Essential travel tips to Lofoten
When planning your trip to Lofoten, these advise can come in handy.
Emergency telephone numbers
Fire: 110 – Police: 112 – Emergency medical help: 113. The emergency helpline centres assess the situation and arrange the necessary assistance.
It’s best to change foreign currency into NOK before your trip. Many shops in Lofoten doesn’t accept EURO or other foreign currencies. Payment cards are widely used in Norway, and most shops accept credit cards such as American Express, Diners, Eurocard, Visa and MasterCard. Foreign debit cards are not widely accepted; we recommend you use an ATM to withdraw Norwegian currency instead.
- NAF (Norwegian Automobile Federation)Emergency number in Norway: 08505
- Viking Recovery Service Emergency number in Norway: 06000.From abroad – tel.: (+47) 22 08 60 00
- Falck Norge. Emergency number in Norway: 02222.From abroad – tel.: (+47) 33 13 80 80
Getting fines in Norway will demolish your travel budget – so be smart in traffic and adhere to these guidelines. Here are some guidelines/laws you must follow when driving in Norway:
- Cars must have headlights switched on at all times while driving.
- The drink & driving laws in Norway are strict. The legal limit is 0.02% blood alcohol content.
- It is forbidden to use hand held phone when driving.
- Use your seat belt at all times when driving.
- Follow the speed limits, don’t drive too fast, and don’t drive too slow either.
Tunnels: There are quite a few tunnels here. And there might actually be people in them! So stay sharp and don’t be reckless inside the tunnels. Some tunnels are also quite narrow, so keep that in mind.
Other things to be aware of: Remember that you share the road with cyclists, people walking, and animals – even on the main road (E10). Slow down when needed and keep your distance as you pass by people and animals.
A comment from a local child: “10 years old Kristin says that it is scary to ride her bike on the main road because the cars go very fast there. This year, she hopes that everybody will remember that the roads in Lofoten also are her playground, and there are no cycle roads nor walkways everywhere along the roads.”
But stick to the speed limits when you feel comfortable to do so. Sticking to the speed limits means that traffic will flow better overall.
The first thing you should you do if you plan to park anywhere in Lofoten – is to download the “EasyPark” app. The be aware of the following:
- Paying for parking in Lofoten is most prevalent in the following municipalities: Vågan, Flakstad, and Moskenes.
- Be sure to check for signs in close proximity of where you’re parking.
- Some spots follow other types of regulations than what you can find in any application.
- If you see a sign with a big “M” on it, it means a “meeting place” for cars to pass each other. We have these spots on narrow roads. It does not a stop for taking photos or for parking.
Parking on the side of the road
To free camp in Lofoten is part of the “freedom or right to roam” concept (more about this further down). But parking on the side of the road has some implications:
- Motorhomes/campervans should not park to close – if there’s a fire, it spreads.
- We ask you to think twice before you park your vehicle for the night. If there’s no road (asphalt or gravel), you aren’t allowed to drive or park there (part of the motor traffic act). You can pitch a tent in such areas, but you aren’t allowed to park a vehicle and sleep in it if there there’s no road. In some cases, it may look like an area is part of some road. But in many such spots, it’s due to over-using that area – which should not be used for parking in the first place.
- There’s plenty of epic campsites in Lofoten – and we recommend staying at any of these on your journey instead.
Electric Cars (EV) and Charging Points
Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular and we welcome electric cars on trips along the roads in Lofoten’s beautiful nature. The development of charging stations improves each passing year and will make it easier for you to go for a ride. To plan your journey in Lofoten, we recommend that you use the app “A Better Route Planner”, which has updated maps with charging stations.
Bus: There are capacity restrictions of 50% on routes longer than 1,5 hours. If the capacity gets full, a new bus will come. You buy tickets in the app “Billett Nordland” just before entering the bus since the ticket runs from when you buy it. Pre ordering tickets is only possible at Flybussen.no/the airport express.
Ferry: On the ferries there are automatic reading of the car signs. You can order an “Auto Pass” and then the ticket will automatically be charged off you Auto Pass account. Passengers travel for free.
