Welcome to the second part of the article on my favorites of Norway. If you have not read the first part, I invite you to click on the link. I told you about the city of Tromso, which I visited before the Lofoten Islands. I am continuing this article with what followed my visit of Tromso.
Let’s start with my arrival on the Lofoten Islands.
How to reach the Lofoten Islands from Tromso?
To reach the Lofoten Islands from Tromso, we hesitated between two solutions. Both allows you to reach the Lofoten Islands for cheap. We opted for the boat because of our schedule that fit better to our program. I will also explain you how to reach the Lofoten Islands by bus, as this can be useful for some.
Reach the Lofoten Islands from Tromso by bus
It is possible to reach the Lofoten islands from Tromso by bus, but the connection is not direct. You will have to take two buses. The first from Tromso to Bjerkvik, and the second from Bjerkvik to Svolvaer. I give you the example of Svolvaer because it was our destination, but the second bus goes till Å, which is the western point of the Lofoten Islands. So it will allow you to reach or get closer to any point of these islands.
Tromso -> Bjerkvik by bus
There is 230km between these two cities, making it a long drive, especially with the geographical configuration of Norway! The multitudes of Fjords implies that joining two points requires making many detours.
There are a hundred bus stops, which does not shorten the journey time. It will take you 3:30 to make this first connection Tromso -> Bjerkvik.
To find the timetable for this trip, click on this link. There are 3 buses per day (Troms Fylkestrafikk No. 100), which will allow you to arrange correctly considering your program. This bus seems to cost only € 5 according to Rome2rio.
Bjerkvik -> Svolvaer by bus
For the second part of the trip, you will have to take another bus that will last 3:30. There are 4 connections per day, and the journey costs between 30 and 40 €. More expensive, obviously, because more tourist take this connection!
This bus is the No. 23-760 of the company is 177 Nordland. It goes to Å, so you can stop at Svolvaer or at other points of the Lofoten Islands on the E10 road. You will see that I talk a lot about the E10 road. The reason is that it is the main road, which crosses the Lofoten Islands.
Join the Lofoten Islands from Tromso by boat
There are two boat connections from Tromso to the Lofoten Islands. The first with the cruise ship Hurtigruten, but which is often more expensive and also much longer (6:30 against 3h). The second with the boat we took, the express boat. See the details below.
Tromso -> Harstad by bateau (Express Boat)
You have to get in the boat in Tromso city center (Tromsø Prostneset hurtigbåtkai). There are 3 boats per day and as I said before, it allows you to reach Harstad in 3 hours. It seems to me that the transport tickets of the city allow you to have a discount price for the boat ticket, ask information there! You will have to buy the boat ticket directly on board.
In order to know the schedule of the Express boat, click here.
Where to sleep for cheap in Harstad?
We stayed in the hostel called “Gullhaugen Pensjonat“. It is located a little bit outside of the center (10-15 min walk from the harbor), but if you are just passing through Harstad like us, it will be okay. The advantage is that it is not expensive. To book a room and benefit from a discount, take advantage of my sponsorship offer by clicking on this link. Register, type the name of the hostel and make your reservation.
Harstad -> Svolvaer hitchhiking
To join Svolvaer from Harstad, we decided to hitchhike. It was our first time on this trip. After a good night in our hostel, we walked to the main road to take a chance. We were pretty confident because we had read a lot of testimonials on the internet saying it was easy to hitchhike in the Lofoten Islands.
We stood along Route 83, near the supermarket REMA 1000. After about thirty minutes, we were taken by a man who was heading in our direction. He dropped us at the junction between 83 and E10, after the village called Fauskevåg.
The road was absolutely beautiful. On this route, we had a first glimpse of the wonderful landscapes of the Lofoten Islands.
After this first part of the journey, we waited at the junction of the E10 for another car to stop and take us. Luckily, two young women stopped to pick us up, and they were heading like us to Svolvaer. So we spent about 2 hours in the car. Here, too, the landscapes on the road were truly breathtaking.
Programm for a perfect day in Svolvaer
The first city of the Lofoten Islands we visited is Svolvaer. This city has been a crush. I propose you our little program to spend a day as wonderful as the one we spent there.
Walk in the village
The city center is very typical, with its red wooden houses. You can visit it on foot, walking in the small streets.
Do an easy but superb hike
If you want to make an accessible hike, close to the center of Svolvaer, which will only take you 2h round trip and which will offer you a breathtaking view, I have the solution for you!
The place to be is called Tjeldbergtind. To reach it, you have to walk along the E10, and take to the right at the Esso petrol station. The hiking path will then be indicated and will begin to climb. This place is absolutely fabulous. The higher you go, the more breathtaking the view. You will find yourself in a paradise between sea and mountains, surrounded by lakes.
Have some drinks in a bar
At the end of the day, we went to the bar of the hotel called Rorbuer on the island of Svinøya. It is a very warm, wooded place with a fireplace in front of which one can sit and have a drink.
In the city center, there is also the Bacalao bar that we had been advised, but which was closed that night.
Watch and photograph the aurora borealis
Be surprised by the northern lights
After our time in the bar, we headed to the center. And there: the magic operated. In the sky, you could admire the magnificent northern lights. They were there, just above us! They squirmed, danced, and we were captivated by their beauty. At that time, I did not have my camera on me, so I just enjoyed it with my eyes. I let myself be lulled by their movements. In front of me, I saw a level 3 on a scale of 1 to 9. Seeing a 3 was already superb, so I let you imagine how a 9 would look like.
