I had heard a lot about the stunning landscapes of the Lofoten Islands. They promised dramatic mountains, pretty fishing villages and a beautiful coastline.
So when an evening excursion to see a little of the islands was offered on the Hurtigruten ship, I was quick to sign up, as were several of my friends. There are eight main islands in the archipelago and countless rocky islets. Our bus tour was to visit two of them, Vestvågøy and Austvågøy. While we travelled from Stamsund to Svolvær the ship would make its way (with the majority of passengers remaining on board) around the coast to meet us there.
As we left the boat to board the bus in Stamsund there were a few flakes of snow in the air. It had been cold that morning in Bodø, now it was even colder. And this was on the last day of May, the eve of meteorological summer!
As we drove across Vestvågøy snow continued to fall. The scenery was bleak but lovely, hard though to photograph from the bus.
And when we stopped at a viewpoint, clouds soon descended to hide that view. I managed just one shot before the mountains disappeared completely!
We crossed by bridge briefly on to Gimsøy (a small island with, to my surprise, a golf course) and on to Austvågøy, the snow still falling.
We drove across the southern part of Austvagoy Island, the snow starting fall a little heavier. The landscape here was more mountainous, or rather perhaps, the mountains were closer to the road.
Our main stop was by an art gallery and museum. The former, the Espolin Gallery, displays the work of a local artist, Kaare Espolin Johnson, illustrating mainly the tough lives of local fishermen. The paintings were dark but quite haunting.
We then walked over to the open-air Lofoten Museum with its fishermen’s huts on the shore below the former home of the local landowner. Our guide told us how the latter lived a privileged life at the fishermen’s expense. He not only owned and charged rent for the small huts. He also demanded that the fish caught here were sold only to him and of course therefore set the price they could get for their catches!
Despite the snow the setting was lovely and I enjoyed taking photos there.
According to the Museum Nord website:
The impressive manor house was completed in 1815, when Caspar Lorch was the owner of the fishing village. Here he traded and exported fish, as well as renting out cabins to many of those who came to join the Lofoten fisheries in the harsh winter season.Museum Nord
That website also has a great photo of the complex in much brighter weather than we enjoyed!
On the drive back to pick up the ship in Svolvær the snow got heavier, settling even on the road.
Back on board we watched as the ship pulled out of Svolvær’s harbour, its jetties and surrounding rocks full of fish-drying racks. Although the fishing traditions documented in the museum may belong in the past, this is still (with tourism) the mainstay of the islands’ economy.
I visited the Lofoten Islands in May 2023