How to explore the Lofoten Islands in a Camper Van
We spent 10 days in a camper van exploring northern Norway and the Lofoten Islands and this was our experience.
We had already rented a camper van in another arctic country before, so we had a fair idea of what to expect. But contrary to our winter roadtrip around Iceland in Norway we had the freedom to sleep anywhere we wanted unlocking the true potential of camping in a van.
Camper van rentals are growing rapidly in popularity, especially for budget travellers. And with good reason. These camper vans have been specially modified to suit as transport as well as your accomodation during your entire vacation. These vans are equipped for sleeping, cooking, washing up and of course driving around beautiful landscapes all the while booking the room with the best view every single night. It even included 1Gb free onboard internet! A must for all the instagramers out there.
For our 10 day trip in the arctic circle we had decided to rent from Arctic Campers. It was the free polar bear cup that won me over.
Arctic Campers was an extremely friendly and organized experience. They have a pick up and drop off service straight from the airport so you don’t have to worry about any other transport and get straight into your van. Similar to the camper van in Iceland, the Arctic camper had a seating area with a table that converted to a bed, as well as a kitchen at the back of the van, equipped with two gas cookers, cutlery, pans, pots and two water tanks that you can refill anywhere in Norway. Norwegians claim to have the cleanest drinking water in the world, of course Finland thinks otherwise.
The van further comes with a fridge, some storage space and a sink to wash up dishes. You will learn to wash dishes in record time, in winter the water loves to freeze.
Arctic Campers can be picked up and dropped off in two locations: Tromso and Leknes. This turned out to be the perfect opportunity for the ultimate road trip through some of northern Norway’s most scenic islands. Following the advice from the Arctic Campers staff, we mapped our route according to the current weather, hunting for clear skies which lead us to our first stop, Senja. Senja is one of the most popular and beautiful islands in northern Norway for aurora hunting. True to its reputation it didn’t dissappoint. Thanks to information on the Arctic campers website we found a parking spot right across from a beach in Ersfjord. We stayed two nights and were treated to a spectacular display of aurora activity on both. If you camp here in summer you would even have a bathroom for the night, in our case the joker down the road had to suffice.
If you keep on the route around Senja, it will take you to a lookout point watching over Bergsbotn. A landscape so breathtaking we waited 12 hours for the clouds to clear and the lights to show.
As much as we hated leaving Senja behind, we had to get back on the road for our true destination: The Lofoten Islands! If this is the first time you hear of these magical islands, you will be counting your jar for travel money by the end of this post. Lofoten is an archipelago (group of Islands) known for its dramatic mountainous scenery. Once leaving Senja, you can follow the E10 all the way through the islands up until the famous fishing village, Reine. This is a relatively new development as they connected the islands with deep, long tunnels underwater. Previously you would have had to go Island hopping with a Ferry.
We took it pretty slow, only drove a few hours each day and slept wherever we could find parking. This was the best part. We were able to sleep parked on the side of the road at the top of a mountain with our doors open, and a cooked breakfast the next day to enjoy the view. And so we made our way through the islands one by one. Although the whole archipelago is absolutely breathtaking, the most famous and last of all the islands is Moskenesøya on which Reine as well as Hamnøy, the most picturesque fishing village in Lofoten are situated. In Summer I can imagine this area to be riddled with tourists. In winter, all we saw were photographers. Photographers with their tripods and camera’s, scuttling from one end of Hamnøy to the other end of Reine. Really it was quite comical to finally find a local women going grocery shopping with a sled, as if she were the one to stick out like a sore thumb.
We spent 2 days on this island. Both Hamnøy and Reine are picture famous. They both have a bridge overlooking their respective villages, where you can recreate the famous snapshots. The bridge at Reine even had a little overlooking parking lot that we were able to sleep on. We never missed a sunset or sunrise.