The photography guide to Norway Lofoten
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Lofoten photography guide

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Introduction

The Lofoten Islands are at the top of many a landscape photographer’s bucket list, and for good reason. Old fishing villages, home-stays in famous rorbuer ( typical fishermen’s houses), exploring some of the most incredible beaches on this planet and jaw-dropping views of spiky mountains diving straight into deep fjords are but of a few of the draws.



Most popular Lofoten photo spots


Top Picks

Hamnøy is probably the most popular and well-known spot on the Lofoten Islands. It embraces the spirit of the  Islands perfectly, with its red cabins, the mountains behind and the sea all around. Winter is the best time of the year to get the contrast between the snowy landscapes, the sea and the cabins. This is definitely a sunrise location as the sun will rise from behind you and you will get the golden light all over the mountain and the cabins. 

Another photographic highlight of Lofoten is the Reine area. The 7 km stretch between Reine and Hamnøy offers limitless possibilities with views around every corner. Go during winter for the snowy and dreamy landscapes, but summer gives the option to take the Reinebringen trail to a spectacular viewpoint from where you can see Reine, Sakrisøy, Hamnøy and the surrounding mountains around from above. 

Be sure not to miss the spectacular beaches of Lofoten. For the more adventurous, hiking out to either Bunes or Kvalvika beach will be the ultimate experience. For an easier option, the beaches of Flakstadøy and Vestvågøy are easily reached by car and just as beautiful. Skagsanden is probably the most famous beach of the entire archipelago and we recommend you try some night photography here. Since all of the best compositions you can take in this place are pointing towards the north, it’s one of the best places to see and photograph the Aurora Borealis with stunning arctic landscapes as a backdrop.

There are five main islands in the Lofoten archipelago connected by a series of bridges, roads and tunnels: Moskenesøy, Flakstadøy, Vestvågøy, Gimsøy, and Austvågøy plus numerous smaller islands to explore. Whilst the well-known locations are not to be missed, you’ll discover an endless amount of locations at every turn, with changing light and weather conditions meaning you can return again and again, in different seasons and always find something new to capture. 

The main cities in the archipelago are Harstad (located in the northern part), Svolvær (located in the central part), Leknes and Reine (both located on the southern part). 

The population lives mostly on fishing and tourism. During summer, the Lofoten Islands are a great place to hike and to view the Midnight Sun, while in winter they are one of the best places on Earth to witness the magnificent displays of the Northern Lights.

Winter is arguably the best time of year to visit the Lofoten islands because everything is covered in a pristine layer of white snow, lakes are frozen and exploring the spectacular landscapes will leave you speechless. You'll also have a better than normal chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis thanks to the high latitude of the place. The temperatures never become too cold by the coast, so you can spend time hunting the Northern Lights without freezing your toes off! The sun never rises too high above the horizon during winter meaning light is favourable for longer.

Summer is the best time to enjoy hiking and camping in the wilderness. The Midnight Sun phenomena means that you won’t see any darkness, so you'll enjoy long sunsets and sunrises from the peaks of mountains. Early summer means the opportunity to photograph wildflowers in the mountains, while later in the season, the days will become shorter and you may experience a light dusting of snow on the mountains. 




Travel

There are two main ways to arrive on these islands: the first is by boat from Bodø, a city along the coast, while the second one is by plane.

There are two airports on the Lofoten Islands: Svolvær (SVJ), where you’ll find daily departures from Oslo, while the minor airport is in Leknes (LKN), with departures from Bodø. Another airport option is Harstad/Narvik Evenes (EVE) situated 230 km, 3.5 hours east of Leknes, between the cities of Harstad and Narvik. However this requires a long drive long drive and potential for delays or road closures in extreme weather. 

Car hire is almost essential if you want to get anywhere off the E10. Reine would be manageable without a car as there is plenty to cover on foot in the area. Public transport is infrequent and impractical if you want to time shots for the best light.

Winter driving in Norway can challenging. The roads are not always fully plowed and a layer of compacted snow/ice often remains. Studded winter tires are a requirement (Oct - April) but caution is always needed whether or not your are familiar with driving in extreme winter conditions.

 In milder times and following rainfall driving on the wet ice will be even more difficult, particularly in high winds  - take extra caution on any turns or inclines/declines. On certain days where driving is not recommended due to extreme conditions, a general ‘stay home’ warning will be posted in the newspapers/social media. Take care if turning or parking as the most sections of road have a ditch just past the snow poles. Be certain there is ground beneath before you pull off the road or attempt to park.

Emergency numbers in Norway are: 110 - Fire, 112 - Police, 113 - Ambulance/Medical

The local currency is the Norwegian Krone but cards are accepted everywhere so the need for cash is minimal.

Phone connection is available almost everywhere in the Lofoten Islands - the archipelago is well connected and 3G or 4G are always available along the main road. All hotels and restaurants have good WiFi.

Winter clothing list

During the short winter day temperatures barely rise above freezing point so you’ll have to deal with cold temperatures throughout the day. The following items are essential:

  • A warm, heavy jacket to protect you from wind and snow;
  • Warm fleece sweaters and thin layers;
  • Thermal underwear ;
  • Thermal trousers/light ski pants for night photography;
  • Heavy duty boots that are waterproof and will keep your feet warm;
  • A scarf, hat and decent photography gloves to keep your hands warm.








Links


Explore more photo spots in Norway

If you want to explore beyond Lofoten, we have 79 photo spots and 2 events that you can visit in Norway.


Curated By

Team PhotoHound Team
This is a team account.
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Dancho Hristov Curator
I am a wildlife and landscape photographer based in Sofia, Bulgaria and lead photography trips and photo walks in Bulgaria and Northern Greece.
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