During my time in Europe, none was more memorable than the times I’ve spent driving around and exploring the Lofoten Islands in Norway. I’ve scaled a couple peaks on multi-day treks such as the Reinebringen Peak and the Hermannsdalstinden Summit. Since I had a car, I also managed to explore the villages and various localities in the area. This part of Norway is not short on amazing vistas. Complete with soaring granite peaks and rustic fishing villages along its coast.
One such village is called Nusfjord and it is one of the oldest and well-preserved fishing villages in the Lofoten Islands. Most buildings in the village date all the way back from the 1800s and early 1900s. Uncovered by archaeologist are also early traces of industrial fishing in Norway – Indeed, this fishing harbor has been in use for centuries. Today, Nusfjord village is an open-air museum, complete with a cod liver refinery, fish market, and stores that sell various collections of historical artifacts.
Nusfjord, A Blast From The Past
The Village was once a busy fishing harbor where the cod liver factory was producing oil that was used for medicine and paint. There’s also a smokehouse where Salmon and other fish were smoked. There’s a bakery that’s still baking bread since its inception in 1877.
A red boathouse, also built in 1877, was utilized for storing fishing equipment like nets and tanning vessels – now also part of the museum. Up the hill aways is powerhouse built in 1905 that once provided power for the village and other fishing operations machinery
I knew nothing of this fishing village and by curiosity stumbled upon it from my adventures in Norway. During my stay in one of the hostels in Ålesund, I met a German traveler, Andreas who eventually led me to Nusfjord. He found out that I was going to drive my way to the Lofoten Islands.
Andreas was on route to ride his motorcycle all the way to the Nordkapp (near Lofoten) which is the furthest most tip of the European continent. Of course, being an avid motorcycle fan myself we had a lot to talk about. When it was time to part ways we exchanged numbers. Just in case we would run into each other in the Lofoten Islands.
Lo and behold, Andreas and I ran into each other again in the fishing village of Reine. Andreas had planned to ride to another fishing village, Nusfjord, and asked if I’d like to check it out myself as well.
I said, why not?
So I followed him all the way to the Village and that’s how I discovered this little gem in the Lofoten Archipelago. For most people who do their research, this place is probably thought of as a tourist trap. The village does seem to really cater to tourist with all the modern amenities you can find and many tours and gift shops offering their wares.
Most tourist who visitsNusfjord is probably staying at one of the “Rorbuer” which is one of the red cabins you see all over the bay. The “Rorbu” were once used as seasonal houses by fishermen. Some can be cheap but vary in price depending on the what modern comforts the cabin offers. Some are very old and basic which won’t have running water.
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I’m personally content on staying at cheaper hostels and sleeping on a bunk bed with other travelers. Most of the time, I’ve slept in my car parked along one of the many rest stops on the highways. If I so chose, I could have pitched my tent just about anywhere (including private property) by invoking the right to roam.
Sheer and rugged Granite cliffs surround the village with the skyline busy with fat and noisy seagulls, no doubt feasting on the rich bounty offered by the sea. The air is clean and smells fresh with the occasional vile scent of drying cod heads. There was a perpetual sun during my visit and it’s awesome to see a blazing sunset at 11:45 pm only to see a sunrise moments later.
You can eat out on one of the few restaurants in town or try one of the popular activities like fishing, filleting your own catch or go row boating. I was more than content to just walking around and exploring along the edges of the village.
You do not need a car, or motorcycle for that matter, to explore Nusfjord. However, to get the sense and feel of the whole Lofoten Archipelago I highly recommend you do. You could also hitchhike your way there as it seems to be a popular mode of transit in Norway (and Europe!) – I’ve personally picked up a few hitchhikers while I was there.
The village sits between Svolvær and Å via the E10 route. FYI, this route is very narrow compared to the roads in the U.S. and often filled with cyclists (take caution). I don’t remember paying to walk around the village but apparently, it cost 50kr for adults (children free). Free or not, Nusfjord is well worth your time and visit! It has a fascinating history and the natural beauty of the location is more than worth the price of entry.
Tips & Recommendations
Invoke the right to roam. This Scandinavian law allows you to put up your tent and sleep under the stars as anywhere you wish. As long as you keep at a minimum 500 feet away from closest inhabited house or cabin. You are free to stay and camp there. If you stay for more than two nights in the area you can ask for the landowner’s permission to stay longer. That’s all there is to it. Go camp outdoors, it’s much more enjoyable. If roughing it out in the wilderness is not your thing then stay at one of the Rorbuer.
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Drive or ride. Seriously, it’s the best way to explore the Lofoten Islands.
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It’s expensive to eat out or go to restaurants in Norway! If you’re in a shoestring budget, it’s better if you bought food at a grocery store from a nearby town.
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Bring a great camera to capture and preserve all your precious moments, read my guide on which one is right for you.
The weather can change on you very quickly.
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