This article is part of the Complete Guide to Photography in The Lofoten Islands
Lofoten is an incredibly compact and accessible photography destination, with many spots just off the main road running down the length of the islands. Even the shortest of itineraries can allow you to visit several of the most popular locations with enough time to explore for yourself.
Many locations are also quite versatile, and it's rare to lose a whole day to bad weather, even in the winter. Lofoten is stunning in good light, but there are plenty of photography spots where you can make good images in most conditions. You'll always capture something, even on the shortest of trips.
However, northern Norway could be a long journey from wherever you live in the world, and you'll want to make the most of your time. If you spend more time in Lofoten, you'll have a better chance of good light, clear skies, and aurora sightings in the winter. The most environmentally-conscious form of travel is to spend longer at fewer places, and Lofoten has plenty to offer for a longer itinerary.
This article of Lofoten trip itineraries will help you explore the advantages and disadvantages of trips of various lengths to plan your own visit.
5 Day Lofoten Islands Itinerary
If you only have time for a short trip to Lofoten, or plan to include it as part of a longer stay in Norway, 5 days is enough to visit the most accessible parts of the islands and capture some of the best locations for photography. Lofoten is small, so you won't need to spend much time getting from place to place, and you will be able to spend most of your time out with the camera.
Lofoten Islands in 5 Days: Recommended Route (Option 1)
If you'd like to see as much of Lofoten as possible and do some photography while you are there, this option is best for prioritising exploration.
Days 1-3: Stay in Ramberg, central to many of the best photography spots in the southern part of the islands. Most visitors are tempted to stay in Reine, the famously beautiful island town in the far south of Lofoten. However, Ramberg is only a 30-minute drive away, but staying there makes it possible to also visit Nusfjord, Storsandnes Beach and Uttakleiv Beach, which are a long drive from Reine if you make that your base.
Day 3: As you travel between Ramberg and Svolvaer, stop at the Lofotr Viking Museum on the way to learn more about the history of the Lofoten Islands.
Days 4-5: Stay in Svolvaer. There are fewer landscape photography spots near Svolvaer, but it's a good base for exploring more of Lofoten. Henningsvaer is 30 minutes away, and you can reach towns and photography spots which are too far to drive from Ramberg, especially in the winter.
Lofoten Islands in 5 Days: Recommended Route (Option 2)
If you want to focus on landscape photography, and don't mind missing parts of Lofoten if it means more time at some of the better photography locations, this itinerary prioritises the landscape.
(Arrival): If you are driving down through Lofoten, choose one of Henningsvaer or the Lofotr Viking Museum on your journey to get a sense of other parts of the islands and their history
Days 1-5: Stay in Ramberg as a single base for your visit. Ramberg is not the most photogenic town, but it is ideally located to reach many of the best photography spots in the area. With 5 days, you can choose several locations and give them your full attention each day, and you'll have the option of several great aurora-watching beaches if you are visiting in the winter.
(Departure): If you are finished with photography at the end of your stay, stop in at Henningsvaer or the Lofotr Viking Museum, or take your time driving up through the islands to see some other parts of the landscape.
Lofoten Islands in 5 Days: Itinerary Options and Variations
This is a relatively short visit for photography because there are so many separate locations in Lofoten. However, it's plenty of time to capture some great images and enough to explore the islands if photography is not your priority. A possible variation on this itinerary is:
Switch Ramberg for Reine. Reine is a stunning place to visit, with great accommodation and several places to eat. It's harder to reach some photography locations from here (Uttakleiv Beach is more than an hour away), but it's a far more interesting town than Ramberg.
Lofoten Islands in 5 Days: Advantages
There's more to Norway than Lofoten, and 5 days is the right amount of time to take for Lofoten as part of a longer trip. You could even do it in 2 or 3 days, but 5 would give you time to properly explore the landscape.
If you live in Northern Europe and have less than a week to spend on landscape photography, especially in the winter, Lofoten is probably the best place you could go. The landscape is as otherworldly as Iceland, but the photography spots are closer together, with more variety. It's at the ideal latitude to see the aurora and capture it in landscape compositions.
Lofoten Islands in 5 Days: Disadvantages
There are a lot of great photography locations in Lofoten, and you'll struggle to spend enough time at all of them to get the best out of the landscape. There will be places you'll need to miss, others which you'll want to revisit (but run out of time), and you'll have to choose between visiting popular spots and exploring the area for yourself.
Your trip will be vulnerable to bad weather, especially if you visit outside of the summer. Plenty of locations in Lofoten look great with dramatic weather, but most are enhanced by good light, and it would be easy to spend 5 days in Lofoten without seeing the sun. If you hope to see the aurora, spending more time is the best way to improve your chances. Your odds are relatively low with only 5 days.
