Svolvær, Norway is located in Lofoten on the south coast of Austvågøy, the north-easternmost of the larger islands in the Lofoten Archipelago in Nordland County, Norway. Svolvær faces the open sea of the Vestfjorden to the south, famous Svolværgeita Mountains to the north and Vågakaillen Mountains to the east. Svolvær is partly located on smaller islands, such as Svinøya, and connected to the main island by way of the Svinøy Bridge. Sheltered by the mountains to the north and west, the Svolvær area has less fog and experiences somewhat higher daytime temperatures in summer than the western part of Lofoten, but the same mountains also create more orographic precipitation on rainy days.
The first-known town formation in North Norway, Vågar, was situated around the narrow, natural harbour near Kabelvåg, just west of Svolvær. Vågar is mentioned in the book Heimskringla, and might have been established as early as the year 800 A.D. One of the first churches in North Norway was most likely built here, approximately 900 years ago. The great cod fisheries in winter have always been the most important economical foundation for the town, but salmon farming is also important in Vågan, as is Secora and Lofotkraft. Svolvær is first mentioned in 1567, but likely much older as it has been an important fishing village for centuries. Because of this, Svolvær was separated from the municipality of Vågan, and given town and municipality status in 1918. In 1964, Svolvær merged with the municipalities of Gimsøy and Vågan to form the new, larger municipality of Vågan. Due to this merger, Svolvær lost its status as a 'town'. After a new law was passed in 1966, Svolvær was able to declare itself a 'town' again.
Although Svolvær is a major transportation hub and favourite starting point for visitors to the Lofoten Islands, tourism in an important component to the local economy of this fishing port with the atmosphere of a harbour, small town and art centre. Its proximity to Lofoten and easy access by ferry, sea and air makes Svolvær an ideal starting point for exploring this scenic town and its environs. Among the many natural highlights to discover in Svolvær and the Lofoten Archipelago include exquisite fjords, mountains and peaks, valleys, forests, rivers, lakes, parks, pristine beaches, open sea and sheltered bays, offshore islands, marine life, and flora and fauna. Must-see local sites include the Raftsundet Strait, Trollfjord, fishing villages of Henningsvær and Kabelvåg, Northern Lights, and Refsika Cave.
Svolvær offers ample opportunities to embrace the culture and history of northern Norway. In Lofoten, the wonderful Refsika Cave features wall drawings and paintings of people and animals dating from 3,000 years ago. The Lofotr Viking Museum is based on a reconstruction and archaeological excavation of a Viking chieftain's village, and features many archaeological finds from the Iron and Viking ages. The Flakstad Church, among the oldest Svolvær, was erected in 1780. The Lofoten War Memorial Museum recounts Norway's role in World War II through a series of photographs, exhibits, memorabilia, and uniforms. Classic and modern art also abounds in Svolvær. A wealth of galleries and museums display paintings by locally-renowned artists, including a permanent exhibition of the works of famous 19th-century Lofoten painter Gunnar Berg at the North Norwegian Art Centre. Contemporary art lovers can also marvel at the splendid sculptures that are part of Artscape Nordland, a collection of outdoor works that add a unique new dimension to their surrounds.
From their pristine shores to their snow-capped peaks, Svolvær and Lofoten offer a wide array of scenic and invigorating outdoor activities. Experience northern Norway's stunning natural beauty, mountains and valleys during outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, mountaineering and rock-climbing, freshwater fishing, bird-watching, hunting, horseback-riding on beautiful, white-sand beaches and through the countryside, golfing at the Lofoten Golfbane, and Alpine skiing and snowboarding at the Kongstind Alpinsenter. Along the coast, Svolvær's picturesque waterways are a beacon for water sports and related activities such as swimming, beachcombing, snorkelling and scuba diving at Henningsvær, surfing at Unstad, sea-rafting, sea-kayaking, boating with Lofoten Explorer AS, sailing, cruising the Trollfjord, whale-watching, and saltwater fishing.
Due to its compact size, Svolvær can be easily explored in just a single day.
Going Ashore in Svolvær
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Port of Svolvær. Svolvær's town centre is within walking distance. Taxis are available at the pier upon request.
Several shops and art galleries in Svolvær's town centre and market square, or Torget, sell art, books, handicrafts, souvenirs, and more. Shops are generally open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The local currency is the Norwegian krone.
Svolvær's crystal-clear coastal waters and fertile valleys combine to create a mouth-watering selection of epicurean delights. Among the many local favourites are moose, reindeer, fowl, salmon, cod, or 'stockfish', dried cod, or bacalao, and shellfish, along with wild berries and Arctic, Scandinavian, Norwegian and International cuisine. Popular restaurants in-and-around Svolvær include Børsen Spiseri, Norden, Du Verden, Bacalao, Anker Brygge, Lorchstua, Fellini Pizza Og Grill Svolvaer, Kjoekkenet, Bojer, Nihao, and the Rica and Thon hotels.
Svolvær's town centre is easily accessible on-foot, and features historical buildings, charming shops, art galleries, a bookshop, restaurants, Lofoten War Memorial Museum, Town Hall with its display of Gunnar's famous Battle of Trollfjord painting, Svolvær Church, Vågan Church, or 'Lofoten Cathedral', Magic Ice Bar, and a delightful promenade. The town centre also offers picturesque vistas of surrounding mountains, fjords and offshore islands, as well as boats, cruise ships and fishing trawlers docking in the bustling harbour and heading out to sea.
