• Ine Vandenwyngaert

Lofoten Islands & Northern Norway: 10-14 Day Tromsø to Lofoten Road Trip Itinerary

Updated: Oct 5

The Lofoten Islands are located within the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway. With jaw-dropping landscapes, long stretches of white-sand beaches, narrow fjords, and small fishing villages, this is truly one of the most beautiful destinations in the entire world. We were lucky to spend 14 days traveling from Tromsø to the Lofoten Islands. This time allowed us to see the highlights of the region as well as some lesser-visited spots outside the Lofoten. In this article, we’ll share our road trip itinerary for 10 to 14 days, including the things you can’t miss and how long you should stay in each place.


Check out our video on the Lofoten Islands & Northern Norway to get a sense of what it's like there!




Lofoten Islands Table of Contents


If you want to skip to a specific section faster, click one of the bullet points below


Important things to know before you go to the Lofoten Islands


There are a few things you should know before visiting the Lofoten Islands. The following tips will help you prepare for your trip:


Lofoten Islands weather


First, the weather in the Lofoten Islands and Northern Norway is very unpredictable. As it's located well above the Arctic Circle, it can be cold even during the summer time. In fact, you can have all seasons in one day, even if the day starts out with clear blue skies. Regardless of what the weather forecast is saying, you should always bring rain gear and warm layers that you can remove when the sun comes out. Check the most up-to-date weather forecast on yr.no.


Best time to travel


The best time to travel to the Lofoten Islands and Northern Norway is from May to September. From late May until mid-July, you can enjoy the midnight sun, meaning that the sun doesn’t set! During these months, the daily temperature generally hovers around 15°C and may even reach 20°C on hot days. It’s also the best time to go hiking as most of the snow will have melted!


Things to do in the Lofoten Islands


Northern Norway is known for its magnificent nature. So it comes as no surprise that the top things to do are outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking, and climbing. Expect very muddy and wet conditions when doing these activities, even during the peak summer season. During the autumn and winter it’s also possible to see the magical northern lights dancing in the sky. However, the sun doesn’t rise from early December to early January, so it’s best to avoid that time.


Accommodation


Norway has an amazing law (“allemansretten”) that gives you the right to enjoy and stay in nature for FREE. This means that you can camp anywhere in Northern Norway, whether that is with a tent or in your campervan, as long as it’s at least 150 meters from a house or cabin and not on cultivated land. You must also move spots every two days if you’re not in remote areas. This means that you can save a lot of money on accommodation during your trip. And while we decided to camp most of our days, we don’t necessarily recommend it. The heavy winds and random rain showers can make it extremely challenging, even in summer. We recommend renting a campervan or booking a warm, dry place to stay instead. Under each stop, you can find the places that we stayed at.


Driving


It’s not easy to get around Northern Norway and the Lofoten Islands with public transportation. We highly recommend getting a rental car or campervan so you can easily get to trailheads and beaches. If you have a rented vehicle, you will see a small box right next to your rearview mirror. This automatically registers all the toll stations you pass and the ferries you take. If you drive your own car, your license plate will be registered and you will receive the bill by mail a few weeks after your trip. Keep in mind that the roads are quite narrow, which makes it harder for larger vehicles!


Cost of traveling


When it comes to cost of living, Norway is one of the most expensive countries you could choose to visit in the world. The cost of food and alcoholic drinks is extremely high. The best way to save money is to cook your own meals as much as you can and to make use of the free camping law.



driving in the lofoten islands


10-14 Day Road Trip Itinerary from Tromsø to the Lofoten Islands


Use the map to navigate between different highlights and stops!



Stop 1: Tromsø


Length: 1-2 days

Highlights: harbor, arctic church, fjellstua viewpoint, polar museum, polaria

Where we stayed: Scandic Grand Hotel

 

Our road trip itinerary starts in the city of Tromsø. This is the biggest city in northern Norway, and the cheapest place to fly into and rent your vehicle from. We picked up our car from the airport, which we found online via RentalCars.


