Lofoten Islands – Destination of the Month (Nov ’16)

Reine, Norway

When I set out to discover the world’s most picturesque island, I never would’ve imagined it would be somewhere non-tropical, but far north in the hemisphere.

Before Lofoten, I have spent a week growing accustomed to Norway’s pristine, untouched wilderness. But even that wasn’t enough to prepare me for what greets me as I cross the turbulent waters into the Arctic circle.

Dramatic peaks, deep fjords, rugged coastline…

Stunning panoramas are draped all across the Lofoten archipelago. One minute you find yourself in the middle of charming, historic fishing villages; the next minute you’re by the ocean watching turquoise waves crashing into the wintery white coast.

Words have it that Lofoten is even more gorgeous in the summer, as the tundra morphs into endless green fields hugging the mountain sides. But even during my winter visit, the beauty of Lofoten is unparalleled.

Above that, Lofoten is blessed with—not just one—but TWO spectacular natural phenomena:

Hamnøy, Norway

1. In winter, the green light of aurora borealis dances above the sky.

2. In summer, the sun sets and rises at the same time, turning the horizon into a reddish yellow light which lasts for 8-12 hours—a bizarre occurrence known as the midnight sun.

What’s even more surprising is the range of activities you can do here. From kayaking through the fjords, whale watching, bird safari, fishing, surfing, rock climbing and hiking, there’s no shortage of new hobbies you can pick up here.

And if you’re not a hardcore adventurer, a simple walk through its many charming fishing towns such as Reine, Å, Kabelvaag, Henningsvaer, and Svolvær reveals plenty of surprises and feasts for the eye.

Svolvær, Norway

Destination Scorecard

1. Uniqueness: 18/20 — Superlative scenery, together with its unique Far North atmosphere, creates a strong identity which is unmistakably Lofoten. But it’s truly otherworldly once you add Northern Lights and Midnight Sun into the equation.

2. Aesthetic: 20/20 — Even by Norway’s ridiculously high standard, Lofoten is the “best-in-class” when it comes to dramatic landscapes and colorful fishing villages. I’d even go as far to say that Lofoten is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to date.

3. Integrity: 15/15 — Its relatively remote location has helped Lofoten to keep its pristine marine ecosystem intact, while human development remains steeped in its cherished fishing and Viking tradition. Overall, Lofoten has retained most of its original charm.

4. Significance: 10/15 — Lofoten has a strong connection to the Viking settlers, with architectural evidence such as Borg in the island of Vestvågøy, which is the biggest Viking Age building ever found.

5. Shelf Life: 15/15 — Abundance of activities available in Lofoten will keep even the most intrepid travelers occupied. With a relatively sizable area of 1,227 km2, there are plenty of scenic villages, islands and sights to explore you’ll never quite get bored of Lofoten Islands.

6. Access: 13/15 — Despite its relative remoteness, Lofoten is surprisingly accessible with airports on Svolvær, Leknes and Røst. Passenger boats and ferries pass by the archipelago. Public buses also run everyday from Narvik, Bodø, Harstad and in between all villages inside Lofoten Islands. Living infrastructure is decent without crossing into “over-development”.

Destination Score: 91/100

Do you agree with the score? Click here to find out how it compares with other destinations and learn how the ranking system works.

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