Forget the Christmas jingles.
Get your bags to one of the most beautiful islands in Scandinavia. Lofoten is known for spectacular nature attractions such as midnight sun. There are open seas, sheltered bays, mountains and peaks. What amazes me are the small villages and “Rorbuer” (fishing huts) that dotted the coastline, off the beaten track. Many travellers prefer summer because of activities such as kayaking, fishing and boating.
But this is why winter makes a difference.
It’s a time where there are lesser tourists and prices are cheaper. January and February are the coldest months (average -10c, may fall below to -90c). I travel during March avoiding the nail-biting temperature. It’s also a chance for me to witness Northern Lights as official statistics shown that probability of occurrence is higher.
Tips on dressing up for winter in Lofoten
Source: Lofoten official website
The main towns in Lofoten are Leknes in Vestvagoy and Svolvaer in Vagan. I visit Svolvaer (charming fishing village, capital of Lofoten) via Hurtigruten ship, starting my 6 hours voyage from Bodo in Northern Norway.
And boy, I am thrilled to be here at Svolvaer!
1. Stay in a traditional “Rorbuer” (fishing hut)
In Lofoten, this is a great oppotunity for me to rekindle the living experience of the old Norwegian fishermen. When snow falls, you can get a picturesque view of the mountains. At Svolvaer, I book 2 nights at Sovinoya Rorbuer. about 30 minutes walk from Thon Hotel, near to the landing bay of Hurtigruten ship.
Come inside, enjoy a hot cup of coffee!
The interiors are well maintained, offering travellers the unique experience of living in “Rorbuers” (fishing hut). Cottage-styled and fully furnished (kitchen inclusive) with WiFi to give you the accessibility and comfort.
Curl up in your bed, read a book
2. Enjoy sumptuous dinner at the Rorbuer
Shops and restaurants are closed in winter? Doesn’t matter. Relax, chill and enjoy a cosy dinner. Have a glass of wine, reminiscing the romantic outings with your loved ones. Put your smartphones to silent mode. Eliminate your daily frustrations in the real world, reward yourself with a hearty meal. Let time fade away with your mind refreshed.
At least that’s what I did – bon appetit!
3. Book a sea eagle safari in Trollsfjord
Take the Lofoten Explorer . It’s a small, open-air boat. The location of the veseel rental is smacked right in the middle of Svolvaer. You will be provided a thick, blue jumpsuit, gloves and boots. Prepare your camera to capture the sea eagles swopping down on fishes (your boatman brings onboard).
Trollfjord is breathtaking. No words are able to describe what I see, so just go for it!
4. Lofoten Museum @ Kabelvag
Not too far from Svolvaer is Kabelvag, a small fishing town. A few miles away reside the lofoten museum. There are several exhibits like the norwegian fishing days, a shop that sells souvniers, historic Rorbuers and a Lofoten aquarium. You can take a bus from Thon Hotel at Svolvaer or grab a one-way taxi (NOK300). Opening hours are short during winter (1100 hours to 1530 hours).
Reaching my destination, I walk to the reception to grab a map. I trot slowly on the snow-covered roads and pavements, immersed myself in the chilly surroundings yet a surreal feeling that I am standing right here at the chilly surroundings – bare trees, cold silence, flakes of snow slightly dripping on my jacket. No longer basking in the sun.
Surroundings of the aquarium – what a majestic sight!
At the aquarium, I get to understand the conversation efforts of sea mammals such as otters and sharks. Simply put, there are very few visitors in winter and hence, I have the luxury of communicating with the staff, observing their day-to-day research activities. Most fascinating is the dedication in balancing the ecosystem by collecting useful data and preserving the quantity of stockfishes and salmon, one of their major exporters of food.
Spot the otters…..
A sheltered storage for Norwegian salmon
An old Viking fishing vessel
Rorbuers – step in to witness how the living conditions are in the old days
5. Lofoten War Museum
Here is the catch. In winter, there is absolutely no visitors, the doors are shut. So, you need to ring the guy (his number placed at the entrance) to open just for you. Lofoten war museum is an interesting place of interest to study the war artefacts, uniforms, life-sized equipment, knick knacks, photographs and documents.
Find what you need?
6. Magic Ice @ Svolvaer
Get myself a shot at an ice cold bar. Sit on an icy chair. Apart from spending a night at the ice hotel, I decide to quench my thirst at Magic Ice in the evening. The opening hours start at 1800 hours to 22 hours. It’s the place of ice sculptures, beautifully crafted and made into figures of people and animals.