It’s best to spend one or two days in Tromsø to cover the main highlights of the city. These include the harbor, the Arctic church, the fjellstua viewpoint, the polar museum, and polaria. Find more in-depth suggestions in our article about the best things to do in Tromsø.



view of Tromso from the Fjellstua viewpoint
view of Tromso from the Fjellstua viewpoint

Stop 2: Kvaløya


Length: 1-2 days

Best Hikes (click link to follow route map): Brosmetinden hike, Ørnfløya hike

Other Highlights: Sommarøy fishing islands, Grøtfjordbotn beach, Sandneshamn beach

Where we stayed: we camped at Steinsvika beach

 

The island of Kvaløya is only a short drive away from Tromsø. With breathtaking views of immense mountains and fjords, this is a great introduction of what is to come. Take your time to drive around and visit the most beautiful spots: Ersfjordbotn, Grøtfjordbotn beach, Sandneshamn beach, and the fishing islands of Sommarøy. If the weather is nice, we recommend hiking to Brosmetinden and ørnfloya. Both hikes are relatively short and easy.


view from the ornfloya hike
view from the ornfloya hike

Stop 3: Senja


Length: 1-2 days

Best Hikes (click link to follow route map): Hesten hike, Sukkertoppen hike, Husfjellet hike

Other Highlights: Tungeneset viewpoint, Husøy island

Where we stayed: camped at the summit of Hesten & stayed at the Skagi Senja Lodge

 

The breathtaking island of Senja is next. Take a short ferry ride from Brensholmen to Botnhamn in the morning or later during the day. You can find the ferry schedule here.


Senja is Norway’s second-biggest island, famous for its jagged peaks. Fun things to do on Senja include sightseeing at Husøy island, the Tungeneset viewpoint and the Sukkertoppen hike. The most iconic peak is undoubtedly Segla, towering above the town of Fjordgård. The best view of this needle-like mountain is from the summit of the Hesten hike, which is about 4.6 kilometers total. We decided to start this hike at 9pm and camp at the summit since the weather was calling for blue skies at sunrise. As we set up camp, we crossed our fingers that the sun would come out in the morning…




Stop 4: Lofoten Islands - Austvågøy


Length: 1-2 days

Best Hikes (click link to follow route map): Festvågtind hike, Tjeldbergtind hike

Other Highlights: National Tourist Road (on Andøya), Austnesfjorden, Svolvær, , Trollfjord cruise, Henningsvær

Where we stayed: Fast Hotel Svolvær

 

After Senja, it’s finally time to head to the Lofoten, a chain of seven main islands (Austvågøy, Gimsøy, Vestvågøy, Flakstadøy, Moskenesøy, Vaerøy and Røst). We recommend catching a 2-hour ferry ride from Gryllefjord to Andenes, which operates from mid-May to the beginning of September only. Unfortunately for us, we ran into some weather problems so we had to reroute and actually drive to the Lofoten Islands instead. This added about an hour for the day.



If the weather is cooperating and you do actually get to take the ferry, then you can stop at some beautiful viewpoints along the way on the National Tourist Road throughout Andøya. And even if you don’t take the ferry, you’ll still arrive on Austvågøy island, just a little later than planned.


Austvågøy is the northernmost island in the Lofoten and has a lot to offer. Once you get there, we recommend stopping at Austnesfjorden for your first viewpoint. Then, hit the vibrant town of Svolvær where you can enjoy beautiful walks on the calm waterfront or embark on a cruise to Trollfjord. On the cruise, you’ll be treated with stunning views and you might even see eagles along the way like we did.



Trollfjord lofoten islands
Trollfjord

Next, we recommend doing your first hike on the Lofoten Islands. Starting just behind the town of Svolvær, you can do the beautiful Tjelbergtind hike. This is a great starter hike to get acquainted with the Lofoten trails. It is only 4.3 kilometers long and is a moderate difficulty, but has some stellar views of Svolvær and the surrounding mountains from the top.


tjeldbergtind hike lofoten islands
tjeldbertind hike view

For your final stop on Austvågøy Island, we recommend visiting the town of Henningsvær. This town has been one of the busiest fishing villages on the coast for more than a century. You can admire views of the village from the breakwater or head to the world’s most unique soccer field situated on an island by itself.


Once you’ve enjoyed the town, you should definitely do the Festvågtind hike. This hike is challenging due to its steepness, but it’s definitely worth it to get an aerial view over Henningsvær. The trail will take you up a couple of steep boulder areas which can challenge your balance. And at 4.2km total with 541 meters gain, it was the steepest hike we did in the entire Lofoten. If you go all the way to the top, the hike should take about 3 hours total. However, you can also stop when you reach the ridge, in which case the hike is only a medium difficulty and is 2 kilometers total with only 180 meters of elevation gain.




Stop 5: Lofoten Islands - Vestvågøy


Length: 1-2 days

Best Hikes (click link to follow route map): Offersøykammen hike, Uttakleiv to Haukland Beach, Mannen hike (alternatively Veggen hike)

Other Highlights: Unstad surfing, Lofoten Viking Museum, Uttakleiv beach, Haukland beach

Where we stayed: Camping at Haukland Beach & camping at the parking lot of Offersøykammen

 

The road trip continues to the island of Vestvågøy, home to an interesting mix of things to do. The Viking Museum is a great first stop and a perfect place to visit on a bad weather day, which can happen a lot in the Lofoten Islands. The museum offers a ton of great history about the interesting viking culture!


