Projecting from Nordland, in the northern section of Norway, the Lofoten Archipelago is a bizarre place to visit on a polar expedition. Even though it is positioned within the Arctic Circle, the seven main islands endure a higher than normal temperature, which is drawn in by the Gulf Stream.
Touring northern Norway can often feel like taking a trip back into ancient history – Vågan, established in the Viking Age, is known to have been the first village in the area. When on a polar voyage to the Lofoten Archipelago, you should take the possibility to visit numerous of the islands, such as Austvågøy and Vestvågøy, to soak in the atmosphere and social culture and experience the phenomena of the midnight sun, and the countless days that are part of life here.
Established between the Vestfjorden and the Norwegian Sea, the island of Austvågøy is one of the largest islands in the northern part of the Lofoten Archipelago. Most of the island is divided between its nearby municipalities, and a polar expedition to Austvågøy will inject you to a land governed by the highest mountain in the Lofoten Archipelago, the Higravstinden, which is over 1000 meter high. Touring the island of Austvågøy will take you to the main town of Svolvær, which sits on the southern coast of the island. Svolvær was the area of one of the first churches built in northern Norway, and it dates back to roughly 900 years ago. For a long time, the town was a flourishing fishing village with sufficient quality to become its own municipality, in 1918. The main bulk of Svolvær is on the mainland, but several parts are built on small, encircling islands and are combined by a series of bridges. Though fishing still remains a big part of the economy in Svolvær, the island itself is becoming more familiar with tourists and is an outstanding starting point for visiting the other Lofoten Islands.
Head further south-east from Austvågøy on a polar voyage and you will come to the island of Vestvågøy, whose overarching municipality was formed in 1963. It is the most populated of all the areas of the Lofoten Archipelago. As one of the most scenic islands, walking around Vestvågøy will reveal a distinct landscape. To the south-east are the hilly cliffs that face the sea with charming villages dotted along, and to the north and northwest, the land is flat and lends itself well to farming. While on Vestvågøy, guests should take time to visit the historical Lofoten Viking Museum in Borg. It serves to restore a Viking village complete with the Chieftain’s house, the blacksmith’s forge and two ships and boathouses, providing a glimpse into what life might have been like for the first settlers.