Trip report + Photos Vesterålen & Lofoten: July 2013!
First of all, THANK YOU so much for all that great advice and for answering all of my many and weird questions prior to going on this trip! We are now back from the Vesterålen & Lofoten islands and had a fantastic time! We had a rental mobile home and due to this flexibility, we did not book anything at all in advance, just took a day at a time and stayed as long as we wished at each place. The weather for these 10 days was very rainy and stormy, but we did have some sunshine, too! We started our road-trip at home, in northern Sweden. We, who travelled, were I + my husband and our dog!
Short description of the places we visited + photo link at the end:
BLEIK, VESTERÅLEN ISLANDS
After a very long day of driving from home in northern Sweden, crossing the border into Norway at Björnfjäll, and with lots of little breaks and photo-stops along the way, we finally arrived in Bleik in the late evening. We stayed at the scenic Midnattsolen Camping in the little sleepy town of Bleik for 4 days. The location at the long picturesque sandy beach with sand dunes and the sharp mountain peaks as a backdrop was really lovely. Apparently, this is Norway`s longest sandy beach! Free wifi.
We went for long walks on the beach and in the dunes every day, saw lots of otters and sheep, photographed the sea gulls and other sea birds and we also did the ”Puffin safari” from the harbour. It cost 400NOK/person for 1,5 hours and we went out in a fishing boat and circled the nearby bird cliff island called Bleiksøya, where around 200.000 puffins live. We got to photograph the puffins close by on the water, swimming and looking for fish. We did not get close enough to the island to take pics of the birds actually sitting on the island due to high waves. A must for this excursion: seasickness pills!!
There is a little shop in Bleik with wonderful fresh homemade bread every morning and heavenly desserts. We bought bread and had strawberry creamcake here and it was delicious! Very expensive though. Mixed weather here, both clouty+rain but also blue skies and sunshine!
Bleik camping, beach and town was the place that we liked most during our entire trip and we hope to return some day!
STØ, VESTERÅLEN ISLANDS
Next up was the tiny harbour town of Stø! Very picturesque with little red houses and rorbu along the sea and wildlife flowers everywhere! Sea gulls nesting in the cliffs right beside the road. Lots of walking trails over the nearby mountains! We had waffles with strawberry jam at the restaurant at the end of the road for lunch (where the Bobil camping is, too) and later that night, we also had dinner there which consisted of a fish dish ”kveite”, which was very delicious! Very good service and amazingly friendly and helpful staff! Free wifi.
We did the ”Puffin and Seal Safari” with Stø Safari for 450NOK/person (1,5 hours tour) with a Rib-boat from here, which was fantastic! It was windy, but we had blue sky and shunshine and the rib-boat took us out to the offshore island of Anda Lighthouse where there is a breeding puffin colony of approx 60.000 birds, which could be seen sitting in groups and in front of their burrows on the grassy slopes. There were also lots of nesting sea gulls with little fluffy chicks, razorbills, guillemot, terns, shags, cormorants etc and we also did see seals sunning themselves on the lower cliffs! A zoom-camera is good to have for this trip for close-up photos, but you do get pretty close anyway! An amazing experience and a heaven for birdwatchers! A must when the weather gets rough: seasickness pills!! Sunny weather here!
VESTERÅLEN - LOFOTEN
We then drove south along the beautiful coastline passing little beaches and fishermen villages here and there, then took the car ferry approx. 25min from Melbu/Vesterålen - Fiskebøl/Lofoten and continued our trip along the Lofoten Islands!
FREDVANG + YTTERSAND, LOFOTEN
We stayed at Fredvang Camping. While the camping site itself is scenic, too, among the sand dunes (no direct sea view but a path takes you directly on the beach) and we did enjoy our time here, the service can be described with only one word: terrible! When we entered the reception, a young man was there, watching teve. He didn`t even greet us, just sighed and eventuelly slowly rose to came to meet us, raised his eyebrows and just stared at us. We first thought it was a languages barrier, so we tried both swedish/norwegian and english, but he was still short-worded, often didn`t understand what we wanted and seemed extremely bored (lots of sighs), couldn`t answer our questions about nearby walking trails and he was very unfriendly. We were quite disappointed with the lack of communication and overall service here, but determined that this wouldn`t impact on our stay at Fredvang! Internet Wifi was not free, cost 25NOK per 24-hour period.
The camping itself is lovely and spread-out among green wildflower lawns and sand dunes and we explored the area on our own! We also did some angling from the jetty and eventually found the Stokkvika walking trail (through our guide book) at neighbouring Yttersand beach up the mountain from where we had fantastic views of the islands, beaches and fjords below! A quit and peaceful area and lots of locals = sheep!
