Gay Guide • LOFOTEN ISLANDS | Itineraries, Tips and What to See | Practical Complete LGBT Friendly
GAY FRIENDLY ISOLE LOFOTEN
Travel solutions with itineraries to discover all the wonders of this destination, places not to be missed, tips about where to sleep and what to eat, and above all many small special tips to enjoy your journey !
From the breathtaking views that Norway hides
to the traditional fishing villages of the Lofoten Islands,
through the history of the Viking peoples,
passing by the scenic road E10.
GAY FRIENDLY NORWAY and LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Norway was among the first countries in the world to recognize equal rights for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. There is a generous attitude towards sexuality and gender identity and this country was among the first to enact anti-discrimination laws against gays and lesbians. Precisely for this reason it is ranked fourth among 49 European countries in the annual Rainbow Europe Map 2022 ranking by ILGA-Europe (International Lesbian and Gay Association). Nowadays homosexual couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples, among which church marriage, adoption and assisted fertilization emerge.
Visiting this destination at its best depends essentially on how long you have to fully enjoy it. Here is a solution based on the number of days available to you:
Day 1 - ITALY / Narvik/Harstad Airport - Lofoten (Stamsund area)
Day 2 - Lofoten Sud (Hamnøy, Å & Reine/Reinebringen)
Day 3 - Lofoten Nord (Svolvær, Henningsvaer & Viking Museum)
Day 4 - Kvalvika Beach and the Hiking Trail to Ryten
Day 5 - (EXTRA) Andenes (close to Lofoten Islands)
Day 6 - (EXTRA) Senja Islands (close to Lofoten Islands)
Day 7 - (EXTRA) Narvik (close to Lofoten Islands)
Day 8 - Narvik - Narvik/Harstad Airport / ITALY
(By opening the Maps with Google, you can easily follow our path)
Click'n'Go - Click on the places to find them on the Map
WHAT TO SEE in LOFOTEN ISLANDS?
10 THINGS TO SEE in LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Here is perhaps the most scenic and picturesque village of the Lofoten Islands, Hamnøy. It is located along the E10 scenic route and a photo from the main bridge is a must. As soon as you find yourself in front of its red houses overlooking the sea, you will understand why the Lofoten Islands are a must-visit place!
Svolvær is a city in Norway, located on the Lofoten islands and in the municipality of Vågan, of which it is the capital. Svolvær is the beating heart of the archipelago with mountains and exuberant forests among which we find a small village of about 9,000 inhabitants engaged in fishing and tourism. In this area it is possible to find movement thanks to the various bars, hotels and restaurants. It is worth taking a walk in the port area which is characterized by colorful houses.
It is a small fishing village and is the municipality with the shortest name in the world. It is located in the middle of the Lofoten Islands, precisely in the city of Mosekenes and its name means 'stream'. It is pronounced like the vowel 'o' and we were delighted by its spectacular location which mixes with the traditional red houses 'floating' on the water, making it a one of a kind place.
Troll Fjord (Trollfjord)
It is also called "Trollfjord" and is a strait characterized by rocky mountains more than 1,000 meters high, many narrow and therefore only boats and ferries will be seen passing through.
One of the prettiest villages in Norway, surrounded by pointed mountains that seem to protect the colorful cottages at their feet. Not surprisingly, it is one of our favorite places and is known as "the most beautiful village in Norway", a fishing village lying on the fjords north of the Arctic Circle.
If you want to delve deeper into Reine and its surroundings, it is possible to go trekking along one of the most beautiful and particular paths in the world with the best panoramic view at an altitude of almost 500 meters in just 2 kilometers (but 1500 steps!). From here you can admire the sunset. We were blown away!
It is a small fishing village located between the island of Heimøya and Helllandsøya. Characterized by bridges from which it is possible to admire colored houses, fishing boats, restaurants, shops, art galleries. Don't miss the village soccer field (one of the most unusual in the world, given its location) surrounded by fish dryers.
A small town located on the island of Flakstadoya that has a maximum of one hundred inhabitants. Here it is possible to admire the fish drying in the sun. Nusfjord sits alongside a beautiful fjord characterized by rocky mountains and freezing waters.
It is one of the most beautiful and characteristic beaches in Norway. To be able to reach it, you have to do it on foot via a path of about 2 kilometers that starts from the village of Fredvang with a drop of almost 200 meters and is an ideal place to camp and relax.
