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Our new Explorers Club spotlights a port of call from favourite cruising areas each month, looking at what its particular appeal is, what you can look forward to seeing there, little known facts about the place – and how to get there. The world was first explored by sea and in many cases, it remains the best way to discover a new destination, from the Mediterranean to Malaysia, from Alaska to Australia, from Scandinavia to South America. We hope you enjoy taking a look at this new feature!
The Lofoten Islands, Norway
Why go there?
With jagged mountains rising out of the sea, small fishing towns scattered along the rugged coast and sandy beaches bordered by fjords, Lofoten is a group of islands in Nordland County, northern Norway, that offer some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.
In spite of its location above the Arctic Circle – at the same latitude as Greenland – Lofoten experiences a notably warmer, but still subarctic climate, thanks to the circulation of the Gulf Stream.
What’s good to do there?
Get a feel for the old fishing life – surrounded by water, it’s not surprising that fishing in Lofoten dates back 1,000 years. Take a look inside a Rorbu, one of the many authentic fishermen’s cabins that can be found at the water’s edge along the Norwegian coast, often built atop sturdy timber piles. Picturesque now, back in the day these huts provided fishermen with essential refuge from the elements.
Alternatively, enjoy a whale safari or kayak trip. Go horse riding or hit your stride hiking in thrilling mountain scenery.
Little-known facts about Lofoten?
The Midnight Sun
The Midnight Sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs in Lofoten between 28 May and 17 July. During this time, the sun does not go under the horizon at all. Locals say that this rare sunlight is best viewed from Lofoten’s western beaches, some of which are a popular spot for surfers.
The Northern Lights
From late September until late March/April, the Northern Lights are frequently seen in Lofoten. They are also known as the Aurora Borealis, a name given to them by astronomer Galileo. Aurora was the Roman goddess of the dawn, and Borealis is derived from the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas. The Northern Lights can appear in different forms. They can look like a swirl of colours dancing through the sky, rays of green, yellow, red and violet light reaching up into space, and sometimes they appear as a giant fissure stretching across the sky.
The Vikings believed the Northern Lights illuminating the sky were the reflections of the Valkyries’ armour as they led the warriors to Odin.
At the tip of the Lofoten archipelago, a small island called Røst is home to the greatest number of nesting birds in Norway – about 25 percent of the country’s seabird population. A clifftop colony of Atlantic Puffins is the largest in Norway. Also known as the Sea Parrot and Clown of the Sea for their colourful faces, the Atlantic Puffin is a bird that holds a special place in Norwegian hearts and even has its own festival.
Introduced to the Barents Sea by Russian scientists in the 1960s, the red king crab – native to the Pacific Ocean – is now considered a delicacy and a vital part of the local fishing culture. Nothing can taste fresher than red king crab prepared just minutes after it has been hauled up and delivered directly on your ship’s deck by local fishermen.
The Svolvær Goat
No one travelling on the sea route to the Lofoten Islands and the town of Svolvær could miss the sight of Svolværgeita: two rock formations shaped like goat horns that loom over the town. This double peak, 590 metres above sea level, has been the subject of legend and superstition. In the old days, fishermen trekked up to offer the year’s first catch of Lofot cod to the Svolværgeita. And today, dare-devils still leap the meter and a half from one goat horn to the other.
How to get there
Hurtigruten offers the most comprehensive selection of scenic Norway cruises, including visits to Lofoten ports of call, and sails throughout the year. In 2021, 2022 and 2023 there are many opportunities to sail to Lofoten and North Cape, from and back to Dover. 15-day fares start at £2,879pp for an inside or £3,148pp for an outside cabin based aboard MS Maud’s Dover- North Cape-Dover Northern Lights and Fjords Expedition sailing on 17 November 2021. This includes savings of up to 20% when you book by 31 March 2021 and Hurtigruten’s Northern Lights promise.
More sailing opportunities with Hurtigruten from Dover in 2021/2022/2023:
- North Cape & Arctic Sunshine
- Northern Lights Expedition from Dover to North Cape
- Christmas Cruise to the Northern Lights
- Tromso to Dover winter cruise along the Norwegian Coast
- Dover to Tromso winter cruise
- The ultimate winter expedition cruise of fjords and Northern Lights
- The Norwegian Coats and Svalbard Autumn Cruise
- From Dover to the Arctic under Norway’s Northern Lights
- From Dover to Norway’s Northern Lights
Read more about the Lofoten Islands with Hurtigruten, and the majestic scenery of the Loften Islands.
Question: What is it about Norway that most makes you want to visit?