In winter, the days can also be very short, so 5 days might not feel as long as it seems.
10 Day Lofoten Island Itinerary
A longer trip to Lofoten means fewer compromises and more options, and 10 days is the ideal amount of time to spend. The Lofoten Islands are small, and you won't need much time to get from place to place. However, there are so many locations to visit that you will easily fill 10 days and still leave certain you'll come back.
Lofoten Islands in 10 Days: Recommended Route
You'll have your own preferences for how often you change accommodation on a trip, but I prefer to keep packing to a minimum, and that's easier to do in such a compact area. For a 10-day trip, I have suggested three stops, spread out across Lofoten.
Days 1-3: Stay in Reine. Reine is almost at the end of the road through Lofoten, and it's a little distant from some photography locations. However, there is a lot to photograph nearby, and it's a good base for visiting Å and other spots in the far south. There is also plenty of accommodation and places to eat for a relaxing evening. If you are here for the right season, hike up to Reinebringen for one of the best views in Europe, or explore inland on foot from one of the many hiking trails.
Days 4-8: Stay in Ramberg. Working geographically, this isn't the obvious place to stay in the middle of your trip, and Leknes is much closer to the centre of Lofoten. However, the best photography locations are bunched near the bottom of the islands, and if you choose to stay in Leknes, you'll find yourself driving back towards Ramberg most of the time. Staying in Ramberg gives you the easiest access to the best locations and is within driving distance of Reine. If your visit to Reine was impacted by bad conditions, Ramberg still gives you a chance to return for a day of good light or a night of clear skies.
Days 9-10: Stay in Svolvaer. There are fewer landscape photography spots near Svolvaer, but exploring from here will give you a better sense of the rest of Lofoten. Henningsvaer is 30 minutes away, and you can reach towns and photography spots which are too far to drive from Ramberg, especially in the winter. There are fewer of these, but you'll have time to cover most other places from Reine and Ramberg.
Lofoten Islands in 10 Days: Itinerary Options and Variations
One way to vary this itinerary is to find different towns in which to stay. You might consider Nusfjord, which is very pretty (though slightly further from many photography spots on a spur road). Henningsvaer is another option, with almost as many facilities as Svolvaer but in a more unusual setting. Here are some other ideas for how to spend your time:
Do an excursion: Depending on the season of your visit, there will be other things to do besides photography in Lofoten. You might go on a whale-watching trip for humpback or killer whales, do longer hikes from points north of Reine, or arrange a kayaking tour around the islands.
Explore further north. Most photographers spend their time in the Lofoten Islands south of Leknes, exploring the famous photography spots. However, plenty of coastlines, mountains and fjords north of Svolvaer are less explored. If you want more unique compositions, this is the place to visit.
Lofoten Islands in 10 Days: Advantages
A 10-day trip is achievable for many people with other priorities, but it is a generous amount of time to spend in the small area of Lofoten. You'll get plenty of time at the various photography spots, have time to explore new ones, and really get to know the landscape and villages.
The photography spots are close together, so 10 days would give you enough time to revisit locations and improve your compositions or test different lighting and weather. You'd also have time to explore and find spots for yourself. If you focussed your time all on photography, this would be a long enough trip to improve and grow as a photographer.
Lofoten Islands in 10 Days: Disadvantages
Most of us are limited in the time and resources we have for travel, and 10 days is a long time to invest in one small location. You could include Lofoten on a longer 10-day visit to Norway or spend those resources on a larger destination elsewhere. This is a calm, slow itinerary and may not suit travellers and photographers who like to see as much as possible in the time they have.
At the same time, 10 days might not be enough for all your plans. Kayaking tours, hiking adventures and excursions at sea are all possible from Lofoten and will eat into your photography time. In the winter, 10 days still gives you no guarantee of seeing the Northern Lights, and I've met plenty of photographers who spent two weeks in Lofoten and didn't see the sky through the clouds.
18 Day Lofoten Island Itinerary
If time (and money) is no restriction, spending more than two weeks in the Lofoten Islands would be an incredible way to improve your photography and build a significant collection of seascape and mountain images. You'd have enough time to hike to some unusual locations in the summer and stand a good chance of capturing the aurora in the winter.
This would be a slow and thorough trip, but very rewarding, and you would not run out of new ideas or locations to explore.
Lofoten Islands in 18 Days: Recommended Route
There are two main options for such a long trip to the Lofoten Islands, and you'll need to choose your approach before planning your trip.
The first is to follow the 10-day Lofoten itinerary above but add some points further north to explore a new part of the landscape. There are large islands to the north and east of Svolvaer that have plenty of coastlines to investigate, and the island of Senja near Tromso is a spectacular place for hiking and photography. You could turn your trip into a wider exploration of northern Norway and find nearby areas for serious mountain hiking.