Next, you can check out the beautiful beaches of this island, starting with Unstad which is famous for Arctic surfing. You'll see people surfing here all-year-round!


The Haukland beach area is a great next stop on Vestvågøy island. Here, you can camp on the beach and also do a beautiful coastal walk to the neighboring Uttakleiv beach. This is a great option for families since there is no elevation gain.


If you want a little more adventure, you can do the Mannen hike, sitting just above the Uttakleiv to Haukland beach walk. This trail is steep and challenging as the footing is loose and muddy with very sharp cliffs near the top of the ridge. However, you can stop when you get to the middle of the ridge for nice views of Haukland beach below without the danger of trying to get all the way to the top. In total, this hike is about 4 kilometers with 330 meters of elevation gain and takes 3 hours total to complete. We consider this a hard hike because of the muddy conditions on the ridge.



Finally, you should check out the Offersøykammen hike. This 2.5 kilometer hike has views at the top that are absolutely breathtaking. With 385 meters of elevation gain, the trail has a pretty steady steepness all the way to the top, but is actually more gradual than most other hikes we did in the Lofoten Islands. It’s easy to get off the trail once you’re out of the woods section, but as long as you keep climbing up towards the peak, you’ll see intertwined trails that all lead to the same viewpoint. We consider this hike a medium difficulty and it definitely has one of the best rewards at the top for the amount of physical effort put in.


Offersoykammen hike lofoten islands
sunset view Offersoykammen hike

Stop 6: Lofoten Islands - Flakstadøya


Length: 1-2 days

Best Hikes (click link to follow route map): Volandstind hike

Other Highlights: Nusfjord, Ramberg beach & town, bridge to Fredvang

Where we stayed: Lofoten Beach Camp

 

Next on the Lofoten itinerary is Flakstadøy island, home to small authentic villages and beautiful sandy beaches. Ramberg beach is a great stop to get a peaceful beach walk and listen to the waves gently crashing.


While Ramberg is home to a beautiful beach, Nusfjord is considered the best-preserved fishing village in all of Norway. You can learn all about its traditional fishing practices here, which has played an important role for centuries. But besides the towns, this island offers some incredible landscape views!




Stop 7: Lofoten Islands - Moskenesøy


Length: 2-3 days

Best Hikes (click link to follow route map): Reinebringen hike, Røren & Ytresand beach hike, Munken hike, Bunes beach hike, Ryten & Kvalvika beach hike

Other Highlights: Reine, Ytresand beach

Recommended stay: Rostad Retro Rorbuer

 

The last Lofoten Island we visited is the most popular one… Moskenesøy! This island is home to unspoilt beaches and some of the best hikes on the entire trip. The first hike we recommend is Røren, which is an easy 3.5km trail that only takes about 1.5 hours total to complete. You’ll get stunning views of the crescent-shaped Ytresand beach from above here.


Ytresand beach lofoten islands
Ytresand beach view from Roren

Next, you can keep your hiking boots on for the Ryten and Kvalvika beach trail. This hike has the most diverse scenery in the Lofoten. You’ll come across waterfalls, beaches, and even open plains at one point. This 9 kilometer hike has about 807 meters of elevation gain and takes between 4-5 hours to complete. From the top of Ryten is where you can see the famous views of Kvalvika beach from above. You can make the trail a loop like we did to experience the diversity of landscapes even more, but be aware that it can get pretty muddy as it has less rocks and more open grass and dirt. Check out our Lofoten Hiking video to check out the trail (and the other trails we mention in this article!)


View over Kvalvika lofoten islands
View over Kvalvika from Ryten

After Kvalvika, you can head to the small town of Reine, which is tucked underneath some of the most jagged peaks you’ll come across in the Lofoten. This town is dotted with little red fishing cabins and has a very chill vibe to it. From this town you can also do the most iconic hike in all of the Lofoten Islands... Reinebringen! This 5km out-and-back trail showcases the best views in all of the Lofoten Islands in our opinion and is a hike you can’t miss when visiting. The trail was so popular that they actually created sherpa steps all the way up to the ridge, making it more accessible, safe, and easier. However, due to its steepness and 647 meter elevation gain, it’s still a medium difficulty hike. Overall, this hike took us about 3 hours to complete. Enjoy this iconic view over the town of Reine.


Reinebringen hike lofoten islands
Reinebringen hike view from top

Stop 8: Lyngen Alps