Reasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the World

8 Reasons to Love the Lofoten Islands in the Summer | Arctic Norway

Summer hums above the Arctic Circle

For a while now, my internal compass has been pulling me north. Recently, I answered the call. And I am so happy I did. We just returned from a 10 day trip to Northern Norway. Above the Arctic Circle. I had seen pictures and read stories but truly underestimated the awe I would feel. We loved The Lofoten Islands in summer. I am home now with lungs still full from breathing in nature. My soul is content from so much wonder and awe. Lofoten was beyond lovely at summertime. Let me share with you why.

So Many Reasons You Should See The Lofoten Islands in Summer
1 | THERE ARE MILLIONS OF MOUNTAINS

I will admit, it was mountains I was seeking. That drew me to this place. And I found them. So many. Ok. Maybe not millions. But it feels like there was yet another peak in every direction you looked. Jagged and rocky, they define these islands and set this scene. A backdrop for memories of mountainous goodness.

Reasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the WorldReasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the World
2 | THE MIDNIGHTS are FULL OF SUN

For one month before and one month after the summer solstice on June 21st, the sun does not set this far north. At all. And while we missed the true midnight sun by a week or so on our visit in late July, it never truly got dark. Even when the sun sets at midnight, it rises again at 2 am. Sunset…. sunrise. Sunset… sunrise. If you have trouble sleeping or a photographer’s fear of missing out, it may mess with your head. But we fell in love with the perpetual twilight that threw lots of light in the sky every night.

3| WHITE SAND BEACHES WILL tempt you

Who knew that the Arctic has some of the best beaches in the world? Here you will find sugar fine sand that sits in wide white crescents. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes. Look for pink clam shells, striped limpets and fragile urchin skeletons. Dare to take a dip. We did and you should. It’s not THAT cold. But maybe we’ve been Scandi conditioned. The water here is so clear and such a brilliant aqua blue that it felt perfect to cool off in after a hike in the hills. We loved the swaths of perfect white sand at Kvalvika, Haukland, Uttakleiv and Ramberg Stranda.

Reasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the WorldReasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the World
4 | There are hikes in them hills

The Lofoten Islands offer hikes for all abilities and energies. With a good pair of shoes, you should be all good to go. We hiked over hills to white Arctic beaches. We scrambled up rocks to see views over villages. We strolled along cliffs with no ascent needed for stunning. Stay on the trail and pack out what you pack in. This is the Lofoten code of conduct. Protect this beautiful place for all to enjoy.Reasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the WorldReasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the WorldReasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the World

5 | TRY A KAYAK TO CRUISE

Back down at sea level, take to the water. A kayak is a perfect way to see into the clear water. We loved paddling around Skrova with WildSeas Adventures. Keep watch for Sea Eagles in the sky or little crabs scurrying on the seafloor. It is that clear. Quiet and calm, serene and safe. There is something magical about the sound of paddles dipping and pushing as our boats slid smoothly over the sea.


RELATED: SUMMER GLAMPING SAFARI ABOVE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE

6 | SO MUCH FRESH SEAFOOD TO TASTE

Fishing has been important to the peoples of the place before written history. Cod is king here and you’ll see stockfish drying on racks all over the islands. Try some as jerky or in a tomato stew-like dish called Bacalao. In the southern archipelago, don’t miss Anita’s Sjømat on Sakrisøy for the best fish sandwich or peel and eat shrimp.


RELATED: OH DEAR COD, EAT THIS IN NORTHERN NORWAY

7 | You can rent a RORBU TO SLEEP IN

Those classic Norwegian fisherman’s cottages, rorbuer have been renovated for your Lofoten respite. Rent them all over the islands in darling seaside villages like Å, Reine, Sakrisøy, Henningsvær, Nusfjord, Ballstad, Kabelvåg and Svolvær – just to name a few. There is something special about sitting out over the water and watching the sun set behind the mountain ahead of you.Reasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the WorldReasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the WorldReasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the World

8 | Blossoms Blooming, there are WILDFLOWERS TO FIND

For a place that is covered in snow much of the year, I couldn’t stop marveling at the many wildflowers blooming. Fields and forests were blanketed in color. Like icing on the cake on why there’s so much to love about Lofoten in the summer.

Reasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the WorldReasons to Love Summer in The Lofoten Islands | Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle | Oregon Girl Around the World
WHAT TO PACK:

Weather in Northern Norway can be unpredictable – I was happy to have waterproof pants, sturdy trail shoes and my red raincoat while we were there. I can recommend all of these products for your trip north. 

