The Lofoten islands

The Lofoten islands is part of the Tentative list of Norway in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Click here for a short description of the site, as delivered by the state party.

Map of The Lofoten islands

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

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France - 03-May-20 -

The Lofoten islands (T) by Argo

We spent several days in Lofoten islands in summer 2016, and this was one of the highlights of our Norway trip (a country which is one of the best – if not the best – in Europe for landscapes and nature lovers). We were lucky enough to enjoy sunny weather during our stay, giving blue and turquoise color to the sea along white sandy beaches (from the pictures, this looked like tropical country, but actual air temperature never exceeded 15°C during the day!). From Unesco website, it can be understood that this TWHS is proposed as a mixed site and encompasses the south-westernmost islands of the archipelago.

We arrived by ferry from Bodo to Moskenes (it takes around 3 hours), and this was a stunning introduction to the place : sharp mountains range (some 250 km long) “grows up” over the horizon line as the ferry goes, and this combination of sea and mountain in one single landscape is one of the most beautiful in Norway. This experience was different and, in some way, complementary to our visit to the West Fjords a few days before. Lofoten islands are nothing but an old mountain range (some of its rocks are some billion years old), in the middle of the sea, eroded by successive glacial eras and resulting in cliffs, sharp peaks, bays, fjords, with few and narrow places left for human settlements. This geological process for sure would be promoted as one of the reasons for inscription. They are many places for hiking, and trails of all levels of difficulties.

The area is also rich in sea birds colonies; but we could not really appreciate this aspect (we should have extended our stay to some of the smallest and most remote of the islands). Though we visited the “Lofoten aquarium” (the kids really enjoyed it) and took part to a “safari whales” later (from Andenes, northernmost point of nearby Vesteralen islands), these places seem to be out of this TWHS boundaries.

Cultural aspect of this nomination is linked to fishing activities. Lofoten islands are famous for cods, which are caught during their migration (January to April) along the islands. Everyone knows the iconic red fisher huts (called “rorbuer”) on poles overlooking the sea. We visited the village called A (the shortest name of all the places we ever visited!), where most of the buildings are still the original ones and can be visited: housing, shelters for boats maintenance, black-smith workshop, fish processing area (we could even taste the famous cod liver oil!). In summer, the most valuable part of the cods has already been processed and exported, but cods’ heads, which are lower value, are still drying on tall open-air wood structures in this period of the year: this gives to the visit an “unforgettable smell”. Humans have been living and fishing in Lofoten islands for centuries (there are remains from Viking era, and before), which is remarkable considering the remote location of the islands (and not even mentioning that they are 200 km north of the arctic circle, so without any sunlight for approximately two months in winter). We stayed some nights in a rorbuer in another fishing village, now mainly dedicated to host tourists. This was obviously a great family experience. Tourism is now the main activity during summer months, but still this activity is well managed, including renovation of old buildings, preservation of the existing places without any damageable alteration: the global feeling is that these places are still quite “authentic”.

After this stay in Lofoten islands, we left for Andenes (Vesteralen). From there the next day, we took the early morning ferry to Senja island, a place less visited but with very nice landscapes as well, and, using another ferry, we reached Tromso in the evening. This made a fantastic itinerary from Bodo to Tromso, from island to island only, and an excellent alternative to the main road on the continent.

We have no doubt Lofoten islands deserve their place on the WH list, would Norway decide one day to put forward this nomination.

Full Name
The Lofoten islands
2002 Added to Tentative List

Unesco Website: The Lofoten islands

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The Lofoten islands (T)
WHS 1997-2020