It is a small town of about 1,200 inhabitants surrounded by crystal clear waters and many colorful houses. It is suspected that in this town there was the first occupation where the first fishermen's houses and a church were built, the so-called "Vagan church" built in 1898 and considered the largest wooden building in Norway.
It is another of the best places to see in the islands and it is amazing due to the amazing beach with white sand and crystal clear waters. It is possible to find a wooden path and an entirely isolated red wooden house from which you can admire picturesque views and we are sure you will be fascinated by the beauty of this view.
Lofotr Viking Museum
To discover and fully understand the Viking culture that has marked Norwegian history, a visit to the Lofotr Viking Museum, famous for the largest Viking building ever discovered, is a must. The ruins were discovered by chance by a farmer from the town in 1981 and it is a house of a Viking chief, now rebuilt in full size. Here you can observe how the Vikings lived 1,000 years ago. In addition to the museum tour, in the summer it is possible to take part in a boat tour on the nearby lake (included in the ticket).
WHAT TO DO in the LOFOTEN ISLANDS in WINTER and SUMMER
Kayak (winter and summer)
A fun activity is to kayak along the coast and enjoy the view from the water. It is clearly a summer activity but can also be practiced in winter, in the snow-capped mountains. The climate that surrounds the islands means that the temperatures are not so harsh, but bear in mind that the water does not exceed 2ºC and the wind makes the thermal sensation even colder.
Whale Watching in Andenes or Henningsvær (winter and summer)
The people of Norway have always been known to be whale hunters but nowadays whaling is not so common and therefore they can still be seen on the coast. During the spring and summer it is possible to take boat trips to see whales and other marine animals such as killer whales or birds.
Observe the Hanging Stockfish (winter and spring)
The peculiarity of the villages of the Lofoten Islands are the cod that are hung on the stockfish and remain there until they dry up. This practice can only be seen from February to May as temperatures are approximately 0°C throughout the day and it is very important in Norway as cod is so sacred that observing their traditions closely is always useful in order to broaden one's own cultural baggage. If you smell a certain 'smell', don't worry, you're in the right place!
See the Sea Eagle (winter and summer)
One of the most popular activities in Norway is the sighting of white-tailed sea eagles and it will be an unforgettable experience to get on the dinghy to spot them! You have to reach the Lofoten Express agency which will equip you in everything and you will seem to be inside a National Geographic documentary!
Admire the Flakstad Church (winter and summer)
It is one of the oldest red wooden churches and in fact it was built in 1780 and in addition to this interesting is the place where it is located. Next to this church we enjoyed photographing and admiring the typical cows of Norway, super hairy and insensitive to the gale force winds.
the BEST TREKKING and HIKING to do in the LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Reinebringen - the Most Beautiful Trekking in the Lofoten Islands
Trekking Time: circa 1h15 circa each way
Elevation: 448 m
Route: 1 Km (1566 steps)
The Trekking to reach Reinebringen is truly suggestive and is one of the best marked in the Lofoten Islands. To reach it, just drive along the E10 towards Reine. There are various parking options here, all of which are subject to charges, located approximately 1.5/1.8 km from the start of the route. The first parking is that of the Reine Cultural Center, costing around €15 for the whole day. Just ahead you will find Reine Harbor with another large rest area costing €4 per hour. If instead you want free parking, the only possibility is to continue beyond Reine in the direction of Moskenes (put the Djupfjord Bridge point on the navigator), where there is a free parking which is about 1.3 km from the starting point of the trail, obviously always full, click here to get there.
To leave, just get to the Ramsviktunnel, from there an external path will take you to the staircase from which to start the climb. Among the many indications and the large crowd that travels through it, it will be impossible not to find it. Warning: the trek is quite demanding, with around 1500 steps to climb to get to the top, but along the way there are stone benches where you can stop and take a breather.
Kvalvika Beach and the Hiking Trail to Ryten
Another unmissable trek in the Lofoten Islands is the one that leads to Kvalvika Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Lofoten Islands. These are two small tongues of sand in a landscape that is nothing short of suggestive thanks to very fine light sand, the turquoise color of the water and an unspoiled nature typical of Norwegian landscapes. There are two paths to take:
Trekking Time: circa 1h30 per tratta
Elevation: 200 m circa
Route: 2 km
The first route, the simplest one, will take you to discover Kvalvika beach in approximately 1h/1h30. The route has a vertical drop of 200 meters and passes the magnificent and picturesque Torsfjord. There are no trails that are too complex. It is possible to leave the car in some free car parks (see Car Park 2 on the map), just follow Fredvang as a reference point and continue beyond the village on the FV808 road for about 3 km.