Photograph the northern lights
After admiring them for a moment, I quickly went back to the apartment to get my camera. I tried to get away from the lights of the city, to have less light pollution. I did not have much time, so I stopped as soon as the environment was ok.
I am equipped with the Canon Reflex Camera 700D and the Wide Angle Lens Tokina 11 16mm.
Settings for photographing the aurora
I set my device in manual mode.
Exposure time: 10 seconds. I could not put more, because the moon was present and illuminated the landscape. If I had put more than 10 seconds, the sky would have been burnt (too white).
Opening: f/2.8. I am lucky to have a very bright Wide Angle lens. Its opening at 2.8 allows me to capture a lot of details in the sky, even when one can’t see much to the naked eye.
How to do when not having a tripod ?
I did not travel with a tripod, so I had to find a support for my camera. “There is a barrier, it will do.” I put down my camera and tilt it to capture the sky lights.
I was lucky to have been able to photograph them. It was my dream coming here. But unfortunately, after just three photos, the northern lights were fading. We could hardly see them anymore, they were disappearing. I could not see them anymore with the naked eye. However, I tried to photograph them anyway, because the camera sees in long exposure more things than the naked eye. Indeed, they were still there, but really very little. And then nothing more.
Conclusion of this first try
I’m glad I could take a picture of the northern lights, but the exercise was really short. In the rest of our trip, we did not have the chance to see them again. Either the sky was overcast or there was no solar activity. To know the solar activity and to know if it is the right moment to observe the aurora borealis, you can consult this website.
I hope you have the chance to see them on your trip to Svolvaer or elsewhere. The month of September is ideal to observe them. That’s why I dream of returning to the Arctic Circle next September and take other pictures.
Short visit of Henningsvaer
Reach Henningsvaer from Svolvaer
To join Henningsvaer from Svolvaer, we hitchhiked. Stand on the E10 at this bus stop. This is the best place to hitchhike in Svolvaer heading west to the Lofoten Islands.
You will have to go at least up to the crossroads between the E10 and the road 816. Then the end can be done on foot, or hitchhike again to Henningsvaer.
Visit the town
I had a real crush on the village of Henningsvaer. It is made of houses full of different colors. Its downtown is very cute, and there are shops really nice to visit. There is the gallery of the talented photographer Vidar Lysevolds. I strongly recommend you to have a look, his boutique is really beautiful. You can buy prints for yourself or to offer.
I leave you the address : Dreyersgate 54 8312 Henningsvaer
At the end of the peninsula is the best located football field in the world, I let you understand why in photo (link to Pinterest). You can walk to the end of the peninsula, it’s a really beautiful walk.
Discover the surroundings of Leknes
I can not tell you much about the city of Leknes because we have not visited it. We were told that it was less typical than other villages, and that it was more of a hub than an interesting city to visit. However, we went about 15 minutes from Leknes by car, in the tiny village of Myrland (there must be 7 houses maximum). We were hosted by a Couchsurfer.
Myrland is a village surrounded by mountains and located directly in front of the sea. If you want to go for a walk off the beaten track, I recommend you to go there and walk along the sea. You can also climb the mountain to have a great view. We did not do it due to a lack of time, but our Couchsurfer told us that it was possible.
Short stay in Reine
Last stop of our short journey in the Lofoten Islands: Reine. This village is often the favorite of the Lofoten Islands. Personally, my heart sways between Svolvaer, Henningsvaer and Reine. All three are so beautiful that I can not decide.
Walk in the village
Cross the village of Reine on foot is really worth it. It is absolutely beautiful.
Do a hike in Reine
It is possible to hike up the mountain of Reine, to have a panoramic view. Unfortunately for us, the weather had been bad in the past days and the ground was so slippery. We tried to hike, but we had to turn back because of the deteriorating weather.
If you have the chance to have correct weather conditions, I strongly advise you to do this hike which allows to have this magnificent sight (click on the link).
Where to sleep for cheap in Reine ?
Reine is a very touristic village. Who says tourists, says high prices. There are so many tourists in summer that you have to book well in advance if you want to have a chance to get a room. In any case, booking a room in a hotel will be expensive.
However, you can get away with cheap if you choose the guest house option. Because of the shortage of hotel rooms, there are many rooms for rent among locals. There is a network of people renting rooms. They all know each other. Walking in the village, you will see signs on some houses “guest house”. In this case, knock on the door and ask if they have a room available. If they do not have one, they will send you back to a neighbor who has one.
The advantage of Guest Houses is that you can try to negotiate the price of the room, so do not hesitate to try your luck!
Leave the Lofoten Islands to Bodo
After this wonderful stay in the Lofoten Islands, we had to join the mainland towards Bodo. There are two connections between the Lofoten Islands and Bodo. The first leaves from Svolvaer and the second from Moskenes.
As we made our trip from East to West, we chose to take the Moskenes boat. Moskenes is about 2km from Reine. So you can walk along the E10 road to get there, or hitchhike. The landscapes on the road are really beautiful.
To know the times of the boat, fill in your information on this website. The ticket has to be bought directly on the boat. You just have to go to the port a little before the departure time, and that’s it. No reservation in advance.
That’s how we left the Lofoten Islands, guenuine paradise on earth.
See you soon and don’t forget !
Practice makes perfect