Atmospheric and spectacular, the Lofoten Islands in Norway are interconnected by winding roads and jaw-dropping fjords on the Norwegian Sea. Renowned for the welcoming locals and traditional fishing villages that dot the landscape in shades of red and yellow, this is a magical destination for a yacht charter amongst some incredible scenery. During summer, experience the midnight sun where all activities can be undertaken in sunlight, whilst in the winter the northern lights flicker mysteriously through the night sky. Divided into two parts by the Lofoten Wall mountain chain, one side is bordered by the wild Atlantic, the other the Vestfjord. Beautiful beaches abound where swathes of pristine white sand are lapped by clear blue waters, notably stunning are Bunesstranden, Ramberg, Flakstad and Hauklandstrand Beaches. Take this incredible opportunity to spot wildlife, explore charming harbours and enjoy some of the best fishing and photography you can experience.

Reine

In a spectacular setting at the mouth of Reinefjord, lies the small island village of Reine. Set near the Arctic Ocean and overlooked by the majestic Lofoten peaks, this picturesque fishing village is surrounded by excellent hiking trails for activity-seekers. The Reinebringen is a steep climb, leading up to one of the most stunning viewpoints of the islands, offering a superb panorama of the Reinefjorden and the Lofoten Wall. Alternatively, the hiking track from Reine to Helvestiden is a popular path. Launch the kayaks from your yacht to explore your idyllic surroundingsboth during winter and summer (weather depending) – paddling through the dramatic landscape, up close to nature, delivers an amazing experience. Close by is Vindstad, home to picturesque Bunesstranden Beach. No wonder this is one of the most photographed places in Lofoten.

Situated on its own small island to the northwest of Reine, tiny Hamnøy is a picturesque village with a backdrop of the waters and craggy peaks over Reinefjord. The oldest fishing neighbourhood in the archipelago, the scenic and unspoiled nature of Hamnøy makes it a popular stop. Spend a night ashore and stay in the fully upgraded original fishermen’s cabins, dating back to the 1890’s. Taking place in the first week of May, the annual Elijazzen Festival (feelgood jazzfest) is worth sampling. Head ashore to take in the action close-up or relax on deck and listen to the tunes from afar.

Nusfjord

Hidden away between towering cliffs, UNESCO protected Nusfjord is one of Norway’s oldest and best-preserved fishing villages. A living museum, charming Nusfjord is a secluded hamlet, filled with colourful fishing buildings on stilts connected by a pier. {Note: there is a small entrance fee for visitors}. Offering a great starting point to access less challenging hiking trails, take a leisurely walk to the lighthouse in the evening for some beautiful views. Nearby, soak up the stunning vista of the spectacular Flakstad mountain passes from your yacht or trek these ancient pathways for panoramic views of the Lofoten archipelago.

Ballstad

Ballstad is set on a small island off the south western tip of Vestvågøya. It is one of the largest fishing villages in the archipelago, dotted with rorbu cabins and home to Magic Ice, a gallery with cleverly lit ice sculptures. Outdoor activities abound with dry suit diving (professional instruction available) and guided arctic spearfishing trips available for thrill-seekers. Walking paths along the coastal tracks offer relatively easy strolls for a hike with breath-taking views from Hagskaret Viewpoint. Beautiful Hauklandstranda Beach is nearby in Leknes, where seals and sea eagles are often seen, and the stunning white sands are highly inviting. This is also one of the best sunrise or sunset locations in Lofoten.

Gradval & Leknes

One of the largest villages in the area, the port village of Gravdal is located along the shore of the Buksnesfjorden, near to the town of Leknes. Stilted fishermen’s huts over the water dot the landscape, with fishing still being the main industry. Stroll around Gravdal, visit the Viking memorial, pretty Buksnes Church and Uttakleiv Beach. Nearby Leknes, set in the centre of this archipelago, is surrounded by dramatic rocky landscapes dotted with fjords at every turn. The administrative centre for the region is also the most frequented shopping area.

Gimsøya

Gimsøya island is best explored at a leisurely pace. Enjoy bird life at the nature reserve, take an exciting tender ride around the sound and enjoy a hike or horse ride amongst the majestic mountains. Golf enthusiasts may like to play around under the midnight sun on the incredibly scenic course here. Experience arctic surfing in nearby Unstad, with world class waves. One of the best places to see the northern lights is near Gimsøya church – head to shore to view them from the wide beach or take the opportunity for some amazing photography from on deck.

Henningsvær

A base for adventure and also a cultural haven, Henningsvær is also known as the “Venice of Lofoten”. Comprising a number of inlets spread amongst the waters of Vestfjord, the well-preserved architecture dotted with cafes and restaurants is a wonderful place to visit. Colourful wooden buildings line the harbour with the steep Austvågøya mountains forming an impressive backdrop. Hike up Glomtinden for terrific views over the islands then visit the Hus Gallery for an exhibition of local art. The North Norwegian School of Mountaineering is found in Henningsvær, offering novices to veterans the opportunity to make the most of outdoor adventures. Don’t miss the amazing Idrettslag Stadion, a football field perched on the headland of a rocky islet, surrounded by dramatic scenery.

Skrova

Only accessible by sea, the island of Skrova is known as “Lofoten’s Hawaii”. Cruising here, discover white sandy beaches, crystalline waters and the lively fishing community, galleries and history. Rich in marine life, the pristine waters surrounded by mountains are breath-takingly beautiful – look out for the majestic white-tailed eagles soaring overhead. Take a hike up Skrovafjellet with fantastic 360-degree views over the Lofoten wall to the west, the Vestfjord in the south, and Steigen and Hamarøy in the east.

Trollfjord

One of the most dramatic and magical fjords in Norway, the magnificent 2km long Trollfjord has a 100m narrow entrance and is flanked by 1,000m steep mountains. Situated between the two archipelagos of Vesterålen and Lofoten, it is steeped in tales of Viking history, epic battles and stone age mystery, while the white sandy beaches and sea eagles found at Trollfjord add to the draw. On land soak up the atmosphere and follow hiking paths to stunning photo points. Norwegian mythology tells this place to be a home of trolls, who, unable to cope with sunlight, have instantly been turned into stone, hence the rocky landscape. For a humbling experience, take the opportunity to kayak here surrounded by the incredible scenery. Spend the nightjust offshore of secluded Digermulen – a magical place and completely tucked away.

Svolvær

The charming port town of Svolvær is sprawled over a series of skerries, or small, rocky islands. Take a leisurely stroll between stockfish racks and traditional ‘rorbuer’ fishing huts,cruise out to the islands, go fishing or visit the Lofoten War Museum. Activity enthusiasts may like to climb the tall pinnacle rock of Svolvaergeita (the goat), a popular climbing spot with amazing views over Svolvær. Another enjoyable hike is to the top of Floya, offering gorgeous views.

Nicholas Dean is Managing Partner of Ocean Independence. Ocean Independence is a global leader in luxury yachting, providing a bespoke experience across yacht charter, sales and management.

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