The Lofoten Islands form a magical arc stretching for 200 km into the blue-green Norwegian Sea. This is a dramatic Arctic landscape of soaring mountains, deep blue fjords and sweeping beaches, a geology shared by their less-famous but equally beautiful neighbour Senja, Norway’s second-largest island. Across the region, colourful fishing villages pepper rugged coastlines, drawing photographers and artists alike as the long bright days of summer cast a hazy glow across towering cliffs and secluded bays. See itinerary ideas

Although these islands lie well above the Arctic Circle, the climate is fairly mild year-round due to the warming Gulf Stream; daytime summer temperatures often reach 23°C. But be prepared for a dip in the mercury when the sun is behind clouds or low in the sky. During the warmer months, outdoor activities include hiking, cycling, horse riding, fishing, rafting, kayaking, snorkelling and diving.

Summer is also the best time to join a sea safari in search of local wildlife including seals and majestic orcas. Life in the islands revolves around the fishing industry, and you can get a taste of a life dependent on the sea by staying in a cosy rorbu fisherman’s cabin at the water’s edge. It’s a long way north, so it’s a good idea to break your journey in Oslo, Trondheim or Bodø as part of a wider tour.

In winter, the islands take on a different feel, as their snow-dusted jags are illuminated by the swirls of the Northern Lights. During this spectacular season, days are filled with the likes of snowshoeing adventures and sea kayaking excursions, while village strolls take in views across ochre-red huts and iconic fish racks. There's also the chance to head out on a RIB boat tour to watch sea eagles as they soar above the frozen coastline.

 

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