Express boat: Payment by card and travel pass is possible, but it is recommended to pre order the ticket on www.reisnordland.no
Visitors’ Moorings in Lofoten
There are many visitors’ moorings and sheltered anchorages in Lofoten. Many of these are well described in www.havneguiden.no. This Harbour Guide is a useful tool if you’re sailing your own boat in Lofoten, and we recommend you consult it when planning your trip.
Opening Hours for Shops/Grocery Stores
Shops are usually open every day except Sunday from 10:00-17:00 (Thursday 10:00-18:00). Shopping centres are open longer. In bigger towns the supermarkets are open from 7-23. Some grocery shops are also open on Sundays. Petrol stations and some kiosks also sell food.
You can only buy wine and spirits in the state-owned “Vinmonopolet” shops, which can be found in most towns. Almost all groceries sell beer, but please note that legally the sale of beer ends at 8pm (3pm on Saturdays, not at all on Sundays). The minimum age is 20 to buy spirits, and 18 to buy beer.
Public Access Rights
Access rights are an integral part of the Norwegian cultural heritage, and require people to respect nature and property. Wilderness is uncultivated land, i.e. most water, beach, marsh, forest and mountain areas. Cultivated land, i.e. fields, meadows, pastures, gardens, newly planted areas, courtyards, building plots and industrial areas is not covered by the right of public access. Lighting fires in woodland and open countryside between 15 April and 15 September is not allowed.
Read more about this here. Especially if are going to pitch a tent or free-camp.
Deep-Sea Fishing: Sports fishing in the sea with a hand line is free. Note that you are only permitted to take 15 kg of filleted fish out of Norway, and you are not allowed to sell your catch.
Lake/River Fishing: For most places, you need to buy a licence from the owner of the land to fish. But the local licence is not valid unless you have paid the “fishing fee” from the “Norwegian Environment Agency”. You can do that here. This website; inatur.no, is the best place for information and for buying licenses. Also, there are strict regulations for anadromous fish, such as: Salmon, Sea trout, and Arctic char. The map that explains the regulations for this can be found on this page. Each lake or river has their own regulations that everyone has to follow. Use the map, in combination with inatur.no as tools for fishing in our lakes and rivers.
Always be prepared for changes in the weather; it’s better to wear too much clothing than too little, so that you can have a great time without worrying about whether you’ll be cold. Summer temperatures can vary between 25°C and 8°C. Check the weather forecast on yr.no and be prepared.
Summer: Bring a combination of lightweight and warm clothing, and windproof and waterproof outer layers. Good walking shoes/boots will help you make the most of your stay.
Winter: Wool or thermal underwear, a layer of fleece or wool, and windproof and waterproof jacket and trousers. Don’t forget gloves/mittens, hat and scarf. Consider special winter shoes with a wool liner. And if you are into Ski Touring, then head over to this page to learn more and read the “related articles” for what to wear and how to stay safe in the mountains.
We have written an extensive and helpful drone guide about this topic here.
Midnight Sun and Polar Night
• Midnight sun from mid May to mid July – Learn more here.
• Time of Arctic colours from about 6 December to 6 January (means the sun does not rise above the horizon).
Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis
The Northern Lights are a physical phenomenon that can be seen in the night sky in a belt around the magnetic poles. They appear to us as a rippling light that varies in strength, shape and colour, from pink and violet to white and luminous green. The Northern Lights come all the way from the sun. Powerful solar storms hurl charged particles out into space, and some of these hit the earth’s atmosphere to form the Northern Lights. Most of Northern Norway, from Lofoten to the North Cape, is in the Northern Lights belt, which means that you have the best chances of seeing them here – and the mild climate brought by the Gulf Stream means that it doesn’t get much better than that. Read more here.
What’s the best time of year to see the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights are an autumn and winter phenomenon, and can only be seen in a dark and clear sky. What time of day can you see the Northern Lights? The Northern Lights can appear at any time, but they tend to be between 18.00 and 01.00. The best chance is between 22.00 – 23.00 at night (in winter). Read the full article here.
Waste Containers, Septic Stations and Public Toilets
In this map, from Clean Up Lofoten, you can find an overview of waste containers, septic waste stations for caravans and public toilets. Make sure to save the tab if you’re on the phone – it will come in handy!