Midnight sun on Lofoten & Senja

Hiking, kayaking, swimming, fishing—explore 24 hours a day with sunshine around the clock

Photo: Katrin Konradt & André Fey Kayaking is a peaceful way to explore the archipelago—and no experience is required.

Photo: Katrin Konradt & André Fey
Kayaking is a peaceful way to explore the archipelago—and no experience is required.

Katrin Konradt & André Fey
Oslo, Norway

What a destination for a summer holiday: the Lofoten Islands and the island Senja, a little bit more to the north, are just breathtaking. It’s mostly about the landscape: a stunning combination of steep, green mountains, deep blue sea, white beaches, and small cozy villages in between. It is also about the exciting outdoor activities the islands offer (some of which we tried out for the first time), various interesting galleries, art and crafts, sculptures placed in nature all over the islands, and last but not least the excellent local food (try Lofoten lamb and codfish).

But more than that, it’s the light and the atmosphere it creates that I still remember so very well. As the islands are quite far north of the polar circle, you have midnight sun from May until July. We could watch the sun in the middle of the night or even go for a walk at 2:00 a.m. in the morning—isn’t that great?

We have to admit that Norwegian summers are not always very warm, sometimes even rainy, but all the above mentioned things will more than outweigh a little bit of bad weather.

Cruising the fjords and fishing
One day we rented a boat (after passing the test question of “Have you done that before?”) and also fishing equipment for the first time. The fishing course took about one minute, so it couldn’t be too complicated.

We cruised the fjords back and forth—which was great fun, but very windy—a bit afraid that we would drive onto rocks hidden under the water. We’d been given a telephone number, which we were supposed to call in that case. Luckily, we didn’t need it.

After a while we started to think about lunch and got the fishing equipment ready. As totally unexperienced fishermen, we were mentally prepared that this could take a while. But the sonar (is that cheating?) worked really well and after just 10 minutes we got our very first codfish! Then we had to decide which one of us should take the poor fish off the hook, kill it, and put it in the box.

After we had fished two big codfish and a pollock, we got back to the harbor to prepare them on the grill. Clearly it was the best lunch of that holiday!

Photo: Katrin Konradt & André Fey The stunning scenery of the area is the primary attraction. In the summer you can hike without worrying about losing the sunlight.

Photo: Katrin Konradt & André Fey
The stunning scenery of the area is the primary attraction. In the summer you can hike without worrying about losing the sunlight.

Hiking up the Senja mountains
On the islands, Lofoten as well as Senja, you will find plenty of spectacular hiking tours. So it is just about putting on your shoes, walking out the door, and choosing one. Or creating one yourself!

Some of them offer spectacular views and challenging heights. These were the ones we went for during the summer holidays. And as it is light outside the whole day, you fortunately do not need to pay attention to the time, just the weather.

We enjoyed the great hikes on Senja, including creeping up the back of the mountains and ending at a cliff with a view straight down for a couple of hundred meters into a fjord. We love that in Norway nothing is blocked by fences or signs. It’s just you and nature.

Kayaking in Henningsvær
This is truly a completely different way to experience nature.

You don’t need to have any experience to try it. Some tour operators offer two- to three-hour trips if you are just as curious as we were. We booked such a tour in Henningsvær and got all the equipment, good instructions, and just went out in shallow water.

And both of us were blown away! Kayaking is so quiet and peaceful up there, as we were just gliding through the water and into the sun, getting very close to the rocky coastline, looking out for birds and other animals. Just wonderful.

We hoped throughout the whole time that the kayak would not capsize as the water was bloody cold, but it went well and we stayed dry.

Photo: Katrin Konradt & André Fey Sunset, such as it is. The sun may kiss the horizon, but it’s never really dark.

Photo: Katrin Konradt & André Fey
Sunset, such as it is. The sun may kiss the horizon, but it’s never really dark.

Experiencing the midnight sun
We all know that there is midnight sun in the north. But you don’t know it for real until you have experienced it!

During my first summer in Norway, I lost my sense of time a bit. The light outside just kept me awake all day and night. How or why should I think of going to bed while it was still so bright outside? It’s very confusing and unusual for all of us who grew up south of Copenhagen or so.

At the same time, it is exciting and fun! It fills you with energy and creates activity and life. Everyone is outside until late night or even early morning. Day and night just glide into each other.

If you need to work, buy new solid curtains (as we did) and get yourself a sleeping mask.

And when you are on holidays? Just enjoy. Go on a hiking tour at 10:00 p.m. Read the whole night on the terrace without switching on the electric light. And go to bed at 8:00 in the morning—who cares?

Katrin and André are two travel-happy Germans in their early forties. After moving around a bit, they settled for good in Norway in 2011, exploring the beautiful country ever since. They spend every free day traveling to famous sightseeing spots as well as discovering lesser-known stunning places and unique traditions off the beaten tracks—and meeting great people everywhere. What started as a simple homepage for family and friends, explore-norway.org has meanwhile grown into a blog with 25 tour descriptions covering all parts of Norway, an Oslo guide, and a large picture gallery for Norway enthusiasts.

This article appeared in the June 3, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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