Next day was a foggy driving day around the southern Lofoten islands. Lots of car/caravan/mobile home/truck traffic here (compared to the quiet Vesterålen Islands). We passed beautiful Ramberg town beach, then south to Hamnøy where we bought fresh shrimps (very tasty!) and passed the scenic towns of Reine and Å with lots of dried fish to see hanging everywhere. I´m sure these towns are very lovely when the sun shines and you can see the high mountain peaks, but due to heavy rain and fog this day and on top of this road works, we weren`t particularly impressed, to be honest. Up north again, we drove to sandy Haukland beach (amazing blue-green water!) and through the tunnel to Uttakleiv beach where there is a scenic pebbles beach. We saw otters wandering around the beach and road here, too! They were all very nice beaches, but unfortunetly, the weather was very cloudy and rainy and lots of caravans/campers were already here, so we decided to drive on!
We also visited the bridge-town of Henningsvaer and then parked our mobile home at Rørviks beach in the evening. The sea water had the most amazing blue-green colours here and there were huge wildflower meadows!
We spent two days at Sandvika Camping, close to Svolvaer. The camping itself is located at the end of a small road, placed around two small beaches and lots of views of the sea and the cliffs and high mountain peaks all around, a bit crowded for mobile homes and lots of caravans when we were there, but we still liked it! Friendly service and freshly home made bred every morning! A well-stocked gift shop! Free wifi. A good stop-over to explore this area for a few days! We had lovely weather here, blue skies with fluffy white clouds and sunshine, jippie!
SKROVA ISLAND, LOFOTEN
From Svolvaer harbour, we took the car ferry to tiny scenic Skrova Island. This took approx. 25minutes one way. A must (according to us): take seasickness pills!
We especially wanted to visit this island due to its many excellent hiking trails and beautiful viewpoints. We did the red and the yellow marked hiking trails/paths. The red-one goes all around the island ”in the lowlands” and crossed both marshland and meadows with a little bit of views here and there. We liked the ”yellow” walking trail best, which takes you up to the highest mountain on the island, Skrova Fjell, which is a strengous and steep hike up over huge rock blocks, quite muddy in places, but the views are just WOW! Partly, there are ropes to hold on to, as it is quite steep as you get closer to the top. But the view from the top and Skrova Fjell`s highest peak, it was a real Halleluja-moment, it was AMAZING! To stand on top with this breathtaking view over the islands and Lofoten fjords-wall in the distance, the blue-green sea sparkling in the sun and powder-white beaches, it was really stunning and totally worth all the trouble to get here! A highlight of our holiday!
Skrova has a lovely little harbour with pretty red rorbu, there is a restaurant as well and a small shop. Otters wander the streets in the evenings. Tricky to drive around this tiny island on the few narrow streets with our mobile home, though, but it was adventurous!
After getting back with the ferry to Svolvaer again, we slowly made our way (with many stops here and there) through the Lofoten Islands through the many long tunnels and huge bridges, then Gullefjordbotn and further north close to Narvik, we drove over the Björnfjell mountain ridge back home to Sweden!
OVERALL + CONCLUSION:
The whole family had fantastic 10 days around the Vesterålen & Lofoten Islands on our road-trip in northern Norway! It all worked out very well with our dog, he loved our rental mobile home and had fun playing on the beaches and bathing his paws in the ice-cold sea, was excited seeing all those sheep (LOL) and we did lots of walking on hiking trails with him, keeping him on a leash at all times! It was wonderful to be able to take him with us on our travels (which is not always possible at home due to restrictions everywhere)!
Mixed weather during our trip with a few sunny moments, but we still had a very good time! We also did meet a lot of nice and friendly Norwegians and other tourists from Norway, the Uk, Germany and Hungary along the way which made for some nice chatting!
DRIVING in Vesterålen/Lofoten is also quite interesting but time-consuming. Even though distances are not far, it takes a very long time to get almost anywhere due to the many curvy and narrow roads, low speed limits, sheep blocking the roads here and there...and of course, the roads are so scenic, so you just have to stop everywhere to take photographs of beautiful little beaches and marvell at breathtaking waterfalls in the mountainious fjords!
HIGHLIGHTS of our trip were the scenic beach town of Bleik (our favourite) in the Vesterålen Islands, the exciting puffin & seal safari boat rib-tour in Stø + excellent food at the restaurang there at Bobil camping, hiking at Fredvang/Yttersand and the beautiful island of Skrova in the Lofoten!
THANK YOU for reading this endlessly long trip report (sorry), I really tried to keep it short! And thanks again for all the advice we received prior our trip, we all had a lovely time in Norway & we hope to be able to go back next summer again! If there are any questions, please, just ask! :-)
Annika & Peter
Photos Norway Summer 2013: flickr.com/photos/…