Road trips

Why Svolvaer is the perfect base for a Lofoten road trip in Norway

Why Svolvaer is the perfect base for a Lofoten road trip in Norway

A road trip along the National Scenic Route E10 in the Lofoten Islands of northern Norway is a wonderful way to spend a week in summer.

As you drive along the road hugging the coast, you’ll see jagged peaks rising from the ocean, incredible beaches, turquoise waters, waterfront shacks and quaint fishing villages.

If it is possible to move around the archipelago by public bus, renting a car opens up many other possibilities. It’s tempting to spend each night somewhere different to make the most of your time, but you shouldn’t neglect to use Svolvær, Lofoten’s largest city, as a base camp. Here are four reasons.

1. You will always discover fantastic landscapes

The Lofoten Islands in northern Norway are known for their dramatic mountain scenery. While the peaks at the western end of the archipelago are stunning, the landscapes to the east are still awe-inspiring.

The most notable feature is Svolværgeita, known in English as the “Svolvær goat”. This rock formation towers over the town and serves as both a much-loved local icon and a challenge for serious climbers.

If the ascent of the goat is reserved for experienced climbers, there are other much easier hikes. The best known, Tjeldbergtinden, is a two-hour round-trip loop with a trailhead just 15 minutes from the town center. The views of Svolvær, Kabelvåg and surrounding peaks are well worth the effort.

Mountain views are present no matter where you stay in the city. For the best perspective, cross the road bridge to Svinøya Island in the evening. The evening light that bathes the city is best enjoyed from here, the oldest part of town.

Svinøya itself is also home to several secluded bays and holiday cottages that rival any other place in Lofoten for its photogenic qualities.

2. There are more accommodations in Svolvær

It can be difficult to find accommodation in Lofoten, especially during the high season from June to August. The quaint beachfront cabins at the western end of the archipelago are booked up months in advance.

While accommodation in Svolvær can also fill up, there is usually more availability and more choice than in other parts of the islands. In addition to the main hotel chains Thon and Scandic, there are two budget hotels as well as numerous cabins, private rentals and AirBnBs available in and around the city.

3. It has everything you need

Apart from Leones, Svolvær is the only place in Lofoten to have a shopping centre. There are of course shops elsewhere, but choosing a base with several supermarkets, pharmacies and outdoor clothing stores will make your stay much more comfortable.

4. There are plenty of things to do in Svolvær

Services are not the only reason to choose Svolvær as a base. Not only does the city have spectacular scenery, but it is also home to some intriguing attractions.

There’s a ‘tourist trap’ element to the Magic Ice bar, but it’s a fun attraction nonetheless, especially when the summer sun is shining outside.

The ice sculptures are really special. Be sure to visit before the Hurtigurten ships arrive in port for a calmer experience, and take the time to fully explore all the icy passages so you don’t miss anything before you get too cold to stay.

The town’s private Lofoten War Museum is an amazing collection of uniforms and other World War II artifacts. It’s far from a comfortable experience, especially when reading some personal stories, but it’s an important chronicle of this devastating time. Even the most passionate historian is bound to discover something new here.

Svolvær has a long maritime history and it is therefore not surprising that the town is a starting point for many boat trips in the region. Fast RIB boats to see the sea eagles and the spectacular scenery of the Trollfjord are particularly popular, although expensive.

A good value alternative is the local ferry to Skrova. Less than 200 people live on this picturesque island just ten minutes by ferry from Svolvær. At less than a square mile, Skrova is easy to explore on foot or by bike. Beware of the photographic exhibitions that testify to the creativity that hides in the silence.

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