Trekking Time: circa 2h30 per tratta
Elevation: 540 m circa
Route: 3,5 km
The second hiking route has as a reference point Ryten and Fredvang, the most spectacular viewpoint of Kvalvika Beach, as well as the most famous one. If you want to reach Ryten, a slightly more demanding route, you will arrive at the spectacular viewpoint. To get to the starting point, just put the Fredvang village on the navigator, which you will meet along the E10, or click here (see Car Park 1 on the map). There is a paid parking lot and the cost for the whole day is around €10. From here, take the path which is initially on wooden walkways (the terrain is often marshy) and then continues towards the mountains.
Henningsvær from above and the Hiking Route to Festvågtind
Trekking Time: circa 50 minutes for the plateau, 1h15 for the summit
Elevation: 540 meters
Route: 1,5 km
Here is another unmissable trek to do in the Lofoten Islands, which allows you to go from the picturesque town of Henningsvær to Festvågtind, directly overlooking the sea. You can leave your car next to the road (free parking - click here to get there). The route begins in a simple way, with a road made of stones, but then continues on more friable ground. Already after 40 minutes you arrive at a wonderful viewpoint that offers a crazy panorama. If you want, you can go even higher.
WHEN TO SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS in NORWAY and LOFOTEN ISLANDS
The best time to see the Northern Lights is from the end of September to the end of March, but the most likely to see them are from December to January, as there are more hours of darkness and it is possible to see them in the whole Region of Norway.
Being able to see the Northern Lights is like being able to see a rainbow. It's just a matter of luck
The sky must be clear and clear (no clouds)
It is necessary to have a good camera because sometimes the human eye cannot see it well.
The Aurora Borealis moves and shifts
Dress well because often the clearest days are also the coldest and you can be out and about looking for the aurora for a long time
WHERE and HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH THE NORTHERN LIGHTS in NORWAY and LOFOTEN ISLANDS
To see the Northern Lights you can opt for a guided tour or go to a dark place away from the illumination of the cities. Better to bring a head battery and some spare batteries with you, so as to be prepared if the cold should play a bad trick on charging, as often happens. To photograph the aurora, equip yourself with a camera and tripod, for long exposure photographs. To photograph the Northern Lights set the camera as follows: aperture f / 2.8, ISO 800 (increases if it is very dark) and 8 seconds of exposure time. Keep in mind that if the aurora is moving very quickly, you will need to reduce the shutter speed.
USEFUL APP TO SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS in NORWAY and LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Before going out to see the Northern Lights, we recommend that you install the "My Aurora Forecast" application on your smartphone. It will be very useful for you to know the current KP index (we tell you what it is below) and find out how many chances there are of seeing the aurora, based on where you are. Download it here - App Store o Google Play.
The KP index is a value on a scale ranging from 0 to 9. At a KP index of 0 there is a very faint or nonexistent aurora, while at most, 9, a large geomagnetic storm is in progress.
WHEN AND WHERE TO SEE THE MIDNIGHT SUN in NORWAY and LOFOTEN ISLANDS
The best time to see the Midnight Sun is from Late May to Mid July, as there are more daylight hours and it can be seen in whole Norway. With many hours of daylight, it will be possible to extend your excursions. Tip: Bring an eye mask which can be useful for sleeping even with light.
WHERE TO STAY in NORWAY and LOFOTEN ISLANDS?
BEST LGBT FRIENDLY HOTELS & APARTMENTS in NORWAY and LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Å - Lofoten Å HI hostel Å - Lofoten Fishing
Henningsvær - Tobiasbrygga ® Tested by World Mappers Reine - Andøy Vest Rorbuer Reine Svolvær - Fast Hotel Lofoten *** Svolvær - Scandic Svolvær *** Svolvær - Thon Hotel Svolvær ***** Svolvær - Anker Brygge ***** Sørvågen - The Tide Rorbuer *** Stamsund - Finnvika Lodges
Ballstad - Hattvika Lodge *** Ramberg - Lofoten Cabins – Kåkern **** Kabelvåg - Lofoten Kabelvåg-small Apartment
Narvik - NARVIKFJELLET Camp 291
Andenes - Kristina Apartment
WHAT ARE the RORBUERS of NORWAY and LOFOTEN?