Reasons to Visit the Lofoten Islands in Summer | See the Midnight Sun above the Arctic Circle in Norway | Oregon Girl Around the World

Suitcases and Sandcastles

World’s Wildest Whirlpools | Saltstraumen Maelstrom, Bodø Norway

Where and why to see the strongest maelstrom in the world

But what exactly IS a maelstrom I can hear you asking? Is it some kind of dark and ominous storm cloud of reckoning? Or something you might see in Lord of the Rings or read of in an epic like The Odyssey? Spoiler alert – it’s in the video below. The word maelstrom actually means crushing current. And Saltstraumen in Nordland Norway has it. Here’s why you need to see it. For yourself.

Saltstraumen Maelstrom

Just 30 kilometers west and then south from the town of Bodø you will find one of the most amazing places in Northern Norway. In anywhere really. Every 6 hours when the tide changes you can play witness to an astonishing display of Mother Nature’s brute forces here at Saltstraumen. This is the world’s strongest maelstrom with 400 million cubic meters of water pushing through a narrow strait that separates the islands of Knaplundsøya and Straumsøya. The strait spans 3 kilometers but is only 150 meters wide at the smallest point. When the tide changes, you can witness impressive surges as the water rushes to move between the massive Skjerstadfjord to the outer Saltfjord.

It is beyond mesmerizing to watch as the water tries to move in or out, depending on the time of day. Beautiful swirling whirlpools are created and water bubbles up in huge powerful pushes. The vortices of these can reach between 10 and 30 meters in diameter and are up to 5 meters deep. This is a dangerous place as speeds on the surface of the water may move at nearly 40 kilometers per hour. To put it simply. It is awesome. Seriously. AWE. SOME. As in full of awe. I’m still full of awe. You have to see it.

WHERE TO SEE SALTSTRAUMEN
#1 UNDER THE BRIDGE | KNAPLUNDSØYA SIDE

From Bodø, travel west on Route 80 and then south on Norwegian County Road 17. There are several viewing points, but start on the Knaplundsøya side (first parking lot on the right coming from Bodø.) Park down underneath the bridge and then follow the path to the strait. Here you can watch the water as it rushes into the narrow passage and the water pushes and churns close to shore. At peak on this side, it not difficult to get a real sense of just how much water is moving through here. If you want, you can carefully climb up into the little lighthouse here to get a better vantage point over the vortices.

#2 FROM TOP OF BRIDGE

Satisfied with the water here, you should really walk back up to the parking lot and head across the bridge. Stay on the right side. The views from the top give you a better idea of the amazing size of these whirlpools. Watch as boats expertly maneuver the calm (ish) water between the swirling and surging sides. You can take a safari in a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) and run right through it. And if you are a high-speed adrenaline junkie, you should do it. But I personally think you get a better sense for the magnitude of Saltstraumen from above. Cost? Free.

#3 STRAUMSØYA SIDE

There are viewpoints on the far side, but we felt the best were closer to the island of Knaplundsøya.

WHERE TO WET YOUR WHISTLE NEAR SALTSTRAUMEN

Marveling at maelstroms can make one hungry. Good news. You can try the local fish at nearby Kjelen Kafé with beautiful views out across the Skjerfjord. Do you fish? This is a perfect place to try to pluck a torsk (cod), kveite (halibut) or sei (coalfish/saithe) from the rushing cold waters. No pole, no problem – rent one here. Or just sit on the deck and order fish for dinner. We tried the sei and the kveite served old school style with potatoes and vegetables. The sei biff (saithe steak) was delicious with sauteed onions. They also have house-made desserts, draft beer and ice cream to help keep everyone happy if fish isn’t your thing.

 

Kjelen Kafé
Ripnesveien 40
8056 Saltstraumen
Opening hours summer season June 26 – August 20 | 10:00 – 22:00
Limited hours other seasons, check website.

LOOK OUT FOR THE LOCALS

Keep your eyes peeled on the way there and the way back and you might spot the elusive locals. MOOSE. Not minutes after seeing the sign, we spied two huge moose in the trees, which just added to the wonder of this beautiful area.

GOOD TO KNOW:
TIDE TABLES

Check the tides before you set out to Saltstraumen, the whirlpools are the widest at high and low tide. You can check here on the Bodø Kommune website and make sure you’ll enjoy the most water.

BUSSES TO SALTSTRAUMEN

Nordlandbuss line 200 takes you from Bodø Airport or Bodø Center to Saltstraumen. It takes between 30-40 minutes. Having a car allows you to time the tides, but can be expensive to rent in Norway. On a beautiful day in summer, there is no problem hiking and exploring the area around Salten in order to wait out water at peak.

SPECIAL THANKS

A huge tusen takk to Norwegian photographer Gøren Kristensen who shared insider tips with me before our trip. Check out his gorgeous feed on Instagram and tell him Oregon Girl said to say hej!

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