Norwegians are so crazy about dwelling outdoors that they have a word for it – friluftsliv. And with good reason, too: Their huge country is thinly populated and abundant with beautiful landscapes, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the polar circle and beyond.
Lofoten and the adjacent archipelago of Vesterålen seem like a condensed version of Norway, with wide valleys, steep mountain ranges and the occasional scenic beach. It doesn’t get much better than making your camp at the shore of a placid mountain lake and watching an endless dusk fade away between this multitude of islands. Or how about some northern lights glowing above your tent?
No one in their right mind would want to miss this by staying in a hotel room, although this is an option in some of the larger towns.
Camping in the wild
In Lofoten, as in the rest of Norway, the allemannsretten – everyman’s right – allows access to and staying on public and even private land within reasonable limits. Exempt from this ancient rule are residential areas and cultivated land, as well as protected landscapes such as wildlife reserves and national parks, where special provision may apply.
What the law says
There are a few simple rules aimed at avoiding conflicts with the locals and minimizing impact on nature:
- Camping for one or two nights is allowed, unless explicitely stated otherwise.
- Keep a distance to residential areas.
- When in doubt, ask for permission. Show respect when your request is denied. Most locals will point you to the next good spot if you ask in a friendly manner.
- Make as little noise as possible, you’re sharing this place with all kinds of wildlife.
- Avoid harm to plants and the landscape in general. The next hiker will want to enjoy this spot untouched, as you do.
- Collect your garbage and leave no trace.
How to survive
So, pitching a tent at the polar circle sounds like a good idea? Great, there are some things to keep in mind though:
- Wind: With the exception of some relatively protected spots between the mountains, wind is to be reckoned with everywhere and sometimes on short notice. Especially the western coastlines are exposed to the Norwegian Sea and prone to strong gales. Make sure you bring a sturdy tent and secure it thoroughly.
- Cold: As is to be expected this far north, it can get rather chilly. While the Gulf Stream keeps average temperatures surprisingly mild, wind and rain can make camping in Lofoten very uncomfortable. Expect snow anytime from fall to late spring.
- Water: It’s highly unlikely that you’ll die of thirst in Lofoten. Seriously, there’s lots of water everywhere, in brooks and streams and crystal-clear mountain lakes. This can make it difficult to find a dry spot for camping though: If there’s some nice flat grassland, chances are that you’ll sink into soggy ground ankle-deep.
- Rocks: Unless you have a free-standing tent, finding even ground suited for pegs can be tricky. It might take some time to survey the area, although the long days make this manageable.
- Camping supplies: The larger towns of Svolvær, Leknes and Reine have dedicated stores where you can buy stove fuel and other equipment. Bodø on the mainland as well, if that’s where you pass through. The same goes for supermarkets, there are some in the smaller towns too, but keep in mind that a quick stroll to the shop usually means scaling a mountain range or crossing some fjord or other.
A list of campgrounds in Lofoten and Vesterålen
After a while you probably want to make camp a bit closer to civilisation again, meet some people or have a decent meal. Oh, and every now and then a hot shower might be in order. Luckily, the good people of Lofoten have your back: Camping infrastructure ist generally excellent and often situated in beautiful surroundings.
Most sites have modern, clean facilities, self-service kitchens and sometimes even a small restaurant. Showers, washing machines and tumble dryers are available, usually paid for with coins.
Prices for one person with one small tent are about 100 – 260 NOK per night, rising accordingly when bringing a bigger tent, more people or coming by car.
The following map and list are effective 2016/2017 and fairly comprehensive, although some smaller campgrounds might have been missed.
|Moskenes Camping AS|
Near the harbour – perfect if you go by ferry.
|Fredvang Strand- og Skjærgårdscamping|
Big site next to the beach with many hiking trails around. A bit difficult to get to when on foot.
|Lofoten Camping Storfjord|
Nice spot by the lake. Bikes and canoes for free.
|Hov Feriegård & Camping|
|Lyngvær Lofoten Bobilcamping|
Right on the sea shore, with a good restaurant.
One of the best sites. Great location, a little store and an excellent restaurant.
|Sortland camping og Motell AS|
|Sto RV Camp|
|Lofoten Camping Stave|
|Rystad Lofoten Camping|
|Kabelvåg Feriehus og Camping|
|Hammerstad Sjøhuscamping – Lofoten|
|Offersøy Feriesenter AS|
Next to the beach and with a good restaurant.
On an peninsula in the fjord with great views all around. A bit difficult to get to when on foot.
|Unstad Arctic Surf|
|Tjeldsundbrua Camping AS|