Lofoten is an archipelago and a traditional district in the county of
Location of Lofoten in Norway
Though lying within the Arctic Circle
the archipelago experiences one of the world's largest elevated
temperature anomalies relative to its high latitude.
Lofoten (Norse Lófót) was originally the
old name of the island Vestvågøya.
The first element is ló
', the last element is fót
shape of the island must have been compared with a foot of a lynx.
name of the neighbouring island Flakstadøya was Vargfót 'the foot of a wolf' - from vargr m 'wolf'.)
is the first known town formation
in northern Norway. It existed in the early Viking Age, maybe earlier, and was located on the
southern coast on eastern Lofoten, near today's village Kabelvåg in Vågan
municipality. However, the Lofotr museum with
the reconstructed 83 m long longhouse (the
largest known) is located near Borg on Vestvågøy, which have many archeological finds from the Iron Age and Viking Age.
islands have for more than 1,000 years been the centre of great
especially in winter, when the cod migrates south from the Barents Sea and gathers in Lofoten to spawn. Bergen in southwestern Norway was for a long time the hub
for further export south to large parts of Europe,
The Lofotr Viking Museum; Borg in Vestvågøy
particularly so when trade was controlled by the Hanseatic League
. In the lowland areas,
particularly Vestvågøy, agriculture
plays a significant role, as it has done since the Bronze Age
originally the name of the island of Vestvågøy only.
Later it became the name of the chain
of islands. The chain of islands with its pointed peaks looks like
foot from the mainland. In Norwegian, it
is always a singular. Another name one might come across, is
"Lofotveggen" or the Lofoten wall. The archipelago looks like a closed wall
when seen from elevated points around Bodø or when
arriving from the sea, some 100 km. long, and 800-1,000 m.
, the islands were raided by
in March and a
subsequent diversionary attack
support the Vaagso raid
Geography and nature
Lofoten is located at the 67th
and 68th parallels north
in North Norway
. It is well known for its
exceptional natural beauty within Norway. Lofoten encompasses
the municipalities of Vågan, Vestvågøy, Flakstad, Moskenes, Værøy and Røst.
The principal islands, running from north
to south, are
further to the south are the small and isolated islands of Værøy ( ) and
Røst ( ).
The total land area amounts to 1,227 km², and the population
Lofoten and Vesterålen
Many will argue that Hinnøya, the northern part of Austvågøy and
several hundred smaller islands, skerries and rocks to the east of
Austvågøy are also part of the Lofoten complex. Historically the
territorial definition of Lofoten has changed
significantly.Between the mainland and the Lofoten
archipelago lies the vast, open Vestfjord, and to the north is Vesterålen. The principal towns in Lofoten are Leknes in Vestvågøy and Svolvær in Vågan.
Lofoten Islands are characterised by their mountains and peaks,
sheltered inlets, stretches of seashore and large virgin areas.
highest mountain in Lofoten is Higravstinden (1,161 m / 3,800 ft) in Austvågøy; the
National Park just northeast of Lofoten has mountains reaching
1,262 m. The famous Moskstraumen (Malstrøm) system of tidal
eddies is located in western
Lofoten, and is indeed the root of the term maelstrom.
The sea is rich with life, and
the world's largest deep water coral reef is located west of Røst.
Lofoten has a very high density of sea eagle
, and millions of other sea birds, among
them the colourful puffin
are common, and there are moose
on the largest islands. There are some woodlands
with Downy birch
. There are no native conifer
forests in Lofoten, but some small areas
with private spruce
and Malus sylvestris
Lofoten, but not further north.
Winter temperatures in Lofoten are very mild considering their
location north of the Arctic Circle; this is the largest positive
temperature anomaly in the world relative to latitude
. This is due to the Gulf Stream
and its extensions: the North Atlantic Current
. Røst and Værøy are the most
northerly locations in the world where average temperatures
are above freezing all year.
are slightly colder in the northeastern part of Lofoten; Svolvær has a January average of -1.5°C (30°F), but summers
are a bit warmer, with both July and August 24-hr averages of 13°C
May and June are the driest months, while October
has three times as much precipitation . Typical daytime temperature
in May is 9°C (48°F), in July 15°C (60°F) and in September 11°C
(52°F). The warmest recording in Svolvær is 30.4°C (87°F). Strong
winds can occur in late autumn and winter, but are rare late March
- mid-October. Snow
are not uncommon in winter; the mountains can
have substantial amounts of snow, and in some winters, avalanches
might come down from steep mountain
slopes. Two of the
top ten deadliest rainstorms
ever recorded passed through
In Svolvær, the sun (midnight sun) is above the horizon
from May 25
, and in winter the sun does not rise
from December 4
to January 7
. In Leknes, the sun is
above the horizon from May 26 to July 17, and in winter the sun does not rise from
December 9 to January 4.
The temperature in the sea has
been recorded since 1935. At 1 m depth in the sea near Skrova
, water temperatures varies from a low of 3°C
in March to 14°C in August; some years peaking above 17°C; November
is around 7-8°C. At a depth of 200 m the temperature is near 8°C
all year .
Mountaineering and rock climbing
Lofoten offers many rock climbing and mountaineering opportunities.
It has 24 hours of daylight in the summer and has Alpine-style
ridges, summits and glaciers, but at a height of less than 1,200
metres. The main centre for rock climbing is Henningsvær on
The main areas for mountaineering and climbing are on Austvågøya
and Moskenesøya. Moskenesøya is the most complete area for
climbing. For more information, see the books by Dyer and Webster
a well marked cycling route that goes from Å in the south and continues past Fiskebøl in the north.
The route is
part public road, part cycle-path with the option to bypass all of
the tunnels by either cycle-path
through mountains) or boat. Traffic is generally light, although in
July there may be a lot of camper vans. Some of the more remote
sections are on gravel roads
. There is a
dedicated cycling ferry which sails between Ballstad and Nusfjord,
allowing cyclists to avoid the long, steep Nappstraum tunnel. The
route hugs the coastline for most of its length where it is
generally flat. As it turns inland through the mountain passes
there are a couple of 3-400 meter climbs.
The Lofoten Insomnia Cycling Race takes place every year around
midsummer, possible in the midnight sun, but surely in 24-hr
daylight, along the whole Lofoten archipelago.
is served by three small airports: Leknes Airport (84 215 passengers in 2006), Svolvær
Airport, Helle (63 787 passengers in 2006), and Røst
Airport (7 755 passengers in 2006), which mainly offers
flights to Bodø. There is a heliport
at Værøy (7 923
passengers in 2006). Stokmarknes Airport, Skagen is located in Vesterålen. Harstad/Narvik Airport,
Evenes has direct flights to Oslo and Trondheim. Bodø is often used as a hub for travel to
Lofoten; in addition to air travel there is a ferry connecting Bodø
to Moskenes. There is also a ferry connecting Svolvær to
Skutvik in Hamarøy, with road connection east to E6. Hurtigruten
calls at Stamsund and Svolvær.
The European road E10
the larger islands of Lofoten with bridges and undersea tunnels.
The E10 road also connects Lofoten to the mainland of Norway
through the Lofast
road connection, which was
officially opened on December 1 2007. There are several daily bus
services between the islands of Lofoten and between Lofoten and the
mainland along E10.
In Popular Culture
In the film Maelstrom
Lofoten is where the ashes of Annstein Karson are
- Viking necklace
- Røst Reef, 40 km long
- Temperature scale in Lofoten
- 24h Temperature scale in Rost II
- Temperature scale in Værøy
- Temperature scale for Vågan
- Geography of Norway
- Hydrographic station
Lofoten Insomnia Cycling Race