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The Lofoten Islands
The archipelago’s white sand beaches, jagged peaks, bird cliffs bustling with life and cosy fishing villages has made the Lofoten islands one of the most popular travel destinations in Northern Europe.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002, the Lofoten islands stretch about 250km out from mainland Norway, just north of the Arctic Circle.
It is an excellent family holiday destination, with an abundance of activities on offer. But also as a friend´s or romantic getaway, Lofoten is hard to beat.
Experience the northern lights in winter, go skiing and try the amazing King Cod as fresh as it gets.
Or lounge on a beach in the midnight sun, climb the rugged peaks and relax with a big bowl of fresh prawns in the summer.
Stay in a fisherman's cabin or quaint hotel in one of the many fishing villages.
From mainland Norway about 50miles north of the city of Bodo, the Lofoten archipelago stretches out into the Norwegian Sea.
The islands (from east to west) are Austvaagoy, Gimsoy, Vestvaagoy, Flakstadoy, Moskenesoy, Vaeroy and Roest.
Vaeroy and Roest lie right out in the open ocean and are separated from the other islands by the dangerous Maelstrom. Read more about the areas of Lofoten.
The Two Coasts of Lofoten
People often separate the Lofoten area between the inner and outer coasts. The inner coast faces the Vestfjord, as opposed to the rough Norwegian Sea on the outer coast.
Most villages and settlements can be found along the inner coast, where the weather is less harsh, and temperatures soar in the summer months. The stretch from Svolvaer to Henningsvaer is also known as the Lofoten Riviera.
Further out, the picturesque villages of Reine and Å are well worth a visit, or if you would like to say you've “been there, done that”, head to Hell – on the southern tip of Moskenesoy.
The midnight sun is a stunning sight from the outer coasts of Lofoten from about 25th May until 17th July.
History of Lofoten
Since Viking times, Lofoten has been the most important area for cod fishing in Norway, and the region has exported fish since the early Middle Ages.
Every winter, the cod gathers in Lofoten to spawn. The breeding cod is also called King Cod or Skrei, and is known for its superior taste and quality.
Fishermen from all over Northern Norway would head to Lofoten between January and April to catch the King Cod, braving the cold and dangerous Arctic seas.
The climate and location of Lofoten also makes it one of the best places in the world to produce stockfish (the stuff that goes into the Spanish dish, Bacalao).
Stockfish is made by hanging cod to dry on large wooden racks. When ready, the dried fish will keep for years. The method hasn’t changed for hundreds of years so it really is tried and tested.
If you visit Lofoten during the busy stockfish month of May, you will see and smell stockfish everywhere as by the end of April 400,000sq metres of Lofoten is covered in the stuff!
The dried fish is often eaten as snacks with beer – perhaps a substitute for those Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps?
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