit the islet village of Henningsvær with its galleries, cafes and workshops
- Beach hop along the pure white sands of the Lofoten archipelago
- Discover colourful Viking history with local museums and demonstrations
- Stay in picture-perfect Reine with its red rorbu huts and serene bays
- Hike the famous Nusfjord to Nesland coastal trail
- Seize the opportunity to enjoy numerous adventure activities such as kayaking, hiking, rib safari’s, surfing, rock climbing and mountain biking
- When can we go? May to Sept
- What type of tour is it? Private self-drive tour
- Who is it suitable for? For families seeking raw wilderness perfection, fabulous marine wildlife, sugar white sands and Viking history
- What is the minimum age? We would recommend a minimum age of 6 years due to the active nature of the trip. Please check the recommended activities as the minimum ages will differ.
We publish ‘guideline prices’ for both the high and low season to give a reasonable estimate of what you might expect to pay per person based on a family of four (two adults, two children). To get an accurate price based on your estimated departure date and party size please contact us directly.
Guide Price: May to Sept - £998pp
Arrive at Evenes Airport and pick up your hire car for the start of your family adventure north of the Arctic Circle. Your first island of exploration is Vesterålen, thick with rugged beauty and authentic Sami culture.
Spend the first two nights of your trip in the village of Sortland where its chunky buildings are painted a serene sea-blue.
Fun Facts: The Midnight Sun occurs from May 23 to July 23. Because of Sortland's high latitude, there is no real darkness between late April and mid-August.
Vesterålen is well known for its fabulous whale watching so today we would recommend heading north of the archipelago to the defiant outpost village of Andenes, the epi-centre of all things Cetacean. This tiny town is also home to a space centre, a lonesome lighthouse and a charming jumble of painted wooden boat sheds and nautical paraphernalia. From the space centre, you can witness rockets being launched in the name of auroral research.
From Andenes harbour, you could head out on a whale watching tour with the almost guaranteed certainty of either seeing sperm, minke, pilot or humpback whales, as well as harbour porpoises. Nature's giants at their wild, unimpeded best. You could also enjoy a puffin safari on a traditional fishing boat from the nearby town of Bleik. Return to Sortland via the dramatic west coast of Andoya following the Norwegian Scenic Route passing bays and inlets drizzled with honey-coloured kelp and daubed with brightly painted boathouses.
Alternatively, today, you could follow the coastal drive to Nyksund a remote fishing village on the edge of the island of Langøya. Nyksund was abandoned in the 1970s but has now been revived by a small community of artists and has a unique quirky charm. The nearby tiny fishing village of Stø is another great launching spot for whale watching trips.
Fun Facts: Around the Vesterålen Islands, deep, cold, nutrient-rich water is pushed upward in the springtime, encouraging large blooms of plankton that attract plentiful marine life.
Optional Activities: Whale safari, puffin safari, space research centre
This morning we would recommend visiting the nearby Sami farm which offers visitors an insight into the lives of Norway's indigenous reindeer herders. Hand-feed them lichen, have a go at lassoing antlers and enjoy a short sledding trip before enjoying bowls of hot stew and listening to a series of Sami Joiks (traditional folk music). A wonderful experience!
Next it is time to drive south towards the Lofoten Islands and the pretty town of Solvær, surrounded by dramatic craggy mountains and spectacular views of the Vestfjord. Solvær will be your base for the next two nights with its rickety walkway bridges and wonderful museums, cafes and art galleries. Just outside of Solvær lies the tiny islet of Svinøya with its cluster of proud, red rorbu’s.
Later today we would recommend joining a cruise on the nearby Trollfjorden, one of Norway’s most picturesque fjords where sheer mountains rise up to more than 3,000 feet out of a slither of deep, dark water creating a vertigo in reverse experience. Pull out the binoculars and get the kids to search for orcas and dolphins whilst you warm up with a mug of hot chocolate.
Fun Facts: If you believe the myths, the Trollfjorden was hewn by an axe thrown by quarrelling trolls.
Optional Activities: Sami reindeer farm, Trollfjorden sea eagle safari, war museum
Today is a day of coastal exploration. We would recommend first stopping at the intimate and cosy Kabelvåg, just 5km southwest of Svolvær with its tiny centre of wooden houses hugging the shore of a knobby inlet and aquarium complete with salmon hatchery. Along the road is one of our favourite places in the Lofoten Islands, Rorvikstranda beach, with its amazing turquoise water and curved expanse of squeaky white sand. Take an hour or so to walk the shore and let the kids play.