The other option is to plan a deep and thorough trip to the best photography locations elsewhere in this guide, where you can revisit spots to improve your images and explore some of the more unusual places in Lofoten. This trip would suit anyone looking to develop and grow their photography skills, and a full breakdown of this itinerary is below.
Days 1-4. Stay in Reine. This would be a long visit to Reine, but it would give you time to focus on points south, and allow for hiking into the landscape to capture the west coast in the summer. In the winter, staying in Reine for so long would mean repeating some areas, but you could more thoroughly explore the coastal villages to the south and capture some of the best compositions with different light and weather.
Days 5-8. Stay in Svolvaer or Henningsvaer. Apart from the interesting towns in this area, there are plenty of roads to explore for new compositions and spots. These towns are busier and have more facilities, so they are good places to take an excursion on the water for whale-watching or boat trips. Be aware that this itinerary does not make sense geographically - you'd have to drive past your next destination of Ramberg and then back. But Svolvaer/Henningsvaer would provide a refreshing break before returning to Ramberg for more intense landscape photography.
Days 9-14. Stay in Ramberg. This amount of time will allow you to revisit all the major spots and explore different conditions and compositions. In the summer, there are several full- or multi- day hikes across the landscape towards the east; check out the hiking trails around Fredvang for options. In the winter, you could explore almost all the accessible side roads and minor hikes in this area.
Days 15-18. Stay in Senja. Senja is quite a drive from Lofoten but easily fits with the wild scenery and dramatic landscapes. If you want a simple exploration of Northern Norway beyond Lofoten, Senja is the perfect island to add a few extra photography spots and would feel like a natural extension of your trip.
Lofoten Islands in 18 Days: Itinerary Options and Variations
There are many different options for such a long visit, including more excursions, further locations, or more time in each place to focus on practising photography. Here are two ideas for how you could vary this trip:
Flexible booking. On such a long trip, it's hard to know where you'll want to spend more time and which parts you'll find too long. If you are visiting during a busy season, I recommend booking accommodation in Reine and Ramberg in advance to ensure you can stay in a good place. Around that, you may be able to choose your accommodation and route as you go, staying longer in the southern parts of Lofoten or heading north towards other parts of the coast. For this approach, I recommend arriving and renting a car at Harstad/Narvik airport (a central point in northern Norway) and regularly checking accommodation to ensure it doesn't become fully booked.
Join a photography tour. There are plenty of photography tours in Lofoten; many are only a few days and could be incorporated into a longer trip. If you decide to join a group, I recommend starting with it; this way you can get a sense of the landscape and visit some popular locations early on in your trip. After the tour, you'll know which points you want to revisit or can spend your independent time exploring for new ones (ask the guide about this, who will have further ideas).
Lofoten Islands in 18 Days: Advantages
The best way to improve as a photographer is to practice and reflect on the images you are taking. Although it seems that more locations would provide more opportunities to learn, it's the reflection part of practice that makes the most difference. Revisiting places to deliberately work on compositions and explore different light makes us think more deeply about our images and make improvements which apply everywhere.
18 days in Lofoten would give you a lot of photography experience and provide more opportunities to visit new spots and explore the landscape for yourself. You'd have time to hike or do other activities, and have a much better chance of seeing the aurora or capturing some spectacular skies in the summer.
A trip of this length in a small location is not about having enough time to see everything - 18 days is more than enough to thoroughly explore Lofoten. This would be a chance to see more unusual parts of the area and get to know the landscape in depth.
Lofoten Islands in 18 Days: Disadvantages
Norway is not a cheap destination, so a long trip like this would need a bigger budget and more time. 18 days are enough to see a considerable amount of Iceland or Patagonia - much larger destinations with some incredible photography spots that you can only fully explore on a long trip.
If you approach your journey by focussing only on Lofoten and practising photography, you'll need to be careful not to burn out if you aren't used to being out with the camera every day. On trips this length, I need whole days or weekends away from the camera to recover my energy and find inspiration again.
I recommend 10 days as the ideal amount of time to get the most out of landscape photography in the Lofoten Islands.
A shorter trip would be enough to see the major spots in Lofoten, but it runs a higher risk of missing out on the best light and conditions. If you are only travelling to visit Lofoten, 5 days or less would be an inefficient journey with a lot of travel for such a short time out with the camera.
A longer trip than 10 days would be a larger investment of time and money but may suit people who live far away from Norway or are determined to find somewhere to practice and improve their photography.
There's no perfect amount of time to spend in Lofoten, but hopefully, this article has given you a sense of the compromises and possibilities of different itineraries.