The Rorbuers are a characteristic stilt house built in wood and specifically painted red, a sort of seaside hut with extremely bright colors which were used by Norwegian fishermen but which in recent years have become famous accommodation for tourists. Sleeping in a rorbu will give you the opportunity to get in touch with the history of the place
THE BEST RORBUER WHERE TO STAY IN THE LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Å - Å Rorbuer *** Reine - Reine Rorbuer - by Classic Norway Hotels *** Hamnøy - Eliassen Rorbuer ***
Stamsund - Finnvika Lodges Vestvågøy - Vestvågøy Rorbu *** Nusfjord - Nusfjord Artic Resort Svinøya / Svolvær - Svinøya Rorbuer *** Henningsvær - Henningsvær Rorbuer *** Sakrisøy / Reine - Sakrisøy Rorbuer AS *** Kabelvåg - Nyvågar Rorbuhotell - by Classic Norway Hotels ***
WHERE TO EAT in LOFOTEN ISLANDS?
BEST TYPICAL RESTAURANTS of LOFOTEN ISLANDS Qualiy/Price
Å - €€€ - Brygga Restaurant
Henningsvær - €€€ - Fiskekrogen
Henningsvær - €€€ - Klatrekafeen
Henningsvær - €€ - Restaurant The Blue Fish
Henningsvær - €€ - Restaurant Lofotmat
Svolvær - €€€ - Borsen Spiseri
Svolvær - €€€ - Restaurant Kjoekkenet
Svolvær - €€ - Nordis Restaurant Svolvær
Svolvær - €€ - Paleo Artic
Sørvågen - €€€ - Maren Anna
Reine - €€€ - Restaurant Gammelbua
Reine - €€ - Gadus
Nusfjord - €€€ - Restaurant Karoline
Bodø - €€ - Bryggerikaia
Senja (Skaland) - €€ - Camp Steinfjord
WHAT TO EAT in LOFOTEN ISLANDS?
BEST TYPICAL DISHES of LOFOTEN ISLANDS
It consists of northern cod preserved by drying, very similar to cod but only in appearance. It is accompanied by potatoes, spinach, bacon, cherry tomatoes and a tasty Charon sauce (a type of béarnaise sauce with added tomatoes).
They are very tender and cooked in tempura with cabbage, mango, ponzu sauce, chili mayonnaise and sesame.
It is a very dark and tender type of meat and tastes very similar to the saddle of roe deer, accompanied by a pumpkin puree and very thin homemade fries.
It is a whale-based dish seasoned with a very fresh vinaigrette and mayonnaise and with the addition of walnuts that give the dish a crunchy finish.
It is a tasty red meat and its lean fillet lends itself very well to being accompanied by a homemade sauce of local berries.
Halibut with Potatoes and Broccoli Cream
The dish consists of a piece of halibut (halibut in Italian) steamed combined with a cream of broccoli with potatoes and roasted cauliflower.
It is a local fish soup made with potatoes, carrots, wild salmon and fresh cod and a little fresh cream. It has a delicate flavor and will warm you up from the Norwegian cold. We really liked it a lot.
It is a very tasty dish, tasty and intense but also a little spicy. Although it is quite tough and thick meat, it is worth a try.
It is a fruit similar to raspberry but orange (also known as Arctic Gold) and with a more acidic taste. With the addition of sugar it is really delicious. It's our favorite fruit!
TRAVEL TIPS about NORWAY and LOFOTEN ISLANDS by World Mappers
What is the best time to visit the Lofoten Islands? Without a doubt it is the period from May to July to be able to admire the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun since these are the months with little rain and days of full light. For those who are instead fascinated by the Northern Lights phenomenon, the most convenient period is winter, between December and January, despite being the coldest and darkest months.
But how to dress for a trip to the Lofoten Islands? The climate is very variable and for this reason, whether it is winter or summer, it is advisable to travel with layered and waterproof clothing. It is important to have technical undergarments, preferably in merino wool. Fleeces and clothing with insulating lining, a suitable winter jacket, windproof and waterproof, and good thick socks. Touch gloves under ski gloves. Neck warmer, ear muffs and a wool cap or ushanka and you're ready to discover these wonderful areas!