Henningsvær is a fishing village in the Lofoten Archipelago. It is spread out amongst Heimøya, Hellandsøya and several other small islands off the southern coast of Austvågøya. The village is located about 12 miles (20 kilometres) southwest of Svolvær, part of the municipality of Vågan in Nordland County and connected to the rest of Vågan via the Henningsvær Bridges. Due to its traditional fishing village architecture, Henningsvær is a popular tourist destination and renowned for its climbing, scuba diving and snorkelling activities.
Kabelvåg is a village located on the southern shore of the island of Austvågøya in the Lofoten Archipelago. It is located approximately 3.1 miles (five kilometres) southwest of Svolvær, and part of the municipality of Vågan in Nordland County. Notabel attractions to explore in Kabelvåg include the Lofoten Museum, Lofoten Aquarium, Espolin Gallery and Vågan Church, also known as the 'Lofoten Cathedral'.
North Norwegian Art Centre
The North Norwegian Art Centre hosts changing exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, ceramics and more by artists from northern Norway. There's also a permanent exhibition of the works of the 19th-century Lofoten painter Gunnar Berg.
The Lofoten Theme Gallery is the creation of photographer and fisherman Geir Nøtnes. It is devoted in the main to cod fishing and whaling, with plenty of photos and equipment, and a splendid video about Lofoten through the seasons.
Located on two floors above the tourist office, Lofoten Nature displays the striking images of Lofoten wildlife photographer John Stenersen. The thoughtful, accessible text with its powerful ecological message is a stimulating condensed introduction to the ecosystems of the islands, along with their land-based and offshore wildlife.
Galleri Lofotens Hus
This wonderful museum features the most important painting collection from the Golden Age of North Norwegian artists. Explore more than a hundred exceptional works by painters such as Ulving, Juul, Harr, Sinding, Holmboe, and Berg, including his masterpiece, Harbour of Svolvær, An art souvenir shop in located onsite.
The underlying idea of this project is that a work of art, by its presence, creates a place of its own. The sculpture also visualizes its surroundings, thus adding a new dimension to the area. Artscape Nordland has also given rise to a wide-ranging and important debate on contemporary art in the region. Uniquely spectacular contributions to this project can be observed in Røst, Moskenes, Flakstad, Vestvågøy, and Vågan.
The Lofoten War Memorial Museum is housed in the old post office building and just a few minutes' walk from Svolvær's Hurtigruten Terminal. This small museum is home to several small rooms displaying incredible collections and exhibits of World War II photographs, exhibits, memorabilia, uniforms, and an original, chilling Gestapo interrogation room. Narration is offered in several languages.
Magic Ice Bar
Housed in what was once a fish-freezing plant, the Magic Ice Bar is the ultimate place to chill out, perhaps with something to warm the spirit, served in an ice glass. The 5,382-square-foot (500-square-metre) space is filled with huge ice sculptures depicting life in Lofoten.
Many distinctive churches in Svolvær and Lofoten serve as a meeting place for the local population, and a testament to Lofoten's culture and history. Some of the many churches here include the Vågan Church, also known as the 'Lofoten Cathedral', Flakstad Church, built in 1780, Rorbu Chapel, Svolvær Church, located in the town centre, Borge Church, Værøy Old Church, church ruins in Røst, Hol Church, Buksnes Church, Moskenes Church, Reine Church, and Sildpollnes Chapel.
Norway's smallest fjord, Trollfjord, is 328 feet (100 metres) wide, with cliffs towering 3,280 feet (1,000 metres) above. A cruise along Trollfjord is a unique way to celebrate the stunning natural and maritime beauty of this panoramic fjord, which is nestled amidst the world's most stunning archipelago. Along the way, look for sea eagles, seals, whales, abundant seabirds, and other denizens common to these Arctic waters.
Lille Kongstind Mountain
A trek up this majestic mountain features alpine forests with shrubby birches, cloudberries and wild orchids, along with amazing panoramic vistas of your surroundings.
Observed in the Northern Hemisphere, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, is a magnificent natural phenomenon in which colourful, flickering lights start low in the northern sky, and move higher up as the evening progresses. The Polarlight Centre Lofoten in Laukvik offers a vivid, one-hour interactive visual presentation about the Northern Lights. Special instruments here, like a magnetometer, show magnetic activity on a monitor, so you can go outside and see the Northern Lights at just the right moment.
Norway is home to a wealth of ancient caves formerly inhabited by cave-dwellers. In Lofoten, the wonderful Refsika Cave, also known as the 'Kollhellaren' Cave, features wall drawings and paintings of people and animals dating from 3,000 years ago.
Lofotr Viking Museum
Located near Borg on Vestvågøy in the Lofoten Archipelago in Nordland County, the Lofotr Viking Museum is based on a reconstruction and archaeological excavation of a Viking chieftain's village. The museum is home to a reconstructed, 272-foot (83-meter) longhouse, the largest-known, along with many archaeological finds from the Iron and Viking ages.
Lofoten Golf Links
This spectacular, beautifully-designed seaside golf course features an idyllic location by the open sea. The Midnight Sun makes a round of golf on this course a truly majestic experience.
Svolvær's stunning natural beauty, mountains and valleys can be experienced during outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, mountaineering and rock-climbing, freshwater fishing, bird-watching, hunting, horseback-riding on beautiful, white-sand beaches and through the countryside, golfing at the Lofoten Golfbane, and Alpine skiing and snowboarding at the Kongstind Alpinsenter. Along the coast, Svolvær's picturesque waterways are a beacon for water sports and related activities such as swimming, beachcombing, snorkelling and scuba diving at Henningsvær, surfing at Unstad, sea-rafting, sea-kayaking, boating with Lofoten Explorer AS, sailing, cruising the Trollfjord, whale-watching, and saltwater fishing.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.