Bicycle Tour through the Mountainous Lofoten Islands

On our honeymoon trip to Norway, Sadie and I spent eight days in the a Lofoten Islands. Along the way we climbed in the rain, hiked mountains, hung out on white sandy beaches and sailed in a fjord. However the main thing we did was a six day bicycle tour from Svolvær down to the end of the road in Å (90mi 5.5k).

We started by getting our bikes from Lofoten Rorbuer in Svolvær about a mile out of the town center. This was the start of our good weather window that would last the entirety of our bicycle tour. After 8 days of on and off rain in Norway we had 6 days of blue sky with only 1-2 days of moderate headwind. I was in a T-shirt and purple Yosemite HeyHey leggings for most of the travel.

For $250pp we received two XXL disk brake 3×8 geared bikes that even fit me at 6’6” for six days. Included was a 3-piece bicycle bag, two bicycle lights, a reflective vest, patch kit, lock (which we didn’t use) and pickup at the end of our trip in Moskenes near the campground. The bikes worked well the whole trip and felt in good condition. We managed to fit our stuffed carry on luggage into the bags which weighed about 20 lbs for me and probably 25lbs for Sadie. We had cellular service almost the entire time here.

We started on a nice bike path but that would only be the experience for about 15% of the riding with the rest on roads without shoulder. People were generally respectful passing (going entirely into the other lane) but there were a few people that passed within inches. Car traffic was at least a group of cars every 1 minute with 1/3 of it campers / camper vans which doesn’t sound like a lot but felt nearly constant on the bike. For the road traffic and amount of road biking without a shoulder Sadie said she wouldn’t recommend this trip to a novice cyclist.

Day 1: Svolvær – Bøstad (28mi 1.5k)

The first day bicycle was over rolling hills alongside the beautiful Lofoten mountains. It had one tunnel and one steep bridge with a pedestrian path we walked our bicycles on. We averaged a relaxed pace of 5-7 mph with our heavy bags over the course of the tour.

Walking our bikes up the steep bridge

Day 2: Bøstad – Ballstad (22mi 1.5k)

After staying in a great hostel FURU with solid vibes we headed off on day 2 towards the ocean village of Ballstad with a stop at the Viking Muesum featuring the biggest Viking longhouse in the world. It had actors in the house doing things like weaving, preparing stew, knitting and making a fire. It was probably the best museum in Lofoten.

Viking Museum Longhouse

The terrain was mostly rolling hills again but this time alongside residential farmland with mountains in the background. We enjoyed the bike path for 25% of the way this day before arriving at Kræmmervika Havn. A apartment-hotel or Rorbuer as it’s referred to in Norway. It had the best catch of the day meal of the trip!

View of mountains from the road right before Ballstad

Day 3: Mountain Hiking in Ballstad

Our activity day in Ballstad consisted of a grocery store trip to Ballstad’s center and a hike up to Nonstiden’s mountain top (4mi 2k).

We started by hiking alongside a grassy oceanside turned boulders before rounding a bend to see exposed granite mountains. Then up up a steep dirt path through long grasses with ample wildflowers. Next alongside a grassy mountain ridge to the summit before descended on loose gravel. There were some impromptu chains on the decent probably due to slick rock in the rain.

View of Ballstad from the summit

Day 4: Ballstad – Hamnøy (30mi 1.5k)

We passed through a memorable 100 ft section of densely packed purple and pink 1.5 ft long flowering Lupins a couple times this day.

Halfway along this ride we reached a large white sand surf beach in Flakstad before stopping for a bite and drink at a really nice cafe in Ramburg. Some miles later we took a longer tunnel under the ocean that dipped down before resurfacing on the other side. From here onward there would be oceanside tunnel bypasses alongside mossy granite rocks with views of the mountainous mainland for the often 0.5-1 mile long tunnels (two this day).

We rolled into our favorite place of the trip at Eliassen Rorbuer in the late afternoon.

Flakstad white sand beach

Day 5: Sail to Bunes Beach

On another activity day break from the bikes we had planned on a kayak and hike out to Bunes Beach. A large white sand beach with some intermittent, small grassy dunes between two mountains. 

However it was too windy so we were reschedule to sail (mostly motor) out there. Along the way were massively beautiful granite walls, including one that looked like half dome in Yosemite.

After the sail we had a BBQ with some of the guides and later accomplished the complete Scandinavian experience by having a sauna then jumping in the cold ocean. 

View of the fjord sailing
Looking back at the large Bunes Beach
Some after hike sailing

Day 6: Hamnøy – Moskenes – Å (5mi 700ft)

Our last day was a short bicycle to Moskenes to drop off our bikes followed by a four mile walk to Å since we didn’t want to wait for the bus. There were two tunnel bypasses with some gravel sections before Moskenes.

We’ve found the bus system (which runs using your tour bus style vehicles) very nice and ran more frequently than I expected for such small communities (5-6x a day, every three hours or so). Å was probably the most touristy and busy   (still only moderately busy) place since Svolvær with two small souvenir shops.

Day 7: Ferry to Bodø (4hrs)

We took the bus to Moskenes Kai (10-15min ride, $6pp) for the four hour ferry ride to Bodø where we would catch our flight to Germany the following day. The 11am ferry got decently full which was surprising so I was content we booked our tickets online the night before. I didn’t see a ticket office immediately at the ferry pickup. The ferry was mainly with ocean views without the mainland mountains due to the rainy day.

If I was to summarize the trip I’d say that bicycling was a great way to see everything and appreciate the journey more. The bags were a bit heavy for a typical bicycle tour and the car frequency on no shoulder roads took a bit away from the experience. Although I do think the camper-van thing could be another cool way to see the islands, I’d definitely recommend this bicycling experience.