From here continue south to Henningsvær, a village perched on the edge of the ocean with its colourful buildings housing quirky eateries, galleries and workshops. A burgeoning adventure scene has developed here with opportunities to take a sea eagle safari where the birds swoop down to catch the herring thrown by the skipper. You could also join a guided kayaking trip to explore calm bays and secret coves with hopefully a few seals and otters popping up along the way or enjoy a guided hike of the surrounding spectacular coastline with tales of Trolls for the kids to enjoy.
Fun Facts: In the summertime, the Lofoten Insomnia Cycling Race is conducted, taking advantage of the never-ending sunlight.
Optional Activities: Aquarium, guided kayaking, guided hiking, sea eagle safari
Today is a beach hopping day towards the southern end of the Lofoten Islands. But firstly, if you would like to try horse riding then there is a fabulous riding centre on the island of Gimsøy where easy-going Icelandic horses make it perfect beach riding for kids.
Heading west, Unstad and Eggum are two isolated settlements on the north coast of Lofoten where steep cliffs flank white sandy beaches. There are several fabulous hiking trails in the area and it is a surf hotspot for neoprene-clad adventurers. Back on the main road, we would recommend visiting the Viking Museum with its multitude of Norse challenges such as axe-throwing, archery and rowing a traditional longboat. A gung-ho attitude is a certain pre-requisite. You can also taste an authentic Viking meal. Nettle soup anyone?
Travelling south you will stumble across a fairytale set of beaches at Uttakleiv and Haukland. This is the ‘Arctic Caribbean’ with sugar fine sand sitting in wide white crescents and shallow turquoise waters. Take off your shoes, wiggle your toes and search for pink clam shells, striped limpets and fragile urchin skeletons. Anyone feeling especially brave might dare to take a dip.
Heading south along the E10, you will venture across Ramberg beach, another fine crescent of white sand with little wooden walkways and a great spot to enjoy the midnight sun. You can also enjoy glass blowing demonstrations at the nearby workshop. The stunning village of Reine will be your base for the next two nights.
Fun Facts: Vikings never actually had horns on their helmets but they were highly superstitious, shape-shifting into the spirit worlds of bears, wolves and eagles.
Optional Activities: Horse riding, Viking museum
The village of Reine appears in most cover shoots of the Lofoten Islands and has earned itself a reputation as one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is a breathtaking setting, shadowed by majestic granite peaks with pretty rorbuers dotting the shoreline. It is as far into the Norwegian wilds as you can get; a perfect antidote for any tech-addicted offspring.
Reine is a fabulous place to enjoy kayaking around serene bays or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, go hiking to the top of Reinebringen Mountain for incredible views of Reinefjorden and the Lofoten Wall. Be sure to treat yourselves to one of Å’s famous cinnamon swirls on your return. The beautifully preserved Fishing Village Museum is also located in Å, offering a fascinating insight into the past lives of local fisherman as well as demonstrations and a children’s activity room.
You could also take a ferry across to the village of Vindstad and follow the easy hike to the isolated and stunning Bunes Beach, situated in a bowl among the mountains with Helvetestind on one side and Storskiva on the other. In the evening we would suggest sampling a local fish dish like Bacalao as cod is indeed ‘king’ in these parts.
Fun Facts: Å is the last letter of the Norwegian alphabet and is pronounced ‘or’.
Optional Activities: Kayaking, mountain biking, fishing village museum
It would be impossible to miss out the UNESCO-heritage village of Nusfjord when road-tripping around the Lofoten. If your family enjoys hiking we would highly recommend the 5-6 hr round trip to Nesland complete with wildflowers, cloudberries and epic coastal views. If you don't like hiking, no problem - there is also a road to this scenic village with its cluster of houses and inquisitive sheep.
There are also opportunities to hire a fishing boat from Nusfjord and head out on the water to fish for halibut, cod or mackerel. From Nusfjord it is time to head east back along the islands, feasting on views that had previously been cropped to the dimensions of your rear-view mirror. Along the way we would recommend treating the kids to a local farm visit where they can make their own cheese, pick herbs, meet some cute farm animals and enjoy a final Norwegian waffle.
Spend your final night on the eastern edge of the Lofoten Islands.
Fun Facts: In old Norse the name ‘Lofoten’ means lynx foot for the shape of the island Vestvågøya.
Optional Activities: Fishing boat hire, cheese farm
It is time to say goodbye to this beautiful corner of the world and head back to the airport for your flight home to the UK.
Wandering Tribe has travelled to all of the destinations that we feature and we like nothing better than talking about them. If you would like further information about these tours or a tailor-made quote then please contact us on 07392 742333. Alternatively you can fill in the contact form and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.