Another practical question is how to get to the Lofoten Islands. They can be reached from Italy by plane to Bodø or Narvik/Harstad. From Bodø there is a ferry to Moskenes. You can book it and buy it by clicking on this link.
Once you arrive in the Lofoten Islands, how to get around? You definitely need a car (which can be rented for example at Bodø airport and will be supplied with studded tyres, perfect for the icy roads). The bus lines run infrequently while the ferries are very convenient for reaching the more distant islands.
The Lofoten National Tourist Route E10 is completely FREE.
You only pay for Local Ferries like the one between Andenes - Gryllefjord. But how to book or pay for Ferries to Lofoten? Click here to find out the timetables of the various ferries or download the App Troms. If you have rented a car with a Norwegian license plate, then the cost of the ferry will automatically be charged to the card given to you when you rented it.
If, on the other hand, you have a car with a non-Norwegian foreign license plate, you need to register with FerryPay, a no-discount payment solution by credit or debit card. Foreign cars that are not registered in Norway must pay for the ferry via FerryPay. The vehicle registration number is automatically read when entering the ferry and linked to the FerryPay profile. The credit or debit card you have on file on your contract is automatically charged for a full-price ticket per ferry journey. You can register easily by clicking here. On the other hand, those with Norwegian license plates (such as rental cars) will pay using AutoPASS, the automated system for paying road and ferry tolls.
To get on the ferries, the "first come, first board" rule applies until parking spaces are available. Ferries from Andenes are two a day, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. If you are leaving on the morning ferry (as we did), we advise you to wait for the last evening ferry to arrive and then park your car directly in the lines for boarding the ferry, in this way you will be able to board the ship safely . We have seen a lot of cars grounded when they arrive in the morning.
The local currency is the "kroner" (abbreviated NOK), which is worth about 10 euro cents. There are many ATMs where you can withdraw but credit cards and debit cards are accepted practically everywhere and are sometimes preferred.
Do you have a passion for surfing? Great, don't forget the table at home! At 'Unstad' beach you can practice it or see the local surfers riding the huge waves between mountains and ice.
We recommend, if possible, to stay in apartments given the high cost of living (especially food in restaurants). Clearly you have to taste some typical dishes but at the same time you can save money by doing some shopping and cooking in the apartment!
Near the Lofoten Islands, not to be missed is Senja Island, inhabited by about 7,800 people and connected to the mainland by the Gisund bridge, it is the second largest island in Norway and competes with Lofoten for the beauty of its landscapes. Mandatory stops: Gryllefjord, a really nice village where you can find a supermarket with a petrol pump, a library, a “kafé”, a church and a second-hand shop, the Bergsbotn utsiktsplattform, a viewing platform where you can a short stop, Tungenes, a beach with a breathtaking view of a pointed mountain range, and the small town of Husøy, a beautiful islet located in the øyfjord and connected to Senja by a short causeway, hosting about 300 people which makes it the most active fishing community in Senja.
Still close to the Lofoten Islands, we recommend going to Andenes, the perfect starting point for whale watching tours. But be careful to check whether the excursions start or not, if the sea is rough they cancel them. We booked with Whale2Sea, click here for the official website.
Also don't miss the Buksnes Church, located in the village of Gravdal on the island of Vestvågøya. It is a religious temple built in 1905 in red wood and is very characteristic of Norway since it was built in the Dragestil style, that is, the style of a dragon, a variant of the national Romanesque style.
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CHEAP CAR RENTAL in NORWAY and LOFOTEN ISLANDS
To travel around Norway and Lofoten Islands you need a rental car. We have chosen to rely on DiscoverCars.com, the best car rental website where you can search, compare and save up to 70%, a real bargain right? They will help you choose the perfect car for your next trip, without having surprises of car delivery surcharges, and where it suits you best. Then just download their App to manage your booking wherever you are.
TRAVEL INSURANCE for NORWAY and LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Before any trip it is good to take out insurance to cover any inconveniences that could ruin the experience. We always rely on HeyMondo which allows you to choose the right insurance for every need. We recommend that you always protect yourself with health insurance and coverage for any cancellations, delays and, if you use them, for theft or breakage of electronic equipment. Medical treatment in Norway can be very expensive. Health insurance in this country is not mandatory by law but is strongly recommended; without it, even a routine visit can make you shell out staggering amounts.